BAR HARBOR — A well-attended garden party brought smiles, good cheer and $7,500 to an organization intent on creating housing for a group of young men and women from the area living with developmental disabilities.
“The basket was pretty full,” Roberta Raymond said happily about the party, which was held on the beautiful grounds of St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church on Aug. 27. Raymond is on the board of directors of Local Solutions, the group that is raising money to convert the parish house at St. Saviour’s into inclusive community housing.
The group, including parents trying to keep their young adult children supported, independent and in the area, has made great strides since forming in 2010. The church sold the vacant parish house to Local Solutions for a nominal fee in 2013. A partnership with Community Housing of Maine (CHOM) soon followed, producing detailed architectural, renovation and fundraising plans. These were all on display for the 75 or so garden party guests.
CHOM is now working on grant applications totaling $1.3 million to renovate the historic parish house. Local Solutions has agreed to raise $300,000 for the project. They are nearly halfway to their goal.
A successful campaign will allow a half-dozen Mount Desert Island High School graduates to remain in the area near family and friends in a setting where they can gain independence from their parents while remaining safe and secure.
“We really want to give them the power of choice to remain connected with the people that know them, that love them, that support them naturally.” Raymond said. “We don’t want them to face a choice between safety and relocation.”
The entire church complex is a registered historical site. As the renovations occur, historical features in the parish house such as stairways, wainscoting, banisters and even some of the floors will be preserved.
“All of those features which make it authentic historically have to come out, and renovations happen, and they go back into place,” Raymond said.
The parish house comprises two separate buildings that were joined together at some time in the past. From the outside it looks like a two-story building, but there are actually four different levels inside.
Plans are to build six efficiency apartments into the building, with a good amount of shared common space. A large commercial-size kitchen will be renovated and will likely be the primary dining area, while a smaller kitchen on the first floor will be used for refreshments, community coffee hour and other small events. The building also has a big community activity room on the first floor.
Organizers are hoping to draw from groups such as Americorp and College of the Atlantic for volunteers and interns to spend time in the home. A house manager would be supported as well, someone who could schedule appointments, oversee job and activity schedules and basically take care of all the things that parents are now responsible for.
“We hope to create a lifetime safety net that ensures the health and well being of the individuals is secure, without infringing on their freedom of choice,” Raymond said. “Plus, all of the individuals there will have some sort of adult service enrollment, with community programs and home programs that are supported through state funding. And, hopefully all of them will have a job in the Bar Harbor area that they can walk to, and be able to be involved in community service activities, and have someone that can help them access that.”
You can help
Send donations to:
Care of Bar Harbor Banking and Trust Company
P.O. Box 40, Bar Harbor, ME 04609