REM Award Honorees (2013) — Patricia Begin and Deborah Hicks (Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter)

Patricia “Tish” Begin has been a shelter volunteer for three years. She first started volunteering at the overflow shelter and then transitioned to working in the Friday Food Pantry. She later became the lead volunteer responsible for training other volunteers who joined this team.

As a retired public school teacher, however, Tish missed working with the children, so she trained another volunteer to become the “lead” person. Tish is now doing what she loves — reading and singing with the children. She’s known as the “Music Lady” and can be observed sitting on the floor with captivated children around her. Their parents describe Tish as being “awesome” and “engaging.”

She also enjoys sitting and talking with adults. “I really feel like we’re equals. We’re all the same,” she says. In addition to these activities, Tish has been instrumental in organizing a group of women to teach machine- and hand-sewing classes at the shelter.

Deborah HicksWhile Deborah “Debbie” Hicks has only been a shelter volunteer for just over one year, she has quickly demonstrated her ability to be very versatile and flexible, always with a genuine smile. She started volunteering in the overflow shelter and then transitioned to volunteering at the Ticonic Street shelter before we relocated to 19 Colby Street.

As a volunteer, Debbie socializes with the guests, both children and adults, making them feel comfortable when they first move into the shelter. Debbie also helps with the cooking, checks in shelter guests, partners with new volunteers, and provides general assistance to night staff. As a result, night staff find Debbie invaluable as she requires minimal direction and takes the initiative as needed. Debbie has also been instrumental in encouraging others to become shelter volunteers. At least eight people near Debbie’s home town of Corinna have recently started volunteering.

For more information about the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, please visit its website.

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