Community Conversation on Basic Needs

Please join us virtually for a Husson University Lunch and Learn program: Community Conversation on Basic Needs April 19, from 12-1 via Zoom. The Heart of Maine United Way, as part of its Husson University Campaign kickoff, asks you to join our panelists for a conversation and Q&A to become more informed about housing and food security and the resources available to help people become more self-sufficient. Use this link to RSVP and receive the link for the Zoom. All registered attendees will be eligible for door prizes! 

Heart of Maine United Way President & CEO Shirar Patterson will host the panel. She will be joined by Jason Bird from Penquis, Melissa Huston from Habitat for Humanity, Rebecca Kirk from Eastern Agency on Aging, and Nikki Williams from 211. Panel guests’ bios are listed below.


Jason Bird is the Housing Development Director and Director of MaineStream Finance at Penquis. Most recently, he was the Community and Economic Development Officer for the City of Bangor. He formerly worked as a Senior Program Director with the Midcoast Council of Governments in Damariscotta. Jason has nearly 10 years of project development and management experience, with a strong record of federal, state and local grant writing and fundraising. Jason holds a Bachelors in Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration, both from the University of Maine. He currently serves on the Board of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter and the MPBN Community Advisory Board.




Melissa Huston is the Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Bangor whose mission is based on the belief that everyone deserves a decent and affordable place to live. Through Habitat, homeowners achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and their families. Melissa has lived in Bangor for over 30 years and has been very active in the local community.  She has a long history of resource development, fundraising, community engagement and strategic planning. She has been employed by several area non-profits including Community Health and Counseling, Maine Adoption Placement Service, St. Joseph Healthcare as well as the statewide hunger-relief organization, Good Shepherd Food Bank. Through these experiences, Melissa has gained a strong understanding of the challenges that families face when their foundational needs go unmet.



Rebecca Kirk has been advocating for basic needs through non-profit work for more than 20 years. As an administrator for The Salvation Army, she led key recovery community programs in addition to focusing on youth and family needs in the Central and South Shore regions of Massachusetts before moving to the Greater Bangor Region where she has also led Habitat for Humanity of Greater Bangor and currently serves as the Executive Director for the Eastern Area Agency on Aging. During her time in Maine, Rebecca has served on several community, state, and national committees focusing on issues such as workforce recruitment, housing equality, breaking the cycle of poverty, and effective non-profit advocacy. She is an alumna of Gonzaga University where she earned her MA in Organizational Leadership and of the University of Michigan where she studied for her BA in English Language and Literature. Rebecca is a Past President and current Board member of the Rotary Club of Bangor, a Northern Light Proctor, and avid volunteer in her local community of Stetson.



Nikki Williams is the program manager for 211 Maine, Maine’s one-stop resource that connects people who want to give help or get help with a full range of health and human services in their community. Prior to her position with 211 and the United Ways of Maine, Nikki held several positions with the State of Maine DHHS, in the Office of Aging and Disability Services and the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. Nikki has her master’s degree in Public Health from the Muskie School of Public Service and received her undergraduate degree from Colby College in Waterville. She is an advocate for improving access to health services. Nikki resides in Waterville with her husband and three children.