The retirement party honoring Joe Curll, executive director of Coastal Opportunities for the last 36 years, has been postponed. A new date will be announced as soon as possible, according to organizers.
On behalf of the Coastal Opportunities Executive Director Board of Directors, Ann Bex, board president, announced the retirement of Joe Curll as Coastal Opportunities executive director after an extremely successful and distinguished 36-year career.
After graduating in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from North Adams State College in Massachusetts, Joe began his career just as deinstitutionalization was beginning, interviewing people and placing them in group homes and apartments in Milford, Massachusetts.
Resources were limited in those days, and they had only one staff member, 12 residents with MH/MR diagnosis, and no vehicle for transportation. Joe and his family moved to Maine in 1979, and he first took a position with the State of Maine consulting with private providers who were developing homes for folks moving out of Pineland, Maine’s only institution for folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Joe joined The Coastal Workshop (the former name of Coastal Opportunities) in February 1984.
At that time, there were no residential facilities, and the primary focus was to directly provide employment opportunities to clients, such as bulk mailing and working at Willow Street Bakery, at several sites, including the current location on Limerock Street, a church basement in Lincolnville, and at the Academy building in Warren.
The board’s main goal since the 1980s has been to develop residential programs for IDD clients.
Joe was instrumental in expanding the residential program, with some structures being designed and built to meet the needs of specific individuals. The first home, The Vera Brandes Home in Thomaston, opened in 1987, serving six adults with IDD, and it still provides the same service today.
Recognizing the importance of this incredible opportunity to both clients and their families, the Agency has renovated and built a total of eight residences, operates supported-living apartments at two locations in Camden, and now houses 32clients. With residences located in six different communities, the Agency maintains a fleet of vans, many of them adapted to wheelchairs or other special needs.
During Joe’s tenure, the Agency grew from a budget of about $200,000 to over $4.3 million today, and from a staff of about 15 then to over 85 today.
“Joe has done so much in his career to help those we serve through the growth of our Agency,” said Ann Bex. “Over the past nearly four decades, he and our dedicated employees have helped hundreds of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live significantly better lives. We can’t thank him enough.”
Looking forward to retirement, Joe said, “My wife, Hilda, and I plan to spend more time with our grandchildren in Maryland, visit our son in Utah, and eventually do some traveling, perhaps a river cruise and visits to England or Ireland.”