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The Amtrak Downeaster has expanded its carry-on bike program and is now accepting bicycles from all Downeaster stations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Newly installed luggage racks that convert to bike racks make it possible to roll bikes on board from any Downeaster station, then secure and store them on the train.  Previously, bikes had to be stored in a special car, restricting access to only a few stations.  Now, standard full-size bicycles may be carried on at any Downeaster station and stored in the designated racks, as long as the front wheel is removed.  Bicycle space is limited to four per train, and a specific bike reservation is required in advance of travel. A nominal bicycle fee applies. 

“NNEPRA and Amtrak have been working to improve bike access on Downeaster trains for a long time.   We are very excited that passengers from all Downeaster stations now have the ability to bring their bikes on board,” said Natalie Bogart, Marketing Director. “This project could not have been accomplished without the continued support of the bicycle community and the partnership with Amtrak to modify the current train equipment”. 

About the new Amtrak Downeaster Carry-On Bike Program:

  • Space is limited and advance-reservations are required for the passenger and the bicycle.
    • When booking a ticket on Amtrak.com or via the Amtrak app, an icon with a number of spaces available will display if bike space is available.
    • Proceed 'Add Ons' step to add bikes to a reservation.
    • A bike reservation can be added to an existing reservation by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.
  • Passengers traveling with bikes are encouraged to arrive at the station at least 15 minutes prior to departure.
    • All panniers and bags attached to your bicycle need to be removed and consolidated before boarding.

For more information about Amtrak’s Bike policy, visit Amtrak.com

The U.S. Department of Education’s Student Support Services Program, part of the federally funded TRiO program, has awarded Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) $1.69 million. This grant allows for a five-year continuation of the College’s own TRiO support services program that helps first-generation students and students with disabilities meet their academic and professional goals.


KVCC’s TRiO program offers services tailored to each student’s unique needs to help them overcome barriers to college success. These services are offered to nearly 200 students every year, and include academic guidance, degree progress monitoring, assistance in course selection, and connection to other College and community resources that are designed to encourage student persistence, while fostering a supportive community. These services are intended to help students maintain higher GPAs and make steady progress toward their academic and personal goals. Some choose to graduate from KVCC and enter the workforce directly, while others seek to continue their higher education through transfer to a four-year college or university. The data show, over many years, that KVCC’s TRiO students accomplish these goals at higher rates than non-participating students.
KVCC has maintained a TRiO program since 1993. The team focuses on growing and evolving the program every year based on student needs. According to Lisa Black, KVCC’s TRiO Project Director, the TRiO program is designed in partnership with students, while thoroughly exemplifying KVCC’s institution-wide commitment to student success. Whereas one approach to student success may work for one student, that same approach may not work for another. This tailored methodology means that the program is in a constant state of evolution to accommodate ever changing needs.


Karen Normandin, KVCC’s Vice President and Dean of Students, shared that the TRiO team at KVCC “provides critical support for students from admission to graduation or transfer to a four-year institution. This vital program is woven into the fabric of this college – as such it has become essential to our mission.”


KVCC’s TRiO program is currently running its annual PUSH orientation and recruitment week (August 17-21) to onboard students. This initiative helps new KVCC students navigate the College, adapt to the hybrid educational approach of the Fall 2020 semester, and access the vast number of resources available to them, both at KVCC and in the community. This academic year begins on August 31 and there is still time to apply for admission and financial aid.

GHM Insurance recently was selected for The Hanover Insurance Group’s President’s Club, an elite group of independent insurance agencies from across the country.

The Hanover’s President’s Club agencies are recognized for delivering outstanding value to their customers through their insurance expertise and responsive service.

The Hanover partners with a select group of 2,100 independent agents nationwide. GHM was one of only 150 independent agencies recognized with this distinction.

“The team at GHM Insurance is committed to delivering superior service to their customers,” said Richard W. Lavey, president, Hanover Agency Markets. “With their high-quality insurance expertise, they are valued advisers to their clients. We are proud to partner with GHM Insurance.”
“This recognition is a result of the value that our team places on providing the best service for our customers,” said Bill Mitchell, President at GHM Insurance. “Our team is proud to be recognized with this honor.”

Bar Harbor, Maine – Bar Harbor Bank & Trust employees are donating more than $10,000 collected in Q2 from its employee-driven charitable giving program, Casual for a Cause, to 14 non-profits serving Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The non-profits receiving donations were selected by and voted on by the employees.

“The critical services provided by these non-profit organizations are more important than ever as our communities face hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jack Frost, VP Director of Community Giving at Bar Harbor Bank & Trust. “We are honored to contribute to their efforts and help our friends and neighbors in need.”

