In the wake of the recent bankruptcy announcement by Great Northern Paper of Millinocket, Maine, the 67 congregations that comprise the Episcopal Diocese of Maine have made a decisive effort to support residents of the affected community. St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, in cooperation with Bishop Chilton R. Knudsen of Maine and the diocese's Commission on Outreach and Services, have established a fund called Millinocket Emergency Outreach.
The fund will provide vouchers for fuel oil, groceries, and prescription drugs for all affected by the plant closure as well as others who find their families in need as a result of the economic downturn. The Rev. Lance Almeida of St. Andrew's, along with an Emergency Outreach Committee, will issue the vouchers, redeemable at six local businesses which will, in turn, bill the Financial Office of the Diocese of Maine.
In addition to the voucher program, Maine's Episcopal congregations are being asked to set aside Sunday, February 2, as a day to donate non-perishable food items and essentials such as diapers and laundry and dish detergent. On February 4, volunteers will pick up donations at stops in Kennebunk, Portland, Augusta, Brewer, and Houlton, before making their way to St. Andrew's in Millinocket. Both the voucher program and the food pantry will be fully operational beginning in February. Details on how to access both programs will be publicized as soon as they are worked out.
"We are overwhelmed that the people in the Diocese of Maine are willing to give of their resources and that the diocesan office is willing to take on the administrative work," said Almeida. "That will take a tremendous burden off of our shoulders and allow us to focus on being a pastoral, supporting presence to the people in our community."
Donations to the Millinocket Emergency Outreach Fund may be made payable to the "Diocese of Maine-Millinocket Outreach" and sent to the Bishop's Office, 143 State Street, Portland, Maine 04101. For more information about the Fund and the food donation effort, visit www.diomaine.org
By Albert H. Lee