Who We Are
Dignity First is...
a 501c3 Housing First nonprofit in Bangor, Maine focused on addressing houselessness by creating safe, stable, permanent housing and building a support network which honors the dignity of unhoused people. Founded in 2019, Dignity First was built on the principal of neighbors caring for neighbors. Throughout our research, interaction with our community, guidance from many different people with varied experiences, we truly believe the cause of houselessness is not a loss of housing. It is the profound and catastrophic loss of family. When the strong connection and support of family is lost, the village MUST step in to fill that void.
Dignity First is...
a community effort. Our organization is founded on a solidarity, not charity, model. The deep sense of belonging and feeling valued is what all of us long for. We know those who are affected by houselessness are not exempt from this need. Their voices are critical in meeting their needs and ultimately their goals in life.
As an organization, we strive to honor and uphold the dignity of our unhoused neighbors. Our goal is to cultivate a village which provides the best chance for people to stay housed and begin to feel a sense of belonging again.
Committed to the Cause
Margaret "Peg" Olson, PhD, MEd, BS, PT assisted in the establishment of Dignity First. Dr. Olson is a retired Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy from Husson University. Dr. Olson’s interest and activities in social justice ministry began early in her life through various faith organizations. Previously, she served on the Saint Patrick’s Episcopal Church’s Vestry as member and Senior Warden. Dr. Olson is Board Chair of Faith Linking In Action, an organization fighting the grass roots of the problems of the poor, and has served on the board of as a member. She is active in the Food Access Committee of Food AND Medicine, an organization focusing on ensuring people do not have to choose between food and medicine to live.
Jamie Beck is the founder of Dignity First. From an early age, Jamie was involved in leadership and organizing community events through her church youth groups. She continued social justice mission activities through college, participating in and leading alternative spring break trips to volunteer activities which helped those in poverty. As a mother of three small boys and a speech language pathologist who works with school-aged children, Jamie understands the critical role the safety, security, and stability of a permanent and adequate place to live plays in the lives of individuals and families. Jamie’s active faith life has called her to be a contemplative activist, organizer, and problem solver as the increasing need for truly accessible and supported housing grows in her community. She believes in the Community First model, working in solidarity, not charity, with people experiencing houselessness to create permanent supportive housing for them. She also strongly advocates for connection with community in building a safer, more equitable place to call home. The founding of Dignity First begins to fill the void of solutions for and with unhoused people in the greater Bangor area.
Anna Phillips is the coordinator for the Greater Bangor Area Street Pastors, does pet sitting and house help for a few people in the Bangor area, and helps homeschool her two nephews. Her undergraduate degree was in Forensic Archaeology (a combination of chemistry and classics), and she has a graduate degree in Bible History and Geography. She is adjunct faculty at New England Bible College & Grace Evangelical Seminary for a Biblical Context class. Her hobbies include keeping backyard poultry and traveling, but mostly being still at home and reading.
Rev. Andrew Moeller is a founding principle of Dignity First. He is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister serving the UU Society of Bangor. Rev. Moeller has served on several board and organizations including the Partnership for Public Health (Laconia, NH) and was a founding member of Belknap House a startup family shelter in Laconia, NH. He also currently service as the Chair of the Professional Advisory Group to the Clinical Pastoral Education Program at Northern Light / Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.