With the Casual for a Cause program, Bank employees dress casually on Fridays in exchange for a contribution to a pool of funds collected during each quarter. The employees then select and vote on which nonprofits receive their contributions. Since the program began in 2018, employees have donated more than $85,000 to nonprofits across Northern New England.

Q2 2020 Recipients

Maine

  • AIO Food Pantry (Rockland)
  • Bar Harbor Food Pantry (Bar Harbor)
  • China Community Food Pantry (China)
  • Island Food Pantry (Stonington)
  • Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry (Ellsworth)
  • Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (Brunswick)
  • Tree of Life Food Pantry (Blue Hill)
  • Westside Food Pantry (Southwest Harbor)

New Hampshire

  • Claremont Food Pantry (Claremont)
  • KLS Community Food Pantry (New London)
  • LISTEN Food Pantry (Lebanon)
  • Newport Food Pantry (Newport)
  • Wellspring Food Pantry (West Lebanon)

Vermont

The Clara Martin Center was the Vermont recipient for the Q2 Casual for a Cause donation. The center, located in Randolph, Vermont, provides mental health and substance use services to improve the health and wellbeing of communities in the Upper Greater Valley.

“What a wonderful community to be part of, where our business partners and neighbors are so thoughtful, generous and see the value in the services that we provide,” said Melanie Gidney, Executive Director of The Clara Martin Center. “How wonderful of you and especially your Vermont employees to financially support our mission, particularly during a time when the needs of our community are increasing.”

Bar Harbor Bankshares (NYSE American: BHB) is the parent company of its wholly owned subsidiary, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust. Operating over 50 locations across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust is headquartered in Bar Harbor, Maine and has more than $3.6 billion in assets. As a leading Northern New England community bank, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust offers a full range of personal and business banking services, as well as wealth management services through its subsidiaries Bar Harbor Trust Services and Charter Trust Company. For more information about Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, visit www.barharbor.bank or call 888-853-7100.  Member FDIC.

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MaineGeneral Health’s signature events — Cancer Survivors Day and the Walk for Hope — are now combined into one exciting Day of Hope.

This fall, we invite you to walk with us and to join us for an inspirational ceremony — virtually — toward a Day of Hope on Saturday, Oct. 3. The Day of Hope is an opportunity for us to come together in spirit and walk toward the common goal of supporting the work of the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care. For more details, visit http://give.mainegeneral.org/HOPE.

New Dimensions FCU has been ranked #1 as part of Forbes’ annual list of America’s Best-In-State Credit Unions in 2020. This prestigious award is presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider. The awards list was announced on June 25, 2020, and can currently be viewed on the Forbes website.

Forbes Best-In-State Credit Unions 2020 is comprised of the top credit unions based on the results of independent surveys involving approximately 25,000 U.S. consumers who were asked to rate the financial institutions at which they have or have had checking accounts.

Participants made recommendations regarding overall satisfaction; they also assessed banks and credit unions in the following areas: ‘Trust,’ ‘Terms & Conditions,’ ‘Branch Services,’ ‘Digital Services,’ and ‘Financial Advice.’ Based on the results of the study, NDFCU is ecstatic to be recognized as one of Forbes’ 2020 list of America’s Best-In-State Credit Unions.

Ryan Poulin, CEO proudly states, “On behalf of the credit union, I am both humbled and honored to be part of such a great organization that does so much for its members and community. Being recognized for this award confirms the accuracy of our mission by demonstrating that our financial standards and practices are exactly what our members are looking for when choosing a financial institution.”

New Dimensions FCU has served the Central Maine community since 1956.

Childrens Center Banner All 3 FINALThese are odd times - let's make the best of them with good food, good friends and by doing good! 

With limited ability to gather in person these days, creative collaboration is a must and we hope these partnerships do good while also pleasing your palette. With one ticket to any of these events, you support two important local causes: our friends in the restaurant industry and children with disabilities.

Each event involves a specially-crafted dining experience and a virtual program. A portion of your ticket pays the restaurant for their work; the remainder is a donation that translates directly into early intervention services for kids (birth to 5) with special needs.

Learn more, purchase tickets and donate at the following:

August 8: https://givebutter.com/childrenscenterstatelunch

August 29: https://givebutter.com/happyhour

September 12: https://givebutter.com/winedinegatheronline

Like these events on Facebook and stay up to speed with fun announcements!

$20,000 in total grants will be made to four awardees’ respective organizations

Camden National Bank announced that it is now accepting nominations for the 2020 Leaders & Luminaries Awards, a program which started in 2011 to celebrate the importance and impact of effective nonprofit board service. Between now and September 14, the bank is seeking nominations for passionate board directors who have been invaluable to the short- and long-term sustainability of their organizations. The bank will select and present four individuals with awards and $20,000 in total grants to their respective organizations.

“The pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for nonprofits of all shapes and sizes, requiring board directors to step up with leadership, innovation, and support,” said Greg Dufour, President & CEO of Camden National Bank. “Through Leaders & Luminaries this year, we look forward to celebrating individuals who have gone above and beyond to help their organizations strategically navigate the crisis without losing sight of longer-term mission and goals.”

Since 2011, Camden National Bank has given more than $150,000 to Maine nonprofits on behalf of 43 outstanding board leaders in our local communities. The 2019 awardees served on the boards of Boots2Roots, Island Community Center, Literacy Volunteers of Greater Augusta, Midcoast Recreation Center, Startup Maine, and Four Directions Development Corporation.

Nominations for the 2020 awards are due September 14. A selection committee, including three independent community members and two executives of Camden National Bank, will review all nominations, and the awardees will be celebrated later in the fall.

The Leaders & Luminaries Awards are made possible by Camden National Bank, through The Bank of Maine Foundation. For more details, eligibility requirements, and the nomination form, please visit: https://www.camdennational.com/leadersandluminaries.

Theater at Monmouth’s Shakespeare in Maine Communities Tour will go on, though not in person as in previous years, but streaming virtually! Each fall and spring, TAM sends adaptations of classic literature on the road for students in Maine and New Hampshire. Through ShakesME, TAM has provided literature-based education tours in schools and community centers since 2005. For 2020, we’ll present Measure for Measure (for grades 5-12) to deepen understanding of, appreciation for, and connection to classic literature.

Shakespeare's strikingly current play speaks powerfully about impossible moral choices in the story of the devout novice Isabella, whose faith is tested when her brother is sentenced to death for impregnating Juliet out of wedlock. When the outwardly virtuous leader Angelo propositions Isabella in exchange for her brother’s release, she must decide whether upholding her holy vows is worth her innocent brother's life.

Measure for Measure will be available to schools and community venues October 12- 31, 2020 (dates can be adjusted to fit curriculum schedules). Due to covid-19 concerns, ShakesME performances will be brought to schools via video with a Zoom Post-performance Discussion with the actors following.

TAM’s production is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Of getting the news that TAM had received the grant for the program, Producing Artistic Director, Dawn McAndrews responded, “We are so grateful to ArtsMidwest and the National Endowment for the Arts for selecting Theater at Monmouth to receive the Shakespeare in American Communities grant for 2020-21. TAM has been a part of this initiative to bring Shakespeare to students throughout the country for seven of the past eight years”. TAM’s Shakespeare in Maine Communities is also funded in part by grants from the Onion Foundation, the Helen and George Ladd Charitable Corporation, and the Morton Kelley Charitable Trust. These foundations provide the funding for TAM to offer scholarships to schools to bring the arts into their communities.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, TAM staff was unsure about the ability to bring ShakesME to schools as they have for the past 15 years, especially after postponing the entire 2020 Season. “We were devastated to not be able to bring classic theatre to Maine this year, and felt we’d have to cancel the ShakesME Tour as well,” said Jordyn Chelf, TAM’s Marketing Associate. “Thankfully the support from Arts Midwest and several other foundations is making ShakesME possible.”

Theater at Monmouth has provided literature-based education programs in schools and community centers since the Theater’s founding. Since 2005, TAM has taken the Bard on the road with Shakespeare in Maine Communities— featuring 60 to 90-minute adaptations of Shakespeare with five to eight actors. The target grade levels for this tour are middle and high schools; previous tours have reached more than 6,000 students annually. For more information about TAM’s Education Tours visit www.theateratmonmouth.org/education-tours or call 207.933.9999.

Kennebec Savings Bank recently named six nonprofits throughout its service area as the recipients of its 2020 Catalyst Grants. Each recipient will receive a one-time $10,000 donation to help them continue to fulfill their missions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each year, Kennebec Savings Bank’s Catalyst Grant program awards funds to nonprofits to help them launch new, innovative projects that enhance their ability to serve the community. However, due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the nonprofit community, the 2020 Catalyst Grant program has award six $10,000 grants to local nonprofits who are able to demonstrate a specific need for relief funds.

“We know that this has been an especially challenging time for nonprofits providing critical services to our community’s most vulnerable citizens during this time,” said Kennebec Savings Bank President & CEO Andrew Silsby. “We are pleased to provide this funding to six nonprofits so that we can provide the kind of support that our nonprofits need the most.”

