“Losing Hanna,” says Jocelynne, 25, about her greatest fear about living in a tent when she had run out of couch-surfing options. “It’s OK to camp with a child but there’s no running water and I wouldn’t have wanted to subject her to that. And [the department of Health and Human Services] would probably have taken her away.”

Jocelynne became homeless in April when she was notified that her grandmother’s lease forbade extra tenants. “I got a tent and was getting my blankets and stuff all ready,” she says, when she and Hanna learned they could move into the shelter on Old County Road. 

Jocelynne works full-time cleaning rooms at the Hampton Inn (“They told me I’m a natural, so that’s good!) and the shelter van donated by Darling’s in Bangor drives her to and from work and Hanna to and from the grandmother’s house for day care. “That would be a lot of money on cabs,” she says. And the reprieve from paying rent means she can put money in a new savings account for a security deposit and furniture for their own apartment. 

Hanna turns 6 on September 17. “She’s super happy here,” says Jocelynne, and more savings will come with holding the birthday party at the shelter instead of at a rented party space. 

Chase Philbrook is Jocelynne’s caseworker with the Knox County Homeless Coalition. He connected her with the Goodwill Workforce Program that will train her for a career providing better pay and more stability, and he is also helping in the search for an affordable apartment. 

Jocelynne, Chase says, “is probably one of the best mothers I’ve ever come across in this line of work. Every spare moment is devoted to playing and interacting with her child. Given she is living in a shelter, has a limited income, no car, and doesn’t know how long she will be without her own apartment, to still be that positive role model for her child is remarkable.”

Hanna is one of about 130 children who are homeless in our area and now under the care, with her mother, of the Knox County Homeless Coalition. The coalition has a current caseload of 260 people. At Hospitality House on Old County Road, they are able to provide shelter for 23. They subsidize shelter in motel rooms and campsites and offer intensive wraparound case management services and a host of support services, delivered with respect, dignity and genuine caring, all geared toward helping clients achieve sustainable, productive independence. Since Hospitality House opened under new management in early 2014, over 1,400 people in Knox, Waldo and parts of Lincoln County have been helped in some way, and 701 clients moved into independent housing. To donate much-needed funds, or learn more about the Knox County Homeless Coalition, call 593-8151, or email info@homehelphope.org.