Greater Portland Health

Making Healthcare Available to Everyone

Staff at Greater Portland Health, Park Avenue

Walking into a Greater Portland Health (GPH) center means stepping into one of the most diverse waiting rooms in the state.  GPH is a federally qualified health center (FQHC) that is committed to providing high-quality healthcare to everyone in the community regardless of ability to pay.  The health center staff serves patients with commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid insurance.  GPH provides a sliding fee scale program for those without insurance. In any of the nine locations around the Greater Portland area, multiple languages are spoken; individuals receive financial counseling, peer support, and case management; and a full suite of healthcare services that include medical, behavioral health and oral healthcare.

GPH serves over 10,000 patients; 50% are uninsured and may have otherwise not had access to quality healthcare services. GPH staff works collaboratively with many other nonprofits in the community to provide services to anyone in need. GPH services are offered to anyone who walks in the door.

“There is great need in our community, and it is our responsibility to make it work.”

— Ann Tucker, CEO of GPH

The staff of 96 professionals speaks 12 different languages.  GPH is committed to creating quality jobs and offers full benefits, vacation time, training, and fair wages, with a strong focus on promoting from within and creating opportunities for professional development. With a collaborative environment committed to empowering its employees to make decisions, GPH couldn’t exist without a staff that believes in, and supports, the mission: to provide high quality patient-centered healthcare that is accessible, affordable, and culturally sensitive.

Nanouchka Muhimpundu & Ann Tucker

Many New Mainers volunteer at GPH while awaiting their work permits. This has led, in multiple instances, to employment for these individuals as Patient Services Representatives. Nanouchka Muhimpundu, for example, moved to Portland from her home country of Burundi in 2013. Having a background in business management and a BA in International Business Administration, she immediately began volunteering in the enrollment and outreach department at GPH. When she received her work permit, she was hired as a Patient Services Representative, and later she was promoted to a Financial Assistance Counselor position. Her broad experience within the healthcare center primed her for a second promotion to Office Manager at the Park Avenue location. “I work here to help patients,” she said. “It reminds me of my own experience when I first arrived in Portland.”

In 2013, GPH began operating as a 501c3 after four years of support from the City of Portland.

“CEI lent us our first loan, which allowed us to get through that first year on our own. We were a huge risk, barely able to make payroll at the time. As a standalone 501c3, we wouldn’t be here without CEI.”

— Ann Tucker, CEO of GPH

The second loan from CEI provided necessary capital to bring IT infrastructure in-house to reduce hosting expenses and be able to provide more healthcare services to the uninsured.

Greater Portland Health stands out as an organization that is promoting shared prosperity in its community by promoting health care access for everyone.

Seedlings to Sunflowers

Childcare Center that Meets Community Needs

Seedlings to Sunflowers, a start-up nonprofit childcare center in Gorham, broke ground on its new facility on Friday, November 10, 2017. Friends Marissa Ritz and Meghann Carrasco were both consumers of the childcare industry. After navigating waitlists, high teacher turnover, less than ideal curriculums and the lack of collaboration between centers and parents, they both were left wanting more for their children. Their passion for educating children was the seed to envisioning the childcare center. “Our goal is to be more than a daycare. For that reason we have labeled ourselves as a childcare and family center,” said Ritz. “As a licensed clinical social worker, I have spent the last decade seeing the impact of the disconnection of families and community/education centers. Our goal is to bridge this gap and to focus on building connections in our community.” Both bring to the startup professional experience and commitment to support the emotional, social and developmental needs of the children, strengthen the relationship between teachers and caregivers, and create a space where children can become active members of their communities.

Meghann Carrasco and Marissa Ritz, co-owners of Seedlings to Sunflowers, at groundbreaking ceremony in November 2017.

The woman-owned and operated non-profit childcare center will offer voucher slots to low-income families and a sliding scale pricing structure. The organization will offer childcare and education for children aged 6 weeks to 5 years, as well as after school programs for children aged 5 to 10 years. Programming will include a STEAM-based curriculum and a greenhouse garden-to-table educational program. An adjacent 16 by 20 foot greenhouse will allow year-round outside time.

