CAMDEN — Each year, the Camden Rotary Club names one person from the community as a Paul Harris Fellow in recognition of outstanding contributions to the community. Finding Our Voices founder and president Patrisha McLean received this year’s award on December 28, 2021.
McLean launched the organization on Valentine’s Day in 2019 at a Camden Public Library exhibit about survivors of domestic violence. Most of the survivors featured in that initial exhibit, including McLean, were local people. Many of them were speaking out for the first time about the abuse they had experienced.
Since then, Finding Our Voices has become widely known as a grassroots nonprofit powered by survivors of domestic abuse, according to Rotary, in a news release.
Awareness-raising takes many forms, most noticeably the 1,800 huge banners displayed in downtown business windows of more than 50 Maine towns since April 2020. The banners bearing the message, “Let’s Talk About It,” picture 40 Maine survivors aged 18 to 81, from all walks of life.
In addition to this and other awareness-raising activities, Finding Our Voices provides support services including a fund that pays bills and buys items to empower women to get out and stay out of dangerous situations, keep their children safe, and rebuild their lives. A private online “sister support group” meets weekly.
Putting a face on domestic abuse in Maine is encouraging people who experience domestic violence to take action and seek safety.
As McLean says, “Victims need to know they are not alone, that the community stands beside them, and that help is available.”
The Camden Rotary Club has served the community since 1925, raising funds to help local nonprofit organizations, distributing scholarships to local students, and providing volunteer services. The club conducts hybrid in-person/online meetings at noon every Tuesday, and visitors are welcome. For more information, please visit www.camdenrotary.org.