I hope you are well and enjoying the good (dry) weather. If you’re like me, some rain would be great for the gardens!
We have a wonderful opportunity to work with the non-profit Community Housing Improvement Project (CHIP Inc., not the ones that do central heating systems) to provide support for some of our residents in need. CHIP has worked on several projects a year in Whitefield and their director Brittany Gill contacted me to find out if Whitefield Cares! could find volunteers to work with them this year. CHIP does home repair projects and historically has gathered volunteers in September for their Community Cares day in September but will be unable to organize the effort this year. Residents in central and eastern Lincoln County will call CHIP’s number and ask for support on needed home improvements and CHIP figures out how to get the job done. CHIP provides the funding for materials and can provide contracting for some services if the situation requires it, and the community provides the organization of the project and the labor.
For this year, our own George Fergusson has agreed to help with organizing our work force. With this post, I am looking for volunteers to work with George on projects in Town. Brittany described 5 possible projects, including 2 trailer roofs needing structural repair, 1 building needing tar to fix leaks, a leaky front door that needs replacing, and a disabled veteran who needs a variety of repairs on his house. If we can gather people to do the work, Brittany will reach out to the homeowners to see if they are willing to work with Whitefield Cares! to get the jobs done. George is reaching out to his contacts to see who would be willing to help and if you know someone who might be handy and/or strong, please let them know about this opportunity and have them get in touch with me!
I think this is exactly the kind of contact Whitefield Cares! needs to launch into creating real results on the ground for the residents of Whitefield. CHIP has been working on the Bristol peninsula for years and CHIP has a dedicated group of volunteers who come together to work on projects on the peninsula which just sounds terrific. Brittany Gill is eager to engage our group and is just waiting for our reply. Let me know if you or someone you know can lend a hand and let’s build Whitefield Cares! into a community effort that get results on the ground!
I hope this post finds you well and busily working in the garden and/or enjoying the outdoors. I haven’t touched base in a while but it does seem that requests for help are increasing a little, likely because this pandemic has stretched on for a while and is likely to go on for quite a bit longer. I hope you will be able to keep your interest in helping your community members strong!
I’ve had a request to find volunteers willing to deliver a food box to a woman in Pittston. That is not Whitefield but is close by and a neighbor of ours nonetheless! She is elderly, lives alone without a car, has some difficulty moving around and is not able to get enough food to sustain her.
My request is this – would you be willing to come to the food bank twice a month to pick a box of food that the volunteers will prepare and deliver it to her house? The food bank volunteers are so well organized that all you need to do is drive up to the door at St. Denis church and tell them you are delivering the box for this woman (I will tell you the name if you are willing to help!), they will put the box in your trunk, you drive to the woman’s house and drop it off at the door. No contact at all which we’re all getting used to!
The woman lives off the Kelly Road in Pittston so it’s not far away. I’m hoping that if we get several volunteers then one person could do two weeks and another could deliver on the other two weeks, something like that. The food bank is open the first Friday of the month (so that’s the 5th this month, and the first delivery would be on this Friday), then the food bank is open on subsequent Saturdays for the rest of the month, open 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM.
Please let me know if you are willing to help out (email through Whitefield Cares!, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 207-656-2033) and I will put you in touch with Janet Ober from the food bank so she can provide additional details. And thank you for helping with Whitefield Cares!
I hope this finds you and your families well and managing well enough these days. I just wanted to touch base so you’d know that Whitefield Cares is still alive and well, just quiet. We got out of the blocks quickly at the beginning of the pandemic and organized people to drive groceries etc. to those who needed help, but we just haven’t had many requests for help. We did have two requests, both for food, which we were able to take care of through the Whitefield Food Pantry which has been very busy. On normal Saturdays the food bank sees about 8-10 families come through and last week there were 26 people who came to pick up food boxes so the demand has definitely increased.
I think what we didn’t anticipate is that the disease would spread slowly through our community which is wonderful but means that our expectation that people would need drivers to bring food to them didn’t happen. It’s still early days of course so that may change but that’s why those of you who volunteered to drive have not heard from me! That’s a good problem to have but this just highlights the fact that we are not in good contact with our own community so we likely are just not aware of people who need help. The good news is Darlene Beaulieu, the Town Administrator, is very aware that we are out here and available to help so she is directing people to call me which is great. And Chloe Maxmin has mobilized an armada of people to call seniors and others in the District just to touch base and ensure that needs are met (sign up to help on her website!).
I still have everyone’s contact information who volunteered to help and I will call if the need arises. Hang in there, enjoy the Spring, and stay safe!
I hope this beautiful day finds you well. I had a great conversation with Brittany Gill who run the Community Housing Improvement Plan based in Bristol. They distinguish their nonprofit by adding an “Inc.” after CHIP, to separate them from the Central Heating Improvement Program run by Maine Housing and distributed by KVCAP. I’ll explain further about CHIP Inc. below – but KVCAP distributed LIHEAP funds (enough acronyms yet?) for heating fuel and they also do weatherization, house repairs, etc. but apparently they have a long waiting list. They are supported by Federal funding and have a strict set of requirements for support.
CHIP, Inc. is a non-profit based in Bristol, Maine and they focus on central and eastern Lincoln County, including Whitefield. The organization was started by Ruth Ives who was the Carpenter’s Boat Shop founder in Bristol and they are supported by donors from Lincoln County. They do a variety of home repairs as well as one-time fuel assistance (100 gallons of heating fuel or firewood). Brittany Gill explained that the program is for those in need but they are much more forgiving and will assume the best of their neighbors so the process is not onerous. If someone needs their trailer re-skirted, or the floor rebuilt, a ramp constructed, or window inserts, they can call 207-677-3450 and leave a message and Brittany will return their call to schedule a time for repairs (in normal circumstances of course). CHIP, Inc. will pay for the materials and their volunteers do the work – this seems like just the opportunity Whitefield Cares! has been looking for, to match our volunteer work force with knowledge and a vehicle to find people who need help. I will add CHIP, Inc. to our Resource List.
