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Updated: September 26, 2022

Nonprofit Roundup: News from nonprofits in Maine

Photo / Courtesy of the TRAVIS MILLS FOUNDATION Travis and Kelsey Mills, founders of the Travis Mills Foundation, which helps veterans and their families.

Around Maine, nonprofits have gone through major changes in the past two plus years. And change continues to happen, though not all of it is negative or a signal of upheaval. New facilities are being built, leaders are being hired and money is being dispensed to the people that need it most. Here is a roundup of some of what’s been going on in the nonprofit sector.

Travis Mills retreat offers supportive environment for veterans

The Travis Mills Foundation opened its health and wellness center at its rural Maine at, allowing it to expand its programing for veterans and their families.

The 9,800-square-foot, $7 million facility will expand programming to 40 weeks per year. The Travis Mills Foundation Retreat is at 1002 Watson Pond Road in Rome.

The Travis Mills Foundation offers support to post-9/11 veterans and their families.

Since 2017, the foundation has hosted more than 100 weeks of programming at its retreat, serving 627 veterans, 724 families, and 2,087 people from 46 states and Canada.

The foundation’s programming provides family fun and togetherness for veterans and their families. Programming offers tools and skills needed for a healthy recovery.

“This new center will allow our veterans to learn how to use mainstream fitness equipment in a safe, non-judgmental environment and then take those skills home with them and join their local gyms or work out at home, therefore staying healthy long after their visits to the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat,” said Kelly Roseberry, COO at the Travis Mills Foundation.

The center includes an indoor pool, massage rooms, fitness rooms, and state-of-the-art workout equipment.

“The indoor pool is not only going to be great for those chilly winter days during programming, but for a veteran amputee, water is the ultimate equalizer,” said Roseberry. “It brings relief to their bodies, and it allows them to interact with their families on a level playing field.”

Good Shepherd turns attention to Piscataquis County with recent initiative

Photo / Courtesy of Good Shepherd Food Bank
Good Shepherd Food Bank earmarked $100,000 for hunger relief efforts in Piscataquis County.

Maine’s largest hunger-relief organization is teaming with Piscataquis Regional Food Center, a Dover-Foxcroft nonprofit founded in 2017, to launch a new initiative to end hunger in Piscataquis County.

Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine and Piscataquis Regional Food Center announced the Community-Driven Strategies to End Hunger initiative in early September.

“In 2018, the food bank built upon existing work to divide Maine into 27 regions,” Shannon Coffin, Good Shepherd Food Bank’s vice president of community partnerships, said. “We then used town-level food insecurity data and determined community-level meal gaps. Local experts come together with Good Shepherd Food Bank team members to identify solutions to the area’s unique food access challenges.”

The food bank focuses on two to three of the 27 regions each year. Cohort four will begin this fall and includes Piscataquis County. Each region will develop its own environmental scans, identify key stakeholders, assess strengths and opportunities, host focus groups with those experiencing food insecurity, and create work plans for ending hunger in their communities.

“This investment by Good Shepherd Food Bank in our county means that our agencies, thought leaders and patrons can work together to find solutions tailored to combat hunger in our communities,” said Kelly Sirimoglu, Piscataquis Regional Food Center’s executive director. “Piscataquis County has challenges that may not exist in other parts of the state, and when we approach the problem with local knowledge, we are much more likely to be successful.”

The Good Shepherd initiative has previously supported projects in Lewiston, the Portland suburbs, Northern Penobscot County, Washington County and Lincoln County. Cohort three is currently in progress and supports projects in Northern Kennebec County and Somerset County. Cohort four will begin this fall and will be supporting projects in Piscataquis County and the Biddeford area.

Good Shepherd sources nutritious food and distributes it to nearly 600 partner organizations across the state, including food pantries, meal sites, schools, health care centers and senior programs. The food bank also supports partners with capacity-building and innovation grants that improve and promote equitable and dignified access to nutritious food across the state.

In 2021, Good Shepherd distributed more than 31.6 million meals through its network of partners, and invested $4.4 million in grants to its partners. It is currently leading a $250 million Campaign to End Hunger in Maine.

