Have you heard? Project GRACE is one of 25 nonprofit finalists for Town & Country Federal Credit Union's annual Better Neighbor Fund. We are very gratified to be nominated along with many other worthy Maine nonprofits, including our friends and neighbors at the Scarborough Land Trust!
With just a few clicks, you can help us be one of the 8 nonprofits chosen to win a $5,000 or a $2,000 grant from Town & Country -- please vote for us (every day now through Halloween!) and please share with your friends and neighbors. https://www.tcfcu.com/.../bet.../better-neighbor-fund-voting If we win, the grant will help us help our neighbors with basics like food, clothing, heat, and more... Thank you!
Who will BEE the smartest team in town? Well, we'll just have to wait and see...(again). After careful consideration, we have canceled the 13th Annual Trivia Bee scheduled for October 28th. This was a tough call to make, as the BEE is our marquis fundraiser and it'll pinch our budget a bit. Mostly, we're disappointed to miss the chance to kick back and have some fun, recognize our loyal sponsors, volunteers, and supporters who make this event sparkle and shine every year. But we'll BEE back in 2022! Trivia champs: you've got extra time to get your team of three ready to compete for trophies and bragging rights! https://triviabee.weebly.com/updates
Plans are coming together for the 6th Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner, sponsored by Scarborough School Nutrition, Scarborough Community Services, and Project GRACE. We'll be going curbside again this year. Stay tuned for more info and details, including registration links, soon. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Project GRACE at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 883-5111.
The return to school will still have us adapting to changes, but one thing's for certain: kids will need school supplies at home as well as at school. We are gearing up to give families a helping hand. We'll need the usual items: new sturdy backpacks, pencils and pens, erasers, markers, glue and tape (list of what's needed by grade level).
You can bring your donations to the Scarborough Public Library anytime, or come to our drive-thru drop off on Saturday, August 21st 4-6 p.m. in the Oak Hill area by Infinity Credit Union and NT&T at 25 Plaza Drive. Or make a gift today to Project GRACE to sponsor a child's backpack. Thank you!
Community Services recently reported that the "Meals to Go" program in partnership with the Agency on Aging has provided over 3,300 frozen meals to seniors in our community since July 2020. (Wow!)
Thanks to a generous gift, beginning last February, Project GRACE covered the costs for fresh meals for the seniors participating in the twice-monthly pick ups. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the staff at Scarborough School Nutrition, including Brenda who had the idea of serving meals to seniors and Leslie and her team at the High School for making the fresh 'heat and serve' meals every month. And we salute Sgt. Thibodeau and his colleagues at the SPD for helping to get the meals from the High School over to the Hub. We also thank the caring and creative staff at Community Services who put this great program together for seniors. Nice work, everyone!
We're all about being good neighbors, and in this year of challenges, we're still thank-full for our community, our neighbors. This year's holiday season will be different, for sure, but we'll still have plenty to be grateful for, plenty to share and celebrate.
Please save the date for our 5th Annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner! We won't be gathering indoors at Wentworth as we have in past holidays, but we can still have dinner together - we'll just have to stretch a bit to pass the cranberry sauce, see our smiles through our masks! Please join us! All are welcome!
Community Helps Students Get Back to Class With Confidence
Thanks to caring neighbors, 185 kids went back to school ready to succeed with sturdy new backpacks brimming with school supplies, plus extras for the classroom. Once again we were impressed by our community's generosity and the care put into making the packs 'just right' for the kids. It all added up to a great start to the beginning of this very unusual school year. One parent told us, the packs "had everything they needed, and more" and a dad said, "As a single parent, I couldn't have done all this for my kids myself, thank you." >> More Thank You Notes
We are thankful to all who volunteered their time, brought in a pack, gave supplies, sponsored a child's backpack, or hosted a collection drive and helped us with the drive-through drop-off. We especially wish to thank Ann and the team at Scarborough School Nutrition and the school bus drivers for their help in getting many of the packs to families, and to Scarborough Public Safety for the use of their community room and help hosting the drive-through collection. Our appreciation also goes out to our co-leaders, Kelly Murphy and Jodi Shea, and to volunteers Ralph, Bert, Linda, Deb, Peggy, Hilde, and Sharyn.
