2009-12-02 / Op-Ed

United Methodist Economic Ministry

Legislative Report
By Rep. Tom Saviello District 90

In the last couple of months I have had the opportunity and privilege to meet with many of the agencies that provide services and assistance to the people of Franklin County. These agencies include the United Methodist Economic Ministry, Literacy volunteers, SeniorsPlus, Western Maine Community Action, Community Concepts, Tri-Valley Mental Health, Western Maine Transportation and Franklin County Children’s Task Force. In some of my future updates I want to tell you about these organizations and what services they have available. The first one that I am going to tell you about is the United Methodist Economic Ministry.

The United Methodist Economic ministry is located in Salem, Maine on the Salem Road. The Web site is www.gbgm-umc.org/umem/. The United Methodist Economic Ministry has its roots in the Sugarloaf Protestant Ministry, the Evangelical United Brethren Churches in Kingfield and Salem, and Mission at the Eastward. In 1969 the first building was moved to Salem and set up as a thrift shop. The facilities have grown to include a food cupboard, office space and workgroup quarters. In 40 years their mission has remained the same, “to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and house the poor.”

Their mission today is to be in a partnership with rural communities of western Maine to create healthy and sustainable communities within the region. Their vision is that through leadership, systems and services of the United Methodist Economic ministry and partnerships with regional churches, the western Maine region will develop healthy communities that adapt to the changing environment.

The Ministry has a thrift shop where they provide at a low cost, clothing for all seasons and household items. The Thrift shop is open Tuesday to Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. Each year they sponsor a back to school knapsack program. These knapsacks have back to school items including backpacks, sneakers, notebooks, crayons, markers, scissors, three-ring binders, children’s socks and underwear. They support a school snack program. Here they provide healthy snacks to five area schools to insure students will not be hungry at snack time. At Christmas time they run a Christmas shop which helps families celebrate the season. The ministry provides emergency services for fire victims, domestic abuse victims, deaths and other family crises. I know of one family that was helped out on New Year’s Day after fire burned their home. The ministry runs a food cupboard; it is open Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. In a year they have help over 1,000 individuals with there food needs.

One of the most interesting services they provide is housing repair/mission teams. Church’s send mission teams to work for a week, weekend or a day. Teams bring the funds for materials for projects. The projects can include handicap ramps, steps, painting, carpentry, windows and roofing to name a few.

The teams stay on site in Salem and provide their own meals and transportation. Some larger groups stay in other locations around the area. A highlight of the week is the Wednesday night community potluck supper for the team, home owners, staff and the community. Some of these “crews” even make additional monetary donations to the Ministry. Some even bring “boxes” of new toys to be distributed at Christmas time!

The more I think about this, it is like the Tom Sawyer story when he convinced his friends to white wash the fence for him. Well, the Ministry is able to stimulate so many to help those that need help! What a group! If you want to help they can be reached at 207-678-2611.

If you have questions about this or anything else call me at 645-3420 or email me at drtom16@hotmail. com. As always thank for the privilege to save as you representative to the state legislature.

Tom Saviello of Wilton represents House District 90: the towns of Avon, New Vineyard, Phillips, Strong, Temple and Wilton, plus the unorganized territories of East Central Franklin and Perkins and Washington townships.

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