BANGOR, Maine — Thursday is NEWS CENTER Maine's United Way Telethon. From 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., the telethon will be accepting donations for the Maine United fund. A campaign by NEWS CENTER and all nine United Ways in the state to help our neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic.
The idea was started by United Way of Eastern Maine located in Bangor and quickly spread to the eight other locations.
“One of the first things we did was start to think about what people are going to need," Shirar Patterson, the President and CEO United Way Eastern Maine, said.
As soon as the coronavirus began to spread in Maine, Patterson and her team acted fast. Asking programs in the area that they need or will need in the future.
“What do you see as the needs now, what do you think they’re going to be, so we’re really staying on top of those things so we can support the greatest needs of the community with this fund," Patterson added.
Before Thursday's telethon, United Way of Eastern Maine has received 60 requests for assistance and has given out more than $100,000.
Sue Mackey-Andrews is the Facilitator for the Maine Highlands Investment Partnership. The partnership connects Helping Hands and the Pisqatius County Economic Development Department. United Way helped her program with food deliveries.
“(United Way helped) provide emergency food and fuel assistance to those who really needed it," Mackey-Andrews said. “(And) to make sure the meals on wheels program sufficiently can meet the needs of this rural region.”
Matt Dexter is the founder of the Christine B. Foundation. The foundation helps people living with cancer and their families. He's seen the need for assistance grow in the last few weeks. United Way gave his foundation financial support.
“We’re making grocery packages and doing a delivery service and also a distribution site in front of cancer care in Brewer," Dexter said.“The burdens caused by cancer diagnosis for not only the patients but also their family is really magnified by this virus.”
Another program offered through United Way is 2-1-1 Maine. Nikki Busmanis is a Program Manager with 2-1-1. She says Mainers who are in need of assistance can call anytime.
“Any time of day or night, any day of the year, and they automatically connect with a live person who helps them find those resources," Busmanis added,
2-1-1 Maine does not offer financial support directly. It pairs those in need with programs in the local area that can assist.
For answers to frequently asked questions on COVID-19:
- Dial 211 (or 207-874-2211) or Text your zip code to 898-211 to communicate with a 211 Specialist
- Text MECOVID to 898-211 to subscribe to 211 Maine for updates related to COVID-19
- Visit www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus
- 211 Maine is equipped to answer general questions about COVID-19, including how people can best protect themselves, common symptoms of the coronavirus, and any travel advisories.
- Answers to general questions are based on information provided in the Maine CDC Coronavirus FAQ available on their website.
- Anyone looking for specific medical advice should call their medical provider, an urgent care center, or another health care facility for guidance and testing options.
- Anyone looking to be tested for COVID-19 must contact a healthcare provider. 211 Maine does not provide testing referrals.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus