The Pine House is the social hub of Onward Transitions. It is located on the border of the University of Southern Maine within blocks of downtown and is easily accessible by public transportation from any neighborhood in the city proper. We serve community brunch and dinner 6 days a week and the kitchen is open anytime during hours of operation for members stopping in for a meal between classes or before or after work. Food is plentiful, and careful attention is paid to member preferences and dietary needs or restrictions. The Pine House is constantly staffed by mentors and therapists for appointments, drop-ins, therapy, group sessions and social activities throughout the day. It’s a cozy, residential style home with common areas, organic vegetable and herb gardens and a lovely teaching kitchen for cooking and nutrition classes. Monday through Saturday members and staff gather to prepare and share locally sourced delicious meals served family style and overseen by our Wellness Coordinator.
Program Director Austin Mehlhorn, shares his thoughts on working in the Pine House:
“Working at the Pine House is like being at home in some ways. It looks and feels like a home. There are vegetable and flower gardens that are well taken care of, a kitchen that is in almost constant use, and a kitchen table that is usually occupied by people. Our members are constant guests at the Pine House. Living independently in Portland, our members know just where they can come for a good meal, someone to talk to about a life challenge, or help search for a job and get a resume ready. Just like a residential program, we support our members with most aspects of their lives- and then they go home. From organization in their apartments to setting up meeting times for a workout to talking about a struggle that they are having with a roommate. We are here for them in the capacity that they need. Unlike a residential program, we are not a constant part of their day-to-day lives. Members might show up for breakfast and stick around working on finding a job, or they might choose to sleep in and go out with friends for the day if they have the day off from work, school and volunteer service.
Pine House members are in a place where they have shown that they are ready to handle these kinds of responsibilities with some support. One of the biggest challenges is working on finding the balance of where a member is ready for independence and where they need more support. The challenge being that the member is the one who ultimately dictates where the balance is, and being emerging adults; they are bound to get it wrong sometimes. That’s where the Pine House comes in. We are able to be close by when our members make those missteps and mistakes, to help them to not fall too far and to better be able to learn and recover from them.”
The Pine House is closed on Sunday, and major national holidays. 24-hour on call is provided. Occasionally the Pine House has to close due to inclement weather. Each of those days is credited to members by adding an additional day to their quarter.