May 24, 2018
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Unity key to solving problems

By Deb Sanford and Bob Montgomery-Rice, Special to the BDN

These are challenging times. Everyday, headlines remind us of the global instability and economic pressures that touch each of us. For every one of us reexamining our family finances and wondering where to cut back, we have a neighbor who is wondering where to get that next meal or how to get to the doctor.

Many of our neighbors need help, especially as we head into winter. As we all tighten our belts, how do we lend a helping hand? Big government solutions may be on the horizon, but today, right now, we have to produce local solutions for local people.

Our involvement with United Way of Eastern Maine has convinced us that making a difference in our communities is within our reach if we work strategically and collaboratively. In business, we know that bringing everyone to the table to follow a common vision is an effective means for success when resources are lean. In healthcare delivery, we know that the most vulnerable among us need the most proactive solutions and that immediate need knows no economic boundary.

United Way of Eastern Maine has tackled some of our community’s most immediate and critical challenges over the last year. In addition to funding 76 vital programs in our five-county area, United Way of Eastern Maine is partnering with donors, businesses, schools, governments, families, and local health and human service agencies to implement programs that create sustainable, systemic change in our community. However, there is much more work to be done, now more than ever.

We believe that public-private partnerships can lift up everyone. Individuals and businesses can make a great impact, even in tight times, when we team up with nonprofit programs like the United Way’s Early Childhood Initiative. This is an educational partnership with a pilot community in Bucksport that helps make sure that our community’s children reach kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed.

Sensible programs can make a big impact with a simple idea, like the Eastern Maine Transportation Collaborative, which ensures that seniors are able to keep their scheduled healthcare appointments so that they can maintain their health and independence.

In response to the economic pressures on some of our most vulnerable neighbors, and in recognition of the fact that the need in our community has never been greater, this year Bangor Savings Bank has issued a challenge in addition to its corporate commitment of more than $40,000. If United Way of Eastern Maine can raise $10,000 in Leaders Circle contributions over and above what was raised last year, Bangor Savings will match that new money with another $10,000. Individuals at any level of giving can have twice the impact this year by making a manageable increase over last year’s donation to United Way of Eastern Maine. Making a simple commitment, like donating the amount one might spend on an extra latte each week over the coming year, can make a big difference, thanks to the challenge match.

When times are tough, we must all step up our commitment to our communities. This is not only a moral imperative, but also a community necessity. Each of our lives touches another; each of our business decisions affects another. Mainers’ tendency toward conservative investments gives us the strength of character to build economic and social stability. Making smart investments now, in collaborative programs that work, is what helps us to ride out the storm.

We can make a lasting impact in our communities in Eastern Maine when we stand shoulder to shoulder. Times are tough for everyone, but our Maine values remind us that hard work pays off. Let’s work together, lend a hand and make a difference for our future in Eastern Maine.

Deb Sanford works at Eastern Maine Medical Center. Bob Montgomery-Rice works at Bangor Savings Bank. Both are members of the United Way of Eastern Maine’s board of directors and Leaders Circle.

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