In 2018, these 11 seventh graders joined Journey. As a new education initiative of the Mission at the time, the program promised students would receive six years of mentoring with professional staff, community members, and their peers. Journey would get them outdoors, let them explore their communities, and help them develop the tools needed to successfully transition from high school to college and careers.
Taking a leap of faith, these students jumped into building skills, visiting colleges and technical schools, adventuring as a group, and developing lasting friendships. Fast forward six years to 2023 and they are wrapping up their time with Journey and preparing to graduate high school. The group, which laid the foundation for the more than 60 students who have joined the program since it started, is now reflecting on their experiences.
Almost all of the students believe that two things made the program an integral part of their lives: the support they received and the friends they made. “I bonded with people I otherwise would not have been friends with and created lasting relationships with all sorts of people” Kaycee says. While some of the students had known each other for years, others came from different elementary schools, towns, and backgrounds. Journey brought them together. Kaycee adds that the group became an extra support system, which allowed her to be fully herself. Lydia agrees, saying she remembers noticing the positive change Journey had on her: while playing games on Swan’s Island, she realized she was no longer the same shy student when she started the program. She found her place and her voice.
The students have also received mentorship from community members and Mission staff, including Journey Coordinator Briana West who has worked with the students since the start of the program. This one-on-one mentorship is a large part of the Journey, and something they say has been an important part of their experience. Skylar and Ashlyn share that the Mission and mentors they have connected with have been present to provide guidance when they needed it. Matthew also says mentoring was one of the parts that helped him the most. “Journey gives you a mentor you can rely on.”
As they reflect on their high school careers, they all believe their time in Journey positively impacted their lives. Many point to these opportunities as an important part of their growth as individuals. Laney says, “I’ve had so many new experiences that I generally wouldn’t have because of Journey. Journey opened the door to so many great opportunities especially in terms of my future after high school.” DaVae adds, “Journey is like no other program out there.”
The Journey program is always looking for mentors to work with students. If you are interested in mentoring, apply here.
The Spring 2023 issue of The Bulletin is making its way to mailboxes across the country. Based around the theme of belonging, President John Zavodny notes in his opening letter the recent community feedback about the organization. Community members share that the Mission “meets you where you are,” “helps however you need help,” and offers a “place to belong.”
Belonging looks like different things to different people and The Bulletin features stories that highlight what that can look like: an iPad for a fisherman on Isle au Haut, a place for families to socialize on a winter weekend, and a program that gave students in Washington County the chance to push their boundaries and explore their passions while feeling accepted.
The Bulletin also looks at Mission’s impact in 2022 with information on the reach of its programs. This includes everything from the number of vaccines administered by Sunbeam crew to the number of students receiving food from the Mission’s backpack program.
Finally, included at the end of The Bulletin are the names of the donors for the past fiscal year. Without their continued support the Mission would not have been able to accomplish this important work.
To view the digital version of The Bulletin spring 2023 issue, please visit our Publications page.
Join the Mission to honor Sharon Daley, R.N. and the Mission’s Healthcare Partners during the Sunbeam Award Gala on Thursday, August 17 at the Bar Harbor Club. Reservations are now open for both full tables and individual seats.
This year’s Sunbeam awardees were chosen for their commitment to provide exceptional care to island residents served by the Sunbeam. “Sharon and our healthcare partners have created a unique and powerful network that has served the residents of Maine’s outer islands for more than 20 years,” says Mission President John Zavodny.
Daley retired from the Mission as the Director of Island Health at the end of 2022 after 21 years aboard the Sunbeam. Daley was first hired to set up the Mission’s telehealth program, but the program quickly expanded and adapted to suit the changing needs of island residents. Daley made home health care checks, helped schedule specialist visits, and gained the trust and respect of hundreds of her patients.
Since the founding of the Island Health program, numerous healthcare providers and agencies have partnered with the Mission. These partners have ensured Mainers receive quality health services and can continue to live on the islands they call home.
There are a lot of different ways to read on the Mission’s Downeast campus this summer. From a Story Walk to EdGE summer camp, Mission staff have come up with fun ways to keep kids engaged with reading and literacy all summer.
For the second year, there will be two Story Walks on the Cherryfield campus. A longer walk through the woods on the Mission’s trails starts near the Weald Bethel Community Center. A shorter, more accessible walk will begin at the EdGE Center near the head of the campus. One of the Story Walks will feature Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, a story about a woman who lives in a little house on the coast of Maine who works to make the world more beautiful. The second will be the book, Comiendo el Arcoíris Eating the Rainbow by Patricia Barrera Boyer, about a young bilingual girl who learns about the colorful foods that she can eat on a visit to the supermarket with her grandmother. Each story will include pages in both English and Spanish.
And that is not the only place kids can work on their reading skills this summer! Students attending EdGE summer camps at D.W. Merritt Elementary School, Milbridge Elementary School, and Rose M. Gaffney Elementary School will all receive books through a summer literacy initiative funded by the Evelyn S. and K.E. Barrett Foundation. “Each camp will have regular sessions where staff will read to the children and lead discussions about the books. The staff that are leading the sessions also work for the elementary schools and have a passion for literacy,” explains EdGE Primary Program Director Isaac Marnik. More than 250 students attend these camps every year, and each child will be able to choose their own books to bring home.
Finally, for the whole family there are also two Little Free Libraries on the Downeast campus, one outside of the Edge Center at the head of campus and another by Weald Bethel Community Center. Little Free Libraries are free book-sharing boxes where anyone can take a book or share a book. They function on the honor system people can take or add books when they want to. New books for children are routinely added to the library outside of the Edge Center.