The recipients include:

Educare Central Maine of Waterville provides early care and education to young children and communities.

Boys & Girls Club of Augusta provides free after school programming for at-risk, low-income, and low-performing teenagers, serving 450 teenagers in grades 7-12.

Kennebec Behavioral Health, headquartered in Waterville, promotes the well-being of children, adults and families who experience mental illness, emotional difficulties, or behavioral challenges throughout Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Neighbors Driving Neighbors coordinates volunteer drivers who assist elderly and disabled individuals with grocery and prescription drop off and pick up in the towns of Mt. Vernon, Fayette, Vienna, Belgrade, and Rome. They are now working to safely get back to their mission to provide transportation services.

Freeport Community Services provides emergency food, fuel, and utility assistance, as well as enrichment programs for children and adults in the greater Freeport area.

Family Violence Project (FVP) is the Domestic Violence Resource Center serving Kennebec and Somerset Counties. The agency takes a proactive and responsive approach in ending domestic violence, from the 24/7 free confidential helpline and emergency sheltering to community and school-based educators. FVP offers a wide range of services for victims/survivors, perpetrators of DV, and third parties.

"Kennebec Savings Bank's generosity to support Educare's quality service for the children and families during this pandemic highlights how important community partnerships are,” said Tracye Fortin, Educare Central Maine’s Executive Director. “We are proud to ensure that significant health and safety protocols are being implemented as we engage with children to promote creative learning experiences throughout their day.  KSB funding directly supports the smaller group opportunities for enhanced learning at school and allows Educare to provide families with ways to continue learning at home."

Catalyst Grant recipients are chosen through a competitive application process by an internal selection committee comprised of employees representing different areas of the Bank. Since its inception in 2016, the Catalyst Grant program has awarded $240,000 toward sixteen organizations.

For more information, contact Community Engagement Director Amanda Cooley at .

Bar Harbor, Maine – Bar Harbor Bank & Trust has named seven high school graduates from Maine as recipients of the Bank’s 2020 Career & Technical Education Scholarship. The $1,500 award is presented to students in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont who attended a technical career program as part of their high school curriculum and are planning to attend college or a technical school after graduation.

The Maine scholarship recipients are:

Haley Batson of Addison, Maine, is a 2020 graduate of Narraguagus Jr/Sr High School and was enrolled at the Hancock County Technical Center. She will be attending the University of Maine at Farmington, enrolled in the Elementary Education program.

Reese Brown of Cherryfield, Maine, is a 2020 graduate of Narraguagus Jr/Sr High School. She attained the Certified Residential Medication Aide (CRMA) license. She will be attending Husson University, enrolled in the Pharmacy program.

Trevor Bryant of Knox, Maine, is a 2020 graduate of Mount View High School and was enrolled at the Waldo Technology Center. He will be attending Northern Maine Community College, enrolled in the Diesel Technology program.

Jenna French of Ellsworth, Maine, is a 2020 graduate of Summer Memorial High School and was enrolled at the Hancock County Technical Center. She will be attending Universal Technical Institute, enrolled in the Auto/Diesel Technical program.

Malaya Jelks of Hermon, Maine, is a 2020 graduate of Hermon High School and was enrolled at the United Technology Center. She will be attending Husson University, enrolled in the Business Marketing program.

Race Parsons of Bar Harbor, Maine, is a 2020 graduate of Mount Desert Island High School and was enrolled at Hancock County Technical Center. He will be attending Johnson & Wales, enrolled in the Baking & Pastry Arts program.

Justice Rotta-Butler of Trenton, Maine, is a 2020 graduate of Ellsworth High School and was enrolled at Hancock County Technical Center. She will be attending Eastern Maine Community College, enrolled in the Culinary Arts program.

Bar Harbor Bankshares (NYSE American: BHB) is the parent company of its wholly owned subsidiary, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust. Operating over 50 locations across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust is headquartered in Bar Harbor, Maine and has more than $3.6 billion in assets. As a leading Northern New England community bank, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust offers a full range of personal and business banking services, as well as wealth management services through its subsidiaries Bar Harbor Trust Services and Charter Trust Company. For more information about Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, visit www.barharbor.bank or call 888-853-7100. Member FDIC.

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Spectrum Generations, the Central Maine Area Agency on Aging, announced its 18th Annual Golf Fore a Cause Tournament to be held on Friday, September 25 at the Brunswick Golf Club Participants will tee off at noon and spend the day on the beautiful course supporting Spectrum Generations programs and services, including Meals on Wheels.


The cost is $125 /individual, $500/team and includes 18 holes with cart, bagged lunch (catered by Cohen on the Meadows), awards, contests for longest drive, accuracy drive, putting, and hole-in-one contest for a chance to win $5,000.

