NBT Bank donates $5,000 to Avesta Housing

Pictured above, left to right: NBT Bank Maine Regional President Kimberly Twitchell, Avesta HomeOwnership Center Director Nicole DiGeronimo, Avesta Housing President & CEO Rebecca Hatfield, Avesta Housing Vice President of Advancement Sara Olson, and NBT Bank Vice President and Senior Banking Relationship Manager Mark Schaub

NBT Bank has donated $5,000 to Avesta Housing to help provide affordable housing and services in Maine and New Hampshire. The gift is the latest in a series of donations NBT Bank has provided to Avesta that have totaled $50,000 since 2017.

“NBT is a longtime supporter and friend of Avesta Housing,” said Avesta Housing President & CEO Rebecca Hatfield. “This gift provides further testament of their commitment to helping provide safe, quality, affordable homes and support services to people in need.”

“At NBT Bank, we’re more than just bankers—we’re community members, neighbors and friends,” said NBT Bank Maine Regional President Kimberly Twitchell. “That is why NBT Bank has committed to supporting Avesta Housing to provide affordable housing to our communities.”

NBT Bank offers personal banking, business banking and wealth management services from locations in seven states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut. NBT has served Maine since 2014, and the company’s Regional Office is located at 5 Widgery Wharf on Portland’s waterfront.

 

Donate to Avesta by Dec. 31 and double your impact

Diversity of backgrounds and cultures is one of the defining traits of our country. People come to the U.S. from all over the world seeking a better life for themselves and their families, a chance to build a future as members of, and contributors to, their communities.

During the past few years, the number of asylum seekers arriving in Maine has increased significantly. Among other obstacles, they face a critical housing shortage and many are at risk of becoming homeless.

We’re asking for your financial support of Avesta’s work to provide homes and access to services for these individuals and families. Thanks to generous community members who have created a matching gift challenge, your gift will be doubled!

Avesta Housing is partnering with MaineHousing and numerous organizations to provide homes and access to vital services for asylum seekers experiencing homelessness­, including:

  • English language learning classes
  • Food access
  • Transportation
  • Legal assistance
  • Health care
  • Job training

ALL donations Avesta receives from now through the end of the year will be matched, up to $45,000. With your gift, we can help asylum seekers with a home and the support that will help them achieve the stability they traveled so far to find. Please donate today by clicking here.

Registration drive provides election information to residents

Avesta Housing recently partnered with League of Women Voters (LWV) of Maine to help Avesta residents register to vote in the upcoming midterm election. From mid-September to Oct. 18, volunteers from LWV canvassed door-to-door at Avesta properties throughout Maine, distributing nonpartisan election information and instructions on how to register.

The majority of residents welcomed the canvassers into their homes, said Avesta Resident Service Manager Nicholas Kjeldgaard. Many are recent immigrants eager to participate in the democratic process; if they are not U.S. citizens, they are given information on how to obtain citizenship.

According to Lado Ladoka, program director with LWV of Maine, the partnership with Avesta has been a great success. “Our research shows that people who are low-income are less likely to vote, but they are the most affected by policy,” he said. “Many things in their lives are important; if they can put voting as one of the most important things, they can help make our society much better.”

Avesta Housing builds 52-unit apartment complex for asylum seekers in South Portland

South Portland will soon be home to a 52-unit apartment building that will provide housing for asylum seeking families, many of whom are currently staying in motels and shelters.

But some housing advocates say the new space is just a drop in the bucket.

Avesta Housing is overseeing construction of the new property, which will be able to house over 100 people in apartments ranging in size from efficiencies to three bedrooms.

Avesta Housing preparing to open residential complex for asylum seekers

Avesta Housing is preparing to open a new apartment complex intended for asylum seekers.

The facility, on Westbrook Street in South Portland, will include 52 units, and the nonprofit housing developer hopes families can begin moving into their new homes in November.

“I think we’re all just excited to be a small piece of the solution,” Amanda Gilliam, Avesta Housing director of property management, said.

Avesta provides affordable housing to asylum seekers experiencing homelessness

Angola. Afghanistan. South Sudan. Rwanda. Burundi. Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Asylum seekers in Maine come from these countries and more. They have different beliefs, different cultures, different backgrounds. But they have at least one thing in common: They have been forced to flee their home countries. Now they are in Maine, eager to begin a new phase in their lives and hopeful for a better future.

Last month, Avesta Housing processed 1,037 applications for apartments at West End II, our new development in South Portland. The majority of applicants are asylum seekers who are homeless and living in motels or shelters.

