Dear Friends,

We write to you today with important updates on MaineShare and the amazing work MaineShare Member Groups are doing in your communities to blunt the impacts of this terrible pandemic. 

Let me introduce myself. My name is Brenda Peluso and in early April, I contracted with the board to serve as the Interim Director and to advise on the best path forward for MaineShare. I have enjoyed getting up to speed on all that is MaineShare and I have been impressed with all the work and soul-searching MaineShare and its Member Groups have been doing over the past year or so. I look forward to moving this work forward with the help and support of all of you.

MaineShare was founded 30 years ago to fund progressive groups seeking to support organizations doing progressive social justice and root cause work in Maine. Covid-19 has challenged us all and laid bare the systemic injustices in our state and country. Amid these great challenges, we believe there is great opportunity to elevate these injustices and make positive social and economic systems change. MaineShare is committed to finding the best way to support our member groups in doing just that.

Thank you for all you do for Maine and all your support for us and our member groups. We promise to honor your commitment and look forward to deeper connection in the coming weeks and months.

Please stay connected, stay safe, and we wish you peace and community through all of this.

In service, Brenda Peluso
Interim Executive Director
In this issue - The MaineShare Member Group Impact:
Addressing Systemic Inequities and Meeting Basic Needs
Maine Access Immigrant Network : Ensuring Access
to COVID-19 Resources In Native Languages 
Providing equal access to critical information is key to ensuring non-native residents of Maine have the same opportunities as native Mainers to thrive during this crisis. Since mid March Maine Access Immigrant Network (MAIN) has been helping their clients respond to the COVID-10 crisis by quickly leveraging social media and remote communications, around the clock. 

Their Community Healthcare Workers are providing case management services by phone and WhatsApp and arranging delivery of food and basic supplies such as masks and cleaning products as well as donated gloves. 

They have made their services available 24/7 in order to offer help navigating the Maine health and social service system during this uncertain time.  

During April, MAIN started and quickly ramped up its own virtual public health education channel on YouTube in order to support native language access to COVID-related health and safety resources and MAIN Community Health Workers are both producers and hosts on this channel. 

Click here to see an example of this recently built resource, now subscribed to by hundreds of new immigrant families throughout Maine: Maine Access Immigrant Network .
MOFGA Supports Organic Farms and is Offering
Free Virtual Seminars Through May 15th.

Thousands of Maine people rely on Maine farms for the food they bring home, and Maine farms, like many other businesses, are feeling the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis. MOFGA initiated a rapid-response grant cycle in support of Maine organic farms currently in need of help. They’ve just closed the application process and will be distributing 100k in small grants in mid May.

They are also encouraging us to S upport Our Local Food System for Continued Resilience . Many MOFGA certified organic producers are offering alternative sales options. Click here to find a farm near you using an interactive map and perhaps sign up soon for your favorite CSA.   

Events and Workshops
All MOFGA events, through May 15th will be postponed, or offered online.

You are encouraged to visit the individual event pages on their website to find the most up to date information. See MOFGA Events for more information. 

As the year moves ahead, they are also working to implement plans for conducting annual onsite inspections of certified operations to ensure safety for inspectors, operators and businesses.
Maine Labor Group on Health : Celebrating Workers
during Worker Memorial Day

"Workers' Memorial Day, usually celebrated during the last week of April, is a day to join together to remember those who have lost their lives while doing their jobs," U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia says "As we memorialize workers who have lost their lives, we are mindful of the U.S. Department of Labor's important role in working with employers and workers to create a national culture of safety. We are dedicated to working diligently every day to keep American workers safe and healthy on the job."

According to Linda Doran of Maine Labor Group on Health, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaping flaws in the U.S. social and workplace safety net, which make it harder to bring the disease under control. More than 27 million Americans have no health insurance, 33.6 million have no paid sick leave and more than 21 million work insecure jobs in the gig economy.

