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Success Stories and Impact

MEMBER GROUPS | 2017-18 STORIES | BOARD & STAFF | HISTORY | ACCOUNTABILITY 

Impact

$1 per week (or $52.00/year) can provide;

  • For Economic Opportunity: An hour of individual financial or college access counseling for a New Mainers.
  • For Equality : 1 Hour workshop on tolerance and bullying in Maine Schools
  • For Civil Rights: Legal assistance to a worker or family wrongfully denied services or coverage.
  • For Health: A workshop on MaineCare eligibility and benefits to social service providers to help their clients access health care coverage.
  • For Safety: Six sets of bike lights to bicyclists who need them but could otherwise not afford them.
  • For Education: Provides PBS educational learning opportunities for a child whose family couldn’t afford it otherwise

$2 per week (or $104.00/year) can provide;

  • For The Environment: The Protection of 30 loons from lead poisoning caused by fishing tackle.
  • For Equality: Eight months telephone cost for toll-free statewide domestic violence hotline number.
  • For Education: Two Alternatives to Violence Workshops for 20-50 inmates in a Maine jail or prison.
  • For Education: Training for a new local bike/pedestrian advocate in the Community Spokes Program.
  • For Education: A Holocaust survivor’s Speaker fee for talking to students in Maine Schools.
  • For The Arts: 1 Hour of Music/Theatre Teacher Workshops for DOE Teachers

$5 per week (or $260.00/year) can provide;

  • For Economic Opportunity: Matching funds for a Rainy Day Savings account to help a low-income household build an emergency fund, and plan for challenges instead of struggling to overcome crises.
  • For The Environment: Organic certification inspection of two farms.
  • For Education: An outdoor environmental education program for a class of 50 fifth graders.
  • For Health: Pays for one home weatherization by the Climate Action Team.
  • For Safety: Provides support for our state’s emergency alert system.
  • For Health: Delivery of a ‘Hearing Loss 101’ training to nursing home staff, case managers, or other providers and care-givers who work with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

$10 per week (or $520.00/year) can provide;

  • For the Environment: Advocacy for stronger state and federal policies that eliminate toxic chemicals and protect the health of families and workers.
  • For Social Justice: Human Rights educational programming to schools all over Maine.
  • For the Environment Advocacy to increase protection for hundreds of miles of Maine rivers and streams.
  • For Education: Two weeks of after-school programs for a community center.
  • For Civil Rights: Civil liberties conference at a high school in Maine.
  • For Equality: A TV advertisement to educate the public on domestic violence.

Success Stories

Holocaust and Human Rights Center

In May, 2018, HHRC hosted their first teacher seminar created in partnership with Teaching Tolerance, a program of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Part of the seminar included the introduction of a Structured Academic Controversy (SAC), which is a program of civil discourse that relies of source documents to encourage discussion and listening.

Their focus for the SAC was the story of Malaga Island with the prompt that “Malaga Island is an example of Government Sponsored Racism.” The teachers embraced the process, and early this week we heard from one participant, a middle school teacher from Mount Blue that he had incorporated the SAC process the very next day with his students as a means of talking about the school walkouts with the prompt “Students should not walk out of school to protest gun violence.” He said it was a huge success and the students loved the opportunity to have a challenging discussion without ill feelings.

Genesis Community Loan Fund

Serving 350 people a week from its food pantry at a church and a warehouse at a separate location, the Augusta Food Bank needed a new permanent home. When a donor provided them with a suitable parcel of land, they turned to the Genesis Fund for help.

Technical assistance from the Genesis Fund helped them plan a capital campaign to raise the funds necessary to build a new, efficient facility so they can better serve the people facing hunger in their community. A successful campaign and financing from the Genesis Fund resulted the Augusta Food Bank serving people at their new home by the end of 2017.

Maine Peace Fund

On January 14, 2017, a few days before the Women’s March on January 21 in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country, Peace Action Maine sponsored, with Resources for Organizing and Social Change, a nonviolent direct action training, and drew 130 people at the Maine Irish Heritage Center in Portland, Maine. January 14 was also the date that Portland groups had called for support for Muslim-led businesses, since one of them had their windows broken on Christmas Eve, 2016.  Maine Peace Fund was were able to provide lunch for those attending through the Babylon Restaurant in Portland.

ProsperityME

Elizabeth Lonya is a young immigrant from South Sudan. She came to the US 9 months ago and enrolled in ProsperityME’s Basic Money Management course. Since then, Elizabeth has found employment at a local hotel. She has saved over $1,400 in her bank account, and came to our office this past week to apply for an individual development account. Elizabeth is interested in the IDA program in order to either purchase a vehicle or pursue her education.