Families can be many things, they can be the ones we were born into, ones that we have created, or maybe ones that found us. The 17th edition of The Island Readerfocuses on “Island Families” and includes poetry, a play, short stories, beautiful photographs, vibrant paintings, and other art that encapsulates the island experience created by 53 artists and writers. The submissions come from 11 islands stretching from Casco to Frenchman’s Bay including residents of Beal’s Island, Chebeague, Great Cranberry Island, Isle au Haut, Islesboro, Islesford, Matinicus, Monhegan, North Haven Island, Peaks Island, and Swans Island.
An independent, talented team of co-editors oversees content and selects what is included in each edition. In their letter at the beginning of The Island Reader they write that island families “are an extended family united by creative expression, by the rising and falling of tides, surrounded by saltwater, and defined through the verbal and graphic imagery of people living here.
This year’s editors are Kendra Chubbuck of Isle au Haut, Ingrid Gaither of Great Cranberry Isle, M.T. (Toby) Martin, Jr. of Islesboro, Kimberly Peabody of Matinicus, and Editor-in-Chief Gary Rainford of Swan’s Island. “For me, The Island Reader is an opportunity to have ongoing conversations about island art and the artists who create and live unbridged and off the coast of Maine,” Rainford says.
Douglas Cornman, the Mission’s Director of Island Services, is also a co-editor and serves as a liaison between the editorial team, the Mission, which publishes The Island Reader, and the islands.
“The Island Reader offers a creative space for islands to express their experiences,” says Cornman. “Not only does it showcase individual talent, but it also offers a collective creative voice that represents islands as a unified community of islands. It’s important when islanders notice themes between islands. Commonality mitigates the feelings of isolation often felt living in rural and remote places.”
To order the latest edition of The Islander Reader, view the digital edition, and view past issues, visit our website.
From July 1 to December 31, 2023, the editorial team welcomes submissions for the 18th edition. Submissions of visual art, poetry, and prose are accepted from writers and artists living on unbridged Maine islands.
Down at Steamboat Wharf, the music is bumping and a crowd gathers. It’s around 5 p.m. and eleven steel band musicians rhythmically drum the familiar tune of Take on Me by A-Ha. On the little island of Matinicus, the resonant, cheerful melodies float up Harbor Road and islanders can hear the music well past the post office.
This week, the steel band Planet Pan will travel aboard the Sunbeam to perform on Matinicus and Swan’s Island. By the end of the trip, they will have played for over 100 islanders and taught 25 elementary students. Planet Pan is made up of young adults ages 14 to 18 who hail from the Blue Hill area. Their songbook includes music in the Calypso and Caribbean traditions as well as modern pop hits. Led by expert instructor Nigel Chase, the band practices a few days each week and perform throughout Maine.
As the band plays, Steward Jillian cooks on a barbeque grill as people chat and shimmy to the music. Sunbeam nurse Simone Babineaux spins a hula hoop alongside residents of this remote island 20 miles offshore. “The Mission’s Island Outreach program offers activities to islanders that they may not otherwise experience,” says Director of Island Services Douglas Cornman. “Visiting specialists, artists, and educators ensure islanders receive services and enjoy events where they live and in-person. With guests like Planet Pan, they can share in experiences to strengthen existing community ties.”
The people who live and thrive on Matinicus and Swan’s have deep roots and meaningful relationships within their communities. For much of the Mission’s history, community participation has been integral to its programming. Outreach efforts by Mission staff—whether on islands or through the Mission’s 63-acre Downeast campus—connect individuals and deepen existing relationships within their communities.
So why a steel band and how did a tradition of steelpan performance end up in Maine?
Developed in Trinidad during the early to mid-19th century, steelpans are chromatically pitched percussive instruments. Used almost exclusively with Calypso until 1962, steelpans have grown in popularity and are used in many different musical genres around the world. Nigel’s father, Carl Chase, became enamored by steel bands while traveling in the Caribbean in the early 1970s. He spent time learning the instruments and brought the tradition of steelpan to the Blue Hill peninsula. From starting a community steel band in the 1970s to kicking off music education in the 1990s, the Chase family has ensured the performance, education, and celebration of steelpan music in Maine for more than five decades.
Planet Pan’s 17 pans cover a wide range of notes and are made of up of bass pans, cello pans, guitar pans, double second pans, and tenor pans. Nigel explains, “Each instrument varies in size, pitch, and number of notes. When we talk about a note, we refer to the oval impression within the pan. The bigger that oval, the lower the tone will be. A note’s pitch corresponds directly to the size of the note in the pan.” Rounding out the band are other percussive instruments of a cowbell and drum kit.
Visiting an island can be an equally unique experience for a steel band too. Off-stage, these young performers explore the islands and chat with residents. In conversation over lunch aboard Sunbeam, several comment on the beauty, resilience, and isolation of living on an island. One student notes, “People who live in remote places rely on each other but are also self-sufficient. Another remarks, “It’s crucial they get along and it’s amazing what they have created in such a small community. Did you see the Matinicus library?! It’s amazing!” The musicians also adventured to beaches, a quarry, and the well-known Fisherman’s Wife Gallery.
“I hope we can bring more steelpan music to other areas served by the Mission,” shares Nigel. “Music brings people together and the Planet Pan musicians get the chance to meet and learn from other Maine communities.”