The temperature is dropping in Maine, and many people are wondering how they are going to heat their homes this winter. The United Way of Androscoggin and Oxford Counties is on a mission to support the local community and increase the organized capacity of people who care for one another. Supporting 2-1-1, Maine’s free, confidential resource for information on assistance programs is one of the many ways The United Way has had an impact this year. With COVID-19, people who have never had to ask for help before, are asking now. The United Way of Androscoggin county supports people in 12 towns, and last year about 1 in 3 people received support. Many people do not realize just how big that impact is. From assisting with childcare and education, to Meals on Wheels and Touch-A-Truck, nearly everyone has a friend or family member receiving help. That number is on the rise this year, with kids out of school, grocery budgets are increasing while unemployment is at an all-time high. The campaign season is usually kicked off by the Day of Caring, which could not be done this year due to COVID restrictions. Julie Mailhot-Herrick worked as a Loaned Executive this year for the United Way of Androscoggin County, she says “I am grateful for the opportunity to work for the United Way through L.L. Bean this year. It’s been more challenging this year than in the past, we haven’t been able to get into businesses face to face to connect with potential donors.” Every year, The United Way receives two Loaned Executives, one from L.L. Bean and one from TD Bank to assist with fundraising for the local area. While they remain employees of L.L. Bean and TD Bank, they can step away from their usual responsibilities and work in the community. Joleen Bedard, Executive Director of the Androscoggin chapter spent some time reflecting on this year verses years past, “This year has been hard, and it’s had a negative effect on fundraising efforts. On the flip side, those that have been able to continue working and received the $1200.00 stimulus package have been thoughtful and generous, many have increased their gift this year.”
To date, the United Way is at 40% of their $1.4 million goal. Please remember that the need is great, and the cost is low.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, everyone is out looking for socially distant, safe activities. The community-based Let’s Go! Program, which focuses on children building healthy habits, suggests one hour of activity per day. This has been more difficult over the last few months. Parents are uneasy bringing their children to playgrounds, and many are home from school. Many children have increased screen time, due to learning and working from home schedules. For many, now is the time to focus on finding physical activities that families can do together.
Getting out of the house and onto the disc golf course has been a moment of relief for many families. Sarah Pettengill, owner of Pin High Disc Golf on Route 202 in Monmouth, said, business has been up in recent months. This is despite restrictions by Maine’s governor, Janet Mills, that have been updated regularly since April. Pin High was closed for about 20 days back in April, but has been able to remain open with minimal accommodations since.
The outdoor sport is helping Mainers stay active. Casual games range from the solo player to a group of as many as 15 and tournaments with up to 50 players.
Mental health is a growing concern, more than ever with the winter months upon us. Sarah spoke to how the game has touched many customers positively. “I think it’s really great for people to get out there and get active. The average game is one to one-and-a-half hours of not having to think about everything else that’s going on in the world.”
Jon Smith, an oil truck driver from Massachusetts, is a regular disc golf player. Thinking back on the last few months, Jon has been in his truck for six days a week getting oil to those who need it. He uses his weekly day off as a time to reflect and get out on the course. “It’s hard being in my truck for long days and then having to be quarantined inside when I’m not working. Getting outside with some friends on the course helps me get fresh air and safe, socially distanced human interaction.”
Disc golfing is one of the many outdoor activities that families have been enjoying recently. Whether you are an experienced player or are thinking about playing for the first time, take the time to get outside and play.