This year, Windham Middle School (WMS) has experienced the greatest number of students identified as homeless. As with any displaced population, these students do not have their basic needs met and, as a result, struggle to find success at school. In addition to food insecurity, students’ ability to succeed is challenged as a result of inadequate childcare, lack of access to health care, physical health problems and learning delays.
According to the American Psychological Association, poverty and homelessness has a particularly
While there may be a multitude of reasons for the increase in homelessness, WMS Principal, Drew Patin suspects the limited availability of affordable housing is one of the major contributing factors. “Many families simply cannot afford the rising costs of living, especially as rents increase but incomes do not.”
Patin continued with a story of a family whose rent increased from $1200 to $1500 per month. Unable to afford the $300 monthly addition to their budget, they simply had to move out of their home. “Now, families in these circumstances are finding that it is much cheaper to purchase a motorhome or camper and live in it.”
Although homelessness has risen in the past year in the Windham area, families and individuals without a permanent living arrangement have been a concern at Windham Middle School for the past five or more years. To help these students who experience financial hardships, the Student Assistance Program was established in 2015. Since then, it has expanded in the breadth of specific needs and number of students the program supports. Area businesses and individuals have been diligent in contributing financial donations for the many needed items and has contributed to its success.
But with the rise in homelessness, the need is increasing, and donations are still essential. “The resources made available through the community’s generosity has made a significant impact in the lives of our students and sends the message to them and their families that Windham is a community that cares,” stated Patin.
Financial donations go toward the following items:
· Daily snacks
· Clothing, shoes, and basic toiletries (many of our students shower and brush teeth in our school due to their home environments)
· Food assistance
· Holiday meals for the family
· Christmas gifts for students
· Scholarships to pay for event fees such as school field trips and other extracurricular activities
· Eye care and health care- Many of our students lack the proper health care and do not have insurance
· Donations are also used to purchase incentives and rewards for students to recognize their growth in academics or behavior.
“On a macro level, this program helps to build community through giving time and financial support,” Patin said. “It provides a sense of belonging and is what helps people get up in the morning.”
Patin is also clear where WMS wishes to play a role in their students’ lives. “We can either place blame or find a way to provide assistance – especially to the youth in our community. And we, here at Windham Middle School, have chosen to provide assistance. We want to help our students to succeed.”
Individuals or organizations who wish to make a financial donate to the WMS Student Assistance Program can do so by reaching out to Drew Patin, by phone at 207-892-1820 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The financial donation can support any one of the above list programs or a special request for the donation to go toward one specific item listed above.