“Beyond providing a much-needed service to families, we are excited to help grow the workforce in our area. A goal of the school is to help take a demographic of professionals who are often underpaid and living without benefits and work, and provide the compensation they deserve. Additionally, one of our focus points is to teach community stewardship. We are looking forward to spearheading causes in the Greater Portland area that are consistent with our mission,” said Ritz.

Due to the startup nature of the business, Seedlings to Sunflowers was challenged to find the significant capital needed for the construction of the new 5,300 square foot childcare center. CEI stepped forward with $1.495 million in loan financing from the USDA Community Facilities program and TD Bank. The financing will help with land acquisition, construction, and development of the facility. CEI is also providing workforce assistance to help Seedlings to Sunflowers reach its goal of creating quality jobs and hiring 50 percent of its employees from low to moderate income backgrounds.

“CEI supported us in taking our dream and making it a reality,” said Ritz. “Throughout the process they have helped to guide us and have encouraged us to get clear about our goals. We could not have done this without the financial support, but really, their mentoring has been priceless.”

“Seedlings to Sunflowers is just the kind of business CEI exists to support,” said Daniel Wallace, CEI Loan and Investment Officer, “What stands out is the incredible passion, drive, and capacity of its two co-founders, Marissa and Meghann, to respond to the need for daycare for all members of their community. In addition, Seedlings is committed to providing compelling wrap around programming, including a STEAM-based curriculum and on-site greenhouse, while simultaneously creating quality jobs for their employees.”

The facility is scheduled to open in June 2018.

Tear Cap Workshops

Hands-On Learning in Rural Maine

In the foothills of Western Maine, Thomas Hammond and Sons sawmill, a family-owned and operated business, ran a pine sawmill for over four generations at the base of Tear Cap mountain in Hiram. Originally opening its doors in 1910, the mill shut down suddenly in 2009 due to the national economic collapse and a fire. The rural community which relied on the sawmill as an economic driver felt the loss of this century-old institution. All the employees were laid off, and the owner had to close the doors for good.

“Some people visit and see this place as a ghost town. It’s a very rough diamond, but this place is a classroom and an opportunity.” -Henry Banks

Dan Dolgin, an investor, purchased the property shortly thereafter, and Henry Banks, a local contractor who had sourced wood from the sawmill throughout his career, stepped in as the manager of the site. Henry had always loved the mill and land, and quickly caught the vision to transform the 19.6 acre property, with 12 buildings on site, into a workspace where local tenants could rent workshop or storage space, and learn through hands-on practical training. “I want to teach people how to use their hands to make things. We’re surrounded by woods here in the woods-industry state. These are skills that need to be passed on to the next generation,” said Henry. The property was a blank canvas with strong infrastructure and space for significant expansion.

One of the 12 buildings on site at Tear Cap Workshops

Tear Cap Workshops was co-founded by Henry and his daughter, Sarah together with five founding board members in 2016. Tear Cap Workshops received 501(c)(3) status later that same year. The original plan was to operate this new non-profit, hands-on craft school, next to the artisan collective, either renting or buying a few acres and growing from there. But a few months later, when Dolgin mentioned selling the property, Henry jumped at the idea. “We were fishing without a lure without Tear Cap Workshops owning the property. We knew we would only be at the dream hobby level until the non-profit owned it.”

Sarah Banks found CEI and applied for a loan to help with the purchasing cost of the property. She worked closely with CEI loan officer Art Stevens, who became passionate about the vision to create a small craft school alongside an artisan collective.

“Within minutes of my initial site visit with Henry I could sense his passion for the project and shared in his enthusiasm for the possibilities offered by this unique property. CEI’s capital provided the first critical step in Tear Cap’s realizing its vision and the positive impact of this investment will grow exponentially in the coming years.” -Art Stevens, loan officer, CEI

Art Stevens, Henry Banks, and Sarah Banks

“A project of this size requires a vision and a team. It’s a slow climb, but CEI’s team demonstrated incredible perseverance through the entire process,” said Sarah. After almost a full year working with CEI’s business advising and lending teams, and overcoming complex, time-consuming hurdles, Tear Cap Workshops received a loan from CEI which allowed them to purchase the Hiram Works property and move forward with the dream of owning and operating a great craft school.

