Putting Service Above Self: Five Midcoast Rotary clubs initiate collaborative service effort for communities

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 3:00pm

    In 1918, our country was threatened by the Spanish Flu. One hundred and two years later we are once again under threat from a pandemic. As was shown in 1918 and is playing out again today, local community leadership and action determines what happens nationally. 

    Under the sponsorship of West Bay Rotary, Rotarians from Camden Rotary, Rockland Rotary, Belfast Rotary and Unity Rotary are collaborating to put service above self to promote and facilitate financial and volunteer help for Knox and Waldo county nonprofits, governments, businesses and individuals being challenged and adversely impacted by the actions necessary to stem the spread of COVID-19.

    The Rotary motto “putting service above self” drives these clubs to donate over $100,000 annually to various nonprofit agencies, provide scholarships to area youth, distribute gifts to needy at Christmas, donate time to deliver meals on wheels, paint town benches and street lights and build homes. 

    Now, during this time of crisis, the need to step forward and serve is critical. 

    Richard Anderson, one of the organizers of this initiative said: “We recognized this crisis required much needed collaboration and cooperation among the multitude of nonprofit, government and school entities in our area. And that just as many other new ways of getting things done as a result of this pandemic will likely become normal, so might this initiative prove that collaboration and cooperation among these entities will be the new normal for better things happening faster.”

    Sandy Cox, another of the organizers, said: “This rotarians-serving initiative provides four important services. The first two allow area residents to donate money and offer their time directly to those entities responding to this crisis. Third, it is a central place to link directly to those entities offering important services. And fourth, Rotarians will be monitoring requests for help and assisting people to connect to the service best suited to their needs as well as give entities to request putting their needs and offerings onto the initiative’s website.”

    Anderson says the response to this initiative has been gratifying. 

    “Town offices, schools and area agencies quickly adopted the initiative.”  

    Stephanie Primm, Executive Director Knox County Homeless Coalition said: “This is such a wonderful gift to the community and to us all. Thank you. Now, more than ever, we need to support basic human needs, especially during the pandemic. Those folks providing food, supplies, shelter and housing should be top of mind as our fragile economy and COVID-19 triggers increasing and unprecedented need, not just for low income families but this is going to affect retirees and even middle income folks in our community.  All considerations around 'optics' should be dropped in the interest of 'doing the right thing' and public health at the moment.”

    Paul Klainer, MD Midcoast Health Net said :“Great, your group as always is looking to help the community!” 

    And Liz Jenkins, President AIO Food Pantry remarked: “You are so wonderful to do all you are doing. This collaborative and innovative effort to partner with the local agencies who are directly meeting the basic needs of our community is very much needed now and will strengthen the ways we work together for years to come as a collective.  Everyone's participation will have a direct impact for the organizations and the families who need our support.”