PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- If a child needs support in the mid-coast area, then The Landing Place is there to help.
The Landing Place's mission is to break the cycles of poverty and homelessness in mid-coast Maine. They do that by providing housing, a warm meal and simply by keeping the front door open according to the organization's director, Joseph Hufnagel.
"Free clothing, free laundry services, free hot shower and you know we are the youth program of Knox County Homeless Coalition, so we have multiple resources beyond just here at the center," said Hufnagel.
Many kids who come out to their parents as LGBTQ end up at The Landing Place. The organization does what it can to help, but next door at Out Maine those kids can also find a safe space. Out Maine has been serving LGBTQ kids since 1996 according to executive director, Jeanne Dooley.
"Because they are LGBTQ, eight out of ten of them are being bullied regularly in school," said Dooley. "Much higher risk of substance use, three to four times the suicidal thoughts and actions of their heterosexual peers. These are all in Maine."
Schools have come a long way since Out Maine was formed 22 years ago, but Dooley says that about 45% of them still don't have any gay straight alliance groups. That's why weekly meetings at Out Maine are important.
"My best friend has a really bad home life," said Out Maine member Cecilius Hopkins. "His parents are very unnaccepting."
As long as that continues, Out Maine and The Landing Place will continue to offer a safe, inclusive space for everyone. The Landing Place has around 70 youth who attend programs each week. Out Maine has weekly group meetings and yearly retreat weekends that attract between 300 and 400 teens.