In September of 2018, Conde Nast Traveler recently listed Portland, Maine atop its list of “Most Beautiful Towns in America”. Please click here: Conde Nast: Portland to read the article.
Photos & Videos
Foundation House is proud to support the amazing organization at Special Surfers – a non-profit group that gives special needs children and young adults the opportunity to ride the waves. There is no cost to participants or their families, and all equipment and instruction is provided. Special Surfers events are held the third Tuesday of each month in June, July and August at Gooches Beach in Kennebunk, Maine. Hundreds of special surfers and volunteers participate at each event, providing a real sense of community and accomplishment for all.
Our residents and staff are thrilled to spend time in the water with this inspiring organization and its courageous participants. The Special Surfers program shows the joy a community can bring to the lives of special needs individuals and their families through volunteerism and generosity.
The images below are from the evening of August 21, 2018.
Ten Foundation House residents and staff traveled to Grafton Notch State Park this weekend, to tackle twenty miles of the Appalachian Trail (AT), including the infamous Mahoosuc Notch. This stretch of the AT is known for relentless elevation ascents and descents, making the hike both tiresome and sluggish. The group started off by climbing almost 3,000 feet to the 4,170ft summit of Old Speck Mountain. From there, they descended to 3500ft. to Old Speck Pond campsite where they fished, camped, and held a meeting. The guys woke up early the following morning and descended 1,500ft over 2 miles, finally bringing them to the entrance of the Mahoosuc Notch.
The Notch is a one mile stretch of trail littered with giant boulders, fallen trees, and ice, that serves as the wilderness equivalent to an adult jungle gym. The crew tirelessly scrambled over, under, and around these natural roadblocks putting them through the Mahoosuc Notch in just under two hours. As exhausting as the Notch was, the group remained motivated and immediately began their ascent of yet another mountain. Fatigued and unspeakably smelly, the group arrived at Full Goose campsite with just enough time to set up tents and hammocks, eat a hearty meal of pasta and meatballs, and have their second meeting of the trip. Both meetings on the trip centered around identifying specific issues in our residents lives that they have been aware of but have continuously failed to take any action to combat the issue. By the end of the second meeting, every member of the group seemed motivated to take the steps to address these issues upon their return to Portland.
With eight miles to go on their final day, the crew set off early, and by 10:30am, had already summited three more peaks over the course of four miles. The difficult terrain continued to instill in them the principle of slowing it down and taking it one step at a time. At one point, the guys found themselves battling waist deep mud! In many other instances, the guys could be seen sliding themselves down rocks in a seated position after learning to do so the hard way. Totally undiscouraged, but completely exhausted, the guys made it to their destination by 1pm on their third and final day.
This was a special group. The guys took turns helping each other out, calling each other out, cheering each other up, and at times, the guys literally lightened the load for one another. Their shared attitude of giving and forgiveness, and their actions, which put others needs before their own made our journey a success and made this trip what it was.
Staff members Pete & Ethan and residents Connley, Greg, Kurtis, Josh, Eric, Parks & Carter left for Acadia National Park at 8:30 am Thursday morning. They set up camp at Black Woods campground, hiked the Beehive Trail, and jumped in the Bowl Pond. At Sand Beach, Pete and Carter cliff-jumped 40’ into the ocean.
On day two, the crew met up with professional rock climbing guides Zach and Patty at the South Otter cliffs. After a few warm up climbs, the crew headed to Otter Cliffs for a more advanced climbing session. The guides did an amazing job teaching to guys how to rock climb and the group took their time and practiced patience learning to do so.
The next morning the group woke up at 4:30 am to watch the earliest sunrise in the United States from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Shortly after, the crew packed up their gear and headed back to Portland. As they debriefed, the guys expressed appreciation for the opportunity to see an amazing landscape, ascend ocean cliffs, and strengthen the Foxhole bond.
April 21 was a perfect Spring day for the Foxhole’s most recent visit to V-Town Paintball in Vasselboro. Almost 50 sober guys competed, with teams broken down into State House, Mellen and Deering Houses, Alumni and Staff. As they have for several years now, the staff team dominated the early games. After lunch we split into the traditional North and South teams for the final Dunes course championship. For the first time the South come out on top and a great time was had by all!
The boys departed the Foxhole at 5:45 AM on Thursday morning. Despite an early start, the guys were in a great mood and visibly excited for the day to come. The group met the ice climbing guides at the rendezvous point and were outfitted with harnesses, crampons, and helmets. Everyone was eager to climb as the group set out for trailhead.
The approach to the climbs was only twenty minutes long, but it provided the perfect opportunity to practice walking effectively in the crampons. The 50 foot frozen waterfalls were both stunning and humbling. The guides took the group through an informative safety briefing and skills tutorial about climbing and belaying.
After six hours of climbing each of the four routes, belaying and hanging out by the frozen crag, the group packed up the gear and descended back down the trail to the parking lot. At this point, everyone seemed physically and mentally exhausted in a really satisfying way. There was a sense of group accomplishment and comradery.
