The New Northeast

tracking the Spirit in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

Grant opportunities from the Diocese of Maine help bridge the gap

Since 2007, the Diocese of Maine has made .07% of its income available to support international efforts and ministries that help to alleviate poverty. Any Maine congregation or program group may offer a proposal to Diocesan Council for consideration to fund an international development effort. Past grants have included the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza run by the Diocese of Jerusalem, midwife education support in Haiti, teachers salaries at a school in the Diocese of Liberia, and support for the ministry of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, among others.

In 2015 an additional $5,000 was included in the diocesan budget to fund ministry that serves those living in poverty in Maine. The first year’s recipients were Church at 209 in Augusta to support the settlement Iraqi refugees and the “Dinner is Served” community meal program out of St. Brendan’s, Deer Isle.

On September 10, Diocesan Council will meet to consider proposals for both grant programs. The deadline for a letter outlining a proposal is Tuesday, September 6, It should be addressed to Diocesan Council and emailed to Heidi Shott at hshott@episcopalmaine.org. Please be in touch with Heidi if you would like to receive copies of proposals that were funded in the past.

Below is an account by Deacon Rebecca Grant of Church at 209 about the real and meaningful impact a grant from the Diocese of Maine can make on the lives of our neighbors.

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Bridging the Gap is an outreach collaborative between the Church at 209 (St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church) in Augusta. The collaboration is funded by a New Initiative Grant and a Domestic Poverty Grant from the Diocese of Maine.

The initiative, led by Deidrah Stanchfield, works with Iraqi refugees as they settle into the Augusta community.

Early in this work, we learned that refugees often arrive with only what they can carry. Furnishing apartments, clothing the family for the Maine climate, and integrating into the local culture are just a few of the challenges our friends face. We’re able to provide clothing through our free clothing bank, Addie’s Attic, and essential items through the Everyday Basics Essentials Pantry. Our work is about going beyond providing material items. We are about the business of building relationships in the Bridging the Gap initiative. Recently, Deidrah shared an interaction that occurred when Adnan, her principal contact in the Iraqi community reached out for assistance:

Adnan called, fairly late in the evening, and asked me if I knew where to get diapers. I asked him what size, and how urgent the need was. He said that a family had a week old baby, and had no diapers for her. I told him I could meet them at Walmart, and I could be there in as soon as ten minutes. 

I met Adnan and the family at Walmart. The mom looked very tired, the father very excited, and the other children were excited that I had brought my daughter Aurora. I looked at the newborn, who was sleeping, and dressed in clean but stained little boys’ clothes. The blanket they had was not in great shape, some holes and obviously well worn. Through the course of our visit, they shared that their other children had been born in Iraq, and so they had left all of their baby items there.

We went and I grabbed a box of diapers, and a box of wipes. Before leaving my house that is what I had planned on buying for them. They did not ask for more. I could not, however, ignore the fact that they obviously did not have any kind of a start for this little baby. While I knew Addie’s Attic could provide some clothing, I felt compelled to help them with the basics. I told Adnan to tell them to get what they needed. They were confused at first, but I looked around and picked out a sleeper, and asked if they liked it. We went around, and when I thought about the little things that I needed when Aurora was young, it just blew my mind how they were going to start this tiny life, and care for it. We got things that I knew they would need, bottles, socks, baby wash. The mother was looking longingly at a baby carrier, one that you can put the baby in and still accomplish some housework work with. I put it in the cart. With her other children out of school for the summer, she was going to need her hands free as much as possible. 

I cannot really describe the feelings during this event, and during check out. It was obvious that they had never had someone do something like this. And to know for myself how I would have felt, it was quite powerful. I certainly do not have the money to be able to support a family through a time like this, so having the grant to work with was truly a gift greater than anything I could have done. The relationship with the Iraqi Community made it possible for them to know who to ask that might help. They could not thank me enough. I told them that it was not me that made this possible. This grant is really making great things possible. 

Our thanks to all who support this initiative and the outreach ministries at Church at 209. The support allows us to make a difference in the lives of so many.

1 Comment

One response to “Grant opportunities from the Diocese of Maine help bridge the gap”

  1. Paul Beaudette says:

    Blessings to you and the Church at 209 for doing this.

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