Thirty-one men at the YMCA in Portland are safe after a fire Thursday afternoon threatened their dormitory accommodations on Forest Avenue.
“We don’t know how the fire started,” says YMCA of Southern Maine CEO Helen Breña. “We’re working with the fire department to determine that.”
Breña says initially, the Y was afraid that 31 of the 88 rooms had been affected, but after fire officials assessed the damage, the staff and a cleaning company were able to remove all the water, smoke and ash, and all of the men were able to return to the dormitory late Thursday.
“Staff did an amazing job and were able to get everyone out safely. The fire department came and quickly put the fire out,” she says.
Breña says the YMCA provides an important resource for men who need a place to stay, through the Giving Residers Opportunity for Wellbeing program, or GROW.
“Men who may be coming from the shelter or from the streets, sometimes we also have immigrant men coming into the community and needing a place to stay and needing support to help them take the next step,” she says.
Breña says the men stay in the dormitory for one-week increments, developing independent living skills and a sense of community. Last year the Y of Southern Maine served 154 men through GROW.