$10,000 donation gives Transformation Project needed boost

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Marc Hodroff, second from left, of 100 Men Who Care, presents Ken Hawley, third from left, of the Transformation Project, with a donation Tuesday morning. Also present were Transformation Project employees Ronnie Bates and Brianna Baca.

WESTBROOK — With the help of 100 Men Who Care, the Transformation Project is hoping to open by the end of the year.

The faith-based Transformation Project, which is located at 907 Main St., works to successfully transition juvenile offenders from Long Creek Youth Development Center into society. It was recently chosen as 100 Men Who Care’s quarterly recipient of $10,000.

“It’s a plus for Westbrook,” said Marc Hodroff, a member of 100 Men. “It’s a plus for the kids.”

The southern Maine chapter of 100 Men Who Care meets four times a year to donate $100 each to a charity. At each meeting, any number of nonprofits can be submitted for consideration, three are then chosen from a hat, and one is chosen by a ballot vote. All of the money is donated to the one that is selected.

Ken Hawley, the director of the Transformation Project, was a guest at the June 27 meeting of 100 Men. He submitted his organization for the quarterly award and said he didn’t know what to expect.

“Surprisingly enough the Transformation Project won,” he said. “We walked away with $10,000 from these guys.”

Hodroff visited the Transformation Project on July 11 to present Hawley with $7,300 of the pledged $10,000. Hodroff said money is still being collected from some members.

Southern Maine’s 100 Men Who Care is in its first year. In its first two quarters it awarded money to Furniture Friends, of Portland and Westbrook, and Grahamtastic Connection, of Springvale.

The region’s counterpart, 100+ Women Who Care, was started in November 2014.

Hawley said the donation from 100 Men Who Care will help finish renovations at the Transformation Project. The building will have a cafe/coffee house and performance venue on the first floor and housing for six young men on the second floor. The cafe will be staffed by Long Creek youth.

In January, Hawley had said he expected the organization to be open to the public and housing youth by spring. On Tuesday he said he expects the building to be open by December. 

With the recent donation, Hawley said the organization has “enough money in the bank to get the ball rolling” on the work that still needs to completed. The cafe, which is at the front of the building, has already had extensive work done. When completed, it will have exposed brick walls and exposed ceiling beams. There will be a fireplace and couches, as well as regular cafe seating.

“We’re looking for an industrial casual feel,” Hawley said.

The intention of the organization, in addition to reintegrating youth offenders into society, is to show the community that the young men are good people capable of change, Hawley said. To help accomplish this, the workers will be very visible to customers.

“It’ll be open-concept so patrons can interact with the people working here,” Hawley said.

The kitchen in the upstairs living space still needs to be built as well. Also, a den father, who will live in his own apartment upstairs, needs to be hired. Hawley said he is in the process of interviewing candidates.

The venue space in the back of the building is close to complete, but still needs a stage to be built, Hawley said. The space will be used to host lectures, poetry readings, theater shows, and other creative performances. It can be rented by members of the public and will also be used as performance space for the Long Creek youth.

“The most important part of the venue is giving young people a platform to share their talents,” Hawley said.

The Transformation Project has already held an open house to show Westbrook residents the space and there are plans to hold another event before the building is officially open. Hawley said he hopes to hold a barbecue block party with live music in September.

The hope, Hawley said, is that the organization brings together youth who need support and residents of Westbrook who are open to having them be a part of the community.

“We want to create a community within a community,” Hawley said. “That’s what a good coffee house does.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Marc Hodroff, second from left, of 100 Men Who Care, presents Ken Hawley, third from left, of the Transformation Project, with a donation Tuesday morning. Also present were Transformation Project employees Ronnie Bates and Brianna Baca.

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