The crime last summer was stunning – the bodies of three people found in a burning car in Bangor. Two men now sit in jail on murder charges, waiting to be prosecuted for the shooting deaths of 26-year-old Daniel Borders, 24-year-old Nicolle Lugdon, and 28-year-old Lucas Tuscano.As they do, the life of one of those victims is being remembered in a profound way – and offering other women like her hope. “She was an intelligent, bright and very beautiful young woman. But there was no snobbery about that. She wanted everybody to have opportunities. Nobody deserves what happened to her.”Nicolle Ludgon, known as Nikki to her friends, died as a young mother, struggling to find her way, again. When she was homeless and pregnant, she found direction in The Shepherd’s Godparent Home in Bangor – a maternity home for teenagers and young women in need.Executive director Barbara Ford says, “She had a job, she had a car, she got an apartment, she was standing on her own two feet, she was living clean. And all of those things she felt successful about and she was in a good space.”But Ford says that changed when she left the support of the Godparent Home after giving birth to her daughter and returned to drugs and a life she knew.Ford gave the eulogy at Nikki’s funeral. “I was angry – why did she make the choices she made. Then kind of disbelief that this could have happened to someone so full of life. And then acceptance and a then a deep drive to change the outcome for other young women.”That deep drive lead to the creation of Nikki’s Hope – a transitional house for new mom’s who are no longer eligible to stay in the Godparent Home.Gabby McCann was a resident at the Godparent home, a place she says changed her life.”It just didn’t seem like it was worth it anymore. I felt like I was butting my head against the wall and that I couldn’t get out of this rut and nobody wanted to help me – and then they did.”McCann says Nikki’s Hope could mean a huge difference for new moms trying to take that next step.”Sometimes it just doesn’t work. You go back to what you knew before and if they’d just have maybe six more months after becoming a new mom, where’s it really crucial to have some support because it’s so hard.” Stephanie Morris, the house mother for the Godparent Home, says, the idea is “Just to continue to be there for these girls and keep them from situations that they know are not good for them and give them another option.” A capital campaign is under way to open Nikki’s Hope.And just like the Godparent Home, it’ll run without government funding, relying on the church and the community. Ford says she hopes the transitional home could be ready as soon as this summer – and the memory of a young mother – who got lost along the way – can live on. “She was a very positive person, had a positive outlook on things, very compassionate, very kind and very sensitive. She really wanted to make something of herself,” Ford says. “The legacy’s not in her death. The legacy’s in what she wanted to be, not what she became. That’s the core of Nikki’s Hope.”The Shepherd’s Godparent Home needs support from the community to be able to open Nikki’s Hope. You can find out more by logging on to www.godparenthome.org
or checking out the Facebook page, The Shepherd’s Godparent Home in Bangor, Maine.One of the most valuable things the Godparent home offers to mothers-to-be is a sense of family.That need is also why Maine’s foster and adoptive care system is working harder to make sure teenagers find a forever home, in hopes they never need a place like Nikki’s Hope. Find out more about that in Part 2 of this story.