MAINE, USA — The government shutdown has been in effect for over a month, and most federal workers have already missed one or two paychecks. With over 15,000 federal employees in Maine, the shutdown has hit the state hard.
If you or someone you know is struggling right now, these local and New England groups are offering deals to federal workers going without pay.
Airbnb made an exciting announcement Wednesday by introducing "A Night on Us," a new program to support federal employees in Maine and around the nation who share their home to others during the shutdown. Any federal worker who shares their home for three nights between December 18, 2018 and March 18, 2019 will get paid up to $110 extra by the company, the average per-night income for most hosts in the U.S.
Anglers Restaurants across the state are giving out free meals for furloughed government workers! Through the end of the shutdown, federal employees not receiving pay can come in to any of the chain's three locations in Searsport, Newport, or Hampden and enjoy a free meal with I.D.
Bangor Symphony Orchestra
Federal employees going without pay can reserve up to two free tickets for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra's Masterworks concert series program "String Serenade" on January 27. Workers can get tickets in person on the day of the show, based on availability, or by calling the box office at 1-800-622-TIXX. All employees must show a valid government issued PIV or CAC card.
Everyone deserves to stay fit and active, even when times are financially tough - at least, that's how staff at the Bangor YMCA is handling the shutdown. The organization is offering free memberships to government employees who are not being paid. To take advantage of the offer, just bring a government-issued badge to the facility at 17 Second St. in Bangor to sign up.
Biddeford Food Pantry
The Biddeford Food Pantry wants furloughed federal workers to know that they can access the resources this group provides. Anyone in need can stop by the food pantry at 162 Elm St. in Biddeford.
Definitive Brewing Company
Definitive Brewing Company in Portland is letting struggling federal employees know that this weekend, the first one is on them! Just bring a government I.D. to the tasting room at 35 Industrial Way, and the company will pay for a free first craft beer.
In Falmouth, any federal workers not receiving pay checks can apply for similar meal benefits for their children, even if they are not usually eligible. The discount will be temporary, until pay checks resume. Breakfast and lunch at the school will be available, and those interested can contact Falmouth schools directly for an application.
GTFO Escape Room
If you're a federal employee and are interested in an active outing during a difficult time, look no further. GTFO Escape Room in South Portland will cover room costs for any federal workers who want to come in and try the challenging games. Please bring an ID or paycheck to show proof of employment, and use the code SHUTDOWN at checkout to get the discount.
Helen's Restaurant of Machias
Helen's Restaurant in Machias announced that it is giving community members affected by the shutdown a $20 gift card to use toward a meal. This deal applies to the U.S. Coast Guard, customs workers, border protection, USDA folks, and anyone else going without pay. Helen's Restaurant asks that those interested bring a CAC card. Some restrictions may apply.
Hoppi's Barbershop, off Route 1 in Kittery, is offering free haircuts on Saturdays to any furloughed federal workers! All that's needed is a proper I.D.
Katahdin Trust Company
Katahdin Trust serves northern Maine and the greater Bangor and Portland regions and is providing assistance to customers affected by the shutdown. Any federal employees experiencing financial issues should contact their local Katahdin Trust branch to discuss options until regular pay picks up again.
Maine Historical Society
Furloughed federal workers are now able to visit Maine Historical Society without charge through the end of the shutdown. The society made a public announcement Wednesday asking that those interested in visiting for free bring IDs and take advantage of the "Maine Eats" and "Maine Brews" exhibits!
The Maine Water Company
The Maine Water Company wants to make sure that all federal workers can keep their water services on, even with a tight budget. The company will waive interest fees on overdue balances and work with government employees until paychecks pick back up again.
Moe's Original B-B-Q
Staff at Moe's Original B-B-Q in Bangor decided to show their thanks to TSA and Air Traffic Control employees by offering a special deal on the joint's tasty Southern soul food. Until the shutdown ends, these federal workers going without pay can buy any sandwich meal or platter for just $3 by showing a valid ID.
N.H. Exteriors, Inc.
This New Hampshire-based roofing, siding, and window company is awarding thousands of dollars in grants to people hit by the shutdown in Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Federal workers seeking financial help should go to the company's website at www.nhext.com and fill out a "Shutdown Grants" application. The grants range between $200-$500, and there are still several thousands dollars available.
New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium in Boston is offering free admission to federal workers and their families during the government shutdown! Government employees going without pay can bring up to three family members to the aquarium for free with valid I.D. This offer runs through February 15 or until the government re-opens, depending on which happens first. For Mainers interested in visiting the aquarium, there are plenty of options to get there, including driving, or taking a train or bus to South Station in Boston.
School nutrition benefits
Federal employees may also apply for free or discounted meals for their kids through their local school district. These applications can be submitted at any time during the school year, including during a government shutdown. To apply, fill out an application from the Maine Department of Education and submit it to your local school's food service program.
South Portland Food Cupboard
The South Portland Food Cupboard is stocked to help any federal employees in need keep food on the table during the shutdown. In addition, the group serves 150 seniors a month with supply boxes, which include canned foods, pasta, juice, and more.
Summit Natural Gas of Maine
Summit Natural Gas of Maine will waive late fees for furloughed federal workers who are having a difficult time paying their bills. To take advantage of this support, customers can call the company's customer service department at 800-909-7642 for assistance.
Thomaston Grocery is extending a hand to any Coast Guard workers who have not been paid since January 1. Affected Coast Guard families can collect a $100 gift card, and affected Coast Guard singles can collect a $50 gift card. Anyone interested should present a valid I.D. at the store at 193 Main St. in Thomaston, Maine.
Town & Country Federal Credit Union
Town & Country Federal Credit Union in South Portland is helping federal employee members by offering loan deferments, Skip-A-Pay options, free budget tools, and more during the government shutdown.
Not a federal worker but looking for a way to get involved? There are options available for people who are interested in helping out furloughed federal employees!
Michele Richardson, Account Executive at Tyler Technologies, Inc., is running "Operation Groceries," an initiative to provide food to local TSA Agents, Air Traffic Controllers, and Customs & Border Protection officers going without pay. The group has four drop-off sites in Bangor at Countrywide Trailer Registration, the Bangor YMCA, Maine Aero Services, and Realty of Maine, and one in Orrington at Twinsfeather, near Wiswell Farms. Anyone interested in donating can find out more on the "Operation Groceries" public Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/550047615514935/
Stewart Morrill American Legion Post #35
Veterans at Stewart Morrill American Legion Post #35 are collecting donations to help furloughed federal workers in the Coast Guard. The group started raising money on January 13 and have received about $895 so far. This money is being written into a check and given to the Coast Guard, but the post will continue to collect donations to help workers until the shutdown is over. Anyone interested in offering support can contact organizer and post adjutant Michael Pock at 207-671-9867 or make a check out to the post, located at 413 Broadway in South Portland.