Franklin Countys First News

MATE seeks support from community

Abby Gillian, Repairing a deck. Photo by Rev. Karen Hagy

FARMINGTON - For more than 65 years a group of area churches, has worked together to successfully provide mission resources to many in this area of Maine. Known as the Mission at the Eastward or MATE, the organization focuses on housing and youth in West Central Maine. In recent years MATE has expanded, and individuals, businesses, civic organizations and churches from all over the northeast have come to MATE to partner with them in community outreach.

MATE’s housing ministry helps people in need, stay in their homes by carrying out essential repair and renovation work they could otherwise not afford. Each summer, MATE partners with 70-80 homeowner clients in need, and 300-400 volunteers, to create safe housing environments. Clients include the elderly, single parent families, low income households, veterans and those with disabilities and special needs. Volunteer groups, including both youth and adults, offer their time and talents to support this effort. Volunteers come from near and far to take part as members of a MATE team. Often these volunteers have little or no home repair experience but are guided by more experienced project managers. Besides the sense of fulfillment volunteers gain from seeing their work positively impact the lives of their clients, they enjoy a sense of accomplishment which results in many returning year after year. MATE’s personnel spend many hours throughout the year organizing these teams as well as their accommodations and support, however funding for this program has recently come under pressure, due to a major source of funding no longer able to help.

MATE is looking for support from individuals, businesses, other non-profits, clubs, foundations or churches. They point out that monetary support received has a lasting impact on clients, volunteers and the community as a whole, and contributors gain the same sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that the team volunteers experience. It has been said, people who partner with MATE, may positively impact a family for generations to come.

In addition to MATE’s housing ministry, they are focusing on the area’s youth. A Summer Camp program called Camp at the Eastward or CATE, helps dozens of children and youth each year on a 59-acre wooded campground in Stark, Maine. Campers try their hand at arts and crafts, and learn about nature, and teambuilding, all while gaining confidence, faith, and friendships. A parent of a camper offered this, “CATE provides experiences that help build confidence and self -esteem. The kids who attend this camp together, build strong friendships. I believe it is a life changing experience for many of the kids who attend.” MATE is extending the spirit of this camping experience with a year-round program called the MATE Youth Connection. This community youth group is aimed at providing enrichment opportunities for youth and their parents, to nurture wholistic health, acceptance, leadership, peacemaking, justice, and compassion. They point out however, that all these efforts are very much dependent on increasing the volunteer base and resolving the funding issues the organization faces.

Anyone interested in MATE’s work, is asked to visit their website www.missionattheeastward.org for more information. Click on the Donate button or donate by mail to the address below. There is also a monthly newsletter which can be requested. If you would like to know more about partnering with MATE in any capacity contact Rothea Kornelius, MATE’s Executive Director at: Mission at the Eastward PO Box 206 Farmington, Maine 04938, 207-778-4705 or Email them at missionattheeastward@gmail.com. All contributions are tax-deductible. MATE thanks you in advance.

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