So many neighbors helped us make this community effort such a resounding success again this year.
It's difficult to overstate the importance of giving children healthy meals and snacks, and especially so for kids whose families struggle to stretch tight budgets for groceries and other essentials. When kids come to school hungry, it's harder for them to fully participate in school activities and their future is threatened in profound ways.
The recent news from the schools highlighted the many, including Project GRACE, who have stepped up during the disruption to lend a helping hand or make a financial gift. Schools are closed, but our hearts are open, and our kids are getting nutritious meals and groceries for the family, thanks to the tireless work of the nutrition staff and school bus drivers and volunteers who made the pivot to make the 'backpacks' program work when schools were closed due to the pandemic. >>MORE
For many years, Project GRACE has partnered with Scarborough School Nutrition to get more groceries and more healthy meals to at-risk kids. We are pleased to present a grant in the amount of $2,934.25 to the Scarborough School Nutrition program to cover the snacks and milks, school lunches, and second helpings for students whose families were not eligible for the 'free and reduced' subsidy, but still could not afford to pay nutrition fees this academic year before schools were closed. This annual grant is made possible by charitable gifts made to Project GRACE, and compliments other investments in the 'school backpacks program' as well as grocery gift cards and supports provided to families through the social workers and guidance counselors, school nurses, and administrators.
"We're picking up the lunch tab for our neighbors who want to provide healthy meals for their kids, but can't because of set backs like loss of work, illness, or other circumstances that make it difficult to make ends meet," says Project GRACE's Board President, Bert Follansbee. "There is an abundance of good food available, and no child should have to go hungry. Fortunately, our partnership with the schools and the generous support of our donors makes it possible for us to work together to respond with discretion and compassion."
We are particularly grateful for the compassionate and respectful way in which the school staff address hunger among our students. No child goes hungry; no child or parent is shamed. It's our pleasure and privilege to work with such dedicated and caring people, who make it so easy for us to extend the reach of our neighbors-helping-neighbors services into the community.
If you are having difficulty feeding your kids, please reach out to the school nutrition team who is ready to assist. Email email@example.com or call (207) 730-4700. "Our goal is to make sure all students have the necessary food to stay healthy," said Nutrition Director Peter Esposito.
Friends of Project GRACE, including the Loyal Order of the Moose and Town and Country Federal Credit Union, have donated funds to help us distribute simple health kits with 2 masks, 2 pairs of gloves, and a 2oz bottle of hand sanitizer. Thank you! The donation is also being used to offer masks at two 'help yourself' locations: one at the Scarborough Public Library and one at the Post Office. Be well, everyone! (If you'd like to help us keep the Post Office station supplied with masks, please get in touch!)
Thank you, Scarborough Rotary and Anthony's Italian Kitchen! With your help we can show our appreciation for Town employees who have had their working hours reduced to 50% to generate municipal budget savings. Gift certificates for a dinner kit for four (homemade meatballs and sauce, pasta, garlic bread, and salad) are available to employees and their families thanks to Rotary and Anthony's and friends of Project GRACE.
Big shout out of thanks to the chefs at the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School. They've been preparing thousands of tasty meals for their neighbors -- 9,500 in April alone. We're grateful that 120 of their nourishing and delicious meals are shared each week with seniors in Scarborough. Each menu is always a delightful surprise, beautifully prepared, and lifting our spirits -- thank you!!