The lodge had a very homey feel and after the boys showed up and settled in with warm drinks, dinner was served. Post dinner, the group collaborated to clean the space and we soon settled down to have an AA meeting.
A few themes emerged from the discussion. Many shared their experience of loneliness in using and how they are now grateful for the sense of community found in AA and the Foxhole. Others shared in their appreciation of newfound hobbies in sobriety. Collectively, the space seemed vulnerable and supportive. After the meeting, everyone retired early to bed in preparation for another day of climbing on ice.
By day two, the guys were much more comfortable walking in the crampons and the guides set up a few more challenging routes. A completely vertical pillar of ice provided the more adept climbers the challenge they were looking for.
Overall, the trip reiterated the belief that it is possible to have fun while being sober and it provided a strong sense of comradery and bonding between a diverse group of guys from the community.
A fierce cold spell kept the Foxhole out of the ocean on January 1st. Not easily discouraged, the team returned to the drawing board, and rescheduled the gang’s yearly pilgrimage to Higgins Beach for Saturday, January 13th. There was some question as to how the break in tradition would affect numbers, but when all was said and done, every resident mustered the grit to make the plunge, and the boys were joined by several die hard alumni, and continually daring staff members. Big props to several new residents who participated, including one who literally jumped right in on his first day!
After drying off and warming up, the team headed back to the café for a comfort food brunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato chicken soup. After chowing down, the guys headed to the flag football dome for an indoor, full field, 11v11 match-up. Finally, those with energy remaining retired to the rock wall to watch playoff football. Just another day in the Foxhole.
On Tuesday, January 9th, the Foundation House community went curling. Twenty-four residents and eight staff took part in the annual trip down to the Broomstones Curling Club in Wayland, MA. We were greeted by instructors at the club who were patient and thorough while giving a crash course in technique, scoring and overall curling etiquette. Once we had a (relative) grasp on the game, our tournament started. Since we were working off of a single-elimination bracket, stakes were high from the get-go. Both staff teams were ousted after round one, but the consolation game proved both spirited and competitive.
In the end, the 3-man “Game of Stones” team (Kurtis K., Evan B. & Bobby J.) swept their way to a smooth victory. Over all, attitudes were positive and morale was high—what a fun tradition for the Foxhole!
The second paintball excursion of 2017 certainly satisfied the communal hunger for camaraderie—served with a healthy dose of adrenaline.
Those who had never been before realized why our continued adoration for this trip was warranted. We were in full force with close to 50 guys (and gal) all together. It is days like these that incentivize alumni and residents to stick around beyond their initial treatment cycle. This was evidenced as nearly half of our group were successful graduates of the program.
We divided our group into an alumni team, a staff team and split the residents into their respective houses. Then began a round robin style tournament, which gave each of the teams an opportunity to play against one another.
As is tradition, the event culminated with a North versus South best of three match on the dunes course. The north claimed the hill on the opposing side in commanding fashion, signifying their triumph for the second time this year. The day was long, but everyone involved left wanting more. Luckily for the team from the South, there will be a chance for redemption when the spring comes.
On October 5, a team of fourteen residents and staff journeyed to Baxter State Park for a three-day camping and hiking excursion. On the first day, the crew drove to the Roaring Brook Trailhead to test their grit on South Turner, a 3,100-foot mountain planted in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin. The guys quickly ascended the mountain, and stood in awe at the top. With miles of wilderness, mountaintops, and foliage all around, the group held a meeting at the summit and shared on what they were working on, and what they hoped to take with them from the trip.
When the guys arrived at their campsite, they unpacked, and a group began building a fire, while others assisted with the cooking. After satiating themselves in preparation for the following day, the group held another meeting, this time around the fire.
The team awoke at 5:30am the following morning. With headlamps providing the only light, the guys assembled their gear and set off again to the Roaring Brook Trailhead. What proceeded this time was a 12-hour hike to the summit of Mt. Katahdin. Mt. Katahdin is the tallest mountain in the state of Maine at 5,269 feet, and the most prominent mountain in the Eastern United States. Our ambitious crew chose the most difficult route to the top and back; the cathedral trail, a seemingly vertical 2-mile ascension to the summit. Then, in the face of snow and rain, the group traveled across the Knife’s Edge, a beautiful, unique, and dangerous one mile ridgeline which requires patience, mindfulness, and courage to conquer. The crew made it back to the Roaring Brook Campsite at 7pm, cooked dinner, and held another meeting in which they reflected on the trip and spoke about what they would take back from the experience.
During our harrowing climb up Mt. Katahdin, some of our group members thought that they couldn’t make it up. As we traveled along the Knife’s Edge, others experienced a nearly paralyzing fear of heights. Some admitted to feeling bad for holding up the group on the way down. Through each of these uncomfortable experiences, our group stuck together, helped those that were struggling, and those that were struggling learned to ask for help from their peers. It is through challenging experiences such as this one that our newer guys learn to rely on others to guide them, while our more senior residents discover their ability to help their fellows as leaders. In our final meeting of the trip, each of our crew members expressed gratitude for the experience, especially, for the opportunity to get to know some of the guys they do not typically spend time with.