MAINE, USA — NEWS CENTER Maine and the TEGNA Foundation, the charitable foundation sponsored by TEGNA Inc., are awarding six area nonprofit organizations community grants. The grants address food insecurity, mental health, and the well-being of children and adolescents throughout Maine.
Among the grant recipients are:
- Western Maine Community Action: Funds will help bring local fresh produce to childcare providers and their children in the community.
- Women for Healthy Rural Living: Funds will be used to expand the "Incredible Edible Milbridge Project", a series of free, help-yourself organic vegetable gardens and education initiatives.
- Veggies to Table: Grant funds will partly be used to develop "Veggies for Everyone", a nutrition program built to provide resources about farmers' produce.
- United Cerebral Palsy of Northeastern Maine: $2,500 will be used to support a special purpose preschool for intellectual needs students.
- Penquis Children's Advocacy Center: $1,500 will go toward a safe and child-focused place providing support and services to children and their non-offending caregivers when a child may have experienced sexual abuse.
- Boothbay Regional Health Center: $5,000 will be used to teach teens and pre-teens how to reduce stress in their lives in order to become resilient, happy, and calm, regardless of the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Western Maine Community Action
Western Maine Community Action, based in East Wilton, received a $5,000 grant from NEWS CENTER Maine and the TEGNA Foundation. The money will help put fresh produce on the table for Maine children.
"If we can provide daycare providers with local food boxes, we will be ensuring that children are getting the optimal nutrition from that for growth and development," Meghan Crockett with Western Maine Community Action said.
One daycare provider that will receive food boxes is Linda Doiron, the director of Tamarack Tree House Child Care.
“I cook everything from scratch and I give [kids] a huge variety of vegetables and fruits, and so, I’m really excited that I’m going to be able to get those locally,” Doiron said. "As a child care provider, I don’t make an awful lot of money. It makes a big difference in what you serve."
Women for Healthy Rural Living
"We are so grateful for the funding from TEGNA for Women for Healthy Rural Living’s Incredible Edible Milbridge program," the organization's associate director, Susan Bennett, told NEWS CENTER Maine.
Bennett added the grant will help them plant 33,000 square feet of free pick-your-own veggie gardens in Milbridge.
"At a time when the need for nutritious food is so great, TEGNA’s support of Incredible Edible Milbridge will help us to improve and enhance the health and wellness of our community," Bennett said.
Veggies to Table
Veggies to Table, based in Newcastle, is another Maine nonprofit that focuses on addressing food insecurity. The organization received a grant which totals $2,500.
"This grant was specifically written so that we could go into select locations in our community where we donate our food to educate people on how to prepare and store their food," Veggies to Table founder Erica Berman said.
United Cerebral Palsy of Northeastern Maine
The United Cerebral Palsy of Northeastern Maine is a non-profit based out of Bangor with locations statewide. Staff members there work with children and adults with physical and intellectual needs through programs like case management and outpatient therapy.
UCP of Maine received $2,500 in grant money to help build a new classroom for its Bridges program, which works specifically with toddlers through preschool-aged children. Construction on the classroom began this summer, and it is now up-and-running.
"The earlier we're able to work with these kids on behavioral needs, the better they'll be off down the road," Andrew Lohman, the marketing and community relations manager for the UCP of Maine, said about the need.
UCP of Maine now has four Bridges classrooms in Bangor and four in Brewer.
Penquis Children's Advocacy Center
The Penquis Children's Advocacy Center works with kids from four to 18 years old who have been sexually assaulted or have experienced sexual violence. Staff members do forensic interviews after they get referrals from places like the Department of Health and Human Services, district attorney's office, and law enforcement.
PCAC has been open since December of 2016 and has done more than 900 interviews. After children interview, they have the opportunity to make a handprint with fabric and paint. Those pieces are then hung on the wall to show other kids that they're not alone. With a $1,500 grant, PCAC will be able to buy materials for this program to make sure it continues.
"It just shows they're not alone," said Wendy Gilbert, the program manager and forensic interviewer at PCAC. "A lot of times kids will leave messages like this one here. It says, 'Stay strong,' — so it's really good for them to know that."
Gilbert noted the number of referrals has "spiked" recently, after initially dropping off at the start of the pandemic.
Boothbay Region Health Center
Boothbay Region Health Center has received $5,000 to address a "fairly high" rate of depression and suicide among teens and young people. To do so, the Center is coordinating a stress reduction program for pre-teens and teenagers that focuses on the power of thinking and how our thoughts about certain events determine how we feel.
Patty Seybold, the board president of BRHC, said the goal is for this program to last at least eight weeks and to be offered in person and virtually for kids who aren't nearby. She said she's hoping the program will start in February or March when mental health can start to get bad for people during the long winter months.
"I think kids really need to understand how to be resilient and how [resiliency] comes from within — that it's not the conditions you're living in that are making you feel the way you do," Seybold said.
This program will officially be called "Ignite Your Inner Strength". If you're interested in signing up, you can contact Seybold directly at 207-633-4368, or firstname.lastname@example.org.