Letter to the editor: Alison McKellar

A more compassionate and inclusive Camden

Posted:  Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - 12:30pm
I will begin by making it clear that although I am a member of the Camden Select Board, what follows is my own personal opinion as a private citizen and is not meant to represent the views of the Select Board nor the town of Camden. 

I have watched quietly on the sidelines over the past couple years as the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition began popping up in headlines and casual conversations with greater frequency. 

A number of my friends have been involved, some with stories of overcoming addiction themselves and others with not such happy stories of loved ones who weren’t so lucky. They speak with eloquence and knowledge about the crucial need that recovery/sober housing can fill in our community and I am proud to join in supporting their effort to be part of the solution. 

63 Washington Street has a long history as a rooming home, both for women and the elderly. Now, it can provide a supportive option for people who have committed to a life free of drugs and alcohol. Let’s not give in to the stereotypes and stigma that have often been attached to this population. There are plenty of homes in Camden that house people who are struggling with addiction but not yet ready to make a change. Surely we can make room in our hearts and in our community to support those who have already gotten sober and committed to a sustainable recovery. 

The people behind the plan challenge us to imagine someone we know who faces an addiction and goes through treatment, but then has nowhere to live. Lack of housing forces many back into unsupportive environments that make recovery difficult, and the high cost of housing has forced many out of Camden altogether. 

Many of us who have chosen to remain in Camden, or to move here, have been motivated by the incredible network of people who are eager to do good work; good work for the environment, for those in need, for people and even animals who need a second chance or a voice at the table. 

For all of our good work though, Camden struggles to make room for some of the most vulnerable among us. We have not invested in increasing the availability of affordable housing.  We have no homeless shelters and no recovery homes. Our commitment to rehabilitating and sheltering dogs and cats is commendable, but we must develop that same sense of compassion and commitment to the people who need us right here in our own backyards. 

Faced with a fundraising deadline that was moved up by three months due to another offer coming in on the home, MCRC has sprung into action, raising roughly half of the needed funds in about two weeks. That shows an impressive level of enthusiasm from the community and I am proud to count myself among the small donors. Let’s raise the remaining $70,000 by December 31st and put the 63 Washington Street home back to work serving the community in a way we can all be proud of. 

People can donate by sending a check to Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition at 411 Main Street, Suite 205, Rockland, ME 04841 or on the website at midcoastrecovery.org

Alison McKellar lives in Camden, and serves on the Select Board