The Brunswick Golf Club was recently named the 2019 Small Business of the Year by Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber, and offers challenging and championship golf in a beautiful setting with tree-lined fairways and immaculate greens, located just off Route 1.

There are various sponsorship levels available which offer a great way for businesses or individuals to generate positive publicity from their association with our tournament. For more information visit spectrumgenerations.org/golf or contact Sarah Brown at or call 620-1677.

On June 23, representatives from the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, Central Maine Growth Council, City of Waterville, and Bowman Construction joined New Dimensions FCU’s Board of Directors and employees at a ribbon cutting ceremony at its beautiful, new location on Silver Street in Waterville.

The credit union will open its new branch on 94 Silver Street on June 29. All services at the 61 Grove Street location will be discontinued.

new dimensions fcu new waterville

Connected Credit Union and Winslow Community Federal Credit Union are two financially strong not-for-profit cooperatives that have combined resources to become one financial institution, serving Kennebec, Somerset, Lincoln and Waldo, Counties.

Richard Lachance, CEO of Connected Credit Union said “The name Connected Credit Union will remain, as we feel it is a perfect fit for our combined memberships. We think of this partnership as a reflection of the larger community we will serve and of connecting the entire membership through technology and personal relationships to foster financial success.”

“What makes this so exciting is that both institutions share a common culture and provide like services. We are building financial security for the members we serve and this bright, new partnership will provide great opportunity” said Cathy Bond, President of Winslow Community Federal Credit Union

While this is considered a merger from a regulatory standpoint, all parties involved view this as a coming together of like institutions and a “win, win” for all. This partnership positions us for continued growth and sustainability while meeting the needs of our members. All existing branch locations will remain open, providing full-service to members.

Connected Credit Union was originally chartered in 1967 while Winslow was charted in 1958. Both credit unions have a long-standing tradition in their communities, having served their respective memberships since 1967 and 1958. Connected Credit Union will now have more than 8400 members with assets of $100MM.

CampShakes is looking for young people who play well with their friends and are imaginative, energetic, and excited to explore Shakespeare with Theater at Monmouth this summer. The best way to explore Shakespeare is hands-on and on your feet, and CampShakes will do just that for students entering grades 4 through 8. Classes in voice, movement, and acting help students explore Shakespeare’s text emotionally, physically, and intellectually in preparation for a final performance for family and friends.

For 2020, all sessions will take place Virtually from home via Zoom from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with breaks for snacks, lunch, and arts & crafts projects.

There are three week-long sessions to choose from:

 

Session 1: As You Like ItJuly 27 – 31

When Celia’s Dad tries to banish her favorite cousin, Rosalind, the ladies take to the Forest of Arden to find Roz’s father and accidentally discover true love.

 

Session 2: Romeo & JulietAugust 3 – 7

Get ready to rumble in Shakespeare’s star-crossed tale of two young lovers destroyed by fate.

Session 3: Twelfth NightAugust 10 – 14

A shipwreck, two lost brothers, and a bunch of wacky servants play on in Shakespeare’s comedy of searching for Mr. or Ms. Right.

 

There will be a final performance each session for friends and family.

Each day at CampShakes begins with a movement class to warm-up campers physically and vocally. The rest of the day is filled with acting, ensemble building, voice, costume and set design, and learning to interpret Shakespeare’s plays as Text Detectives.  After a break from Zoom to eat lunch, students return to read through scenes from that week’s plays and get personalized coaching from professional actors and directors. The day ends with circle time for students to check in with each other, share their thoughts and questions, and get ready for the following day.

CampShakes’ teachers bring a variety of training and experience from colleges and universities all over the country. Each specializes in an area of theatre from Voice to Movement, Improv to Shakespeare, Ensemble Building to Acting.

For more information, call 207.933.9999 or visit theateratmonmouth.org/education/campshakes.

MaineGeneral Medical Center has been named one of the top hospitals in the country for superior patient experience by Healthgrades, a leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals.

MaineGeneral is a recipient of the Healthgrades 2020 Outstanding Patient Experience Award, which recognizes hospitals that provide high levels ofpatient satisfaction. This is the second consecutive year that the Medical Center has earned this award and been named among the top 10 percent of hospitals across the nation

“All MaineGeneral employees are committed to providing high-quality, patient-centered care,” said Chuck Hays, President & CEO of MaineGeneral Health. “Our goal is to continue providing the highest level of care, safety and patient experience.”

