Kevyn Warren says home is where your loved ones are.

And he acknowledges it’s darned nice to have a physical place to live after being homeless for several months.

On Tuesday, I visited Warren, 28, and his longtime girlfriend, Anna Zinkovitch, 20, an hour or so after they moved into their new apartment in Waterville.

Anna Zinkovitch and Kevyn Warren with their cat, Buddy on Tuesday in Waterville. The pair had been homeless for several months until they moved into an apartment Tuesday. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

It didn’t take much work because they had only a couple of cardboard boxes of belongings, a few blankets and their 2-year-old black cat, Buddy.

“We don’t have a bed yet,” Zinkovitch said. “We’re going to just sleep on a bunch of blankets. Nancy’s going to get us a futon.”

She was referring to the Rev. Nancy Findlan who, with the Rev. Maureen Ausbrook of Starfish Village Ministry, have been helping the couple maneuver their way through the maze of homelessness, get an apartment they can afford and connect with social services. Kennebec Valley Community Action Program also helped, and an anonymous donor pitched in $500 toward rent.

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I met Warren and Zinkovitch in September after they had been forced to leave another Waterville apartment because their rent went up and they couldn’t afford it. Warren, who is disabled, has been earning $200 a week at a fast food restaurant, but just got another job at a gas station and convenience store and expects to earn $600 a week now; Zinkovitch is hearing impaired, which makes communication difficult, and doesn’t work.

After they lost their apartment last summer, they slept here and there on people’s couches and then moved into a tent in the woods off Water Street. When it got too cold, they connected with Ausbrook who took them under her wing. She and Findlan worked with KVCAP to help fund their stay in a local hotel.

“Nancy and I are thrilled to help Anna and Kevyn and their cat transition out of homelessness into stable housing and begin rebuilding their lives,” Ausbrook told me Wednesday. “We will continue to work with them in other ways as well. KVCAP has been wonderful to work with during so much of this process. This weekend, working with Starfish volunteers, we will help them furnish and set up their new apartment.”

Ausbrook said Warren and Zinkovitch are the third couple Starfish Village has moved into stable housing in the last six weeks, providing beds, bedding, towels, kitchenware, furniture and other items that were donated. Some of the families have children.

Warren and Zinkovitch’s three-room apartment is small, but it is warm and clean. Located on the second floor of an old building, it has a narrow porch and balcony overlooking a fenced-in back yard.

“I’m just grateful we have an apartment,” Zinkovitch said. “It’s been a long time.”

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As she and Warren paced from room to empty room Tuesday, they spoke appreciatively of Starfish and KVCAP officials who are helping them pay their first two months’ rent, which is $825 a month, plus electricity and $35 for the cat, they said.

Being homeless has been stressful, and they attribute that stress to Zinkovitch’s having miscarried this winter. Now that things are settling down, they hope to marry one day and have a family.

“It’s really a relief, not just for me but for her and also for our cat, Buddy,” Warren said of having a place. “In my eyes, home is Anna. Home is just a place. This is just a place to lay your head. Home is where your loved ones are.”

With that, he pulled on his winter coat and headed out into the cold to walk to the Goodwill store downtown to buy something for the apartment.

“I have a lot of plans for this place,” he said. “I want to find a cheap grill, and hang a lot of little white Christmas lights on the whole porch.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 33 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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