New warming center opens in Salem Township

5 mins read
Board games and other activities in the warming center at UMEM in Salem.

SALEM TOWNSHIP – The United Methodist Economic Ministry is expanding their services by offering a warming center at the facility in Salem. The warming center opened for the first time on Thursday, January 5, offering a hot meal and desserts, a warm space to gather, and board games and activities for guests.

Located on Route 142 just east of Mt. Abram High School, the Economic Ministry is well known for the thrift shop and food pantry, along with several seasonal programs. The warming center is a new program to help meet social needs along with provide a hearty hot meal.

UMEM Executive Director Helen Pinkham said this program is for anyone in the community who wants to stop in. The center will be open on Thursday, January 19 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and every Thursday through the month of February, and possibly longer, based on community need. The warming center is behind the thrift shop and accessed by driving out back to the left of the building, where there is a parking area and an accessible ramp to reach the ‘lunch room’ where the center is located.

The ministry primarily serves the communities in MSAD 58: Kingfield, Strong, Avon, Phillips, and the townships of Freeman, Salem, and Madrid. The thrift shop is stocked by donations and carries everything from clothing and shoes for all ages and sizes to bedding, small appliances, kitchen ware, and household décor. One outreach is for fire victims who lost their belongings: because the thrift shop has a wide range of items they can generally meet basic needs for clothing for an entire family for a few days. Another outreach is for people starting a new job who may need access to certain types of clothing.

Other seasonal programs include the backpack program, providing new school supplies, socks, shoes, and undergarments for students; Santa’s Workshop, for new and gently used gift items; and the Cinderella Room for the Winter Festival and prom. In addition, UMEM has a bunkhouse where they house volunteer teams who travel to Western Maine to work on community service projects.

Currently the UMEM has a new jacket program with donated brand new winter jackets for children and teens, and an abundance of hats and mittens for all ages.

“Every situation, we’ll do what we can,” said Amanda Viles, who works at UMEM.

The ministry has four employees and a number of volunteers, but they are always looking for more help. One avenue they are looking into is offering community service hours for students at the nearby high school, who could volunteer after school and catch the late bus home.

While the ministry has worked for years to help members of the community meet critical physical needs such as food and clothing, the new warming center and other community activities are a way to help meet social and emotional needs by offering a safe and accessible environment for people to connect and engage with each other.

For more information and updates on the warming center and other programs, visit the UMEM on Facebook or call 207-678-2611. The food pantry is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the thrift shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Other warming centers in Franklin County include St. Joesph’s in Farmington, every Tuesday through March 23; Henderson Memorial on Thursdays through January and Old South Church on Thursdays through February; and Bean’s Corner Baptist Church in Jay on Fridays through February. All four centers are open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on their respective days.


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