Sunbeam delivers Wednesday Spinners to Matinicus

Sunbeam delivers Wednesday Spinners to Matinicus

The Sunbeam delivered the Wednesday Spinners to Matinicus where they were greeted by residents at the Matinicus Island School.
(Wednesday Spinners members with Matinicus Island residents at the Matinicus Island School. (Photo courtesy Susan Merrill.)

NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME – On November 10, the Wednesday Spinners traveled aboard the Sunbeam to share their passion for spinning with an island community. It was their second island trip in three years. For almost a half-century, the Spinners use old-fashioned wooden spinning wheels, to turn the woolly covering of sheep—called fleece—into yarn.

Some group members gift or sell their handspun yarn. Others make clothing to sell. But the six Spinners who joined with the Sunbeam gave residents of Matinicus an opportunity to observe spinning and to interact with the group. Set up at Matinicus Island School, original member Cynthia Thayer recalled, “We taught and later enjoyed an evening with people who came with their knitting. They talked about the island and told us stories. A couple of people came with their wheels and we helped to get those operational.”

A Wednesday Spinner stands on the shore with the Sunbeam behind her.

The next day—a holiday—children visited and were introduced to the craft. “We get together because we love spinning. If we find people who are really interested in it, we share it,” Cynthia continued. The trip was planned by Island Outreach Director, Douglas Cornman, MA, BC-DMT. He and the Sunbeam crew brought the Spinners to Isle Au Haut in 2019. He shared, “They spin and weave magic. They are kind, they are wise, they are generous. They are grateful. People gravitate to them and enjoy watching what they do, even if they have no particular interest in spinning, weaving, or knitting. There’s something intriguing and entrancing about

their work. It was wonderful to see islanders get excited about a craft that they may not typically engage with or be aware of. It was a positive experience all around and that is why the Mission puts so much effort into these outreach trips.”

For the Matinicus visit, the Spinners were once again excited to see life on an island, talk to people, and witness the day-to-day. “It’s very special to see the Mission’s guests get as much out of the trip as the islanders. I sat there and felt the energy generated in the room between island residents and the Spinners. It is hard to articulate how powerful that energy is, and it is that energy that helps me realize—that reminds me—that there is something in this universe beyond ourselves. I think the islanders felt it.”

Following the Sunbeam's arrival, 3 Matinicus children and a black labrador stand on the dock.

During the trip, a Spinner said Wednesday  is their spiritual home. It is a time they come together as a community. One particular Matinicus student, age 9,  became captivated by their craft. He parted his own wool and the Spinners helped him spin it into yarn. In less than 24 hours, he had turned raw wool into yarn. “You could see him indulge in the process,” remarked Douglas.

“The Sunbeam crew was just fantastic,” said Cynthia, “Of course Jillian is amazing with the food she puts out. She’s always so cheery and happy. The whole experience was extremely positive. I hope we’ll go out again soon.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, Covid-19 precautions moved the Wednesday Spinners away from their regular mid-week meetings in each other’s homes. “These days,” explains Cynthia, “we’re spinning down at Hammond Hall in Winter Harbor. It’s a big hall and we can spread out.” The group’s sessions have a specific purpose. “What we don’t do is have people come to our group, so they can learn how to spin. We’re there to spin our own work. Many of us teach for pay. Once a person knows how to spin, we see if we have room in the group and ask them to come,” she said.

Visit the Wednesday Spinners, their work, or to get in touch about a lesson via their Facebook page. Want to learn more about Island Outreach? Explore the News or visit the program.

High Praise for EdGE Staff Members

High Praise for EdGE Staff Members

An EdGE student leaf rubbing at D.W. Merritt Elementary.

CHERRYFIELD, ME – EdGE Director Isaac Marnik, and Downeast Director Mel Adams, had high praise this week for the several full-time EdGE staff members who shouldered the added work of running EdGE after-school programs. Without them, said Isaac, the after-school programs could not have stayed open.

“We are open at all seven school locations. We had 333 students attend at least one day of an EdGE after-school program,” said Isaac.

Mel Adams said the EdGE staff really leveraged all their mental, physical, emotional energy to ensure that EdGE continued on throughout this time period. “Thank you can never be enough,” he said.

Interested in engaging youth at our after-school program? Jobs are open for EdGE after-school staff in Machias and Harrington! Plus, the Mission offers a $100 sign-on bonus after 60 days. New staffers will lead activities, oversee groups of children, and work alongside EdGE site coordinators.

“We hope to have another good month of programming going forward,” said Isaac.

