A message from Casey Gilbert, our executive director
More than a week has passed since I sent the message " extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures " , the first email communication from Portland Downtown related to the emergence of COVID-19 in our community. Since then, I've talked with business owners and nonprofit leaders who have had to lay off staff, cancel fundraising events, and in some cases, close their doors temporarily. People are concerned about their future and the health and well-being of their staff, colleagues, friends, families and communities. Our local and state government has been keeping us informed, with Governor Mills addressing the State yesterday  in a press conference  and Portland's City Manager and Mayor  calling for people to stay home , to further flatten the curve in Maine's largest city. 

In the midst of the uncertainty, organizations across the region and state are coming together to collaborate and to find ways to support individuals and organizations. Just last week,  Pay It Forward Maine , a campaign to encourage community members to support local organizations in a myriad of ways, was launched with the support of several local organizations, including Portland Downtown. As the lead on the campaign, the  Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce  signaled to our community that we will be there for them, one purchase at a time, one donation at a time, one act of kindness at a time. Creative Portland launched a  support fund for artists  and  StartUp Main e  in partnership with MyHealthMath  hosted a hack-a-thon  to explore technology solutions to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare system.  Maine Association of Nonprofits Portland Buy Local , and the  Maine Downtown Center  have been contacting legislators to ask for critical assistance for organizations, employees and communities who need relief and support of all kinds.  Portland Food Map  has been tracking which restaurants are offering curbside pick-up and delivery, and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension  c reated a site to connect farms directly to consumers

I share this with you because I think that we are finding our way forward during this incredibly challenging time. People are rising to the occasion and finding ways to help. However, I also recognize that it is not as easy for everyone to navigate this unprecedented shift. It is important to take care of ourselves, to be kind to ourselves and to one another. Seek out  resources  that can act as a guide or reach out to friends and family for support. Please know that you are not alone in feeling your way through this and  it is okay to not be okay .

Regardless of where you are on your journey of finding your way, we want to hear from you. Whether or not you call Portland your home, we invite you to complete the surveys below to share with us your thoughts and reflections. 

I'd like to leave you with this quote, which I found particularly poignant"
“A seed neither fears light nor darkness, but uses both to grow.” 
― Matshona Dhliwayo