Maine Equal Justice Partners

Kathy has been a hair dresser for 32 years. She was diagnosed with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), both of which make breathing difficult. After losing MaineCare, Kathy had her oxygen equipment taken away and is now facing difficulties managing her medical challenges. Kathy became a spokesperson for the “Yes on 2” campaign to expand Medicaid (called MaineCare in Maine) appearing in TV ads, public speaking events, and as part of the Health Care Leadership Team of impacted people who spoke up for expansion.

Here is a link to a video about Kathy

Resources for Organizing & Social Change In 2018, the 23rd annual Changing Maine gathering drew a crowd of roughly 100 statewide activists and organizers to Lewiston to attend workshops focused on learning how to center anti-racism in social justice movements. This event was sponsored by ROSC who followed the organizing lead of the folks from the For Us, By Us Fund (FUBU), which is a People of Color (PoC) led initiative missioned to support and advance PoC organizing and creative endeavors in Maine. ROSC also raised over $5,000 for FUBU through fundraising efforts involved with that event.
New Ventures Maine The convergence of Becky Ness’s professional and personal lives led her to starting a business (Senior Planning Advisors) that provides services to seniors, elders, and family caregivers. These services help individuals and families to make informed decisions and feel empowered as they navigate life stage transitions and later-life issues.

NVME worked with Becky to identify aging and caregiving policy issues that she was concerned about and connected her with available resources, including the Maine Council on Aging, AARP, and the UMS’s and Maine Community Foundation’s Aging Initiatives. She has testified on specific legislative bills, serves as a resource to NVME on aging issues, and represents our organization at various aging events.

Maine Center for Economic Policy Last year, MECEP’s analysis was used to craft alternative budget solutions in response to the governor’s budget that, among other devastating cuts, reduced eligibility for health care; slashed the TANF lifetime time limit, and cut Head Start. The governor’s budget also targeted people of color with, among other items, a proposal that sought to ban lawfully present immigrants from public assistance programs.

MECEP provided an analyses of tax revenue that helped the state’s lawmakers craft an alternative budget proposal. MECEP identified revenue that made it possible to increase K-12 education funding; improve TANF benefits for the first time in 16 years; increase heating assistance for eligible families; add Head Start slots for low-income children; and enhance transportation assistance for eligible low-income families to get to work. This example showcases MECEP’s pivotal role in creating economic opportunities through the state budget for all Maine families to get ahead.

Maine Veterans for Peace At a major tabling event at the Common Ground Country Fair, we converse with hundreds, maybe thousands, of people at this three day event. We have heartwarming conversations with fair goers of all ages.

We bring in the youngest with our button maker and let them design and make a button of their choice. We talk with everyone but particularly with veterans. We show that we are the choice for advocating an end to war. This is always the highlight of our year, having these wonderful conversations.

Maine Federation of Humane Societies In 2017, MFHS changed its big Annual Conference into smaller, hands-on workshops.

Staff training in catch-pole handling, accurate blood testing, and understanding and addressing compassion fatigue were a few of the hot topics.

Maine Farmland Trust In November 2017, MFT sold 60 acres of Damariscotta farmland to Morning Dew Farm of Newcastle. MFT simultaniously purchased
a conservation easement on the property ensuring the land would stay available for agricultural use in perpituity. Farmers Brady Hatch and Brendan McQuillen had been leasing the property from MFT for several years, cultivating a wide variety of vegetables and herbs to supply their customers at the local farmer’s market and at their mid-coast wholesale accounts.MFT purchased this property in 2011 to ensure that the property would remain in agriculture; prior to MFT’s purchase these roadside fields were under consideration as a development site for a Super Walmart.
Sierra Club Foundation, ME Chapter Fund More than 140 Sierra Club members and climate activists gathered at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston campus on September 16, 2017 to share knowledge and gain the skills needed to take community-based action toward a clean energy future for Maine. “Inspiring” and “empowering” were words that could be heard as people departed at the end of the day.

The keynote speaker was author and activist George Lakey who delivered a positive message on how real change is possible, even in these troubled times. Lakey emphasized that the actions of the Trump administration have served as a wake-up call, and he noted that troubled, polarized times are often the catalysts for major change. Following Lakey’s motivating words, conference participants chose from a variety of workshop options for the remainder of the day. Workshop topics included: moving toward clean energy future, grassroots organizing, transportation for livable communities, energy efficiency, water stewardship, community- based energy, creating an effective climate change message, and sustainable agriculture. Thanks to all the workshop presenters for sharing their knowledge. The event was supported by numerous conference co-sponsors including ReVision Energy, Goggin Energy, Lee International, Insource Renewables, Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, and Robert and Elizabeth Stoddard. To find out more about the conference, our Climate Action Team (CAT) Program, and how to get involved or start a CAT in your community, go to sierraclub.org/maine or email maine.chapter@sierraclub.org.