MaineGeneral also achieved five-star ratings in 2020 from Healthgrades for “Better than Expected” outcomes in Treatment of Heart Attack, Pacemaker Procedures, Treatment of Pneumonia and Treatment of Sepsis.

“We know when you need quality health care, you want to receive it right here in the Kennebec Valley,” Hays said. “Our MaineGeneral team is part of the community and we take great pride in providing high-quality health services to our community members. The Healthgrades awards recognize the efforts and achievements of our entire staff.”

Healthgrades evaluated 3,346 hospitals that submitted at least 100 patient experience surveys to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), covering admissions from April 2018 through March 2019, to identify hospital performance. Of those hospitals evaluated, 424 hospitals outperformed their peers—based on their patients’ responses—to achieve this distinction.

Healthgrades then evaluated hospital performance by applying a scoring methodology to 10 patient experience measures, using data collected from a 29-question experience survey from the hospital’s own patients. The survey questions focus on patients’ perspectives of their care in the hospital. The topics of these questions ranged from cleanliness and noise levels in patient rooms to physician and nurse communication. The measures also include whether a patient would recommend the hospital to friends or family.

Full results for each award program can be found at: Healthgrades: http://www.healthgrades.com

Ryan Martin will be taking the reins of the Viles Arboretum beginning in July.  Ryan comes to this position with Maine roots and a wealth of experience in all of the areas pertinent to the work of this Augusta based non-profit.  Ryan was selected out of a pool of more than a dozen applicants and his experience with non-profits, enthusiasm and multidimensional skills clearly made him stand out.  Ryan comes to the position from the Tilton School of New Hampshire, where he has been Director of their Summer Institute, a residential/day summer school program. Earlier in his career, Ryan worked for the Isleboro Adventure Camp and the Maine Trust for Education, both heavily focused on environmental education.  Working with botanical collections, public outreach, fundraising and non-profit governance are all familiar ground for Ryan. “I’m so pleased and honored to assume the role of Executive Director this upcoming June 29th. During these difficult and unprecedented times, there's an even greater need for Viles Arboretum and the services it provides for our community. For those of us quarantining in city apartments and townhouses without green space readily available, access to the outdoors isn't just important, it's essential. With over 200 acres located in the heart of our historic Capital City, Viles Arboretum is the perfect place for people of all ages to explore a diverse landscape filled with rich and immersive opportunities for recreation and learning.

This summer, we will break ground on our new Education Center, which will provide the Arboretum with an important new facility from which we can continue to expand our current program offerings and events. If you haven't had an opportunity to support this effort, I encourage you to do so.  We are a community-led organization, and the efforts of our many members, volunteers, and partners make this initiative possible.” 

Outgoing Executive Director Mark P. DesMeules commented, “We are all very excited to be able to pass the baton to Ryan for the next decade of exciting and new efforts at this outstanding arboretum resource for Maine and beyond.  It’s clear that Ryan is up to the task and very enthusiastic about moving forward with exceptional programming for this institution. I personally really look forward to working with Ryan on the transition and overseeing the completion of the new Education Support Center.”

The Board of Directors, both current and past, wish to thank Mark DesMeules for his leadership, knowledge, devotion, work ethics and tireless spirit in his 12 years as Executive Director of the Arboretum. Under his leadership, memberships increased, new programs were created, areas spruced up, trees were identified and tagged, new partnerships were formed among other things which has made the Viles Arboretum a destination to visit.  Local people, as well as world travelers have signed our guest book.  We will miss his day to day presence but his spirit of excellence lives on.

The Viles Arboretum is centrally located in Augusta, Maine on 224 acres of fields, forests, wetlands and with botanical collections from around the world. We offer an ever-changing selection of inspirational exhibits, educational and practical programs for the general public and for schools. We focus on interactive, creative and hands-on teaching with a focus on botany and natural history.  Our goal is to unlock everyone’s natural ability to understand the nature of our world through your own eyes and by using your own intellect.

We strive to make our 224 acres of fields, forests and wetlands, play a key role in contributing to the quality of life for Maine citizens and visitors from every corner of the world. Our presence contributes significantly to the quality of life in and around Augusta and beyond and our newly installed Art Trail presents the largest publicly accessible display of outdoor art sculpture in Maine.

You can learn more about the Arboretum and its programs, or how to become more involved by checking our website at www.vilesarboretum.org

MaineGeneral Medical Center has been awarded a total of $133,000 to address food insecurity and other social needs in the Kennebec Valley.

The grants include $98,000 from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, $25,000 from the John T. Gorman Foundation and $10,000 from the Maine Cancer Foundation.

