February News: Get Cozy with Stories of Mainers Helping Mainers

Maine State Prison Residents and Staff Raise $12,000 for Warming Kits

Last October, a person in incarceration in the Maine State Prison system approached correctional officers with an idea. They had heard about the homeless encampments in Southern Maine and wanted to do something to help. Staff and residents decided together to raise money through the commissary to benefit Mainers experiencing unsheltered homelessness—and they raised an incredible $12,000.

Staff contacted Nakesha Warren-Colbry, MaineHousing’s Homeless Services Response Hub Coordinator for Cumberland County, for guidance on where the money would have the most impact. Nakesha, who is hosted at United Way of Southern Maine, shared the community’s need for warming kits. Correctional officers helped to purchase and assemble more than 600 warming kits and worked with Nakesha and The Opportunity Alliance to distribute them to 14 nonprofits in Southern Maine.    


People in incarceration took action to help Mainers experiencing or at risk of homelessness—will you? 

United Way of Southern Maine’s Housing Crisis Response Fund directly supports essential community services in Southern Maine that:

  • Address urgent and critical needs for families and individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness;
  • Provide housing with supportive services so people can succeed  as they move from homelessness to housing; and

Support vulnerable communities, including children, older adults, survivors of domestic abuse, and people leaving the correctional system.

Happy 211 Maine Month! 📞

The Maine Legislature has officially recognized February 2024 as 211 Maine month! The Joint Resolution passed in the Senate and House earlier this month with bipartisan support in both chambers and was co-sponsored by Senator Trey Stewart (R-Aroostook) and Representative Lori K. Gramlich (D-Old Orchard Beach).

This free information and referral service connects Mainers with help to navigate challenges like finding rental assistance, mental health support, or accessing food resources. In 2023, 211 Maine specialists:

  • received 77,244 calls, texts, and emails;
  • spent 280,000+ minutes on the phone helping people (that’s more than 4,600 hours!);
  • listed 9,225 local programs and resources in their directory.

211 Maine is an initiative of United Ways of Maine in collaboration with the State of Maine and The Opportunity Alliance.

M&T Charitable Foundation Awards $50,000 Amplify Fund Grant to UWSM

United Way of Southern Maine is pleased to receive a $50,000 Amplify Fund Grant from the M&T Charitable Foundation. The Amplify Fund provides funding to community-based organizations with a track record and purpose to increase racial and economic equity in marginalized communities.

This grant will support our work to advance Thrive2027, our community’s three 10-year goals – to give kids a strong start, empower neighbors to thrive – not just survive, and help us all live longer, better. The support from M&T Bank will help increase our impact and help more people in Southern Maine thrive!

$514,094 Raised to Keep Mainers Warm this Winter

Every winter when temperatures drop, hundreds of thousands of Mainers struggle to afford to heat their homes. 42% of Mainers do not earn enough to afford the basic cost of living.

We are proud to announce that our community raised $514,094 for the Keep ME Warm Fund. These funds will provide an estimate 1,291 Maine households with emergency heating assistance.

Keep ME Warm, a partnership between United Ways in Maine and Maine Community Action Programs, received support from Partners Bank, Maine Community Bank, Dead River Company, and the Sam L. Cohen Foundation. NEWS CENTER Maine’s Project Heat telethon, WMTW’s Heat Week telethon, and Landing Real Estate’s Hops for Heat fundraiser, raised significant funds for Keep ME Warm. We are grateful to everyone in our community who donated this year.

If you need heating assistance resources in your community, call 2-1-1 or visit