“The day we received financing from CEI to purchase the property, I realized, ‘This is my new life!’” -Henry Banks, owner, Tear Cap Workshops

Henry immediately opted out of the contracting business that he had grown and operated for his entire career to invest fully, alongside his daughter, in Tear Cap Workshops. “Our vision grew based on the space; Form followed function,” said Sarah. “We think this is the perfect place to meld a craft school with established artisans and craftspeople. So much of the inspiration of forming Tear Cap Workshops came from this setting and its history. But it still feels surreal — I can’t believe it’s ours.”

Students in the workshop at Tear Cap Workshops

In alignment with the mission of Tear Cap Workshops, all the materials used on site are sourced locally. Much of the wood used in the furniture-making classes, for example, comes from the eight acres of forest land adjacent to the old mill. The first class offered in Fall 2017 was Build a Shave Horse, a precursor to the upcoming Build a Chair class. As an organization that values diversity and inclusion, they will make income assistance available so that students’ inability to pay will not be a barrier. Tear Cap Workshops also took part in the Wood Innovators Conference which drew wood specialists and businesses from around the country, and internationally, around the subject of innovative wood products. The co-founders envision the campus becoming a community space where people can learn, practice, and create.

For now, Tear Cap Workshops is focusing on cleaning up the property, one building at a time. The renovation of the woodworking shop, the primary space for classes, will last through the winter, followed by the installation of saws and benches. They also anticipate a solar installation to improve energy efficiency in 2018 and are currently working with CEI client ReVision Energy.

Ten Ten Pié

Entrepreneurship at Cultural Crossroads

If you stop into Ten Ten Pié and browse for just a few minutes, co-owner Markos Miller will be conversing with customers, many of whom he knows on a first-name basis, while arranging Finnish pies and blueberry buckles alongside pork kimchi steamed buns and huevos rancheros tarts. “Portland has a tremendously supportive food and small-business culture. Entrepreneurs are able to experiment,” said Markos.

Markos arranges treats behind the counter at Ten Ten Pie.

The journey to opening Ten Ten Pié, a takeout bakery/ lunch/ market located on Cumberland Ave. in Portland, began to take shape in 2013 when longtime friends Markos Miller and Atsuko Fujimoto’s passions for food and culture collided. Atsuko, originally from Japan, had been working in the Portland food community for years, as an assistant pastry chef at Fore Street, in production at Standard Baking Co., and as the pastry chef at Miyake. Markos was a high school Spanish teacher and was ready for a change. Their interests and talents merged under the canopy of food enterprise and cultural education, and the idea for a multi-cultural restaurant café featuring crossroads of flavor inspired by French, Japanese, Mexican and Hungarian cuisine was born.

When Markos and Atsuko began dreaming of Ten Ten Pié, the vision was huge. “We wanted to offer a little of everything,” recalled Markos. They approached Tae Chong, Business Advisor in CEI’s StartSmart program, to help turn the vision into reality. “Tae helped us hone the vision and focus on our strengths. He helped us clarify what we wanted to be about by providing a roadmap for our business plan,” said Markos. “For the financial side, we were complete novices. At important decision points, he helped us determine the best approach. Ultimately, we made a business plan that was strong enough to be pitched to four banks, all of whom offered loans.”

The business opened in August 2014, at the crossroads of Portland’s most culturally diverse neighborhood: East Bayside, across the street from Portland Adult Education (PAE), Maine’s largest adult education center with nearly 2,000 New Mainers taking English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, and just off Interstate-295.

Multi-ethnic foods line the shelves in the local market.

“The first year felt like endless work,” said Markos. He and Atsuko ran the business as the only employees for that first year.  As Ten Ten Pié has become more established, Markos and Atsuko have moved from the model of adding employees who simply assist their work, to creating specific roles and responsibilities for each team member. “We try to create systems where our employees are trained and empowered to do their jobs successfully, while being supported and having a sense of autonomy. To reach the business’ full potential, we have to tap into the talent and vision of our employees and our community.” Currently, three years after opening, Markos and Atsuko employ three part-time staff in addition to their full-time roles in the business.

