SOS messages to women trapped at home with controlling and/or violent boyfriends or husbands are in 6,000 mailboxes or homes today due to a combined effort of Finding Our Voices and the Camden National Bank.
The large mailer, listing talk and emergency phone lines for New Hope for Women and police, was sent last week to every residence in Camden, Rockport, West Rockport, Lincolnville, Appleton, Hope and Islesboro, according to organizer Patrisha McLean, in an April 28 news release.
She said that the the mailer, “fully funded by the Camden National Bank, supplements the huge Finding Our Voices banners in 56 business windows across the Midcoast through May in getting help to people who are in more danger than ever due to COVID-19, but not from the virus itself, but something inside their homes.”
She added: “Imagine being ‘sheltered in place’ with someone who hurts you,” said McLean, who is president of the nonprofit Finding Our Voices. “You can’t get a break from that person with work, or errands, and the kids are also denied their safe place of school or a friend’s house. Factor in the increased financial strain around this pandemic, cutback in court and advocacy services, and friends directed by the state basically to not let you inside their house even for a visit, and it is very, very scary.”
McLean came up with the idea for the mailer less than two weeks ago, and said she, “quickly got a thumbs-up from Camden Police Chief Randy Gagne who assigned Det. Curt Andrick to help with strategizing.”
She turned to Camden National Bank seeking help with funding.
“I knew that Camden National Bank cares about domestic violence in our community,” she said. “Not only had [Camden National Bank President] Greg Dufour — who I know from when our boys played Little League together — said ‘Yes!’ to posting a banner in the bank window, he requested banners for all three Midcoast bank branches.
“Within two days of putting in a request with the bank for funding for the mailer, Renee Smyth, Executive Vice President and Chief Experience and Marketing Manager for Camden National Bank, not only OK’d full funding to Camden and Rockport, which was my original idea, but to five outlying towns including Islesboro, as well."
Smyth also helped her with the logistics of the mailer, such as design and printing, which McLean said was very welcome as “I had never even heard the term EDDM [Every Door Direct Mail] before.”
In the release, Dufour said: “Patrisha McLean and all involved in Finding Our Voices are shedding light on a serious issue in all of our communities. The current crisis puts victims of domestic violence at even greater risk, and it’s critical to make local resources known and accessible. Camden National Bank has been very involved in supporting victims of domestic abuse through our Hope@Home program, and we’re proud to partner with Finding Our Voices, advocating for seeking help and safety.”
McLean, who launched the Finding Our Voices project with an exhibit at the Camden Public Library on Valentine’s Day 2019, received nonprofit IRS classification April 23.
She is strategizing with businesses in Ellsworth to take the banners there next month. And, she has just signed off on a Kickstarter campaign to fund a movie about the banner project, and planning the May 15 online movie premiere.
She is also working with three local women, including Sarah MacLean, owner of Global, Packing and Shipping, on the first episode of a Let’s Talk About It Podcast that is a conversation amongst survivors of domestic abuse.
“Something Sarah said in the taping of the radio program really resonated with me,” said Patrisha McLean. “Men call each other ‘Brother’ after they go to war with them. I am going to call you ‘Sister’ because we have lived the same war.
“What only people who go through it or work in the domestic violence field really know is that being trapped in a relationship with an angry and controlling intimate partner is like being in war. There are many, many women in our community living a war every day, just trying to make it through another day alive, and also trying to get their kids through the daily battle with minimum emotional damage.
“Due to the efforts of our business community — Camden National Bank for the mailers and all 56 small business owners struggling themselves in this economically devastating time who are giving up up 4’ x 2’ feet of window space for our banners — the women and children in our community have a fighting chance of getting out of this pandemic safely, and alive.”
For more information visit www.FindingOurVoices.net