Written by Patrina Felts:

The What One Person Can Do (WOPCD) series has been an essential part of my
growth into adulthood. I first encountered Bill Cumming while I was a student in a
Department of Labor program in Limestone, Maine in 2001. At the time, I had been
accepted to attend the New Horizon’s Academy at the University of New England
for a period of four weeks. I have always been classified as a class clown, and in
the beginning, this was no exception. When Bill first walked in and introduced
himself, he started off saying “Nothing others do is because of you...” and I was
like “What?... this dude is crazy”. Then he goes on to say, “any job that you have to
do, do it as if it is the most important job in the world. Even if it’s cleaning the toilet
(!), do it 110%” For some reason, that statement alone captivated me because I had
many times not done things to the best of my ability. He spoke about self care, the
essence of time, the importance of communication, and most of all responsibility. It
took me quite a while to learn to apply those aspects to my daily living.

I participated in the WOPCD Advanced Exploration conversations in 2005. Even
though it was four years after the initial introduction of WOPCD into my life, it
helped to ingrain what I had already learned. It helped me to develop a greater
purpose in life and also gave me an arsenal of information to help others cope with
everyday situations.

I have always had a love for children. From the time I was a child myself, I have
always loved to nurture children. I have always wanted to be around children. My
very first job was with the Salvation Army in Jersey City, NJ in their infant room. My
job? To feed the babies and get them down for their nap. I was with them for 2
years and then went to work at Precious Learning Center. I worked with children
ages 2-5 until the time I was 17. I have always harbored a love for children and it
always hurts when children are mistreated and exposed to things that they should
not be.                        

I decided to become a foster parent in 2005 after taking care of two children in the
state of New Jersey for an extended period of time (since 2002). I was assured that
I would definitely be adopting the two children and becoming a foster parent was a
part of the process. I had always wanted to be a foster parent, but I had never had
the time to do so. I became a foster parent, but the adoption was not to be. After
the failed adoption, I was able to foster several children, including a group of
teenage boys. I decided to bring the boys with me on a trip to Maine to see Bill
Cumming for Thanksgiving. These inner-inner-city teenagers, who are exposed to
violence, hatred, drugs, and gang activity on a daily basis didn’t know what to make
of Maine when we first got here. Over the next 4 days, they started to like it. When
it was time to go, “L” wasn’t quite ready and wanted to stay. He actually liked it!   

I had spoken to Bill on many occasions regarding taking foster care to another
level. There are over 600,000 children in the foster care system nationwide. I am
only one person, but I can make a difference in the lives of 10 children, then I can
change the world. I hatched the idea for a place called Trina’s House. A residential
home where children are placed for a long term, if not permanent basis (preferably
permanent). It’s not a group home... not by far. I have always had an affinity for
teenagers. I love to work with teenagers because even though the results may not
be immediate, when it happens, it happens. Also, teenagers are the hardest to
place in the foster care system. They often “age-out” of the system at 18 without
having a home to call their own... no place to visit at Christmas or Thanksgiving...
no parents to call to wish a Happy Father’s or Mother’s Day. I feel that a place like
Trina’s House would provide these hard to place teens with a place to call home...
not a group home, but a HOME, a place where family is everything. A place where
they don’t have to worry about where their next place is because Trina’s House is
their Home. A component of Trina’s House is called Together Forever. Together
Forever is a component for expectant teenage mothers in DHHS custody. Instead
of removing the child from it’s teenage mom, the mom and baby would be allowed
to remain together. The mom would be taught the proper way to care for a child
while also being allowed to bond with her baby.

I expressed to Bill my desire to make this dream a reality. I also expressed my
desire to move away from the inner city. I had always wanted to return to Maine, I
just did not have the funds to make an interstate move. Bill had been assisting me
significantly in every aspect, particularly financially. I would receive kids that had
nothing but the clothes on their backs and it would take weeks, if not months to
receive any type of stipend. He advised me that there was a way that I would be
able to make the move and begin the process of making Trina’s House a reality. He
introduced me to The Starfish Fund.

I have been in Maine for the past 16 months. The Starfish Fund has helped me by
securing funds that allow me to live in a great home in a great area. I am now a
licensed therapeutic foster parent for the State of Maine and have 2 children in my
care with a third to be added soon (can’t wait!). The Starfish Fund has shown me
the importance of people helping each other to make the world a better place. I
often ask Bill if Trina’s House is an attainable goal... he always answers the same
“Yes”. With the help of the Starfish Fund, I am now certain that Trina’s House will
be a reality soon.  
In her own words...
The Starfish Fund
P.O. Box 304
Litchfield, ME 04350
T: 207-
"In each of us there
is a kind of hidden
knowing about what
we really want to do
in life.

Patrina does really
well when there are
large numbers of
smaller people

I asked her to write
an update quite
awhile ago. She
thought I was asking
to write about her,
which she is not
particularly keen

As I think you can
tell, she has written
about what is
possible in the lives
of children and the
- Bill Cumming