Two local organizations awarded Community Matters More grants

5 mins read
The Fit Girls of Wilton

A wildlife sanctuary, firefighters’ association, food pantry, and community bicycle center were among the grant recipients for the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation’s Community Matters More program.

The 10th annual grant program awarded more than $100,000 to 40 Maine nonprofit organizations chosen by a public ballot voting process. More than 70,000 Mainers voted during the month of February for more than 3,500 nonprofits located in every Maine county.

The top two programs voted on, including write-ins, in eight regions of the state each received a $5,000 grant. Sixteen other organizations listed on the ballot, and the write-ins with the most votes in each region each received a $1,000 grant.

Winners for the $5,000 grants in Franklin, Androscoggin and Oxford Counties were Fit Girls of Wilton and Life Enrichment Advancing People of Farmington.

LEAP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in west-central Maine. Their work focuses on keeping people supported by the organization healthy and well, and teaching skills for independence and self-determination.

Another focus is creating awareness in the community about the challenges associated with being unable to see or hear well, walk, or process information quickly. By focusing on what people can do and providing positive supports based on goals of the individual, people make great strides towards independence and self-fulfillment over time. While LEAP staffers help people move in this direction, a truly inclusive community is what people of all abilities are looking for. This includes improving physical accessibility for individuals as well as reducing false perceptions and stereotypes of people with disabilities in the minds of community members.

LEAP members on the Whistle Stop Trail.

What a grant like this does for LEAP is gives capital to use for advocacy, improving accessibility, and for community projects. One of these is the Stone Soup Gardens project, which includes accessible gardens and trails. In many ways, this supports Bangor Savings Bank’s theme of “Community Matters More,” to be investing grant money into tangible projects that benefit LEAP’s population as well as the greater Franklin County communities. Accessibility projects at Stone Soup Gardens include: 4 ramped wheelchair/walker accessible raised beds on concrete slabs; an “accessibility station” at the beginning of our fit trail, and, a lane of PYO apple trees with a hard, firm surface for people in wheelchairs.

Fit Girls is a 6 week fall and spring running and reading program for girls in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades.

Running and walking are easy, inexpensive forms of exercise that strengthen a variety of muscles and the cardiovascular system. Running and walking also promotes better physical and mental health. Their approach to exercise is non-competitive, and each girl is encouraged to find a pace that is comfortable for them.

​Reading helps students learn and grow and exposes us to new ideas. A wonderful book can inspire, motivate and comfort. During each session, the girls are encouraged to borrow books from the Fit Lit Library. By introducing girls to meaningful books with positive messages and engaging stories, Fit Girls helps girls gain a deeper appreciation for themselves and their communities.

Their message, “running, reading, caring” helps girls gain a greater self-esteem and confidence at an impressionable time in their early life. The positive strides made by Fit Girls participants will follow them through their middle school years and beyond.

“Once again, Mainers rallied for their favorite local nonprofits to help them win a grant and support the role these organizations play in the community,” said Bangor Savings Bank President and CEO Bob Montgomery-Rice. “We look forward to seeing the impact that these Community Matters More grants have on dozens of communities throughout Maine.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Comment

  1. Maybe the fit Girls will hit the LEAP fit trail? A match made in wellness heaven.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.