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Updated: April 17, 2024

'Harbinger of hope': $650K boost for Biddeford teen center under construction in former church

Church interior undergoing renovation Courtesy / My Place Teen Center The former St. Andre's Church in Biddeford is being transformed into a second My Place Teen Center.

My Place Teen Center, a Westbrook-based nonprofit, has been awarded $650,000 in federal funding toward the $3.7 million construction of a second center, in downtown Biddeford.

The center, set to open in September, will be housed in the former St. Andre's Church.

File photo
Donna Dwyer

"A pure labor of love and longevity,” My Place Teen Center Executive Director Donna Dwyer said of the renovation project in progress. "Find a way — there’s always a way.”

Like My Place Teen Center in Westbrook, the Biddeford branch is envisioned as a welcoming community space for teens and will work to help them deal with food insecurity and substance abuse.

The funding is part of the $454 million — for 185 projects — that U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, secured for the state in the latest congressional directed spending appropriations package.

“Over the past several years unprecedented challenges have contributed to declines in mental health for young people across Maine,” King said. “Traumas that hurt now can have lingering impacts that last a lifetime if they aren’t addressed. By giving our children a safe space to heal and grow alongside a steady support system, we are setting them up for a brighter, healthier tomorrow."

Dwyer was honored as a Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2015.

With the $650,000 boost, she said it will be possible to pay for the final stages of transforming the 17,000-square-foot shuttered church. Among other things, the money will go to furnishings, fixtures, equipment, a security system, information technology and phone system.

“Changing the trajectory of vulnerable, young lives is at the heart of keeping kids safe, fed and loved,” she said. “This significant gift is a harbinger of hope for thousands of Maine youth.”

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