Jessica Valdez, executive director of Community Compass, and Ashley Pesek (right), a foster mom of adolescents, show a tiny home that Pesek had installed on her property in Sedgwick for 18-year-old foster children to use to gain independence while preparing to launch into the world on their own. Community Compass is looking for more Blue Hill Peninsula residents willing to mentor adolescents and host a tiny home on their properties. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Tiny home for teens helps ease the transition from foster care

SEDGWICK — Were you ready to be out on your own at age 18? No one is, really.

Yet, if you are a Maine foster child, that’s what’s expected of you.

How do you find an apartment? How do you buy a vehicle? How do you get utilities connected? How is all of this funded? How do you open a bank account?

These are all questions that Ashley Pesek, a foster mom of teenagers, and Jessica Valdez, executive director of Community Compass, have gotten from Blue Hill Peninsula teens who have been separated from their families of origin.

“When you don’t have permanency, you don’t have those resources,” Pesek said. Adolescents need someone they feel comfortable with, who can answer their questions.

Valdez said many teens aren’t even going to be comfortable talking to a teacher they like.

“It really shows what kind of situation you’re in,” Valdez explained.

To help adolescents on the peninsula, Pesek, with help from Community Compass and its donors, had a tiny home installed on her property for her adolescent foster children to use as a private residence once they turn 18 and prepare to leave her nest.

The tiny house, installed in October 2020, has been used by two young people already.

The Peseks’ foster daughter, Crystal, was the first to use the tiny home after giving birth. She’s now out working and living on her own with her child in an apartment.

A foster brother, who is 18 and a senior in high school, then moved into the “tiny home.”

Another foster brother will move in once he leaves.

Skip Greenlaw is president of the Community Compass board of directors.

“The investment made by thoughtful members of our communities has not only helped Crystal and her daughter establish themselves but continues to pay benefits to young people who might otherwise have to find a shelter in which to live,” Greenlaw said.

Valdez updated Community Compass board members on the project at the board’s March 17 meeting.

Elaine Hewes of Sedgwick suggested that the board consider funding two or three “tiny homes” with the hope that it would provide shelter and opportunity for foster children or other potentially homeless people to have shelter and a chance to become self-sufficient, Greenlaw said.

Another board member said, “This is a success story about members of our communities investing in humanity,” Greenlaw recalled.

Greenlaw said Community Compass would like to pursue Hewes’ suggestion of building two or three tiny homes.

In addition to funds for the homes, the organization would need a mentor or foster parent/family willing to host the home on their property, Greenlaw said.

Residents of Deer Isle, Stonington, Castine, Orland, Penobscot, Brooksville, Sedgwick, Brooklin, Blue Hill, or Surry interested in mentoring and having a “tiny home” placed on their property are asked to contact Valdez at 522-7983 or email [email protected].

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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