The Brick Store Museum has stood at 117 Main St. in downtown Kennebunk since its opening in 1936. Once a single brick building, the museum expanded over the past 80 years into a campus of five historic buildings holding seven exhibition galleries, offices, educational spaces, and collections storage rooms. The museum was founded by artist Edith Cleaves Barry (1884-1969), who used her own money to fuel local study of history, art and culture.

The Brick Store Museum recently announced that it was selected for a Partnership Grant with the Maine Arts Commission. The grant funds operations for the museum to continue its arts education programming and outreach for the coming year. Dan King photo

Like many museums across the nation and in Maine, methods of delivery for exhibitions and programs have changed significantly over the past six months. But that has not slowed them down. In fact, the museum has seen more engagement with its digital Century Saturdays programs in 2020 than they expected for in-person attendance of the same events pre-coronavirus.

Now, with an art and history mashup exhibition on view celebrating the town’s bicentennial with over 60 local artists; and a partnership exhibition with Illustration Institute in 2021 called Art of Mending, the Brick Store Museum looks forward to its future as a growing educational resource for all ages.

The museum recently announced that it was selected for a Partnership Grant with the Maine Arts Commission, which is an independent state agency funded through support from the National Endowment for the Arts. This grant funds operations for the museum to continue its arts education programming and outreach for the coming year.

“This was a result of years and years of strategic work to grow our capacity for presenting arts programs in southern Maine,” Director Cynthia Walker said. “The museum still has quite a small staff of four, with 80 volunteers, who inspire our community work and engagement every day. Especially in the coronavirus age, this vote of confidence from the Maine Arts Commission in the work that we carry out is incredibly meaningful. The museum will be employing this funding to broaden digital access and learning tools for classrooms, locals, and tourists alike.”

Kennebunk Savings surpasses $625,000 in giving for 2020

For each of the last 26 years, supporting the community for Kennebunk Savings has typically meant sponsoring over 300 nonprofit events and organizing hundreds of bank employees who don their green T-shirts to volunteer at them. However, as the reality of the pandemic set in, the bank quickly realized that the needs of the community were going to shift drastically.

With no safe or simple way to gather crowds of supporters, typical avenues for fundraising are closed. Races have gone virtual, conferences have become webinars, and festivals have been postponed indefinitely. When area nonprofits started to cancel their events, the bank’s Community Relations team proactively reached out to them to offer their support. Kennebunk Savings asked event organizers to apply grant funding toward operating costs instead.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led many organizations like Kennebunk Savings to make adjustments to their giving programs to help area nonprofits maintain the critical work that is being done to address the vital needs of our communities right now. The bank was acutely aware that the events these nonprofits host each year represent a primary and sometimes sole source of fundraising for the organizations. Kennebunk Savings also understood that the needs of the community were likely to spike due to the ripple effect of the pandemic, making access to funds critical for the nonprofits to continue their work.

“We are proactively reaching out to many of our nonprofit partners to assess how their needs have changed during this crisis and what it will take to keep the lights on for the remainder of the year,” said Bradford C. Paige, president and CEO of Kennebunk Savings. “The reality is that the multitude of societal issues addressed by the groups we support have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. We’re in constant conversation with our community partners and grant recipients.”

Fair Tide, a nonprofit based in Kittery which helps to find permanent housing for individuals and families who experiencing homelessness in the Seacoast area, initially received a sponsorship for their Spring Dinner fundraiser. That money was redirected to a COVID-19 Emergency Fund. The Ogunquit Playhouse canceled its season of theatre for the first time since World War II. Kennebunk Savings’ planned sponsorship of “Dirty Dancing” was redirected to operational costs to ensure a lively season of theatre next summer.

Kennebunk Savings has also allocated COVID-19 response funding to organizations in the community that are specifically working to help vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic. This includes donations to the United Way of York County’s and the United Way of the Greater Seacoast, as well as donations to Caring Unlimited and HAVEN, organizations that provide direct support for community members experiencing domestic abuse and violence, which have been rapidly forced to adjust to new and changing health and safety guidelines.

To date, over $99,950 has been directed towards COVID-19 response.

Despite the inherent challenges that 2020 has presented, the bank announced that the as of July 17, it is well over the halfway mark for its annual giving goal of $1 million to nonprofits in York County, Maine and Seacoast New Hampshire.

“The number right now is $625,276,” said Paige. “But more checks will go out today. This is both despite, and indeed because of, the many cancellations and changes inflicted by COVID-19.”

To request a grant, visit the Community section of the Kennebunk Savings website,  https://www.kennebunksavings.com/community

About Community Promise

Every year, Kennebunk Savings gives away 10 percent of after-tax profits through the Community Promise program. In the program’s 25th year, it continued to build on a legacy that enhances communities and improves the quality of life for the people within them. Community Promise contributions for 2020 total $1,030,000, and continue to focus on organizations that support Health and Wellness, Community and Economic Advancement, Arts and Culture, Education and Innovation, Environment and Animal Welfare. Since its inception, nonprofit organizations across York County and seacoast New Hampshire have received more than $14 million from the Community Promise program.

Family plans birthday celebration for WWII vet

The family of James Pastorelli is inviting the community to gather for a walk-by birthday celebration on Saturday, Aug. 22. Pastorelli, a Kennebunk resident and World War II veteran, will turn 100 years old.

Participants should gather at 12:45 p.m. along Merrifield Drive, near the juncture of Greenfield Drive in Kennebunk. The walk to Pastorelli’s residence is planned for 1 p.m. and will include comments and singing in front of his home. Proper social distancing will be observed.