ELLSWORTH, Maine — Downeast Horizons has received a $50,000 matching grant that will jump-start a new Giving Tree Endowment fund.
According to Anthony Zambrano, executive director at Downeast Horizons, the anonymous gift will help to establish the endowment that will provide funding for its programs for years to come.
“It’s a huge leap forward for Downeast Horizons,” Zambrano said Saturday. “It will provide us with the funds to take care of the people we need to take care of.”
Downeast Horizons has operated for more than three decades in the Hancock and Washington county area, providing services for adults with developmental disabilities. In recent years, however, the mission has grown to include sites in Ellsworth and in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, seeking to help those adults to live and work in their communities.
Downeast Horizons also has expanded to include programming for children with developmental disabilities as well.
According to Zambrano, in the past four years the staff and the clients they work with have doubled, and Downeast Horizons now serves more than 100 clients at different sites.
The nonprofit company ran into some serious financial problems several years ago, Zambrano said, but has recovered and is now on a firm footing. The new endowment is a way to ensure that there will be funds available for future needs, if and when those needs occur. It will provide a source of funding that will make up for some of the lost funding the state once provided, he said.
“We wanted to create this endowment so that funds would be available and we’d have it for a rainy day,” he said.
To manage the endowment, Downeast Horizons Foundation has been created with a separate board of directors and with the mission to support Downeast Horizons.
Downeast Horizons will be able to turn to the foundation for funding, if the need arises, Zambrano said.
“I hope it will be many, many years before we need to ask for help,” he said.
The $50,000 matching gift comes from an anonymous supporter and will match every dollar raised for the Giving Tree Endowment Fund. The name of the fund comes from the American elm tree that Downeast Horizons planted at the MDI site earlier this summer.
Zambrano said Downeast Horizons would kick off a fundraising effort for the fund in November, taking the place of one of their semiannual fundraisers. Given the caring and generosity of the people in the region, he said, he is confident that they will meet the match challenge and exceed it.
“This really is a wonderful thing,” he said. “We can do something to help people in the future.”