The John T. Gorman Foundation’s annual Direct Services Grant Program funds the work of nonprofits to meet the critical needs of vulnerable children, youth, families, and seniors across Maine’s 16 counties. In any given year, these organizations make an impressive impact on low-income Mainers. That is especially true in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic has both increased the demand for these kinds of services while at the same making them much more difficult to deliver.
These updates from grantees provides a snapshot – or, rather, snapshots – of how they are rising to this exceptional challenge. (
NOTE: a full list of 2020 grantees is available here.)
A sign at the Augusta Food Bank advertises food programs for kids and families that routinely drew more than 100 people weekly. The organization also hosted a free food giveaway at the Augusta Civic Center, where they distributed over 1,200 boxes of food in one day.
On top of its normal operations, the OHI Brewer Area Food Pantry has risen to a new challenge of delivering food to cancer patients throughout Eastern Maine during the pandemic.
After successfully launching in Portland this spring, Cooking for Community has now expanded to serve other parts of the state with its innovative model of addressing food insecurity with the help of local restaurants struggling during the pandemic. It is now serving vulnerable populations in Lewiston and the Rockland area, and has surpassed 50,000 meals served.
Spurwink received a Direct Services Grant
In Portland, Hope Acts helped over 150 applicants complete their Federal work permit applications, working masked and outdoors from spring through early fall. Its Hope House English Program (HHELP) also provided classes throughout the summer to nearly 100 English language learners.
In response to the increased need for food assistance during the pandemic, the Locker Project has doubled the amount of food they collect, process and distribute at Maine schools each week compared to last year. By the end of August 2020, the Locker Project had already shared over 310,000 pounds of pantry items and fresh food with families in need. About one-third was rescued fresh food that would otherwise have gone to waste.
Midcoast Youth Center has used its grant to support critical outreach services for at-risk, homeless and/or unaccompanied youth in Sagadahoc County, Brunswick and Harpswell. These pictures chronicle the story of one of the young people it has served, Mason. With the organization’s support over the last two years, he has overcome several challenges to graduate from high school and complete technical training at SMCC. This fall, he started a new position at Bath Iron Works.
The Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program had a very successful Summer Feeding Program, operating at 11 sites to serve 5,560 free meals to children and their families.
During the pandemic, My Place Teen Center has expanded its focus beyond youth alone to operate a mobile/curbside food pantry for anyone in need, including the elderly, disabled, unemployed and immuno-compromised. “We wanted to be a no-barrier, compassionate, dependable, basic needs’ resource via good food and in-person interactions for anyone, any age.”
The Piscataquis Region Food Center connects seniors to fresh, locally grown produce through its Farm Shares for Homebound Seniors program. Living across this rural part of Maine, the program’s customers – like Janice, pictured here – are grateful for the fresh food they may not be able to access otherwise.
“It’s been a very busy past few months and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the community, our volunteers, and the John T. Gorman Foundation grant.”
During the past five months, the Salvation Army Portland Corps has delivered food to the homes of children and their families. All told, it has provided the local community with over 2,000 meals and 1,500 food boxes. “Even though times had changed due to the pandemic, families and seniors could look forward to their groceries delivered to their homes, news relayed, and knew that they were remembered – a touch of ‘normal’ in an uncertain time.”