April 08, 2020

The real Big Brothers-Big Sisters needs your help

Life does go on, despite the Great Storm of ’98, which is why we want to tell you that when a respected organization is kicking off its annual fund-raising appeal is not the time it wants its name in the news under false pretenses.

Such is the case with Downeast Big Brothers-Big Sisters, a local service of Catholic Charities Maine and a member agency of Big Brothers-Big Sisters of America and the United Way of Eastern Maine.

Recently it was reported someone in our area was passing himself off as a representative of Big Brothers-Big Sisters and asking for contributions. That organization is not conducting a door-to-door campaign.

Naturally, all associated with BBBS are concerned. Situations such as these “damage a community’s confidence and its willingness to support good causes,” said Executive Director Tom Godfrey.

“What we need to do is get the message out that people should not give up on good works [of legitimate organizations] being done just because a few bad apples are lurking around.

“We urge people to be cautious in their giving, and give only to legitimate groups; not only ours, but others as well, because we and they really need that support. Our concern is that people use caution in their giving, but are still willing to support all our efforts.”

BBBS relies solely on contribuitons from UWEM and local fund raising. It receives no fee for serving at-risk children by matching adult “Bigs” with younger “Littles.”

Downeast BBBS must raise more than $50,000 annually above its UWEM allocation, and your contributions are the only source.

Those on the BBBS mailing list have already received information from John Dougherty, Paul Dupuis and Philip Ingeneri of the Annual Appeal Committee.

This is a critical period for Downeast BBBS. Godfrey describes it as “a transitional year for us.” The organization is developing a strategic plan with the goal of enhancing the availability of mentoring services in the Bangor area.

“We want to broaden and diversify our impact on the community by providing a variety of ways to get these services out to kids.” BBBS is discussing alternative models which will enable adults to get involved for shorter periods of time, for example.

Members of the Downeast BBBS executive committee include Chairman Bud Cushman, East Holden; Secretary Dr. John Herren, Winterport; Vice Chairman Bob Hildenbrand, Hampden; immediate past Chairwoman Tina Floyd, Orrington; and Treasurer Cindy Nelson, Bangor. Godfrey said anyone associated with BBBS would be happy to answer your questions.

BBBS “is always short of volunteers,” he said. “We always have more kids than adults, so we need to make adults aware of the opportunities, how to get involved, and help them to make that commitment. We always have kids waiting for matches.”

Questions about the program, contributing or volunteering may be answered by calling Downeast BBBS, 941-2862.

As we said, life does go on, even for those of us without electricity. In our Bangor neighborhood, power went out at 11:45 a.m. Thursday and, as we write this Sunday, nothing has changed.

We are in one of those very small “pockets of outages” where the house across the street can have power, but you don’t.

It’s times likes these you remember how great it was to have some form of wood heat and, how grateful you are for friends who do.

It also makes you stop and think how good it was to have gas, rather than an all-electric house, and makes the proposed gas pipeline from Canada to Maine look better every day!

I am thankful that dear friends and neighbors have opened their doors to this ice-storm refugee and turned what could have been an unpleasant experience into a most enjoyable one. We are thankful, too, for those friends who help us see the beauty of the storm amidst its devastation, and that those we know and love are safe and warm.

The situation is much more difficult for many of you, however, and our thoughts are with you. Some sections of our eight-county circulation area are expected to be without power for several more days.

But we know everyone is doing all they can to help us get through the worst weather-related emergency we can remember here since the New Year’s blizzard of 1962-63 and an ice storm in the mid-’70s when we spent several days at the U.S. Army Reserve Center on Union Street.

Today, we watch members of the National Guard trim trees and move debris from our neighborhood; watch power, telephone, and cable company employees struggle to connect us; and keep our fingers crossed a big wind doesn’t come along.

But with the bad, there is the good, and that good is all around us. We watch neighbor helping neighbor, strangers offering assistance without hesitation, and observe the unspoken bond of a caring community pulling together.

To all of you who, like us, are making the best of it, hang in there. We’ll get through this, especially if we remind ourselves that, up here in our special corner of the world, we’re usually spared natural catastrophes which can strike other parts of our nation.

Nature favors us in Maine more often than it hits us with its fury, and for that, we pause to give thanks.

The Standpipe, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; 990-8288.

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