We held open office hours multiple times throughout the application week to meet with and support the influx of people who needed help applying. Staff assisted with applications, and some served as interpreters for applicants who spoke no or limited English.

It was good to engage with members of the community again, said Applicant Services Manager Emily Pelletier. And it was gratifying to know they were helping those in need of affordable housing.

“I think I can speak for my team when I say that what we are taking away from this experience is a real wish we had even more apartments for these folks,” Pelletier said.

The massive number of applications is indicative of the great need for safe, quality, affordable housing in Maine and New Hampshire, said Avesta Housing President & CEO Rebecca Hatfield.

“The sheer volume of applications for West End II is an alarm signal that we must be purposeful and creative in our approach to meeting the needs not just of asylum seekers experiencing homelessness, but also of the many others who come to us every day seeking an affordable home,” Hatfield said. “We currently have more than 700 new homes in the development pipeline, and we are actively working to acquire and build more in the years to come. With the dedication and support of our staff, partners, and supporters, we will continue to seek creative ways to help ensure that everyone has a place to call home.”

Avesta President & CEO Rebecca Hatfield makes ‘Mainers of the Year’ list

Maine Magazine has named Avesta Housing President & CEO Rebecca Hatfield one of its Mainers of the Year. Each year, the magazine honors exceptional Maine residents to celebrate the work they’ve done and continue to do for the state.

Maine Magazine noted Rebecca’s commitment to and leadership in addressing the affordable housing crisis in our state. The article made note of the tremendous progress Avesta continues to make to ensure, in Rebecca’s words, “that all Mainers have a safe, quality, and affordable place to call home.”

 

Avesta partner provides groceries to food-insecure residents

Inflation hits lower-income populations the hardest. When the price of groceries increases dramatically, people who are already struggling to buy basic necessities are in danger of going hungry. Avesta Housing has formed partnerships with numerous food banks to help ensure that residents who are food insecure receive the help they need. One of the oldest and largest of these partners is Wayside Food Programs.

An Avesta staff member collects food from Wayside Food Program’s warehouse to distribute to residents during a summer barbecue for Pearl Place and Unity at Bayside in Portland.

A nonprofit founded in the 1980s, Wayside salvages edible food that is not sellable for cosmetic reasons, packaging imperfections, and/or inventory levels from grocery stores, wholesalers, farms, and other food establishments. That food is then redirected to soup kitchens, food pantries, and other social service agencies across southern Maine.

Wayside distributes community meals at two Avesta family properties: Brick Hill in South Portland and 409 Cumberland in Portland. It also provides food to our senior properties and at events held by property management teams for residents.

Many of the volunteers who assist with the distribution live at Avesta properties or in the surrounding communities, which typically contain the same economic demographic.

“Avesta has been a great partner for us, because it’s such a perfect fit,” said Wayside Executive Director Mary Zwolinski.

Unlike some food pantries that have designated pick-up times at a permanent location, Wayside operates as a mobile food provider. The concept is simple but effective: Bring the food to the people who need it.

“Wayside thinks outside the box,” said Nicholas Kjeldgaard, resident service manager with Avesta Housing.

 

 

New Avesta Housing CEO to join Camden National board

Rebecca Hatfield, Avesta Housing’s new president and CEO, will join the board of directors at Camden National Corp. (Nasdaq: CAC), parent company of Camden National Bank, at the end of this year.

Effective Dec. 31, Hatfield will join the Camden National Corp. board, becoming the eleventh corporate-level board member and fifth woman, the company said Wednesday.

Hatfield, 44, will also serve on the board’s capital committee and on Camden National Bank’s board of directors.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Rebecca as a new independent director to our board,” said Larry Sterrs, who chairs Camden National Corp.’s board of directors. “Rebecca’s deep knowledge of risk management, including underwriting and portfolio management will bring invaluable perspective which will enrich and strengthen the board. Her professional experience leading Avesta Housing will provide additional insight into the needs of the customers and communities the bank serves.”

 

Two Maine nonprofits tackle affordable housing in NH

Two Portland-based nonprofits this week announced plans to address affordable housing challenges in neighboring New Hampshire.

Evernorth, a nonprofit with dual headquarters in Portland and Burlington, Vt., said it will oversee a workforce housing loan fund for the Upper Connecticut River Valley, which includes parts of New Hampshire and Vermont. Bar Harbor Bank & Trust is a key partner on that.

Closer to Maine, in Conway, N.H., Avesta Housing, broke ground on its first affordable housing development in Mount Washington Valley on Sept. 23. Bangor Savings Bank is a partner in that venture.

Avesta is the largest nonprofit affordable housing provider in northern New England.