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit our region, MaineGeneral saw the detrimental effects of food insecurity on our patients and the community,” said MaineGeneral Health President & CEO Chuck Hays. “Having enough nutritious food is an essential building block of good health and healing. We have been building our capacity to link community members in need with food resources. These grants will help expand our efforts.”

Hays said the three grants expand MaineGeneral’s ability to screen patients for food insecurity and other social needs (such as transportation), provide them with short-term food supplies and connect them to community programs for long-term solutions. Hays praised community partners who will help achieve these goals, including the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Kennebec Valley Community Action Program (KVCAP), Healthy Northern Kennebec, Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Specifically, the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care grant expands food insecurity screening at practices outside of the MaineGeneral system to reach more patients. Over the past three years, MaineGeneral’s primary care practices have implemented a food insecurity screening questionnaire and connected food-insecure patients to local food resources. With support from the Good Shepherd Food Bank, practices can provide those without enough food with an emergency food bag.

The new funding will expand this work in three ways: adding four more practices to the program; enhancing follow-up capacity with the use of community health workers; and evaluating of the effectiveness of the program. Additionally, vouchers from local chambers of commerce will help at-risk patients access ready-made food from local restaurants. Community health workers will identify patients’ other social needs, such as transportation, and assist them in meeting those needs.

Funding from the John T. Gorman Foundation will enable MaineGeneral to meet the needs of more patients who are hungry. The health system will provide emergency food bags to patients, targeting those who live in rural areas where transportation services are currently unavailable, have co-existing conditions, are being discharged from hospital stays and other high-risk individuals. In addition to emergency food bags, vouchers will be provided to patients to purchase ready to go meals from local area restaurants and short-term transportation needs will be addressed, as well. MaineGeneral staff will work with patients to develop longer term solutions. The foundation funding will enable the health system to help approximately 1,000 people access these critical supports during this time of need.

The Maine Cancer Foundation grant will help MaineGeneral cancer patients access food during the COVID-19 pandemic by establishing a food closet at the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care. The food will be given to patients based on individual needs and dietary restrictions. For example, while some cancer patients can eat soups, oatmeal and canned vegetables, others may need supplements such as protein powder to ensure they are getting the proper nutrition as they undergo treatment. While patients’ ability to access nutritious food has mostly been a financial obstacle, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional safety and product availability issues for patients.

“Combined, these grants will greatly expand our ability to meet patients’ underlying social needs, which we know contribute to overall health outcomes,” Hays said. “We’re grateful for the level of support from these foundations, especially at this critical time when the COVID-19 pandemic and reduction in social services have created even more challenges for people in need to access basic necessities. MaineGeneral looks forward to building on our local partnerships to address the needs of our most vulnerable people in our community.”

THE FREE COURSES WILL ALLOW MAINE’S CLASS OF 2020 TO GET A HEAD START ON THEIR COLLEGE EDUCATION

Kennebec Valley Community College is proud to offer free courses for this summer semester to Maine’s 2020 high school graduates. These courses will allow the newly-graduated students to explore their career options, jumpstart their college education, and potentially save money toward their total cost of higher education. These courses are made available through the Maine Community College System's Class Gift 2020 program, which includes KVCC along with six other community colleges throughout the state.

Courses eligible for this program include: Principles of Accounting I, Anatomy & Physiology I, Intro to Communication, College Composition, Statistics, College Algebra, and more. Many of these courses are required for further college education and cover a wide variety of fields, giving summer learners a chance to explore their career options and find out first-hand which courses and academic fields excite and interest them. Taking community college courses for free offers new college students the chance to kickstart their career or college journey, especially when taking courses that are prerequisites for degree programs, potentially shortening the length of time needed to complete their degree. Offering a quicker path to college program completion also allows students an opportunity to enter the workforce sooner, with a lower amount of student loan debt.

In order to take part in the program, students simply need to email KVCC’s college navigator, Brian Holtz, who will help each student choose the course that’s right for them based on their desired career path or educational outcome. KVCC’s summer courses are available at a variety of start dates throughout the summer to accommodate students’ busy schedules.

“The class of 2020 has had anything but a normal finish to their high school career,” shared CJ McKenna, KVCC’s Assistant Dean of Enrollment Management. “The Class Gift will give them the chance to build a strong foundation for the next chapter of their educational goals. I hope that next chapter will include enrolling full-time at KVCC.”

To browse a list of courses, or for more information about taking courses with KVCC, please visit: https://www.kvcc.me.edu/academics/information/courses/. To learn more about the free course program offered through the Maine Community College System, please visit: https://www.mccs.me.edu/our-programs/class-gift-2020/.