Over 180,000 Mainers rely on Good Shepherd Food Bank and its partners.

Good Shepherd has said its goal is to provide access to nutritious food to all those struggling with hunger by 2025. The organization works with food donors, philanthropic supporters and local partners across the state.

An Augusta nonprofit brings on new director, honors founder

Photo / Courtesy of Bread of Life Ministries
Victoria Abbott, left, executive director of the Bread of Life Ministries, with the organization’s founder, Carolyn Neighoff.

Bread of Life Ministries, an Augusta-based nonprofit that feeds the hungry and provides safe shelter to those in need, has named Victoria Abbott as its new executive director.

The Augusta native is involved in several community organizations. She is president of the Augusta Downtown Alliance, president of the Augusta Rotary Club and an advisor with the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute.

While Abbott started her new role at Bread of Life several months ago, the appointment has not been made public until now. She succeeded John Richardson in the role.

The organization, whose roots go back more than 35 years, started as a soup kitchen opened by Carolyn Neighoff. She stepped out of an official role at the organization in 2008 and was honored for her service at an event in September.

Abbott, whose appointment was made public at the same event, said she was inspired to get involved in Bread of Life by Neighoff, who had been her field hockey coach in high school.

“Now as executive director, I want to help carry on her legacy,” Abbott said.

When the soup kitchen first opened on Sept. 10, 1984, it served meals for 37 people. Today, it serves more than 100 people per day, a number that continues to rise along with inflation. Its mission has grown over the years.

“The short-term goal was, ‘Let’s have some fellowship and food,’ and that took care of one need,” Neighoff said. “Then the longer-term goal was, ‘People need a place to stay,’ because you can feed them, but if people don’t have a roof over their heads, you’re not going to be able to change their lives.”

Bread of Life Ministries, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, employs 15 people and has an annual budget of $4.6 million.

A Bar Harbor nonprofit tackles affordable workforce housing

After two-and-a-half years of planning and construction, Jackson Laboratory officially opened its new Hemlock Lane workforce housing complex in Bar Harbor.

The ribbon-cutting event attracted state representatives, employees, future tenants and community leaders.

“Affordable, nearby housing is a top concern for JAX employees, and we are proud to be a member of the local non-profit sector that is taking the lead in proposing, funding and completing crucial housing projects,” Lon Cardon, the lab’s president and CEO, said.

The complex was built to address the lack of accessible, year-round housing in the region.

“Year-round, high-quality rentals like Hemlock Lane are a critical part of solving the local housing crisis,” said the lab’s executive vice president and COO, Catherine Longley.

Located within walking distance from the lab’s Bar Harbor campus, which employs approximately 1,500 people, the complex was constructed with sustainable design principles and includes two stand-alone buildings with 12 one-, two- and three-bedroom units each, for a total of 24 units.

There’s an open outdoor community space, a shared storage building, and tenant parking. Apartments are offered at competitive market rates and it’s expected the complex will house more than 40 people.

Employees interested in the complex submitted a short application and were entered into a lottery conducted by the Bar Harbor Housing Authority, which is managing the complex.

The completion of the Hemlock Lane apartments marks a major step in the lab’s mission to address employee needs, including housing, childcare and other issues.

Housing is a major determining factor on whether or not candidates can take a position at the lab, said Ezra Hallett, a talent acquisition partner at the lab and a tenant in the new complex.

The lab will continue to assess how to best meet employee needs in the months and years ahead.

“Housing, childcare, transportation — all of these are essential to our employees and to our mission,” said Longley. “We are considering how to best invest in housing in the coming years.”

Total investment in the development, on a 35-acre parcel owned by the lab, was $10 million.

The project utilized sustainable design and construction principles, including the incorporation of elements of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Passive House and a system called Sustainable SITES that’s designed for creating sustainable and resilient land development projects.

JAX worked with three Portland firms on the project: Wright-Ryan Construction for construction management, Ryan Senatore Architecture and Woodard & Curran for civil engineering and permitting services.

The complex is located on Route 3, the primary travel corridor on the Bar Harbor side of Mount Desert Island.

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