Tae Chong has continued to provide support and connections to the co-owners as the business grows. Tae explained, “When I met Yolanda, a Congolese baker trained in French pastry, and a student at PAE who was interning for another well-known baker in Portland, she was looking for a job. She is a highly skilled professional, and I immediately thought she would fit in at Ten Ten Pié, who was looking to hire another baker.” Now, Yolanda bakes part-time at Ten Ten Pié and continues to take ESL classes across the street.

Ten Ten Pié is a Spanish phrase that means snack and translates literally to keep you on your feet. What the bakery market offers on the shelves is emblematic of its role in the community: it is foreign and exotic enough to be exciting, but comfortable and familiar enough that customers feel they have a place and can connect with the food. Markos remarked, “We offer a little bit of something for a lot of different people.”

Kendall Community Case Management Agency

Andrea Kendall of Perry, Maine worked at minimum wage jobs as a cashier, a salmon pen net mender, and office worker/manager while she was raising her family. In 1992, at the age of 42, and with the encouragement and full support of her now-husband David, she took a giant step and went to college to earn a Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in Human Services and a minor in Computer Applications.

A licensed social worker since 1997, Andrea chose to leave her stressful position with the State of Maine Department of Health and Human Services at the age of 62. The job search that followed was unsuccessful, so Andrea made the decision to branch out on her own and start her own business. “My biggest worry was whether or not I had the smarts in me or enough business acumen to do it,” said Andrea.

“Working with Ruth Cash-Smith, my Women’s Business Center advisor, made me feel positive about myself and helped me believe I should go for it. I learned to write a business plan and do cash flows. I now understand how important these are to my business.”

A year after she started working with the Women’s Business Center, Andrea launched Kendall Community Case Management Agency, a case management firm serving clients with intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorders.

Lofts at Saco Falls (Saco-Lowell Shops), Biddeford

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

The 20th century saw a huge shift in textile manufacturing from New England to the American South, and ultimately overseas. This seismic change posed enormous challenges for towns along the Saco River, home to some of the largest cotton milling complexes in the country. As orders dried up, it became impossible for the Saco-Lowell Shops in Biddeford to survive. By 2015, the building was virtually empty, and it had been years since any significant maintenance had been done. A leaking roof and broken windows compromised structural members and rotted the floors.

Lack of interest in reviving the property was due primarily to its location next to a trash burning electricity plant. But when the City of Biddeford decided to purchase and demolish that facility, the historic property next door had a second chance and the Szanton Company snapped it up.

The new owner had two goals: 1) to preserve a vital part of Biddeford’s industrial and cultural history; and 2) to provide desperately needed, high quality, new rental housing for diverse income groups.

This tax credit rehabilitation project encountered major hurdles including extensive rot in the carrying beams holding up the first level; the decision to demolish a 20th century connector building without damaging adjacent 19th-century buildings; and careful repair of the “scar tissue” on the face of the 1867 north wing. Crews also had to remove existing heating, plumbing and electrical systems, and replace all windows—including some mid-19th century openings that had been blocked for decades. They even had to remove and rebuild the gargantuan roof, and repoint all the exterior brickwork.

With much of the structural work complete, the builders created corridors inside of each major wing with new 1- and 2-bedroom apartments on either side. A fitness room, bicycle storage room, community room with kitchen, and other amenities were added. In the attic of the 1842 wing, a hauling wheel framed with heavy timbers — believed original to the building—was discovered, as well as an enormous chest of drawers once used to store spare machine parts. Both artifacts have been placed in the community room for display.

All 80 apartments inside the Saco-Lowell Shops were leased by the end of the first month of availability—an eye-opening demonstration of the pent-up demand for high-quality, affordable and market-rate new rental housing in Biddeford. An empty and forlorn structure facing demolition was transformed it into a state-of-the- art residence for 80 families, while also creating a facility that helps to interpret the industrial history central to Biddeford’s cultural identity.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.

