Welcome to 2023! For me, the new year brings with it renewed energy to look forward, strategize, and gaze ahead at possibilities for MaineShare. We are planning for other ways to bring member groups together in 2023 and to strengthen relationships among us, as well as with community. This is also a great time to engage new stakeholders with the incredible work of our member groups, and how they can support this work through various MaineShare giving options. MaineShare is also pleased to share its latest round of funding to our member groups. This month, allocations checks went out to our members, totaling $137,333.68 in distributions. Our workplace and individual donors make it possible for us to continue providing unrestricted funding to our groups– over $6,637,000 since our inception— and we are so grateful! Don’t forget to read on to learn more.
The Maine Women’s Lobby Education Fund (MWLEF) is an asset and a resource in our community, building knowledge and engagement in feminist, anti-oppression-based advocacy and civic life. In July, I attended a MWLEF related event that allowed me to meet community members involved in and committed to feminist policy in Maine, and it was a wonderful learning experience for me, full of enthusiasm and hope.
MWLEF advocates for policy solutions to advance the security and well-being of girls and women, and provides opportunities for them to develop as confident leaders. This past fall, they reminded the community that “Care Work is Work,” advocating around policies to protect and support caregivers – both paid and unpaid – in our state. Care workers keep our economy running, but are often unfairly compensated, poorly protected, and are often women, contributing to gender inequity in Maine.
Recently, MWLEF has been leading the Maine Paid Leave Coalition, a group of stakeholders pushing for comprehensive change at the systems-level around paid family and medical leave for all Mainers. The Maine Paid Leave Coalition provides education and advocacy for policy that aligns with gender-inclusive universal paid family and medical leave, and ensures that such policies provide an inclusive definition of family. Reliable and accountable paid leave policies are essential to the economic security of Maine families and we cannot make steps toward greater gender equity without them. I am grateful to the tireless work of our member group, Maine Women’s Lobby Education Fund, and encourage you all to learn more about them! You can also check out their fun legislative education videos on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@mainewomenslobby!
Wrapping up 2022, we are so grateful for a wonderful year here at MaineShare. Being a part of Maine Initiatives has been an amazing way to grow our community, capacity, and impact. Our 38 member groups continue their positive impact in the state (read more below!). We have had Workplace Giving campaigns with 50 partner workplaces in 2022, with a few more holding campaigns in early 2023. We have had donations to support our work from over 90 individual donors. For all this, and more, we say THANK YOU to our MaineShare community. Please read on for more news and updates!
The ongoing impact made by each and every one of our member groups continues to astound me. We have members on the frontline of advocacy to better support Maine families. Others have immediately stepped in to help those impacted by PFAS chemicals found on Maine farms. And others work tirelessly to help Mainers secure appropriate and affordable health insurance for themselves and their families. I invite you to read more about our member work in our November newsletter– please click here! *Please also note that there is a correction to the phone number listed for Disability Rights Maine in the newsletter– it should be 207-626-2774!*
As a result of my Public Health education, I have been aware of Maine Access Immigrant Network (MAIN) for some time now. They are a key resource and supporter of the new Mainer community, offering culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate services to better the health and lives of our community members. They have become well known and respected for their efforts to provide client-centered access to healthcare and information. They also do a wonderful job educating healthcare providers, policy makers, and the community about the needs of our multicultural neighbors and how we can best support them. Their ongoing and expanding services are guided by their 4 program pillars: direct case support services; health education and outreach; public health research; and advocacy.
With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, MAIN became a key resource for the community to access health education, COVID testing, and vaccines. Throughout the pandemic they have administered over 1,500 COVID-19 vaccines for community members from all walks of life, speaking 14 different languages. They continue vaccines in their weekly clinics which also include infant COVID vaccines, flu vaccines, blood pressure testing, and HIV home test kits. They have also created a valuable community resource, COVID testing and vaccine information translated in multiple languages– those translated cards are shared here.
As part of their efforts to educate future health care providers to provide patient-centered, culturally competent care, MAIN has been involved in a health leadership program led by BIPOC professionals at University of New England. They also participated in an overnight health career camp for dedicated high schoolers, teaching them about various paths to future health care careers. MAIN was also honored to host Director of the Maine CDC, Dr. Nirav Shah, in August, to speak about public health issues faced by the new Mainer community, including COVID-19, housing inequality, and other obstacles to care and quality of life. We are honored to support Maine Access Immigrant Network as a MaineShare member group, and invite you to learn more about their amazing work here!
Images: Overnight health career camp at University of New England; Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the CDC, and the Maine Access Immigrant Network Team