The Root Cellar first started in a renovated dirt floor basement, of the Mennonite Church on 101 North Street back in 1984. Recognizing the need for a place where teens could come as an alternative to the streets, and in some cases their homes, a handful of volunteers provided a positive place where the area teens could drop in.
By 1988 The Root Cellar, then meeting at 35 Lafayette Street, formally incorporated as a 501(C) 3 non-profit organization with Dale Carlson as the part-time director. A board of directors was made up of local clergy and business people, providing professional accountability and direction.
In accordance with the growing needs of families in the Munjoy Hill and Kennedy Park area, we moved to our own 2,000 sq. ft. building here on 94 Washington Avenue in 1991.
To better serve our community, a family ministry was established in 1993 by Pat Iriana.
In 1996 a director was hired full time and a staff was gradually added to include a full time children’s director, teen director, director of operations and an administrative assistant.
With the increased neighborhood contacts, distribution of over $450,000 worth of donated food annually through our food pantry and meal programs, the need for additional space was clear and the vision for this new building was born. Our groundbreaking ceremony was held in July 2000 with construction starting soon thereafter.
This new 16,800 sq. ft. building now stands through the grace of God and the shared vision of local churches, businesses and individuals. The building’s honorary name is the Whittier House as a tribute to the vision of Nancy Whittier, who made the original building possible and who sowed the seeds for the current facility. All programs and services will expand, as we are able to provide.
Whether touching the individual child or adult through our daily mentoring and enrichment programs, free medical clinic, or food and clothing distribution, we remain committed to extending a helping hand to those in need while proclaiming the truth of Christ in love. The Root Cellar currently serves over 125 families per week, providing thousands of hours of programming with volunteer manpower annually. Our Christmas Angel Tree program provides for 400 children each year, and at Thanksgiving, we distributed almost 400 food baskets.
On February 14th, The Root Cellar-Lewiston held its grand opening. The culmination of four years of planning, hard work and perseverance concluded with the opening of the new facility at 89 Birch St.
Celebrating 25 years of ministry, The Root Cellar works towards even greater transformation of the lives in the communities of Portland and Lewiston through the time, efforts and love of many and most important by God’s Holy Spirit at work. The best is yet to come…