Casual Fridays Support the Mission  

Casual Fridays Support the Mission  

A picture of five people holding a large check. The check is from Bar Harbor Bank & Trust and is to the Mission for $2780.

The employees of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust recently donated $2,780 to the Mission through the bank’s “Casual for a Cause” charitable giving initiative. Employees who participate in “Casual for a Cause” dress casually on Fridays in exchange for a payroll deduction to collectively fund a charity. The bank matches 50% of the total donation made by its staff. Each quarter, the employees vote on which nonprofits will receive their contributions. In the fall of 2023, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust employees selected the Mission as a recipient.  

The Mission will apply the donation to its Journey program, which serves 7th to 12th graders in Washington County. Downeast youth participating in Journey explore the outdoors and their communities to develop the tools needed to successfully transition to high school and through higher education and career pathways. The program provides individual support, outdoor excursions, immersive experiences, access to professionals, college exploration opportunities, preparation workshops, and help applying for scholarships. Participating students benefit from the Mission’s close partnerships with local middle and high schools, colleges, and community organizations.  

Your gift to the Maine Seacoast Mission makes you part of all we do.

“We are so grateful for our relationship with Bar Harbor Bank & Trust and their employees’ support of our Journey program,” says Mission President John Zavodny. “Whether it is support for an existing program or talking through new ways to help in our communities, we know we can count on our partners at Bar Harbor Bank & Trust.”

Since the “Casual for a Cause” giving program began in 2018, the bank and its employees have donated more than $250,000 to more than 115 nonprofit organizations serving Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont residents. In addition, each year, the bank donates to more than 450 community organizations across Northern New England. The bank works to partner with nonprofits to enhance local projects and programs that provide crucial services for those in need. The bank’s partner organizations support affordable housing, economic development, financial literacy, arts and culture, youth and family, and health and human services. Since the Mission’s founding in 1905, Bank Harbor & Bank & Trust has been a committed support of the Mission.  

“Casual for a Cause is a great opportunity for our employees to be philanthropists together,” said Jack Frost, VP Director of Community Giving at Bar Harbor Bank & Trust. “By combining their individual contributions, our employees are able to make significant donations to nonprofit organizations that are, in turn, making a difference in our communities. This is truly a testament to our belief that good things happen when we work together.”   

Davis Maine Scholars Reflect on their First Semesters

Davis Maine Scholars Reflect on their First Semesters

What’s it like to be a first-generation student starting the first semester of college? The second cohort of Davis Maine Scholars did that last fall. Their first semesters saw these six students move hundreds of miles away from home, learn new skills, and find their way. As they started their second semester, the Mission asked each to reflect on their challenges, surprises, and triumphs from their first few months in college.  

Their answers touched on both the academic and social changes they experienced. Marissa, Joseph, and Laney noted the academic challenges they encountered with their college courses being quite different than their high school classes. Their responses stressed the importance of asking for help, making new study habits, taking detailed notes in class, and going to professors’ office hours. Marissa, who is attending Clark University, writes “I was surprised to find that my biggest challenge was studying for mid-terms and finals. I had to devote a lot more time studying for exams.” Joseph, at UNE, and Antonio, at Clark, both said scheduling and time management were new things they had to figure out during the semester. These answers were similar to those of last year’s cohort of Davis Maine Scholars, who also remarked the change in academic demands from high school to college was sometimes overwhelming until they figured out a system which worked best for them.  

A photo of a young smiling white man holding a college pennant that says UNE
A photo of a young smiling white woman holding a college pennant that says UNE
A photo of a young smiling white man holding a college pennant that says UNE
Many of the Scholars also found help for their support systems, both those at home and the new friends they found. Laney and Antonio both were thankful for their continued support of their friends and family at home who continued to provide guidance. Laney, at UNE, said one of the things she learned was it is okay to “call home as much as you want.” Antonio added he was “lucky to have had a lot of support from my friends and family,” during the transition to college.  

And knowing they had this support, the Scholars tried new things. Tori, who is attending Clark, says she tried new foods and hobbies, even things she never thought she would try. She says this “can be enjoyable even if the experience of the new thing is bad, like having boba tea for the first time and getting it in matcha, a double whammy of things I never tried before.” She also started volunteering for an afterschool program. Antonio found out he had a passion for making music and started playing squash. Marissa started cooking and was “able to develop a great circle of new friends who supported her.” 

A photo of a young smiling white woman holding a college pennant that says Clark University 1887
A photo of a young man holding a college pennant that says Clark University 1887
A photo of a young smiling white woman holding a college pennant that says Clark University 1887

And with this help from the Davis Maine Scholarship, the Mission, their colleges, and their families and friends, these students are more likely to succeed and graduate from college. First-generation students are less likely than their peers to graduate from college and access the resources their institutions provide from studying aboard to career counseling. However, with more support, this changes. UNE offers a First Generation Bridge program for students and Clark has an Office of Identity, Student Engagement, and Access that supports first-generation students and helps them learn more about what opportunities are available for them.  

The Davis Maine Scholarship program is also trying to help students succeed by creating a series of workshops for high school students. These workshops focus on many of the topics the Scholars have highlighted as things they wanted to learn more about time management, how to transition from high school to college academics, and more.  

Juniors at Narraguagus Jr/Sr High School, Sumner High School, and students participating in Bowdoin Upward Bound in Washington County can apply for the Davis Maine Scholarship starting on March 1. 

To learn more or apply for the Scholarship, visit the Davis Maine Scholarship web page. 