Many many thanks to all the talented stitchers who are making masks for their neighbors! We especially want to thank the Salvation Army Ladies' Auxiliary, Pine Point Quilters, Casco Bay Quilters, Pine Tree Quilters Guild, The Rock Church, and the many individuals who are sewing masks for family, friends, and causes here and away. Dozens of masks have already been shared with Scarborough Terrace, Public Works, Bessey Commons, Maine Veteran's Home, Scarborough Food Pantry, and Public Safety, just to name a few. Thank you!! **Let us know if you're sewing and need more fabric; the Salvation Army Ladies' Auxiliary has donated several bolts of fabric, and we will happily swap a couple yards in exchange for a couple of masks!**
We'd like to give a shout of thanks to El Rayo and Tito's (https://elrayotaqueria.com/) who donated forty complimentary meals to share with our neighbors. DELICIOSO!!
Big shout out of thanks to **Wayside Foods** who are helping us get additional food to the Scarborough Food Pantry and the School Nutrition Backpacks Program. We also wanted to thank the volunteers from the First Congregational Church, Rock Church, South Portland Food Cupboard, the Cardinal family and Smaha's Legion Square Market, and Scarborough Public Works who are getting food to where it's needed. Your gifts to Project GRACE are helping us buy food for the pantry, too. We are all so very grateful for all the community support. If you or someone you know is worried about being hungry, please let us know (www.ScarboroughHelps.org or 883-5111).
We are grateful to Public Works who earlier this week helped us move dozens of Hannaford Helps food boxes and juice from the pantry to Wentworth for the ‘backpack’ program providing food to families.(PG added some hand soap, too.)
If you are worried about feeding your kids, email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message for School Nutrition at 730-4700. Also, area food pantries including Scarborough’s are remaining open, and are following health experts' advice on taking precautions. Visitors will be asked to stay in the parking lot, and will be served curbside.
There is plenty of food available for now, thanks to everyone who donated a Hannaford box at the holidays or gave food and money. We will keep you posted on needs as they arise. >>Food for Thought & Action Update 3/18.
With a messy winter storm on our doorsteps, we know, no matter what Punxsutawney Phil might say, an early spring is still a long way away. The other thing we can say with certainty: Scarborough knows how to come together for common cause, we know how to extend a helping hand, and when it counts we show up.
Our town’s 8th Annual Keeping Our Neighbors Warm Fuel Rally at the Oak Hill Firehouse, is just such an occasion when we all show up. The Fire, Police, Community Services and Library pitch in to help Project GRACE host the Rally. The clerk’s office gives out clynk bags for the fund, too. The Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, and several others doing good all year long are at the Rally, too. From 10-Noon on Saturday, there will be a bake sale, raffles, uplifting performance by State Street Jazz musicians, activities for kids and safety demos for everyone.
In a typical winter Project GRACE helps with fuel assistance about 65 times, and even with generous discounts from friends like Conroy’s, our fuel bill can quickly climb to $25,000 or more in a single season. Local philanthropist, Eddie Woodin, helped establish the Fuel Fund more than 10 years ago. Over the years we’ve raised about $150,000 for fuel assistance, about half of that generously donated during the Rallies.
It really doesn't matter how low the temperatures drop or what the price of oil or propane or firewood is: many of our neighbors have a hard time putting food on the table every month, paying for medicines, covering the rent and basic bills. For anyone living on small fixed retirement incomes, or coping with chronic illnesses, or work in low-paying or seasonal jobs, there are difficult choices to make every month. Many can't make ends meet, no matter how carefully they budget. One senior told us, “honey, I cheated the thermostat. I put it up to 58 degrees.” Yup. Up to 58 degrees!
It is with reluctance that our neighbors set aside their pride and make the difficult call to ask us for help. But thanks to the continued partnership with the Town, and the generosity of too many to name here, we can lend a hand. We won’t leave anyone in the cold.
FUEL FUND by the NUMBERS
$182,000 spent on fuel assistance* since 2011
$159,000 fuel assistance donations raised since 2011
$81,000 raised by 7 Fuel Rallies since 2013
2020 is 8th Annual Fuel Rally: goal is to hit $10,000 in donations in 2 hours
443 households receiving fuel assistance 2011-2019 (470+ including 2020 season)
On average, 65 helps a season.
