During the holiday season, it’s a natural time to reflect on how individuals and groups around you have impacted your life. The true spirit of the holidays is how much you give and give back, not how much you receive. That is true for family, but also nonprofit organizations making a difference directly or indirectly throughout your life’s journey.
While it’s easy to toss the annual year-end fundraising letters that cloud all our mailboxes in the recycle bin, each one represents an entity doing incredible work in an area of particular impact. I like to support organizations that have a boots on the ground approach to service. Nonprofits that are service providers directly engaged with those in need. Here are a few of the nonprofits I’m encouraging folks to support this holiday season that I have a connection with.
Age Friendly Saco. As a board member, I see up close how our volunteers are extremely dedicated to our mission. Our goal is to create a ‘community for a lifetime’ by promoting active aging through optimizing opportunities for health, engagement, and safety while removing barriers that prevent our residents from remaining in their homes as they age. One thing that this group does extremely well is not just identifying gaps in resources or services that are needed in the community to comfortably age in place, but actively takes steps to address it. This is a doing group, always finding and implementing no-cost or low-cost solutions that help our more senior members of our community live happy and healthy lives. Programs like our sand/salt buckets, food boxes, handy neighbors, and various transportation services including our newest program, an on-demand Saco Mobility Shuttle for door-to-door transportation for community members aged 60+ to various local destinations for non-medical services. But this army of volunteers needs your help. We couldn’t do it without your donations which can be accepted online at www.agefriendlysaco.org. Volunteers are also welcome.
Sweetser. There has never been a more important time to help address the mental health and substance use needs of Mainers. The need is great and seemingly growing. My ‘day job’ is as their Senior Director of Public Relations & Advancement out of their Saco office on the Industrial Park Road. Our staff are very purpose-driven and make a true difference in the lives of over 15,000 children, adults, and families a year across our state. Everyone deserves access to quality treatment and support, regardless of their ability to pay. Together we can provide hope to Mainers of all ages who need us now more than ever. Tax deductible donations are accepted online at www.Sweetser.org/donate or by mail at 50 Moody Street, Saco, ME 04072.
Saco Main Street. Think of any large scale event in Saco. Saco Main Street likely organized it. Pumpkin Harvest Festival. Saco Parade of Lights. Art Fest. Bark in the Park. They are the movers and shakers of our community. They help ensure the aesthetics of our downtown are welcoming by handling the flower boxes and holiday decor. They provide support to our small businesses through various promotions and awareness including Small Business Saturday. I spent over 7 years as a board member of this downtown development organization, including stints as President and Vice President of the board. The staff and volunteers are passionate about all things Saco. You can support their mission and the many events they do by donating online at www.SacoMainStreet.org or by mailing a check to PO Box 336, Saco, ME 04072.
Chenette Scholarship Fund. Since 2015, we’ve provided over $10,000 worth of scholarships to students at Thornton Academy, Old Orchard Beach High School, and Bonny Eagle. This is a nonprofit foundation I founded to provide college scholarships to empower the next generation of civic minded leaders. I am so incredibly proud of each of our scholars and I look forward to awarding the scholarships every year, working with guidance offices and scholarship committees at our area schools. These students are truly our future and give me hope for a better tomorrow. Help me keep with this going. You can donate securely online via www.ChenetteScholarships.org or by mailing a check to P.O. Box 315, Saco, ME 04072.
And of course any food pantry in the area is a very worthwhile cause as well with food insecurity being such a big issue in our own backyard. They do incredible work feeding our neighbors in need.
While days like Giving Tuesday are a great excuse to provide your favorite organization a financial contribution, anytime throughout the end of the calendar year can be a perfect time to be in the season of giving. Make your own instant impact today.
Justin Chenette is a York County Commissioner and currently serves as vice chair of the commission. He also serves on the executive committee of the Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission, Maine Right to Know Advisory Committee, Age Friendly Saco board, and provides college scholarships through his foundation. He is the author of the book, ‘The Great Whoopie Pie Debate: A Kids’ Guide to the Maine Legislature’. Get county updates at CommissionerChenette.com.