Millinocket students visit the veterans community in Chelsea

CHELSEA, Maine (WABI) – A school project took a group of eight students from Millinocket Middle School on a three-hour trip to visit the cabin in the Wood Veterans Community in Chelsea.

“The biggest thing that would make me very happy is if it could go statewide or nationwide,” Millinocket student Ben Waite said.

This is part of the reason why students choose to visit the veteran community from a long list of project ideas on social issues they come up with.

“It was important for us to see how this whole facility was built,” Waite said.

They said it was also important to meet some of the veterans who live on the 11-acre property, built in 2018 to help address homelessness issues facing veterans. It currently houses 20 veterans in the community of 21 cabins surrounded by nature. Joseph Moore is one of them.

Like many veterans who struggle with homelessness for various reasons, Moore said he was thrilled when he got the call from an available unit after being on the waitlist.

“I remember being a kid and seeing someone who was homeless,” recalls Michael Merrill, program director for Volunteers of America. “There was this idea that they were lazy and didn’t want to give back to the community.”

Merrill says that’s not the case.

“They’re one of the hardest working communities I’ve worked with,” he said.

The student’s goal is to raise awareness of what he calls an invisible problem. They hope to see more of these communities so that those who serve have a place to call home.

“There’s a misconception that young people are self-centered, it disproves that,” Merrill said.

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