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A 91-year-old hospice patient who lives in Damariscotta has donated $30,000 to three local nonprofits to assist with coronavirus relief efforts.
The woman’s physician, Dr. Minda Gold, began distributing the donations March 20: $10,000 each to the CLC YMCA and Healthy Lincoln County, both of Damariscotta, and the Ecumenical Food Pantry, of Newcastle.
The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, also recently gave $7,500 to a St. Patrick’s Catholic Church fundraiser to buy instruments for children in Haiti.
Gold said the woman is a generous person who loves giving to people in need and helping the community. When the coronavirus emergency hit, she immediately wanted to help.
“She said, ‘I want to do something to help the community. Who needs money?’” Gold said.
Gold recommended some local groups and her patient began to write checks for Gold to deliver.
“I just had the pleasure of being able to drop them off and see the reactions of the people I gave them to. … The woman who is doing it is just so happy she can help people locally,” Gold said.
Casey Clark Kelley, interim CEO of the CLC YMCA, said by email that the organization was thrilled to receive the funds, which it will use to support the outreach work it is participating in during the coronavirus emergency.
Clark Kelley said the Y’s outreach includes wellness check-ins with residents, blood drives, and weekly Fill the Y Bus food drives.
Kate Martin, director of Healthy Lincoln County, said in an email that she was “positively blown away” by the donation. She said Healthy Lincoln County’s meal program typically only distributes free meals to kids during the summer months, but had to spring into action when in-person school instruction was canceled.
“The school closure makes the program look very different from its usual operations. As we make plans for providing this program throughout the spring and summer, there are so many unknowns, and a donation like this really provided us with some assurance that it will all be fine,” Martin wrote.
Martin said the meal program has been operating for five weeks. In the first two weeks, 9,000 meals were served from the five meal sites Healthy Lincoln County sponsors for the AOS 93 and Wiscasset school districts.
“We have amazing people working in our area school kitchens who have been working hard to prepare those meals, dedicated volunteers, and generous community partners and donors. This donation and the other kind donations we have received will certainly go a long way,” Martin wrote.
Ellen Dickens, co-manager of the Ecumenical Food Pantry, also expressed her gratitude and said in a phone interview that the $10,000 donation kicked off a steady stream of contributions that have kept the pantry funded during a time of increased need.
“It was the spark that lit the fire. It really kicked off an outpouring of support,” Dickens said.
Dickens said the pantry has no overhead and is staffed entirely by volunteers, so all donations go directly to buying food and making it available to residents in need.
Some money will also go to the Lincoln County Food Initiative, of which the Ecumenical Food Pantry is the fiscal agent, to purchase food for preparation and delivery by Kieve-Wavus Education Inc.
The Lincoln County Food Initiative is a collaboration between the CLC YMCA, Healthy Lincoln County, the Ecumenical Food Pantry, Lincoln Academy, Kieve-Wavus, and the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission that formed in mid-March to deliver free meals to residents in need.
The Ecumenical Food Pantry is open for food pickups at The Second Congregational Church in Newcastle from 9:30-11 a.m. every Tuesday. Dickens said anyone in need can simply pull into the parking lot, wait in their car, and someone will come out to see what they need.
“I hope that anybody that feels that they need a hand with food, even if you just come once to the food pantry to tide you over … please come. Welcome, welcome, everyone. That’s what this money is for, to make sure that everybody in this community who needs food has access to food,” Dickens said.
Watch: What older adults need to know about COVID-19