After being held virtually the past two years, nominees from the 25 nonprofits up for grants from Town & Country Federal Credit Union’s 2022 Better Neighbor Fund gathered in person for a reception on Nov. 9, at the credit union’s headquarters as this year’s recipients were announced.
According to a Nov. 10 news release, Town & Country created an online vote program in 2010 to let the general public determine nonprofits nominated for grants and to, ultimately, determine the grant recipients. The 2022 online vote, conducted throughout the month of October, resulted in the second-highest vote total ever with nearly 13,000 votes cast.
The eight nonprofits receiving the most votes received grants totaling $25,000, with individual grants ranging from $2-5K. In addition, the credit union surprised all nominees by presenting appreciation grants of $100 each those not receiving larger grants. “The remaining 17 organizations that did not receive a grant still do outstanding work and came up just a bit short in the voting total. We felt it was important to recognize the their work and efforts in some way,” said Jon Paradise, senior vice president of communications, marketing and community outreach, in an email. “This is the first year we decided to do something like this but definitely not the last.”
In addressing attendees at the Better Neighbor Fund Reception, David Libby, president and CEO of Town & Country FCU, said, “These past two plus years have been difficult on us all but the fact that all of you have adjusted and pivoted to continue to provide important services is a testament to your organizations and your commitment to doing whatever it takes to support people throughout Cumberland and York counties. Our community is not only better for what you do but stronger, as well. Again, thank you to all of our nominees for making a difference now more than ever.”
Sister Joanne Roy, executive director of Esther Residence in Saco, a residence which helps women released from incarceration get back on their feet, said that, “receiving a $5,000 grant means so much to the work we do and will allow us to help many others. So thankful to Town & Country for this opportunity and to the people who took the time to vote for us every day.”
According to Town & Country, other recipients of the $2K and $5K grants were similarly appreciative and grateful for “what these funds will do for our ability to serve people and communities.”
In 2010, Town & Country introduced the Better Neighbor Fund to celebrate the ideal of neighbors helping neighbors, a concept that has a long and rich tradition in Maine. The credit union has now awarded more than $350,000 to 125 charitable initiatives, to date, through this initiative.
Eight charitable organizations from an original finalist list of 25 nominees were awarded a share of $25,000 from the 2022 Better Neighbor Fund – three received $5,000 grants and five received $2,000 grants. The credit union awarded additional funds of nearly $2,000 to the other nominees for a total of nearly $27,000 in Better Neighbor Fund grants in 2022.
The 25 finalists were nominated in September, and during October, the public voted online for the project they felt was most deserving to receive one of the eight grants.
The winners (by location of their headquarters) of the 2022 Better Neighbor Fund grants include (all serve Cumberland and/or York counties):
Palaver Strings (Portland) – this grant will expand access to string music education classes and instruction to young children across southern Maine.
First Lutheran Church (Portland) – utilized to provide tuition assistance to local families in need making the preschool experience available to more children.
Esther Residence (Saco) – grant will go toward continuing and expanding family-centered parent coaching program for women coming out of incarceration.
Maine Association of Recovery Residences (Portland) – will provide scholarships for up to 10 people to cover the entry expense for a sober living residence and a new way of life
The Summer Camp, Inc. (Bridgton) – will fund camperships for Summer 2023 for 20 girls living in financially insecure families or foster homes with a residential summer camp experience.
Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (Westbrook) – grant will go to help the Plentiful Pet Food Pantry, and stock the shelves of the pantry to provide food and supplies to community members and their pets in need.
Through These Doors (Cape Elizabeth) – will go toward providing financial resources to help survivors of domestic violence access housing, transportation, cell phone service, food, and children’s needs.
Riding to the Top (Windham) – will enable the expansion of equine assisted learning for children with special learning needs through the Children and Horses – Inspiration, Learning and Discovery program.
Libby closed the event by encouraging the community to get involved with supporting nonprofits by donating time and/or money.
“Once again, our 2022 Better Neighbor Fund grants takes place at a time when many local nonprofits continue to struggle to meet increasing needs or cover increased costs and other challenges,” Libby said. “While the $25,000 we are awarding tonight will help our recipients, I would again encourage our entire community to consider a contribution of both money and time to a local nonprofit and, in turn, keep our neighbors and neighborhoods strong and vibrant.”