87% of households receive only one help a season
$12,500 (8% of funds raised) spent on weatherization projects
2020 Fuel Fund donations as of January 15: $3,821
2020 Fuel Expenses as of January 15: $7,195
Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you got plenty of pie, turkey and all the rest! More than 400 of our neighbors, family, and friends gathered together for the 4th Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. Chef Peter Esposito and his crew cooked up a delicious meal featuring 65 roast turkeys, plus 150 lbs of potatoes, 100 lbs squash, 120 lbs stuffing, 100 lbs cranberry sauce, and volunteers baked dozens of pies, too. We are grateful to all the volunteers, sponsors, and especially to all who shared the holiday with us. You can see more pictures here: http://www.thanksgivingscarborough.org/pictures.html
We also gave away dozens of Thanksgiving Dinner Baskets, and want to thank everyone who contributed, including our local Girl Scouts, Scarborough HS Football Team, VIPs, St Max, and all the neighbors who made up a festive holiday meal.
Together we can help our neighbors have a more joyful holiday season. We are hearing from families who are worried about how they'll keep their homes warm, put food on the table, and make sure their kids find a few items under the tree. Can we count on your help this holiday season?
We have almost 150 kids on our list this year! Christmas presents for kids are needed by Monday, December 11th. Please RSVP HERE to receive a wish list.
Eddie Woodin, a Scarborough resident, inspirational philanthropist, and long-time friend of Project GRACE, is an all-star in life.
A successful entrepreneur, work is only one of several priorities for Eddie. “The point is to give back. Then it comes back to you so many times over," says Eddie. Eddie takes a deep personal interest in his community, and Scarborough’s Project GRACE, Maine Audubon, Boy Scouts of America, Scarborough Garden Club, Friends of Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough Public Library, Scarborough Land Trust, and Southern Maine Agency on Aging, are but a few of the worthy local causes he has championed.
His commitment to service for others started when he was a student at Colby College (class of ’69), where he was a star baseball and football player with a natural gift for leadership. After graduating, he set a personal goal of volunteering, giving, and calling on friends in need. Today Eddie’s investment in community is often in the form of a significant “challenge grant” that brings the community together, like Project GRACE's annual "Rally to Keep Our Neighbors Warm" to raise money for fuel assistance, or the Land Trust's campaign to conserve a special piece of property. Because it’s as much about stepping out in front to call attention to a chance to give back.
In recognition of his winning spirit and generous support of youth sporting programs, in 2015 the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame awarded Eddie the prestigious Sonny Noel President’s Award.
With an all-star's winning attitude, Eddie inspires and encourages his neighbors to put our gifts and talents out there, to come together a as a team to tackle our challenges and make the most of our opportunities. Eddie coaches us all with a bright smile, big heart, and a nudge to “...get out there, and go, go.”
* With thanks to "My Generation" for the quotes.
Hope you'll come out to the ballpark Tuesday to root for Eddie as he throws a ceremonial pitch for Project GRACE! All-star hall-of-famer, Kevin Youkilis will be at the game, too, to throw the official first pitch of the game.
Project GRACE, the Scarborough Food Pantry, Scarborough School Nutrition, and friends are convening another working forum on Tuesday, March 28th. Many are already making a significant contribution, doing a lot to halt hunger in our community. But there are still unmet needs, opportunities for us to do more, to collaborate for greater impact.
Mainers are hungry. Did you know: Maine ranks 17th in the nation and 1st in New England in terms of food insecurity (hunger). 24%, or nearly 1 in every 4 children, are food insecure in Maine. Here in Scarborough, 17% of our kids are receiving 'free and reduced' lunch and snacks through the school nutrition program.
A lot of great information came to light at the September convening, and it was inspiring to hear what's already happening to help our neighbors. We are pleased to report that as a result of our conversations at the last forum, several actions have already been taken. We are eager to hear what else is in the works, how things are going, and your ideas for what else we can tackle together to halt hunger in our community. We hope you'll join us on March 28th.
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