U.S. Workplace Deaths Are Rising, 19 Maine workers perished last year, and nationally 5,250 U.S. workers died from workplace trauma in 2018, which is an 8.9 percent increase since 2014. Next year, due to the Covid-19, the numbers will be higher.  

Linda noted in a recent newsletter, “Currently, our country has NO workplace standards to protect workers from infectious disease – this must change immediately. The actions we take RIGHT NOW is impacting how many workers we will lose due to COVID-19”.

Maine Labor Group on Health invites you to take a moment to celebrate and remember sacrifices made during Workers Memorial Week, this week, on behalf of workers who have been injured, suffered illnesses or lost their lives on the job. 

This event is observed nationwide — and around the world — by unions, surviving family members, and health and safety activists in workplaces and Communities.
Mano Maine : “Estamos Aqui Fund” Increasing
Equity for Immigrant and Migrant Workers

According to Ian Yaffe, executive director of MANO Maine, Immigrants and farmworkers in Maine have already been affected by lost work hours or being laid off completely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others are on the front-lines as Essential Workers helping keep all of us safe, healthy, and fed during the emergency.

“While governments are providing unemployment assistance and economic impact payments, many community members are not eligible for these supports, and need your support.
 
“Despite the public health emergency, families still need to pay rent/utilities, buy groceries, and more. Families without health insurance are worried about how to receive care.”
 
Mano en Mano's Estamos Aquí Fund is a mutual aid fund to support immigrants and farmworkers in Maine with financial challenges associated with COVID-19, especially those who are not eligible for government support right now. Community members can request and receive direct funds for whatever immediate needs they are facing including housing, utilities, food, and more. Awards are being made on a first-come/first-serve basis and they will continue to fundraise until all awards have been fulfilled.

MANO Maine has also created a great COVID-19 bilingual resource page at Mano en Mano COVID-19 Updates .
Maine Initiatives Provides Immediate
Help to Grassroots Organizations

Nonprofits and Philanthropy always step into gear when other systems don’t meet the needs of vulnerable communities.  

As mentioned in their recent blog, the grantees that Maine Initiatives support, are organizations that are working at the forefront of racial justice and equity in communities throughout Maine. 
 
In their conversations with many of their grantees, they have issued a “clarion call to the philanthropic sector for how to act in support and solidarity with grassroots and community-based nonprofits in this crisis”.
 
Maine Initiatives is in fact its own best example of an organization whose impact results from the unceasing efforts of a staff of 2, now working remotely as they help address inequities due to Covid-19 in Maine.

Unrestricted gifts generate immediate relief and help level the playing field for those organizations serving communities who do not qualify for benefit from government issued relief.

Learn more about the many Grassroots leaders they are helping to fund here: Grant Announcement: $308,920 in Rapid Response Funds to Grassroots Organizations
Resources for Improved Wellbeing
Helpful resources and pointers for staying healthy while staying safe.

“It goes without saying that we're all stressed and frightened as we work to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities during this unprecedented global pandemic. As a public health organization, we wanted to let you know a few important ways you can protect your health” - Nika Beuchamp, Communications Director, EHSC.

In a recent blog entry, Nika and EHSC provided a few key pointers and resources to help us all move through this next phase of quarantine as we flatten the curve and move together toward a healthier Maine.

Reliable Public Health Information
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) provides the most up-to-date information on public health recommendations. If you are above age 65, which is at higher risk of complications from the coronavirus, there are specific recommendations  for older adults, and if you are pregnant or know someone who is, they recommend taking a look at this helpful Q&A from ProPublica which addresses health concerns as well as concerns with labor, delivery, and postpartum care during the ongoing pandemic.

Isolating Stops the Spread!
EHCS highlights and urges that we all continue social isolation as our most critical tool in slowing the spread of the coronavirus and encourages us to stay inside your home as much as possible. If you do venture out, keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.

