Take a virtual ride across Southern Maine with our United Way Virtual Bus Tour!
Jump aboard United Way of Southern Maine’s Virtual Bus Tour with superstar volunteer drivers Rodney Mondor (UW Emcee) and Carolyn Brady (former Miss Maine)! We will visit five funded partner programs across Cumberland and York County. At each stop, you will get a brief view of the work made possible thanks to your generous contributions. These organizations, along with 70+ more across Southern Maine, give kids get a strong start, empower our neighbors to thrive – not just survive, and help us all to live longer better lives. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!
Just have time for one stop on the bus? Click individual “stops” below to visit a single program.
Special thanks to Concord Coach Lines, Rodney Mondor, and Carolyn Brady for their support of this project.
BUS TOUR COMPANION GUIDE
This guide is for Employee Campaign Managers (ECM), Employee Campaign Coordinators (ECC), or others looking to lead conversations and dive deeper into the topics presented during our Virtual Bus Tour. Click here to download the guide.
Our virtual bus tour begins at Youth and Family Outreach (YFO) in Portland. Executive Director Camelia Babson-Haley explains how the early education center gives kids from all socio-economic backgrounds a strong start in life.
YFO serves children between the ages of six weeks and five years and prioritizes enrolling families that are at or below the federal poverty line, born to teen parents, are unhoused, or from immigrant or refugee families. The skilled teachers at YFO nurture children with rich interactions, anti-racist practices, and high-quality early learning experiences. 33% of children in the program receive on-site support to address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). When the city shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, YFO supported families with food and diaper deliveries and regular communication and outreach. Their work makes us Hopeful for the future.
At our second stop, virtual riders visit with Daniella Cameron, Vice President of Social Work with Preble Street.
Preble Street provides direct support to children, teens, and adults experiencing homelessness and housing instability, connecting hundreds of individuals to shelter, housing, casework, meals, and healthcare, including treatment for substance use disorder. During the pandemic, many of the individuals Preble Street serves had no home and nowhere to stay. With support from United Way of Southern Maine, Preble Street was able to rise to meet the increased needs of our community. In 2020, Preble Street provided 1,000,000 meals to individuals and families and nearly 300 shelter beds throughout the state. By giving the most vulnerable members of our community a hand-up when they need it most, Preble Street helps our neighbors lead longer, better lives.
Our virtual bus tour continues at LearningWorks, where virtual riders meet Executive Director Heather Davis. LearningWorks helps students of all ages at 11 schools across four Southern Maine towns get the support they need to have a strong start in school.
The classroom can be an intimidating place for many students. LearningWorks provides free, high-quality afterschool and summer programs for 1,000 students in grades 2-5. Students are English Language Learners and low-income students who are below grade level each year. By creating positive experiences in the classroom, students can find a greater sense of belonging in school. LearningWorks also helps teens and adults (16-24) who have left high school complete their education, enter the workforce, and become engaged citizens. The pandemic took a toll on students’ mental health, but LearningWorks is there to guide and support them through the challenges ahead.
4th Stop: York County Community Action Corporation
SUPPORTS BRIGHT BEGINNINGS AND SUPPORTIVE SERVICES
At our next stop, Mesha Quinn, Director of Economic Opportunity at York County Community Action Corporation (YCCAC), shares how YCCAC responds to community needs and provides help where it is needed most. YCCAC programs support the most vulnerable community members with transportation services, Head Start and Early Head Start mental health services for children, short-term financial assistance and transitional housing for families in economic distress, and much more.
During COVID-19, York County residents relied on YCCAC services more than ever, with many individuals reaching out for the first time. With support from United Way of Southern Maine, YCCAC will continue to serve as a beacon of hope for our community.
At our final stop, we meet Abeir Ibrahim, Deqa Dhalac, and Regina Phillips, co-founders of Cross Cultural Community Services (CCCS). CCCS was one of eight programs and initiatives funded through United Way of Southern Maine’s Racial Equity Fund focused on supporting the work of local nonprofits led by and serving people of color. CCCS partners with Portland Empowered to make schools more equitable for Black, African American, and immigrant or refugee parents and caregivers in Westbrook and South Portland.
Through Parent Ambassador Trainings, caregivers learn about the U.S. education system, create and maintain relationships with school boards and personnel, and network with other parents. As their confidence grows, parents become strong, effective advocates for their children’s education. CCCS’s commitment to increasing representation, empowering caregivers, and building an equitable, resilient community makes us all Hopeful.
Took a ride? What comes next?
While there is no single answer to achieve a thriving community, there are many solutions. Whether you care about racial equity, mental health and addiction treatment, educational opportunities, or job training, United Way is partnering with organizations and initiatives like these across Sothern Maine to address acute needs and challenges, supporting local causes you care about.
While we are Hopeful that brighter days are ahead, we know our neighbors need us more than ever to address the issues of education, financial stability, and health as we recover and rebuild a stronger, more equitable community.
To be Hopeful requires action. So, let’s show up – UNITED. Together, we can create a Hopeful and thriving future for all in Southern Maine.
Join us today to ensure a Hopeful and thriving Southern Maine.