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The Trinity Jubilee Center, now a secular non-profit, was originally a project of the Trinity Episcopal Church. Trinity Church had opened at the current location in 1882. A century later, however, the congregation had dwindled and in the late 1980s the Bishop told Rev. Bill Baxter to “close the church.”
Instead, Baxter convinced the Bishop to let him try something new, and he then encouraged the congregation to change the focus of its ministry, to open the doors even wider- to the neighborhood only a few steps away. And so, Trinity Church, struggling and financially unstable itself, began reaching out to the impoverished, struggling neighborhood.
The Urban Ministry Training Center (UMTC) began to take shape in the early 1990’s in the hall beneath the church. Soon, three meals a week were cooked by staff, volunteers, and the nuns of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. The doors opened for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings; emergency food filled the pantry. By the late 1990s the Trinity Church was bursting at the seams with not only the UMTC but also Faithworks (later called Outsourceworks), a welfare-to-work program.
The Bishop’s Task Force on Trinity recommended that the UMTC and Faithworks become independent non-profit organizations. In 2001 the center was recognized as a Jubilee Center of the Episcopal Church, the first in Maine, and was renamed the Trinity Jubilee Center. Also in 2001, the Trinity Jubilee Center (TJC) was officially incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit. The Center was now a separate, non-religious organization, although the Trinity Church continued to allow the center to use the first floor of the building.
The Jubilee Center continued to grow, becoming a United Way Agency and partnering with Bates College Dining Services and St. Mary’s D’Youville Pavilion to receive food donations. The Center served hot meals four days a week and the Salvation Army used the facility to provide meals on the other three days. Donations of clothing and household goods were accepted and distributed.
In 2007 the Center hired its first full-time Executive Director. The Jubilee Center’s day shelter became the official Warming Center for the city of Lewiston. As refugees began to arrive in the city, the Refugee Integration Program was created to best meet their unique needs.
From 2007-2010 the After-School Tutoring Program provided academic support for local youth, filling a need until the local school department created more extensive, school-based programs. The partnership with the Salvation Army ended and the Jubilee Center began serving hot lunches six days a week. The Jubilee Center’s Resource Center, already offering services including staff assistance addressing problems, phone, fax, and internet access, and a mailing address for homeless patrons, expanded again with the addition of the Free Clinic, providing medical attention to those in need.
The Center is now open six days a week and offers five programs: the Meals Program, Food Pantry, Day Shelter, Resource Center, and Refugee Integration Program. More than 1,000 people are served by these programs every week.