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THE VALLEY DISPATCH , Louisiana native Nicole Maillet packed a small bag and fled with her family just before Hurricane Katrina slammed into her community. The family spent the first night sleeping in their car in the parking lot of a Mississippi service station. Their situation seemed bleak.

Today, while her parents work to get their Louisiana home back together, 17-year-old Maillet is living with her stepbrother, Mark, and his wife in Methuen, and attending Presentation of Mary Academy. The displaced teen has been overwhelmed by the support she has received from the community.

Beginning senior year in a new school and a new community isn’t easy, but Maillet said she has been surrounded by newfound friends and offers of assistance.

“I started school on a Thursday, and on Friday night I went out with a group of new friends,” she said, still stunned by the easy acceptance she discovered in Methuen.

Presentation of Mary Academy also embarked on a fund-raising campaign to pay Maillet’s tuition and to help with plane tickets throughout the year for Maillet to visit her family.

It’s this kind of neighborly support and care that has made Methuen such a welcoming community. We applaud residents’ efforts to make Maillet feel at home and wish her the best of luck in her temporary home.