The Good Will-Hinckley campus along U.S. Route 201 in Fairfield, photographed in July 2022. Morning Sentinel file

FAIRFIELD — About 35 refugees in need of transitional housing are to be relocated this week to the Good Will-Hinckley campus in a move coordinated by Catholic Charities Maine.

The refugees are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Syria and other countries.

The School Administrative District 49 board was told of the plans earlier this month because the families to be sheltered at Good Will-Hinckley include about a half-dozen children who will be enrolled at district schools, Superintendent Roberta Hersom said.

“We are working closely with the (Maine Department of Education) to prepare for enrollment in our schools by assisting families with the process once they arrive,” Hersom said.

The district is coordinating with state officials to prepare for the students, such as by purchasing interpretive devices to allow for better communication.

Kathy Mockler, director of development for Catholic Charities Maine, said two buildings will be used at Good Will-Hinckley to house the refugees. The plan is for the group to stay on the campus until rental properties can be secured for them in the area, she wrote in an email.


They are being relocated to Fairfield from southern Maine, where they have been staying at hotels.

Finding other housing for them has proven difficult, she said, but Catholic Charities is exploring housing options from Biddeford to the Bangor area.

Catholic Charities will have staff members meeting with them regularly to provide support services, vocational training and mental health resources.

The cost to house them in Fairfield is expected to reach about $40,000, to be covered by federal funding.

“The refugees we serve enter the United States legally in search of freedom, peace and opportunity for themselves and their families,” Mockler said.

The state has struggled to provide housing and services for a steady influx of refugees, most of whom are in the greater Portland area.


At one point this summer, the Greater Portland Council of Governments proposed housing up to 600 asylum seekers on the campus of the former Unity College in Unity. The plan has not gained much traction since being introduced.

Matthew Townsend, chairman of the Fairfield Town Council, said the town will welcome the refugees.

“I look forward to being a stepping stone for the refugees as they start down the path to their American dream,” he said.

Good Will-Hinckley, founded in 1889, provides educational opportunities and support to those in need, according to the school’s website. Its director, Gary Dugal, declined to comment and referred questions to Catholic Charities.

State Rep. Shelley Rudnicki, a Republican whose district includes Fairfield, did not respond to a request for comment.

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