Grand Trunk Railway Company Building (Gorham Savings Bank), Portland

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

For years it stood alone at the corner of India and Commercial streets—the all but forgotten Grand Trunk Railway Company Building, constructed in 1903. Once an outbuilding for the sprawling 1901 Grand Trunk Railroad Station, the three-story Company Building was all that remained after the station complex was thoughtlessly demolished beginning in 1961.

But decades later, there was good news for the fortunate survivor. In 2016, seeing an ideal location for a suite of corporate office, Gorham Savings Bank purchased the building and initiated a rehabilitation project using historic tax credits.

The building was constructed of red brick trimmed with granite and highly decorative brick details, with pressed copper enlivening the roof cornice. On the interior, historic finishes survived in many locations, including bead board wainscoting, molded window and door casings with corner blocks, and wood flooring likely associated with the original structure. Still, years of roof leaks likely associated with a third-story constructed in the 1930s had caused extensive structural damage and deterioration of plasterwork. Additionally, several original transom windows had been blocked, and nearly every other original window replaced without attention to historic character.

Gorham Savings and its many development partners, including Developers Collaborative and Archetype Architects, repainted all the exterior brick while unblocking all second-floor window openings. New wood windows were fabricated, along with exterior storms, once again providing stunning views of Portland’s waterfront. Inside, the team encountered structural inconsistencies that required replacement of key structural elements. As interior work progressed, 1980s suspended ceilings were removed and historic finishes like plaster walls and ceilings, bead board wainscoting and wood trim restored. Teams also removed the decorative copper cornice around the edge of the roof and completely reframed the structure. Now, with the original copper, back in place, the cornice should endure for another century.

Without Gorham’s intervention and dedication, this vestige of Maine’s transportation history could have deteriorated beyond repair. Instead, it has become the bank’s busy, new downtown Portland office—with 23 staffers working onsite. The first floor currently holds a retail area along with an interactive teller machine, allowing customers to video bank with tellers at other locations. The second floor is occupied by Gorham Savings’ marketing and business banking staff, while the third floor holds executive offices and a board room.

The main station may have been lost, but The Grand Trunk Railway Building endures, and has become yet another tax credit success story at the edge of the city’s Old Port.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.

46 Lisbon Street, Lewiston

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

The building at 46 Lisbon Street has been an iconic presence in downtown Lewiston since 1895. Best known as the home of Grant’s Clothing for nearly 60 years, the building was purchased by Terry’s Bridal in 1985—the same year 46 Lisbon was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The owner, Kevin Morin, had two goals for the project. First was the desire to be an active participant in the ongoing resurgence of downtown Lewiston. The second was to rehabilitate a significant building in a way that respected the history of the space while also introducing elements of modernity. Floor plans were changed minimally. Doors, interior windows, and openings were preserved, and the original wood floors were sanded and refinished. Entirely new electrical, plumbing, heating, and communications systems were seamlessly integrated into the historic fabric.

Despite these large-scale enhancements, it was the attention to small details that lent this project its defining character. Gas powered brass light fixtures found in the basement were restored, and historic doors that had been removed were repurposed as sliding barn doors. Original wavy glass still present in the historic windows was retained; a large metal skylight was preserved and reopened. A huge wood and glass display box that had been sitting on the third floor unused for decades was repurposed as a dramatic chandelier above the third -floor kitchen. It’s also crucial to the integrity of the interiors that the owners maintained the intricate wood trim and doors, most of which were original and in excellent condition.

The project’s success is due to collaboration and a shared sense of mission among several partners. The City of Lewiston played an integral part in making the project a reality – both with financial support and by connecting the owners with other organizations. Coastal Enterprises, Inc. and Maine Preservation also played essential roles by providing guidance, historic insight, depth of experience, and in the case of CEI, financial investment. What was once a vacant, neglected and vulnerable building is now a fully rehabilitated, exquisitely designed and constructed landmark in downtown Lewiston. The project is a fine example of small-scale redevelopment, and of what can be achieved with collaboration and vision.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.