Their website (chipinc.org) is down for repairs but Brittany anticipates it will be up and running in April. They have a community work day in September and she will be keeping an eye out for needs from residents in Whitefield, assuming we can gather safely by that time. If not, we’ll do it later! This is a great example of us using existing groups to facilitate their interest and ours. Isn’t Maine great? Hang in there everybody.
Here’s sincerely hoping that you are all well. We are all set up to help our neighbors during the Coronavirus epidemic so I thought I’d update you on where this stands.
New volunteers have been signing up to drive groceries to shut-ins every day which is awesome and inspiring. As some of you know, our State Representative Chloe Maxmin also has a sign-up for people willing to check on neighbors among other tasks and she offered to connect Whitefield Cares! to her list if/when we need more volunteers which is great! All three Whitefield stores (Sheepscot General, North Whitefield Superette, and Country Corners) are working with me to get groceries to people who can’t get out because of sickness, high vulnerability or other issues. The customer calls the store and makes an order, pays for it, then the store calls me and I call the first volunteer on my list then keep going until I reach someone! The volunteer drives to the store where the store employee puts the box in their car and the volunteer drops the box off outside the customer’s house (and rings the doorbell or knocks to let the customer know the delivery has arrived). The general plan is for deliveries to occur at 11:00 and 4:00 each day so a volunteer might have more than one order to deliver.
Having said all this we haven’t received any calls from the stores yet – but that may change as time goes on. I’m also expecting that we may get other requests for help such as picking up prescriptions etc. and we’ll deal with that when/if it happens!
Additionally, Aunt Gin’s (on Rt 17) is cooking home-cooked meals for shut-ins. I spoke to one of the owners who told me that they will plan on delivering meals themselves. I suggested that they call me if they find they can’t keep up with demand for whatever reason. So I may be back to our volunteers to see if people are willing to deliver meals as well.
I think it’s wonderful how people are responding at a time of need despite the gloomy news. Please let others in your social network know about this plan so word gets out to those who need to know. This information is also on the Whitefield Town website. If anyone else is interested in volunteering, please sign up at Neighbors on Call as well as signing up for our newsletter with your email and contact information. And you can always reach me at email@example.com. Thank you and stay healthy!
Well we’re going with safety first and decided to cancel our meetings for the foreseeable future. However, we may have an opportunity to contribute individually to help our community in need. Sheepscot General reached out to ask if Whitefield Cares would be willing to help drive groceries to people who are unable to get out on their own. They are hoping to work with the Superette to figure out who needs help and we could simply pick up an order and deliver it to an address, without going inside or really having contact with anyone. If you would be willing to do so, please let us know via the Whitefield Cares contact form or email. I’m not sure whether we can make this work but we can certainly try!
Meantime our little subcommittee working on the survey has a draft and which is circulating for more input. We will send that out soon and we can all look forward to collecting survey responses once this virus passes us by! Stay home and safe everyone.
Whitefield Cares! has received our first funding! We received $1,010 from the Thriving Older Adults Strategic Goal Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. We asked for support for printing and mailing the Resource List to all Whitefield residents in an effort to better distribute information in Town. In addition, we asked for funding to print and distribute a town-wide survey to ask residents what is working and what is not working for their lives in Whitefield, to allow us to specifically target our work where it is needed the most. A small group of us is already working to prepare the survey questions so now we can move forward more quickly! Very exciting news and we hope to see you at the next regular meeting on Wednesday March 18 at 4:00 at the Elementary School.
This is great example of why it’s good to listen to that niggling, tapping on your shoulder saying “Psst – Don’t use military acronyms!”. And once we looked up what SWAT actually means – Special Weapons and Tactics – that spelled the beginning of the end of that name. So thanks to the feedback from some of our readers, we are renaming our quick response list to “Neighbors on Call”, better, definitely.
The intention was good, but it is likely true that the “SWAT Team” was “riding a wave of adrenaline” as one of our readers suggested. Having received our first call for help – and realizing that our “infrastructure” was not yet set up to respond quickly to requests for help, I wanted to move fast and figure out who could help. But like all learning experiences, this was worth slowing down and fixing the mistake. Forward!
Hi all – I received my first request for help for a Whitefield resident from a health care social worker in Augusta. She was thrilled to hear about Whitefield Cares and plans to let her colleagues in social work know about our project at other facilities in the area. I spoke to the resident and she is OK for now but will likely need support in the near future.
I’m describing this story because 1) it’s exactly what we want to have happen, where someone in need has a place to call for help, and 2) this incident has raised many questions about how we will operate once people realize we are here as a useful resource. In this example, the woman needed someone to dig her car out the snow and help clean off an icy ramp leading to her house. As it turned out, a neighbor had already helped her with these chores, but it made me realize that we need a contact list of people willing to take on particular tasks. Continue reading →
Hi all – When Patricia Oh came and talked to our group, she sent me the attached file that shows a map of all the Age-friendly Communities in Maine (there are many!) and describes the benefits of joining the network. In short, there are a variety of funding opportunities we would be eligible for as well as receiving the benefits of advice from other communities already in the network. It seems to me that joining has little downside and we should discuss this opportunity at an upcoming meeting