BY CLAUDIA LABELLA ADAMS, MCHPP VOLUNTEER AND FORMER BOARD MEMBER
When I started to volunteer at Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program in 2009, little did I know this choice would lead to so many opportunities and collaborations with other Brunswick nonprofits. My experience, though hardly unique, demonstrates how much we can accomplish as a community when we are open to sharing resources, talent and time among local nonprofits.
At the end of my first day at MCHPP, the volunteer who was mentoring me (Lani Wharton) suggested we see if some of the local farmers market vendors might like to donate “leftovers” at the end of that day’s market. Off we went to chat with the vendors, who were all enthusiastic about the plan. That led to an MCHPP volunteer going to the Tuesday market each week and collecting incredible produce. We eventually expanded to the Saturday market at Crystal Spring Farm, which the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust sponsors. Soon, an MCHPP volunteer was picking up items at each of these markets weekly, thereby expanding the seasonal, local offerings available to MCHPP guests. Almost 15 years later, the ongoing collaboration with local farmers, gardeners, gleaners and volunteers continues to provide much-needed healthy food for those facing food insecurity.
Because of my new connection to BTLT, Fred Koerber, a then board member, asked if I’d be part of a local group working with the land trust to establish a community garden in Brunswick. Once created, BTLT wanted to provide MCHPP with a large, organic growing space so even more food could be grown and provided to MCHPP and the families in need. That, of course, morphed into the Tom Settlemire Community Garden, which had its inaugural gardening season in 2012. The space has since produced thousands of pounds of organic produce for MCHPP. Its success was guaranteed because of the tireless efforts of dozens of volunteer gardeners (joint efforts from staff and volunteers from MCHPP, BTLT and plot holders) who tended these plots, from fertilizing and composting to planting and tending, with it all culminating in a bountiful harvest.
In 2011, several passionate gardeners worked to establish the Taking Root Plant Sale, an annual event that provides financial support to keep the garden growing and provides wonderful volunteer opportunities that support MCHPP and BTLT.
When the Gathering Place formed in 2010, MCHPP was a natural partner and provided the organization with food for their visitors and clients, including food from the TSCG. MCHPP also works with neighboring People Plus (who often reciprocate by hosting MCHPP food drives), Tedford Housing, Curtis Memorial Library and many other local institutions.
It has been a privilege and pleasure to be a small part of these collaborations and have a bird’s-eye view of what synergy can be accomplished across multiple nonprofits with the support of a very generous and kind community. Despite all the chaos, confusion and distractions around us, it’s reassuring to know that locally, “we got this,” and our Midcoast community knows how to share and care.
Claudia LaBella Adams is an MCHPP volunteer and former board member. Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local nonprofit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community.