The Francis Hotel, Portland

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

The Mellen E. Bolster House on Congress Street in Portland was designed by Francis Fassett in 1881 and built as a single-family residence for a wealthy dry goods purveyor. Fassett was one of the premier local architects of his time, and is credited with many outstanding Victorian –era residences built in Portland after the Great Fire of 1866. His influence is instantly recognizable in the West End, where prized mansions designed by Fassett or his protégé, John Calvin Stevens remain standing. The Bolster House is one of the rare properties on which the two architects collaborated.

Hay & Peabody Funeral Home purchased the Bolster House in the early 1900s and installed the beautiful Seth Thomas clock still visible out front. In the ensuing years, the funeral home moved out and the once-grand mansion deteriorated. After standing vacant for over a decade, new owners Nate, Tony and Jake DeLois and Jeff Harder purchased it in 2015 and initiated plans to convert the single-family residence into a 15-room hotel and spa with a 49-seat restaurant. The hotel is now named The Francis, in honor of one of its designers, and the restaurant is called Bolster, Snow & Co.

Conditions in the building prior to development were less than ideal. The gas, electric and water services, along with modes of access and fire safety systems, all needed attention and updating. Windows were in poor condition and required major refurbishment, and some of the floors were unusable due to water damage and years of wear and tear. Luckily, some historic features were reasonably well-preserved; a good portion of the original wood flooring was covered in carpet and needed only refinishing. One of the first things guests now notice is the beautifully restored front doors’ stained-glass windows, and the wow factor continues in the lobby with simple furnishings that allow the fireplace mantle and inlaid floors to shine.

The scope of work included refurbishing all historic features, modernizing building systems, installing an ADA compliant elevator and carving out spaces for 15 hotel rooms and a modern restaurant. One of the biggest challenges involved plumbing: the building previously had 3 restrooms. Today it has 18.

On the exterior, a major concern was the deterioration of the rear brick wall and the roof of the former garage. The roof needed to be reinforced and replaced and the brick needed to be stabilized. Fortunately, a good portion of the wall could be dismantled and re-bricked. The revitalized garage became a ground floor suite for the hotel that became instantly popular among guests.

Long vacant, this treasure on Congress Street is now available to the entire community. Over twenty jobs have been created. The Bramhall Square neighborhood, which is experiencing a renaissance fuelled by entrepreneurs who’ve opened Tandem Bakery, Bramhall Pub, The Roma, and Trattoria, is even stronger. And Maine’s largest city can offer visitors a small, charming hotel that celebrates the region’s mercantile past.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.

Schlotterbeck & Foss Building, Portland

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

The Schlotterbeck & Foss Company was first incorporated in February 1892 as a premiere food and pharmaceuticals manufacturing facility in downtown Portland. The company’s 1927 home on Preble Street is significant as the only major Art Deco-style building designed by John Calvin Stevens and John Howard Stevens, and as one of the few surviving commercial buildings designed by the firm.

Structurally, the facility made use of then- new technology for supporting a large masonry building on filled land with composite wood and concrete pilings. It remained essentially unaltered from the time of its construction, but bore several examples of wear and tear. When ownership transferred to John Anton, Tom Watson and Brian Bush with a goal of rehabilitating the structure for residential use, Sutherland Conservation & Consulting prepared a nomination for inclusion on the National Register to make the building eligible for historic tax credits. Once funding was secured, rehabilitation processes with Goduti/Thomas Architects began, starting with masonry repairs to the cast stone and brick exterior, replacement of single-glazed windows with matching insulated windows, and installation of efficient modern mechanical systems.

The primary entrance on Preble Street was retained and restored for use by offices that now fill the first floor. The existing south entrance was expanded to provide access to both offices and residential units. Original stairs in the building were retained and a new, modern elevator installed. Residential units are located throughout the building and feature open plans with partial-height partition walls. Historic brick and concrete walls, floors, ceilings, and structural columns remain exposed, expressing the industrial character of the spaces.

The result of the project was the creation of 55 housing units in addition to first-floor office space. Taken together, they represent a vibrant new addition to Portland’s post-industrial Bayside neighborhood.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.