Maine Women’s Fund We reinvigorated our Leadership Luncheon, which has a one-year hiatus in 2017. Our speakers better reflected the true diversity of our community, and included: a Native American, African American women and youth, a younger woman, and white women. We honored a fierce advocate for meaningful inclusion, a young woman who rides her bike across the country to raise money, and a rising star local chef.
Maine Animal Coalition Maine Animal Coalition annually hosts a Veg Fest, which explores vegan living. This year will be our 14th fest. Key to our fest are the educational lectures. We also sell vegan food and have vendors and exhibitors at the fest. Annually about 700 people participate.
Maine Animal Coalition Over 600 people attended our Veg Fest in June 2017. Our Veg Fest strives to be an educational event, with lectures and tabling the most important aspect of the event. See our annual Year in Review for more details.
Bicycle Coalition of Maine On April 22, 2018, we held the annual Great Maine Bike Swap in Portland. This event connected bike sellers with potential buyers from all around the state. By the end of the Swap, which lasted only a few hours, we sold more than 600 bikes and donated another 65 to a local bike shop, meaning hundreds of people got new bikes and many kids received their very first bike, ushering in the newest generation of riders in Maine.
Maine Hospice Council “”Treating Pain Amidst the Opioid Crisis”, annual pain symposium sheds light on personal struggles” , 21st Maine Pain Symposium at Thomas College, Waterville, Me. , WABI 5 News Link: http://www.wabi.tv/content/news/Treating-Pain-Amidst-the-Opioid-Crisis-annual-pain-symposium-sheds-light-on-personal-struggles–481791781.html
Maine Audubon Education is at the heart of Maine Audubon’s mission.

We work every day with children and adults to foster environmental literacy so that they can become more informed and effective stewards of Maine’s wildlife and habitat.In addition to our standard adult programs — including bird walks, trips, speakers, and other classes designed to help adults further their environmental education — we regularly offer classes and programs for children and families, host field trips, visit classrooms, and provide programs and resources for educators.

Maine Alliance for Arts Education Building Community Through the Arts (BCTA), which builds trust among students in Maine high school classrooms through creative theater and dance, recently got the attention of the Maine Department of Education and Americans for the Arts in Washington DC. The Maine DOE invited MAAE to aggregate its pre and post data so that it can promote BCTA as an “evidence-based program.” BCTA was developed in response to the school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, and in the reminder of that tragedy following the Parkland Florida and Texas school shootings, Americans for the Arts published the blog that MAAE sent in about the program.
Chewonki Foundation Embracing the Butterflies, Embracing the Grit

By Anne Leslie on May 26, 2018

Three Chewonki Outdoor Classroom educators, Conor Burke, Hannah Marshall, and Connor Phillips, sit on the front porch of the Center for Environmental Education, waiting for a group of middle school students from Massachusetts to arrive. They’re chatting and joking; fun moves through the group like electricity. But behind this seemingly relaxed moment lurks anticipation spiced with a bit of terror.“The first program of the season is always an ice-breaker,” says Marshall. “As soon as I’m with the students, I remember: I know how to do this! And then everything’s fine. If you don’t get excited about the outdoors and kids, this isn’t the job for you.”

A bus will soon appear, and out of it will spring a new group of students, teachers, and chaperones committed to a four-day immersive stay at Chewonki, known as an “encampment.” Some will be eager and excited; others hesitant and shy; and couple, recalcitrant. Burke, Marshall and Phillips are only a few of the 14 educators that make up the Chewonki Outdoor Classroom staff, and over the next few days it will be their responsibility to guide and encourage these students as they put up tents, learn to cook meals over a campfire, dive into ecology lessons, help each other through the challenge course.

The emotional and physical challenges of a four-day encampment are real. Some participants are away from home for the first time, while most have never camped overnight before. Anxiety about unfamiliar food, using a privy, and encountering the Chewonki way of hands-on instruction, all amount to a big shift for those accustomed to classroom lessons.

“Nearly every student faces some kind of personal challenge in our program,” says Burke. “They may see the natural world through a completely different lens than we do.” While he views the mud flats as an ecosystem, “Some local children know them as the place their parents go to work every day [clamming or worming].” Meanwhile, for children from urban schools, a saltwater peninsula can be an unnerving foreign territory, full of unknown plants, animals, and biomes.