Do your best to stay healthy!
Stress weakens our immune systems, so it's also important to protect and prioritize our mental health as much as we can. Here are a few ways to combat stress: 
Exercise helps to keep anxiety at bay.
Many local gyms and yoga studios are offering free online courses—look yours up to see what's on offer. You can also check out YMCA 360 , free online exercise videos offered by the Y during the pandemic. 

Fresh air is also important. Whether it's taking a few moments a day to relax on a porch, taking a quick walk around your neighborhood, or visiting a state park for a long hike—while maintaining 6 feet of distance from anyone else—getting outside of the house when you can do so safely is an important tool for calming anxiety.

Keep the Kids Calm!
All of the above applies to kids as well! Children pick up on our stress and anxiety, and it's important to find ways to help them calm their nerves, too. Cosmic Kids Yoga is a popular online series of yoga classes for kids 3 and up, and includes mindfulness techniques to help children stay grounded in these stressful times.

Practice Healthy Diversion
Find joy in music and art. We have all discovered that many concert halls, bands, and musicians are streaming their concerts live online , and art museums and galleries are offering virtual tours

During any moments of rising anxiety, try out the "5-4-3-2-1" exercise to ground yourself in the present: Look around and name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This simple tool can do wonders to bring calm.
 
Forgive Yourself!
Most importantly, please don't be too hard on yourself. It's okay if the dishes are piling up and you haven't used your time at home to take up a new hobby. We have not seen a crisis like this in living memory—there's no playbook for this, for any of us.

Thank you EHSC and Nika for these helpful resources, tips and reminders.
Maine Council of Churches : Seeking Common Ground,
Working for the Common Good

Religious congregations throughout the state are innovating ways to foster togetherness online while forced to cancel physical services.

Maine Council of Churches’ member denominations are doing an extraordinary job of supporting their members during the Covid-19 emergency.

According to Jane Field, executive director of the Maine Council of Churches, the state’s church leaders met in early April to discuss their various approaches. Field said they discussed not only how to help people practice their faith while being safe, but also how to support people who are poor and vulnerable;

“By taking these steps, we are protecting the most vulnerable among us and preserving the capacity of our health care system to care for those who do not get infected.”

Spiritual leaders are encouraging everyone to find some form of connection with others to ease the loneliness we are all experiencing. At this point, most congregations are hosting online services and offering one-on-one phone and video support. Most are sharing a broad menu of links to local and regional resources from their websites in order to encourage access to this community aid.

MCC has assembled a list of web links, built by members, which highlights
the depth of resources currently provided and supported by Maine’s congregations. 







Maine Audubon : Finding Peace in Nature, Safely
 
Though Maine Audubon has decided to cancel in-person programs through May 15th, they are encouraging you to visit their sanctuaries to find peace in nature at this trying time and recommend three key strategies as you take up walking the trails this spring.  
 
Find the Right Time and Place
  • Know What’s Close to Home: Consider visiting the sanctuary closest to your home.
  • Check before you go: Visit websites to see the latest information on closures or conditions. Please respect all property closures.
  • Have a plan B: If the parking lot is half full, the destination is too crowded. If your first destination has a busy parking lot, go to the next spot on your list! Consider visiting a nearby Wildlife Management Area, or a less-trafficked state park, public land, or local land trust (Maine Trail Finder is a great resource!)
  • Avoid peak times: Get out earlier or later in the day.
  • Recharge in your backyard and neighborhood!: Spring in Maine means there is a lot to see and explore right in our own yards.
 
Be Prepared Before Heading Out
  • Expect limited services: Be advised that there is no access to public restrooms or drinking water.
  • Pack snacks and water: Do what you can to avoid having to make stops along the way.
  • Dress for success: It is spring in Maine, so trails are likely to be wet, muddy, slippery, or icy; bring appropriate gear to match the conditions. Local outdoor brands are open for online sales and are available to give advice on appropriate gear and equipment.
  • Don’t take risks: Stick to easier terrain to avoid injuries, which add stress on first responders and medical resources.
  • Watch out for ticks: Wear light-colored pants, closed-toe shoes, and apply EPA-approved bug repellent.

