It's been a rough few months for everyone in Maine as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt daily life and as we enter the holiday season, it's impacting how we celebrate.
Russell Werkman understood the need in his community so, the Director of the Waldo County YMCA, his staff, and volunteers spent Saturday at the Hanaford's in Belfast.
No, not grocery shopping, but collecting food donations for neighbors in need as part of the YMCA's 'Fill The Bus' food drive.
“We’re collecting food for three local food pantries, one in Searsport, one in Northport, and one in Belfast," Werkman said. "We think of ourselves as essential to the community.”
Wekman has only been at the job for two months, but he knows the severity of the food insecurity in his area. He said one food pantry volunteer told him their pantry is serving 280 meals a day.
Most non-profits and organizations in the state use this time to raise money or food to help others. Werkman added his staff will continue to collect donations for months to come and hopes others do the same.
“You know we hope that they’ll be able to give generously so we can continue to fulfil our mission to the community," he said.
By Werkman's side was Sandi Roman, the Teen Director at the YMCA. The New York native said when she first moved to Belfast she relied on community support to get her through difficult times and now she's returning the favor.
“Just the little things this year mean so much like they double how far the reach goes," Roman said. "It’s real important that we can continue to support this community that’s supported us for so many years.”
Roman agreed with Werkman's mindset that serving the community doesn't end after the holidays.
“If we can provide for them and continue to provide for them, that’s our mission, that’s our goal," she added.
In Waterville, more meals were delivered at the Alfond Youth & Community Center (AYCC). The AYCC gave out more than 1,000 Thanksgiving meals to those in need.
In previous years, the donations would be given inside the facility, but in the year of COVID-19, the staff got creative and made the event 'drive-thru' style.
“No matter what kind of guidelines or things that have been thrown at us we’ve tried to shift gears every single time and so we’re still able to serve the community in any capacity we can," Child and Youth Development Director Christine Johnson said.
“Food insecurity as you can see during the pandemic is becoming quite challenging," AYCC CEO Ken Walsh added.
Since March, his staff has been providing hot meals to kids and families in the Waterville area every day.
“I go to bed extremely pleased and happy because I know our community is in good hands because of the community we have here," he added.
Walsh mentioned with so much division in our country, now is a great time to put politics aside and serve those who need it.
After all, in Maine, helping out neighbors is what we do.