At United Way of Mid Coast Maine’s annual meeting, Board members who were elected or re-elected included Marcia Benner of Waldoboro, vice president for Human Resources at First National Bank of Damariscotta, and Carol Dexter of Edgecomb, a retired math teacher from Lincoln Academy. Benner was re-elected to a second term; she has led United Way’s Success By 6 early childhood council. Also elected or re-elected were Louisa Edgerton of Now You’re Cooking in Bath and Scott Zamer of Bath Iron Works.
Mary Ellen Barnes, of the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, completed her final United Way Board term after serving as chair in 2020, and was thanked by attendees for her excellent service and commitment.
At the annual meeting Board Chair Joel Merry gave a summary of the organization’s work in 2021, including a successful Campaign, tremendous work by United Way’s 36 local partner agencies, 46,000 diapers distributed to babies in need by the Diaper Project, $379,000 in tax refunds generated for local people by the United Way-led CA$H Coalition, and 3,874 calls answered by 211 Maine from Mid Coast residents.
“Together, United Way-funded programs and initiatives mobilized close to 2,000 volunteers and helped over 20,000 Mid Coast residents to a better life,” said Merry. “Our ability to do all of this rests on our generous donors.” Merry also reviewed United Way’s three big goal areas: Financial Stability, Health – including Healthy Community Connections, and the Best Start for Children.
Mid Coast-Parkview Health President Lois Skillings delivered the keynote address: “Could We Become the Healthiest Community in America?” Skillings, who has announced plans to retire, provided information on Mid Coast Maine’s current health status and encouraged people to think in a transformative way about how we could become even healthier – the healthiest community in the country.
Skillings shared research about factors that influence health outcomes even more than access to care when sick. These include “social determinants of health” such as affordable housing, quality child care, education, community rates of poverty, access to healthy food, and community spaces and programs that encourage social connections. She gave examples of other communities that had significantly improved people’s health after tackling such issues, and encouraged people present to think what they could do personally, and together, to create conditions for people to thrive.
Merry and United Way Executive Director Barbara Reinertsen presented Skillings with United Way’s Community Builder Award for “going above and beyond in working to build an even stronger, more compassionate Mid Coast Maine community.” She received a standing ovation.
Merry cited Skillings’ leadership of a complex health system over the years, “healing health care” by bringing Mid Coast and Parkview together, and her and her team’s tireless work, at great personal sacrifice, to keep people safe during the pandemic. “We are deeply grateful to you all,” said Merry, to further applause from the gathering.
Merry also praised Skillings for her leadership in “going far beyond medical treatment toward the overall health and well-being of our community. That takes prevention, it takes diving into public issues, and it takes working with partners in the community, which you have excelled at.” Merry mentioned Skillings’ personal leadership to groups including the Mental Health Task Force, Sexual Assault Support Services, Oasis Free Clinics, the American Red Cross, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, and the Bath-Brunswick Area Chamber, as well as many other non-profits and coalitions served by Skillings and members of her leadership team.
“We at United Way are especially grateful for your leadership with us,” Merry said. “From one of our all-time greatest Campaigns that you chaired in 1998, to leading our Community Compass outreach and vision, to chairing our Safe & Healthy Community Council, to chairing our Board, to continuing to serve on our Community Impact Overview Committee and working to open new campaigns – you are one of the greatest advocates for United Way we have ever seen.”
Merry said “Lois leads with her heart, with compassion. She gives an encouraging call. She lifts others up. You can tell she’s a nurse!” In presenting the Community Builder Award, Merry said, “I can think of no-one who deserves it more.”
At the meeting Joel Merry was elected chair of United Way’s Board of Directors, Coleen Farrell of Mid Coast – Parkview Health was elected as first vice chair, Sean Martin of Bath Savings as second vice chair, and Bob McCue of Brunswick as treasurer.
United Way of Mid Coast Maine’s mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities. In partnership with thousands of donors, United Way works to improve people’s health and financial stability and provide the best start for children in Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties, Brunswick and Harpswell.