Greetings from the Executive Director: A legacy of Healing

For nearly 50 years, Milestone has been providing services to people dealing with addiction and homelessness in Maine. What is Milestone? It’s the thousand caring interactions that happen every day between the staff and the people we serve. It’s the opportunity to make a human connection with people whom much of society has abandoned and, in so doing, giving them the sense of dignity that is so necessary for all of us.

Milestone is defined by a nearly 50-year legacy of these healing interactions. And while these services could be delivered most anywhere, we have the good fortune of providing them from buildings that contain their own interesting legacies of service. 

We are conscious of the many identities our historic building in Old Orchard Beach has experienced, from private home to seashore resort to nursing facility. That building – along with the other buildings on the OOB campus – now houses our residential treatment program where miracles happen as men transform their lives toward recovery. Our Portland building is home to Milestone’s emergency shelter, its detox program, and its homeless outreach (HOME Team) program. Built in 1912 for what was then Bowdoin College’s medical school, the building served as the distributor of safe milk to babies before the days of pasteurization. It functioned as the medical clinic for the poor immigrant families who lived in the neighborhood in the early 20th century, including during the influenza pandemic of 1918. It then began providing emergency shelter services to those experiencing homelessness – a tradition that continues today. 

Of course, maintenance of historic buildings does not come cheaply, and yet we are conscious of our responsibility for their stewardship. We are always appreciative of gifts we receive from our supporters toward the upkeep of these buildings, including a generous donation we received recently toward a much needed renovation of our 28 Portland Avenue building in Old Orchard Beach. I hope you will consider making a gift to Milestone to help us maintain the buildings in which our services are delivered.

Our buildings have been places of healing for many years. It seems fitting that Milestone – as it approaches its 50th birthday – provides its healing and compassionate services from these very special spaces.


Bob Fowler

A perspective: Two Milestone shelter staff look back and forward 

Back when Mike Carr and Curtis Hayes started working for Milestone as shelter attendants, Italian sandwiches from Amato’s next door cost 35 cents.

Thirty-six years ago, when Mike joined the staff, the shelter had recently gone from being the 24 Hour Club to Catholic Charities Arnie Hanson Center. Curtis joined the shelter a year later. “We used to pick up clients off the streets on the back of Arnie’s station wagon,” Mike remembers, “and bring them back to the shelter.” An early version of Milestone’s HOME Team.

Both men grew up on Munjoy Hill and knew each other through their families. Curtis’ parents worked at the shipyard in Portland. It was a different world back then, Curtis remembers: “My mother met my father while walking home. He was in the navy off a ship. After two weeks, he asked my mother’s mother if he could marry her, and she said ‘sure!’”

The space that Milestone currently occupies has gone through its own transformations. As the 24 Hour Club, the shelter accommodated only 17 clients, who came in for milk and a sandwich and a bed to sleep on. Back then, the shelter space was one big room with no walls. An 11-bed detox clinic was on the first floor, where Milestone’s current administrative and counseling offices stand. As we sit in the conference room of present day Milestone, Mike points to an empty space between us: “I put up and tore down a wall right across here four times!”

Both men are full of good stories: The elevator that now gives access to an added third floor was put in 15 years ago. Mike remembers the horse skeletons and wagons in mint condition being pulled out from between floors and walls from the old fire station in the back of the building. “They had to shut us down for three days to make sure those bones were from animals,” Mike says. There’s also a story about that one Christmas Eve when the shelter didn’t pass the fire inspection: “They were going to shut the place down, so I called a buddy of mine and I told him I needed 24 fire alarms. He came down here, Christmas Eve. We slapped those up so we could keep the place open.”

Thirty six years is a long time to work anywhere, by any standard, and especially remarkable when your work is caring for clients in a homeless shelter. Mike and Curtis’ longevity has given them perspectives most of us will never have. They have seen the impact of generational poverty, regardless how hard someone tries to move up the ladder. “Their fathers were coming into the shelter back then, then their sons are here, and their sons on top of that. Three generations now.”

When asked if they’ve ever thought of changing jobs, Mike replies without hesitation: “When a person downstairs passes away, it’s like you’re losing someone who is part of your family. It’s part of you, part of your blood. So leaving… no.” After a pause, Curtis adds: “It’s a trust thing. And even on the streets, when you see someone, they ask you if you’re still at Milestone.”

Curtis and Mike have witnessed the neighborhood change through the years, from mostly Italian to Irish, and now to one of the wealthiest parts of town. “This place when I was a kid was so scary,” Curtis says. “It was bad.” He voices some concern about the fate of Milestone in a gentrified neighborhood. Mike seems less concerned. “The neighborhood can’t speak highly enough of us. They say: What would it be like if it wasn’t for you guys?"

“I see Milestone in a way better shape than it was in those days,” Mike continues. “It’s changed so much for the good. It really has.” We agree, and know that Milestone is what it is today because of people like Mike and Curtis, who through the years continue to do whatever it takes – whether it’s taking a wall down four times or keeping the shelter open on Christmas Eve – for clients who are always considered as good as family.

What's in a building? 

In 1920, the building that now houses Milestone’s Residential Treatment Center at 28 Portland Avenue in Old Orchard Beach was known as The Elms, a place described as: New England’s most beautiful seashore resort with good rooms, good beds, and reasonable prices. Tom Ranello, Milestone’s longest-serving board of directors, knows more about the history of Milestone than anyone in the organization, and yet when asked about the history of its buildings, it is the people he keeps returning to: “As far as history is concerned, the buildings are there, but it’s the people who change people’s lives.”

When the Extended Care Program was first established in 1979, it was located on Old Orchard Beach’s Union Street. It wasn’t until the mid-90s that the program was relocated to its current Portland Avenue location (“The Elms”). After more than 20 years, the building is finally starting to look its age. So starting next week, thanks to a gift from a very generous donor, the building will be able to undergo a major facelift, which will include a brand new kitchen. “Consistently, Milestone has been here to help people,” Tom Ranello says. This make-over will ensure that Milestone continues to do just that.

Milestone Welcomes New Board Members

Milestone is pleased to announce the appointment of Christopher Poulos and Ryan Ciriello to its Board of Directors. Christopher Poulos is an emerging national leader in criminal justice policy and addiction recovery. He has served as an advisor to Senator Angus King on matters involving addiction and criminal justice policy, and recently completed an internship with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy where he worked to further the President’s National Drug Control Strategy.

Ryan Ciriello is a Business Intelligence Analyst with Martin’s Point Health Care, and serves on Milestone’s Finance Committee. Last year, he completed Lift360’s Board Connect, a comprehensive board training program that prepares individuals for nonprofit board work through practical board skills training including fiduciary oversight, finances, fundraising, roles and responsibilities, and interactive panels with local nonprofit leaders.

Please come celebrate the first day of summer with us at OTTO on Munjoy Hill for a fundraiser to benefit Milestone. On June 21, from 5 – 9pm, a portion of all sales from OTTO’s 225 Congress Street location will be donated to Milestone, including dine-in, takeout, and gift cards. For more information, click HERE

Help us make our Ride or Run for Milestone a success! In honor of National Recovery Month, Milestone will hold its annual fundraiser on September 10. As a participant, you can choose between a 5K trail run/walk and a 60-mile motorcycle ride. The trail run/walk will take place entirely at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester. The motorcycle ride will begin in Old Orchard Beach and finish at Pineland Farms. Riders and runners will come together for food, live music, and other festivities at Pineland Farms. To register, as an individual participants or as a team, please go to:
If you would like to support Milestone, please email us:
or call 207-775-4790.

Copyright © 2016 Milestone Foundation, All rights reserved.

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