Homeowners Can Apply for Mission’s Housing Improvement Program 

Homeowners Can Apply for Mission’s Housing Improvement Program 

A group of six people are in an unfinished room. One man is giving directions and others are doing work on the room around him.
A close up of a man drilling into a piece of wood. He is wearing a yellow rain jacket and stands in front of a saw horse.

The Mission’s Housing Improvement program works to make homes warm, safe, and dry. Each summer hundreds of volunteers fan out across Downeast Maine replacing drafty windows and doors, creating easier access to homes with decks and stairs, and much more. Homeowners in Washington and eastern Hancock Counties can now apply for this year’s program.  

Since the program began in 2003, hundreds of volunteers have traveled to Downeast Maine to help with the program. “This program has allowed community members to stay in their homes which is vital to our mission of supporting and strengthening communities,” says Jennifer Kempthorne, Housing Improvement Program Director.  

In addition to providing repairs, the Mission partners with Downeast Community Partners (DCP) who identify homes DCP can weatherize after Mission volunteers make improvements. This work lowers homeowners’ heating costs over time. This partnership between the Mission and DCP is supported by the C.F. Adams Charitable Trust. The Mission also works to connect homeowners with other resources and services offered by the Mission and other community partners.  

Homeowners qualify for Housing Improvement program if they:  

  • Self-identify as low to moderate income 
  • Provide proof of homeownership 
  • Own one home  
  • Live in the home receiving repairs  
  • Live within a 30-minute drive from the Mission’s Cherryfield campus  

Homeowners can apply online through the Housing Improvement web page. For assistance in applying, call (207) 546-4466 or visit the Mission’s Cherryfield office.  

The Mission is also currently accepting applications for volunteer groups. Interested groups can contact Jennifer at [email protected] or call (207) 460-9322.

Help Change Lives One Project at a Time 

Help Change Lives One Project at a Time 

Each summer from May to September, hundreds of volunteers make their way to Downeast Maine, and in just one week they make a lasting impact on the community members. These volunteers are part of the Mission’s Housing Improvement program and every year, they repair dozens of homes. In 2023, 112 volunteers completed 35 projects on homes throughout the Mission’s service area.

Two people of mixed color bend over a piece of lumber that they are attaching to a newly built deck.

The Mission is now accepting volunteer groups for the 2024 season. Housing Improvement Program Director Jennifer Kempthorne shares, “Volunteers make this program possible. Their support and commitment to the program allow us to focus our resources into repairing more homes.”

William Mennell has been coming to volunteer with Mission for three years with his church group. The group includes a mix of adults and teens, and William explains while people might be unsure if they can help without knowing much about building, anyone can make an impact. “You do not have to be a ‘weekend warrior’ or even handy. You do not have to be an expert,” he says. “There is always a leader you can look to.” With the teens he volunteers with, they often show them how to do a piece of the project and then let them go to work, providing guidance when needed. He adds the Mission always provides support and there is always a Mission staff member on hand at each site. 

Jennifer pairs volunteers with projects that fit their skill sets with many properties having multiple needs. This means everyone has a role and task for the day and throughout the week. Volunteers with more building experience can tackle larger projects like building ramps or replacing doors, while other volunteers can work on mudding or painting. 

William says he has continued to volunteer at the Mission and in Downeast Maine because the group sees the impact they are having on the community. There are often multiple groups volunteering at the same time which is “great for the kids to interact with and learn from each other.” 

 The Mission is now accepting applications for the Housing Improvement program. Interested groups can reach out to Jennifer. 

Island Residents Learn More About their Water

Island Residents Learn More About their Water

On a cold morning on Islesford, island residents walk into the Neighborhood House with thermoses and water bottles in hand. A father together with his young son explained his family’s reluctance to drink the water that comes from their tap that may or may not contain chemicals or contaminants. When the preschool class came to the library for story time, a school aide brought a water bottle and wondered what might be in the school’s tap water, which was in her water bottle. 

This is why Sunbeam Nurse Simone Babineaux and Island Services Program Coordinator Margaret Snell are on the island this morning. Six community members arrive to have their well water tested and learn more about safe water, while another test was left for pickup. 

Statewide, around 40% of Mainers rely on wells. On outer islands, that number rises to nearly 100%. Well water, unlike public drinking water, does not need to be tested for chemicals, which means islanders are unsure if their well water is safe to drink. 

Earlier this fall, the Mission began a partnership with Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory to help spread awareness about the Lab’s All About Arsenic + program which includes water testing for Maine’s 15 unbridged islands with a year-round population. This partnership empowers islanders to learn more about their water and what mitigation efforts can help. 

A green logo with AA and the periodic table As for Arsenic. It's the logo for the program "All About Arsenic"

After catching the mailboat over, a bag of test kits in hand, Island Institute Fellow Morgan Karns sets up at the Neighborhood House. She helps islanders through the Lab’s questionnaire, which asks about their knowledge about, and opinion of, their water, filtration systems, arsenic, and more. Alongside the water results, the questionnaire provides valuable information to the Lab’s Associate Professor of Environmental Health Jane E. Disney, the lead researcher for the All About Arsenic + program. 

Morgan walks residents through the questionnaire, and then gives islanders a kit to take home to test their water. For residents who already brought a sample of their water, Morgan helps them do the test. Once a test is completed, the kits are deposited at a central collection point on the island, where the Mission retrieves them. The kits then go to Dartmouth Trace Element Analysis Core for testing. The Lab and the residents receive the results and are counseled on mitigation measures they can take to improve water safety.  

The Sunbeam be travel to Frenchboro and Isle au Haut to meet with island residents to offer well water testing and Mission staff are working on visiting all 15 islands this spring.  

This initiative is part of Island Health’s partnership with the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory for their Health Water, Healthy Aging program.  

Accessibility Toolbar