Successfully leading a group of students through these initial challenges and teaching them to enjoy the pleasures and rituals of camping requires patience and grit.

“Some students have never had to wash dishes before, much less wash them in a bucket of salt water,” Marshall says. “This is definitely not ‘glamping,’” adds Phillips with a smile.

Thinking back on the high points of his time with Chewonki Outdoor Classroom, Phillips recalls a student with learning differences who said that it had been “the best week of his life.” He also remembers sitting around the campfire with a group on the last night of a recent encampment. The students had just finished playing a game and were in high spirits. He asked them to talk about what they’d learned about themselves at Chewonki.

Friends of Casco Bay In early 2017, the Portland Water District and Friends of Casco Bay developed an agreement aimed at reducing nitrogen pollution from sewage effluent from Portland’s East End Wastewater Treatment Plant by 20-40% within five years. Thanks to good engineering and an upgrade to the plant’s aeration system, the plant is on track to reduce nitrogen by as much as 500 to 1,000 pounds each day! The collaboration helped the Maine Department of Environmental Protection develop a new five-year Clean Water Act permit for the Portland’s East End Wastewater Treatment Facility. This was the first such permit in Casco Bay to address nitrogen levels and is now a model for other communities.

Why reducing nitrogen is important for the health of Casco Bay: Excess nitrogen is one of the biggest threats to the health of our coastal waters. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient, but too much can trigger excessive algae growth, which can turn the Bay green. Nitrogen can also prolong red tides and other harmful algal blooms. When these blooms die, decomposing bacteria remove the oxygen from the water and release carbon dioxide, making the water more acidic. Nitrogen, then, can also indirectly magnify the effect climate change is having on our waters. You may remember that over the past two summers, we saw large mats of green algae in coves around the Bay. Such blooms can be an indication of too much nitrogen.

GLSEN Members of GLSEN’s Students for Safe Schools Leadership Team (SSSLT) spoke at four state-wide conferences and in front of several school staffs, attended Lobby Day in Augusta, organized public rallies, and worked on and presented LGBTQ-inclusive curricula for their schools’ health classes. They invited out legislators to speak at their meetings and learned about pending state legislation. They developed presentations about how to be strong and vocal allies for LGBTQ youth and supported LGBTQ clubs in their schools. They published articles on kindness in state-wide and national forums. These young people became confident leaders who are changing the world.
EqualityMaine Foundation “Today I had the opportunity to go on stage at the Maine Democratic State Convention alongside three other amazing youth activists and talk about what it’s like to be a youth activist – our passions and the struggles youth in the state have.

Even two years ago when I first signed up for EqualityMaine’s New Leader Program, I never dreamt I’d become so politically active and have such amazing opportunities! I’ve really found my passion in political activism and I’m so excited for what the future holds for me in this pursuit!”

-Victor, Senior at Cony High School in Augusta

Natural Resources Council of Maine Since the 1950s plastics have been mass produced including single-use shopping bags. Plastic bags often end up in our ocean water where they break into a thousand little pieces. They are eaten by fish, mollusks, turtles, and birds, damaging their digestive system.

Maine’s coastal ecosystem must be protected.

Recently, NRCM worked on local ordinances that banned or placed fees on plastic bags. Now there are 14 Maine towns (17% of the population) that banned or placed fees on the use of plastic bags. Additionally, 11 Maine towns (14% of the population) banned foam.

We will soon add seven more towns!

