United Way of Southern Maine supporters gathered for a Women United Fall Fête at The Lincoln Hotel in Biddeford on Sept. 21, enjoying refreshments provided by Batson River Brewing & Distilling and celebrating the nonprofit’s 2024 investments, including three newly funded York County programs.

“Women United is about caring individuals and corporate sponsors helping members of our community to be the strongest their families can be,” said Liz Cotter Schlax, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Southern Maine. “Tonight we’re announcing our new investments in York County for advancing single moms and their kids.”

In Cumberland County, Women United is continuing to invest with The Opportunity Alliance in Project WIN (Women in Neighborhoods), focused on families in Portland’s East Bayside led by single mothers, and Anchoring Youth to Succeed, a collaboration with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine and A Company of Girls. For 2024, investments in these programs exceed $202,000.

Moving into York County, Women United is investing $40,000 in Project HOME Trust through Quality Housing Coalition; $33,000 in MomCore through York County Community Action Corporation; and $24,000 in Mothers Thriving through New Ventures Maine.

“This highlights our commitment to moving the needle on issues that impact women in York County,” said board chair Todd Cesca of Kennebunk.

Event attendees included representatives from all the partner organizations, women interested in volunteering, and corporate sponsors KeyBank’s Key4Women, John T. Gorman Foundation, Hannaford, MEMIC, Wex and MaineHealth.

“A lot of social factors affect people’s health – food, transportation, stable housing, jobs, education – and not everyone in our communities is doing well,” said Beth Kelsch, general counsel for MaineHealth. “In southern Maine, the average income for single moms is $42,000. That’s why MaineHealth invests in Women United, so that single mothers are empowered to pursue education or careers that have family-sustaining wages, so they can lead healthy lives and their children can get a strong start in school and beyond.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at amyparadysz@gmail.com.

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