Heed All COVID-19 Health Warnings
  • Practice social distancing: Stay at least six feet away from other people who do not live in your household. If necessary, step aside when passing other people on the trail. And remember that groups of 10 or more are prohibited.
  • Don’t linger: Shorten your stay when visiting natural stopping points such as waterfalls, summits, and viewpoints so everyone can enjoy them while maintaining a safe distance.
  • Don’t touch: Avoid touching signs, kiosks, buildings, and benches to minimize the potent spread of the virus.
  • If you’re sick, stay home: It puts others at risk when you leave home while exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, or if you have recently been exposed to the virus.

May Events
Maine Audubon is now working to move some of their May series to Zoom. Learn more about upcoming events at www.maineaudubon/events
 
If you or any of your guests are registered for a program that has been cancelled, Maine Audubon is prepared to waive their standard cancellation policy and offer refunds. 

Please contact Beth Pauls at bpauls@maineaudubon.org or (207) 781-2330 ext. 273 to have your name(s) removed and facilitate your refund. 
 
They also ask that you consider donating your registration fees to Maine Audubon as they rely on the support of members and the community to protect our wildlife and habitat. 
 
Finally, though their Nature Stores are currently closed to the public, they continue to take orders from their store online. To place an order, choose your items from the list on their website, here , and let them know the quantity desired for each item. If there is an item that you need that is not on the list (coffee, feeders, etc.), their store staff can assist you. Call (207) 781-2330 x201
or email GFnaturestore@maineaudubon.org.
 
Maine Audubon works to conserve Maine’s wildlife and wildlife habitat by engaging people in education, conservation, and action.
Maine Bicycle Coalition : Where to Bike in Maine this Spring.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine wants to see you practicing social distancing outside and has just shared a “brand-new fast, and fun way to find the perfect Maine ride, for all skill levels!”

Their Where To Ride website ( www.wheretoride.bikemaine.org ) is helping cyclists all over the state as they map and plan bike rides based on terrain, length of ride, level of difficulty, region, and more, throughout the state! 

Once you identify your ride, you can see stats about that ride, including length, terrain, site landmarks, and rest stops along the way. 

If you are digitally inclined, you can also download the geographic data file for your GPS or Google Map tools to use on your smartphone as you take to the trail. Search for Rides and give this a test run!

If you or a child are new to biking, their online biking resources are a valuable reference. ( Biking Basics ).
Equality Maine : Keeping the LGBTQ Community Connected 

Staying connected to people who understand you while physically apart is absolutely necessary. 

Equality Maine understands that times are stressful and they want to do all that they can to help the LGBTQ+ community stay connected, so they set up a series called “ Zoomin' w/ EqualityMaine!” which will run every Tuesday afternoon through May.
 
Each session will be led by EQME staff and focuses on local and national LGBTQ+ topics. They are even hosting a virtual tour of the Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm in Unity Maine on May 12th! 

Zoomin with EQME | Tuesdays @ 4pm - 4:30pm | Events  

Advance sign up for each session is required. https://forms.gle/EdDuT56MkMu2pKUn8  
 
For more information, please email our Development Director, Chris, at coconnor@equalitymaine.org  
100% of MaineShare Covid-19 Fund dollars go to MaineShare Member Organizations, Distributed Equally
Thank you for your support this month! All gifts to the MaineShare Federation through May will be distributed equally to our 42 member nonprofits as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 impact on the causes and communities they serve. Help us help our member organizations continue their good work. It is not too late to support their work. Go to www.maineshare.org and give today.
The recently passed CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic 
Security Act) allows individuals who do not itemize on their taxes to deduct up to $300 in charitable contributions for 2020, individuals who do itemize may now deduct contributions up to 100% of their Adjusted Gross Income, and businesses and corporations may now deduct charitable contributions of up to 25 percent of their 2020 taxable income.
MaineShare | 207-622-0105| giving@maineshare.org | www.maineshare.org