Maine Council of Churches The Maine Council of Churches “Community Conversations” program brought eleven small groups of Lewiston-Auburn neighbors together for dinner and conversation. Half of the members in each group were New Mainers (immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers) and half were long-time Mainers. Steve Wessler (civil rights expert and founder of the Center for Prevention of Hate) facilitated the groups, which were designed to reduce bias incidents and hate crimes. The project is now being replicated in other Maine cities and was featured in a Maine Public Radio broadcast.
Maine Women’s Policy Center On October 11, 2017, hosted our best ever Maine Women’s Economic Summit: Forging our Future Together where over 250 people gathered to focus on economic security. Our two keynote speakers were Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter network and Loretta Ross, expert and leader on women’s issues, racism, and human rights.
Environmental Health Strategy Center For the health and safety of families and first responders, we worked closely with the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine union to win a battle with the chemical industry: Maine legislators passed a first-in-the nation law to end the unnecessary use of so-called “flame retardant” toxic chemicals in upholstered furniture. Maine Governor Paul LePage vetoed the legislation, bowing to the chemical industry. But the bipartisan support we built over many months resulted in overwhelming overrides of the governor’s veto in both the Maine House and Senate. The new Maine law prohibits the sale after January 1, 2019 of residential upholstered furniture that contains any flame retardant toxic chemical.
Holocaust and Human Rights Center The HHRC has recently been partnering with UMA to provide educational programs to school groups coming to the university in Augusta. This not only gives younger students an introduction to a college environment, but allows the HHRC to promote universal respect for human rights in combination with UMA through its own programs & education.
Maine Labor Group on Health Maine lawmakers, union stewards and safety professionals gathered to remember those who died on the job. The event was headlined by Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Co-Director of the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health.
Maine Labor Group on Health Our Worker’s Memorial Day Breakfast was attended by approximately 45 people. The event was highlighted by our speaker, Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Co-Director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.
Mano en Mano In October and November, we hosted 400 people at our welcome and resource center for seasonal and migrant workers. We distributed 350 boxes of groceries, served 140 hot meals, and nearly all 400 attendees received winter clothes. This event was made possible with the support of 55 volunteers.
Southern Maine Workers’ Center Recently we received a call to our Worker Support Hotline from a server in a restaurant who believed that the way she was being required to share tips was illegal. The volunteer she spoke to was able to direct her to legal information about tip pooling and also asked, “Are your coworkers also experiencing this?” The caller agreed to talk to her coworkers and then set up a meeting with SMWC. The Hotline volunteer helped them write a letter to ask the restaurant owner to change the policy. The whole group of workers presented their boss with the letter and she agreed to change the tipping policy to be inline with the law!
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS:

The protections of due process and equal protection embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to every person in this country, not just those who were born here.LD 366:”An Act to Ensure Compliance with Federal Immigration Law by State and Local Government Entities”

Like other so-called “anti-sanctuary city” bills around the country, this one capitalized on anti-immigrant fervor and would have required towns and cities to force their local law enforcement to act as immigration agents.

Position: Opposed

Status: VICTORY! This bill was rejected by the full legislature and will not become law

Consumers for Affordable Health Care In 2017, the Trump administration limited Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act Marketplace to six weeks. To publicize this change, CAP Manager Kate Ende appeared at three press conferences with Senator Angus King in October and November, which were covered by television news. In addition, CAHC engaged navigators and assisters statewide to educate Mainers about the reduced timeframe for enrollment. 75,809 Mainers signed up for Marketplace insurance for 2018, down about 4.5% from 2017. This figure is consistent with data from other states. Without the outreach and education, CAHC believes far fewer Mainers would have signed up.
WERU WERU was awarded first prize for “Local Production” from the Maine Association of Broadcasters for the radio program “Maine Currents: Immigrant Legislation Testimony.” The program documented testimony before the Maine Legislature regarding proposed laws that would be hostile towards immigrants. The award-winning program was produced by Amy Browne, News and Public Affairs Manager of WERU.
Disability Rights Maine DRM’s legal intervention led to a first-of-its-kind victory in Maine for our client Joshua Strong, who had been under guardianship and wanted to increase his autonomy and independence. DRM, Joshua, and his service provider partnered in Supported-Decision Making, a groundbreaking alternative to traditional guardianship that emphasizes decision making as a skill. After the probate court agreed to end Joshua’s guardianship, DRM stated that “Josh’s hard work and victory creates a new narrative about civil rights and liberties in Maine.” Joshua’s new freedom, a goal of his for years, serves as a ground-breaking model for other people with disabilities.
Viles Arboretum Our Beyond Borders farmers market was launched in 2017 in partnership with Cultivating Community of Portland Maine. We had no idea where this effort might go but we wanted to try out the idea of establishing a market primarily for the immigrant community. It is now in its second year and has turned into a wonderful success. In addition to the market, the Somali women have taken to preparing local foods as lunch offerings and we now have over one hundred people coming on a regular basis to purchase hot lunches. As Aslee, the lead person from the Somali community said, “This is a dream come true to be using our own raised vegetables and adding value through the lunch menu!”
Maine Public On May 22, 2018 PBS kicked off “THE GREAT AMERICAN READ”, a program designed to get people across the country to talk about their most beloved books. A diverse list of 100 books has been chosen and we are asking people to vote for their favorite book, which will be revealed this fall.
MAINE PUBLIC, as part of this initiative, and has created a Maine poll for their favorite book, will have a MAINE PUBLIC Bookmobile that will distribute books at popular spots throughout the state, has adopted over 14 Book Clubs and provided them books for their groups, and most importantly, partnering with Darling’s Auto, to collect books to share the joy of reading with children throughout Maine. Donated books can be dropped off at Darling’s and all MAINE PUBLIC LOCATIONS.