Starfish Village Ministry
Who We Are
Starfish Village is a ministry of the Waterville United Church of Christ that is a comprehensive program for homeless families that provides immediate and long-term practical help, advocacy and mentoring – all structured to meet the specific needs of individual homeless families to help them successfully and more quickly transition into permanent stability. After the one-year period, Starfish Village will continue to mentor the family as needed.
Starfish Village Ministry is practical, rational, and common-sense driven.
Recall the story about the young boy saving one starfish at a time. In this story, miles of starfish are tossed on a beach, brought too far ashore after a storm to out-run the receding tide. A man watches as a boy walks along the beach, repeatedly bending over, picking up one starfish at a time and throwing it into the sea. The man asks the boy what he thinks he’s doing, and the boy explains, “I’m saving starfish. The sun is rising, and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” The older man, wiser but jaded by life, replies, “But son, there are too many starfish on this beach; you can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy listens but then bends down, chooses another starfish, and tosses it into the sea, saying to the man, “Well, it makes a difference to that one.”
If it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly takes a village to save a family. I chose the name Starfish Village for this ministry to always remember the inspiring metaphorical story about the boy who saved one starfish at a time and in recognition of the belief that raising a child or saving a whole family requires the loving and specialized care of many.
What We Do
Using a collaborative partnership model, Starfish Village provides:
Emergency Care that responds to the immediate, urgent needs of the homeless or those facing imminent homelessness;
Intensive Advocacy that facilitates and oversees the delivery of services the homeless are entitled to receive, including advocating on their behalf for any possible charitable giving;
Long Term Mentoring of up to one year that guides a Starfish Village partner-family through the many challenges of transitioning from homelessness into a life of reasonable stability; and
Follow-Up Care offers continued friendship & support to partner-families beyond the one-year transitional period.
Starfish Village is currently evolving into an expansive program that can be described by 3 B's: Beds, Bread & Books.
BEDS represents the work we do helping people move from homelessness to stability.
Starfish provides immediate and long-term practical help, advocacy and mentoring – all structured to meet the specific needs of individuals and families who are without housing (or perhaps facing eviction). Starfish specializes in complex cases requiring more careful and personal care than shelters, private agencies, and government services can consistently provide. We offer more than band-aid measures and discourage lengthy dependency. We believe in the Housing First Model, a model that understands the chaos of homelessness. Having a place to nest and rebuild is foundational to restoring the health of body and soul, good hygiene, better nutrition, finding and successfully holding a job, and putting children back into the kind of stability required to succeed in school.
We are currently advocating for the City of Waterville to open an emergency overnight winter shelter for the unsheltered homeless. It is greatly needed. We recently ran a campaign for tents, sleeping bags, and blankets and received 25 tents, 17 sleeping bags and many blankets, as well as money donations. Within 2 weeks, more than half of these donated items were distributed to unsheltered
homeless in Waterville. Funds were used to purchase pre-paid cards for gas for those living in their cars who need to keep their vehicles running all night in winter. We also supply socks, toilet paper, soap, pet food for companion animals & other necessities to folks living in these encampments.
BREAD represents our meals program.
In August 2021 Starfish Village was asked to support the Waterville Area Soup Kitchen in its quest to provide a hot lunch meals program similar to the one that operated out of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church for decades but was lost to the community when the church closed. This initiative is on hold due to an inability to find an appropriate kitchen and dining space. However, are working with the
WASK team and others, as well as the Mid-Maine Gleaners Group and Colby College Civic Engagement Program, to provide mobile meals to homeless people, senior citizens & working poor, as well as centralize efforts for more efficiency and effect.
BOOKS represents courses designed for learning life skills and personal development.
Starfish Village would like to deliver high quality classes of several kinds that would be open to the community, as well as teens and young children, beginning in fall of 2022. We’re designing them now and they would be simple, fun and also practical – such as courses about personal finance/budgeting, job interviewing, various vocational skills, parenting, health & nutrition, yoga, artistic expression and others. Our community is loaded with talented and experienced people who could provide both education and entertainment.
Can You Help?
If this is the kind of local small proactive ministry you can support, then please help us help others with your financial gift.
Click the button to make your donation online:
Or you can mail a much needed donation directly to the church:
Starfish Village Ministry
c/o Waterville United Church of Christ
PO Box 1585
Waterville, ME O4903-1585