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Northern Lighthouse receives $10,000 grant from Ronald McDonald House

HOULTON, Maine — Thanks to a generous grant from the Ronald McDonald House, the Northern Lighthouse will soon be able to combat childhood hunger in Aroostook County.

The non-profit mental and behavioral health therapy clinic was presented Wednesday, July 10, with a check for $10,000 by the Ronald McDonald House to start a food program for the youths who receive its services. 

“We discovered a need in the central and southern Aroostook areas,” said Blake Hatt, program administrator for Northern Lighthouse. “Poverty is a huge problem and as a result of that, hunger is a huge problem here in Aroostook County.”

The Northern Lighthouse is one of the largest agencies in Aroostook County that serves both children and families. But instead of simply handing out free food to its clients, the group will be teaching life skills to its youngsters by showing them how to prepare their own healthy meals.

“For all the children Northern Lighthouse serves, teaching skill building is one of the keys of the group,” Hatt said. “By teaching children about healthy food, and also how to prepare that food, the goal is to help reduce hunger in youngsters.”

Northern Lighthouse is one of the largest outpatient therapy departments in The County. They have locations in Houlton, Mars Hill, Presque Isle and Caribou, as well as Waterville. With 12 certified therapists and a friendly, experienced staff, we’re able to provide the best care for adults and children with mental and behavioral disabilities.

“Hunger is an epidemic here in Aroostook County,” Hatt said. “We interact with hundreds of children and we want to take this opportunity to develop our own food program, while adding another level of skill building.”

As a non-profit organization, Northern Lighthouse would not be able to fund such a program without the use of grants. 

According to Heidi Abbotoni, owner of the McDonald’s restaurants in Houlton, Presque Isle and Caribou, the Northern Lighthouse was one of several non-profit groups to apply for grant funding through the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“We give money yearly to many nonprofits throughout the state who have a like-minded mission of healthy families and healthy children,” she said. “We saw their need and were happy to help them out with their program.”

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