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Sanford Police Detective Eric Small Honored at YCCAC Annual Board Meeting

York County Community Action Corporation’s Board of Directors honored Detective Eric Small of the Sanford Police Department at its annual Board meeting on Thursday, November 21st, for his outstanding work with Sanford’s homeless population over the past several months.

“Eric’s work with many of the homeless who had set up campsites in wooded locations around town was just extraordinary,” said Claudette Dupee, YCCAC board president.  “He showed what can be accomplished when a problem like homelessness is addressed with empathy and understanding, and the goal is to find solutions that work for all.”

Ms. Dupee presented Eric with the 2019 Teddi Award, named after Teddi Brunette, a longtime staff member at YCCAC who passed away in 2005.

Ms. Brunette was a familiar face around town and served on numerous boards and committees. She was active in the Red Cross, helped at Waban Projects, and served at Sanford Town Meetings and on the Sanford Planning Board. A Notary Public, she performed hundreds of weddings, sometimes adding poems she had written into the ceremonies. For 30 consecutive years, she organized the Sanford 4th of July event, from fireworks to parade.

To memorialize Teddi’s good works and sense of community, the Teddi Award was established. The award is meant recognize an individual or organization “whose work over an extended period of time exemplifies Teddi Brunette’s extraordinary community spirit and joy in giving to others.”

In presenting the award to Detective Small, Ms. Dupee thanked him for “making such a positive difference to so many people in our community.”

Eric accepted the award to a standing ovation. He thanked Ms. Dupee, the Board of Directors, and YCCAC’s senior staff. He said that he was honored to be selected for the award.

“It was incredible to hear about Teddi and her dedication to our City.  It’s important that we continue this work together, uniting our community resources to help those without safe, affordable housing, substance use disorder and mental Illness,” Eric said.

Eric spoke of homelessness as a situation that can afflict virtually anyone. Homelessness happens after a job loss, because of high medical bills, or due to the unexpected death of a spouse or partner. Homelessness is often a result of alcohol or substance abuse. Eric noted that many of the homeless he worked with suffered mental health problems.

The homeless population has grown in part because of the lack of affordable housing. Eric said that houses in Sanford were too expensive for many people, and that even rental properties, when they could be found, were out of reach.

Eric took the lead on working with the homeless population when it became clear that encampments had set up in several Sanford locations last summer. He met with those living in the wooded areas, talking with them about their needs and how he might be able to assist. He arranged for medical appointments, directed some to substance abuse treatment, and helped quite a few find safe and secure housing. There were four other Sanford police working with the homeless part-time.

York County Community Action set up a Resource Hub in its rear parking lot on Spruce Street. Homeless individuals from the encampments could access through the Hub YCCAC outreach workers, medical and behavioral staff from Nasson Health Care, and workers from York County Shelter Programs.

Transportation was made available for medical appointments through YCCAC’s Transportation program. Mesha Quinn, Director of YCCAC’s Economic Opportunity Department, helped coordinate the work among various programs and organizations.

The Teddi Award carries with it a prize of $250, to be donated to the charity or organization of the recipient’s choice.

“I’d like it to go to the Sanford Food Pantry,” Eric said, “so that no one goes without food this holiday season.”

Photo: (L-R): Barbara Crider, YCCAC Executive Director, Detective Eric Small, Kristen Bailey, Claudette Dupee, YCCAC Board President, Carrie Martin, daughter of Teddi Burnette.

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