Our Story

The Transformation Project at 907 Main Street in Westbrook, Maine, is a Reentry Support Center with a mission to see lives transformed and better our communities by equipping and providing reentry opportunities for young adult offenders.

“I’ve come to realize in the nearly 20 years I’ve been ministering inside Maine prison and jails that doing ministry inside lock-up is the easy part…extremely important, but relatively easy. The hard part is helping our young people successfully transition back into our communities.

When those who have been incarcerated are released, they face significant and immediate challenges in sustaining personal and spiritual growth, finding housing and employment, building safe and healthy relationships, and integrating back into their families and communities.

The term “Re-entry Support” acknowledges that practical supports, creative programs, along with opportunities for healing within the context of community are imperative for these challenges to be transformative.” – Ken Hawley, Founder and President of the Transformation Project

THE PROBLEM

“Now I am about to face the scariest test – I expect to be released from Cumberland County Jail this fall. There are so many unknowns ahead and I do not want to go back to my old neighborhood. That’s why I’m praying for The Transformation Project!” – Damion, 18 years old

“Really depressed, I isolated myself and began cutting. I broke into people’s homes, got arrested, and was sent to lock-up. I thought for sure when I got out I’d never go back. But I got sent back time after time.” – Rhiannon, 20 years old

What can we say to young people like Damion or Rhiannon when they ask us for help? Like so many others coming out of lockup, they’ve grown up with little or no love, guidance or stability in their lives. They’ve made mistakes – often serious ones – but have paid the price and have demonstrated a sincere desire to change and make amends. Unfortunately, without the right supports in place when these young people leave corrections, they’re destined to fail.

Don’t they deserve a chance to live out their potential?

Hundreds of the young men and women I’ve grown to love inside Correctional facilities throughout Maine have made remarkable and transformative progress in preparing for a new life. But once out and on their own, without a supportive community to help them transition, they find the outside world just as hard and uncaring as when they left it.

These are the young people with hearts brimming with good intentions and hope for a better future, but nowhere to go where those intentions can take root and grow into meaningful lives.
Without the right type of opportunities, guidance and love, lives are not changed and our young people return to their old and familiar lives. Without program like The Transformation Project the recidivistic cycle continues.

Without help and love, some may even die on the streets alone.

We can calculate the costs of incarcerating someone for years, but there is no way to calculate what we all lose when a young person is not given a chance to become who God created them to be and to make a positive difference in the lives of others. They deserve an opportunity to feel like their life has significance.

“I can tell you first-hand that leaving prison can be as traumatic as arriving. I wonder what path my life would have taken if there had been a program like The Transformation Project in Westbrook when I was released for the first time at 17.” – Todd, 32 years old

TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

When up and running, The Transformation Project will provide life changing opportunities for our young people coming out of Maine jails and prisons. Through structured residential programs, accountability, employment, mentoring, and life skills training they’ll learn how to become trusted employees and valued community members.

Our building at 907 Main Street in Westbrook will have a home for up to eight residents at a time, with separate quarters for house parents. A bakery/coffee shop and meeting/performance space downstairs will provide a safe place for these young people to begin the process of integrating into the larger community.

Most of the essential components of The Transformation Project will occur under this one roof. It will be a safe harbor for young people who have been adrift all their lives.

Residents will work hard and flourish in the newly found safety and stability of a loving home and positive work environments. And community members will have the opportunity to get to know and appreciate our young people, whether they’re working hard on the other side of the Cafe counter or showcasing their creative talents in the performance space.

I know once you meet them, they’ll inspire you to get involved and engaged with their reintegration process!

“They saw potential in me that I didn’t. They wanted me to succeed.” – Josh, 23 years old

The program will be available to all who have demonstrated a heartfelt desire to grow into their God-given potential. Regardless of belief or background, lives will be transformed and communities changed for the better.

If you could speak with any one of these remarkable young people we’ve been privileged to work with, you’d see hope in their eyes and a commitment to a life they never had before.

THE JOURNEY SO FAR

The extraordinary generosity of the community so far has brought us to a critical point.

Here’s just some of what we’ve accomplished in the last year:

  • We purchased a historic brick building on Main Street and have begun remodeling the interior;
  • We painted the building’s brick exterior a vibrant gold – a color that mirrors the precious qualities we see in the young men and women we work with;
  • We completed architectural plans for our interior renovation; and
  • We have the approvals and permits we need from the City of Westbrook to begin and complete interior work and prepare for occupancy.

All of this has been made possible thanks to tremendous ongoing support from:

  • the Maine Department of Corrections;
  • the Westbrook Police Department;
  • Discover Downtown Westbrook;
  • dozens of area churches and ministries;
  • hundreds of volunteers giving heartfelt time and money; and
  • many more organizations and individuals who believe these young men and women deserve a chance at a better life.

There is much more to do. But we’re ready to hit the ground running!

We’ve gathered a team of architects, plumbers, electricians, skilled carpenters and dry-wallers, HVAC specialists, interior designers, and other professionals eager to give of their expertise and service during the final stages of this project.

Over and above the labor donated by our growing group of volunteers, these generous professionals have offered us in-kind MATCHING DONATIONS valued at $75,000.

Will you help us provide a home, caring house parents, structure, and accountability for our young people to successfully transition back into our communities? Will you help us raise the funds for employment and life skill training that will prepare our young offenders to fulfill their potential?

These young people are so worth our investment! Will you choose to partner with us to see lives transformed and better our communities?

“Over the years of going into correctional facilities, I’ve discovered these dark communities are like goldmines. They’re full of potential, value and worth! Hidden within so many offenders I’ve seen leaders, artists, culinary geniuses, craftsmen, teachers, entrepreneurs, and much more.” Ken Hawley, Founder and President

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