REM Award Honorees (2014) — Jake Smith and Nancy Wilson (Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter)

In 2010, Jake Smith saw a need at his school, Messalonskee High School. There were some students who didn’t seem to have some of “the school things” that the rest of the kids had. He went to his guidance counselor and was told about the homeless children at Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter.

He enlisted his Nana, or grandmother, Nancy Wilson to work with him. Together they went to the Shelter and talked to the director, Betty Palmer. They asked how they could help. They came up with the idea of making and handing out “Smile Bags” to homeless children staying at Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter. They filled the bags with toiletries, pencils, notebooks, paper, cards, games, stuffed animals, mittens, and a soft cozy blanket, made by Jake and his Nana.

Jake and Nana created an information sheet to give a child’s parents when they arrive at the homeless shelter. They then used this information when making the “Smile Bag” to personalize each one, according to favorite color, etc. Jake and Nancy solicit items from local groups, business, other students, and purchase many themselves. So far, they have made and given out 283 Smile Bags. This idea eventually led to giving needed articles to homeless students at Messalonskee High School and the neighboring schools.

Jacob and Nancy saw a need and found a way to help homeless kids in the local schools and community. They are an incredible family. The Homeless Shelter loves you, Jake and Nancy!

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

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