A dozen local organizations received a total of $50,000 in grants from The Maine Women’s Giving Tree, a local nonprofit that focuses on the needs of children, women and families in Midcoast communities stretching from Freeport to Wiscasset. Contributed

Maine Women’s Giving Tree reaches grant-giving milestone

Grants awarded this year by Maine Women’s Giving Tree, celebrating its 1oth year of operation, will bolster efforts ranging from art therapy for young children to stable living conditions for women.

MWGT President Cyndy Bush and Treasurer Diane Field, both of Harpswell, announced this year’s grantees at a reception held June 12 at Brunswick’s Curtis Memorial Library. Twelve local organizations received a total of $50,000 this year from MWGT, a local philanthropic organization that focuses on the needs of children, women and families in Midcoast communities stretching from Freeport to Wiscasset.

MWGT has now awarded more nearly $200,000 to local organizations. In announcing the grants, Bush said, “We’re thrilled to have reached this significant milestone, as well as our 10th year of sustained membership growth, and we look forward to continuing our support for outstanding programs that help meet important human service needs in our region.”

The 2019 awardees are:

Art Van – $4,500 to sustain the Core Neighborhood mobile art therapy program for children at sites in Bath and in Brunswick

Big Brothers/Big Sisters – $2,500 to defray the costs of background checks for potential volunteer mentors

Gathering Place – $3,500 to enhance programs at its Drop-in Day Shelter in Brunswick to meet the needs of an increasing number of individuals

Growing to Give – $3,500 to initiate a new educational project,” Growing Giving, and Learning” at Scatter Good Farm, a food bank project in Brunswick

Habitat for Humanity 7 Rivers Maine – $5,000 to support services for lower-income homeowners in Harpswell in need of house repairs, weatherization and modifications

Harpswell Aging at Home – $5,000 to support food initiatives, including “Lunch with Friends” and “Meals in a Pinch” for elderly residents

Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program – $5,500 to expand the new school pantry program at area schools

Midcoast Literacy – $3,000 to expand the Read Together Program serving children ages 6-14 who are performing below grade level

People Plus – $2,500 to support the volunteer transportation network that provides free rides for elderly residents of Brunswick, Harpswell and Topsham

Sweetser – $5,000 to assist uninsured and underinsured children and families receiving school-based therapy in Cumberland, Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties

Tedford Housing – $5,000 to support the “Breaking Down Barriers” program for women seeking stable living conditions

United Way of Mid Coast Maine – $5,000 for the Diaper Project, which distributes free diapers to families at food pantries in Bath, Brunswick, and Wiscasset

Noted donor honored posthumously by Topsham Public Library

The Topsham Public Library honored a generous local donor posthumously with the 2019 Sarah Whitten Community Award at a special reception on June 7.

Sally Von Benken receives the 2019 Sarah Whitten award on behalf of the late Janice Solomon, a library donor who was Von Benken’s close friend. At left is trustee Larry Fitch; in back is Director Susan M. Preece. Keith Spiro/For The Forecaster

Janice Solomon was a regular patron who bequeathed the library $770,000 from her estate, according to a news release, and the library is setting aside a portion of her bequest to offer Monday hours for the next three years.

The invitation-only event was attended by over 100 people, including Topsham Public Library staff and trustees, The Whitten Society, business sponsors and previous winners Don Sanders, Dana Cary, Don Russell and Connie Bailey.

Solomon’s friend and neighbor, Sally Von Benken, accepted the award on her behalf. The plaque will be displayed at Highland Green, where Solomon once lived, before returning permanently to the library. As Betsey McCandless, her estate trustee, who sent a letter to be read at the reception, said, “Janice would have likely hated the idea of winning this award. According to Ms. McCandless, Mrs. Solomon “felt safe and welcomed” at the library.

In 2015, the Topsham Public Library’s Board of Trustees launched the Sarah Whitten Community Award to recognize outstanding contributions to the library and the community by an individual, group, or business. Whitten donated her family home to the Topsham Public Library in 1941.


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