Island Covid Booster Shots Follow Flu Shots

Island Covid Booster Shots Follow Flu Shots

L-R: Director of Island Outreach Douglas Cornman, Director of Island Health Services Sharon Daley, RN, Nurse Peggy Akers, and Assistant to the Island Health Services Director Margaret Snell enroute aboard a mail boat to give Covid booster shots on Maine islands.

NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — Island Health Services Director Sharon Daley, RN no sooner completed a multi-island run aboard the Sunbeam administering flu shots, when the Mission received a CDC green light to administer Covid vaccination boosters among certain island communities.

Sharon and fellow Sunbeam crew member, Director of Island Outreach & Chaplain Douglas Cornman, are members of the Mission Covid Vaccination Team. In three months, starting in February 2021, that team Covid vaccinated 343 people on seven islands.

On November 1, Douglas said, “Last week, in less than 48-hours, Sharon, Administrative Assistant Margaret Snell, and I, scheduled Covid booster shot trips to seven islands. We secured vaccine. We put fliers together announcing the vaccine booster is available, and posted them on the islands,” Douglas said.

The response from island communities was instantaneous.

“Over the weekend we had over 50 people contact me requesting their booster. In two weeks we’ll be doing boosters on those seven islands. We will have given everyone their booster before their Thanksgiving holiday,” said Douglas.

Mission’s Davis Maine Scholarship’s New Partnership with Bowdoin’s Upward Bound Program

Mission’s Davis Maine Scholarship’s New Partnership with Bowdoin’s Upward Bound Program

Davis Maine Scholars visiting partner college campuses.

NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — First-generation, college-bound students from Washington County will have an opportunity to pursue undergraduate studies with full scholarships through a new partnership. Starting with the Class of 2023, students in Bowdoin College’s Upward Bound Program are eligible to apply for Maine Seacoast Mission’s Davis Maine Scholarship. This is a full four-year scholarship to one of three partner colleges: Clark University (MA), University of New England (ME), and Wheaton College (MA).

Bowdoin’s Upward Bound Program supports Maine students from low-income backgrounds, including those attending Washington County’s eight high schools as they progress through high school and plan their post-secondary futures. The Washington County high schools included are:

  • Calais High School
  • East Grand High School
  • Jonesport-Beals High School
  • Machias Memorial High School
  • Narraguagus High School
  • Shead High School
  • Washington Academy
  • Woodland Senior High School

Since 2015 Bowdoin’s Upward Bound Program has supported over 200 Washington County students, with 89% entering college the fall after their high school graduation.

In announcing this partnership, Davis Maine Scholarship Director Christina Griffith said, “This partnership was seeded three years ago through Maine Seacoast Mission’s collaborative work with Narraguagus High School. I am thrilled eligible Bowdoin Upward Bound participants will join Narraguagus and Sumner High School students in applying for this life-changing opportunity. Collaborative partnership is foundational to the Davis Maine Scholarship program and Upward Bound has a record of exemplary student support. This new partnership elevates and deepens our shared belief in, and commitment to, increasing higher education access and success for Downeast students.”

Bowdoin College’s Upward Bound Director Bridget Mullen said, “Whenever trusted organizations aligned in mission can strengthen services and increase opportunities, it’s a big win. With deep roots in Washington County, Upward Bound and Maine Seacoast Mission have demonstrated longstanding commitment to area students. This support from the Davis Maine Scholarship and the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund makes it possible to provide greater student support after they’ve completed high school and while they’re in college. I’ve been working with Upward Bound in Washington County schools for over 30 years and I couldn’t be happier or more excited for our students.”

Our inaugural cohort of Davis Maine Scholars enters college in Fall 2022.

Maine Seacoast Mission has been committed to the people of Maine’s outer islands and Downeast coastal communities since our founding in 1905. Our mission: Rooted in a history of compassionate service and mutual trust, Maine Seacoast Mission seeks to strengthen coastal and island communities by educating youth, supporting families, and promoting good health.

For more information on the Davis Maine Scholarship, please visit here.

D.W. Merritt’s EdGE Student of the Month

D.W. Merritt’s EdGE Student of the Month

ADDISON, ME — Mission Family and Community Resource Coordinator Stephanie Moores brings us intriguing news from D.W. Merritt Elementary in Addison, ME.

“We have started a student of the month award at the D.W. Merritt EdGE program. William Roberts, pictured here, is our October recipient. William is always the first to offer help to the staff and students. He is a wonderful role model for all,” said Stephanie.

Well done, William. And thank you, Stephanie. We look forward to hearing about future students of the month.

Learn more about EdGE.