Kennebec Valley Community College is one of seven community colleges operating under the authority of the Maine Community College System Board of Trustees, located on a seventy-acre campus in Fairfield, Maine. KVCC offers the lowest tuition in Maine, with tuition rates set at $94 per credit hour for Maine residents. There are multiple financial aid options available for prospective and current students, including scholarships, grants, loans, work-study programs, and more.

PAF gift announcement Chuck Hays 052020The health and well-being of people in the Kennebec Valley region will be enhanced for years to come because of generous gifts from the Peter Alfond Foundation to MaineGeneral Health and the Alfond Youth & Community Center.

A $40 million endowment will allow MaineGeneral to significantly expand its prevention programs to sustain improvements to community health. The Alfond Youth & Community Center has been endowed $8 million to fund the positions of Wellness Director and Wellness Trainers.

“The $40 million Peter Alfond Prevention and Healthy Living Center Endowment Fund supports innovative approaches to improve lives,” said MaineGeneral President & CEO Chuck Hays. “With this investment, we will continue to break down barriers to care and wellness services to better address the health of community members. This requires us to provide tools and services where people live, work and play.”

Hays noted, “This funding comes at a critical time for our health care system. COVID-19 has dealt a severe negative financial blow to all health care organizations, requiring hard decisions. Maintaining funding for community health is always a challenge. This gift allows us not only to continue but to expand our prevention and healthy living programming as we focus operational dollars on COVID-19 recovery and disease-specific health care needs.”

The endowment supports investments in:

  • Expanding the reach of MaineGeneral’s current Prevention & Healthy Living – now named the Peter Alfond Prevention & Healthy Living Center – which provides free and low-cost classes on healthy cooking and eating, physical activity and mind-body health. Classes will expand to worksites as well as other places throughout the area to increase access.
  • Enhancing access to teaching kitchens, including working with our community partners, and using pop-up kitchens to teach individuals how to make healthy, affordable and tasty food at home with their families. Additionally, this funding will support culinary medicine efforts throughout our system.
  • Expanding community health outreach through a team of Community Health Workers (CHWs) who will meet people “where they are at” and link them to
  • needed care and resources to improve their health and quality of life. CHWs are trusted members of the community who understand community resources and needs. CHWs facilitate access to services and improve the cultural competence of service delivery.
  • Evaluation of supported programming to ensure that the goals of improving personal and public health are being met through these efforts, and sharing best practices so other communities may benefit from successful strategies and tools.

Peter Alfond’s children said, “It was our father’s sincere desire to improve the quality of life of those living in the Kennebec Valley. The Peter Alfond Prevention & Healthy Living Center is the result of his vast knowledge of wellness, his entrepreneurial spirit and his relentless philanthropic zest. This gift represents a final manifestation of our father’s vision of a sustainable solution to improving one’s quality of life through a multi-faceted approach.”

Most recently, the Peter Alfond Foundation invested in community health at the Alfond Youth & Community Center (AYCC) in Waterville, ME. Those funds supported facility enhancements and accessible programming, including services provided by MaineGeneral Health, to engage more area residents.

The additional $8 million investment in the AYCC by the Peter Alfond Foundation broadens the Center’s ability to address whole family wellness by providing 1:1, small class and large group wellness classes and activities to all community members. The endowment will support the sports medicine and teaching kitchen programs offered by MaineGeneral at the AYCC.

“Peter was a friend, a supporter and a mentor who led the way in wellness in the community and the expansion of our facility’s focus,” explained Ken Walsh, AYCC CEO, “and his kids are ensuring the success of his visions. Knowing that a place is nothing without the people who plan and deliver the programs to its members, this endowment secures the Wellness Center operations and staff positions well into the future and gives us the ability to employ the most talented and visionary folks around.”

Barbara Crowley, MD, Peter Alfond Foundation Endowment Leader at MaineGeneral Health, is overseeing the implementation of the MaineGeneral endowment funds.

“We lost Peter Alfond, visionary, friend and philanthropist, nearly three years ago,” Dr. Crowley said. “Peter believed passionately in disease prevention and healing through access to good nutrition, exercise, stress management and mindful living. He cared so deeply about this community and we are honored to receive this gift from his family and foundation to help us further his vision.”

Peter Alfond served nearly a decade on the MaineGeneral Health Board of Directors. He invested in wellness opportunities that became the teaching kitchen and cafeteria in the Alfond Center for Health, and in the creation of new programming accessible to all in the community under MaineGeneral’s Peter Alfond Prevention & Healthy Living Center.

“The people of the Kennebec Valley will benefit for generations to come because of the impact Peter Alfond has made and these gifts from his foundation,” Dr. Crowley said. “We are deeply grateful to Peter’s children for continuing his vision.”