The Ripple Initiative, founded in May, 2016 by Rockland resident Sharon Setz and Lori Friant of Cushing, is the newest nonprofit organization working to meet the needs of the financially disadvantaged in Knox County.

The mission of TRI is to serve the economically disenfranchised by providing a clearinghouse for the donation of goods, services and financial resources that benefit those impacted by poverty. Contributions to the nonprofit are tax-deductible.

The Ripple Initiative helps donors and volunteers provide for the urgent and emerging needs of families in Knox County, through three initiatives: 1) The “Ripple” Shop – opening Sept. 9 at the corner of Willow and Unions streets – offers quality secondhand furniture and other household items, with all proceeds going to operations and programs. It will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (winter hours to be announced); 2) Collaborative partnerships with other nonprofits or local businesses to serve the economically disadvantaged; and 3) “Riptide”– a website where donors can click to meet urgent community needs, channeling public support to where it’s needed most.

An example of the type of collaboration TRI hopes to foster occurred when Setz, TRI's executive director, was planning to donate to Rockland's annual backpack drive. She learned that the effort was underfunded and understaffed, so TRI launched a fundraising campaign via social media.

When another backpack donor who also works for the Knox County Homeless Coalition found out about the campaign, she told Setz and Friant that many homeless children desperately needed school supplies.

Case managers provided lists of the age and gender of students without resources to begin the school year. The Ripple Initiative got the word out to the community, assigning the kids to willing donors. “Having information about the age and gender of these kids made the shopping experience feel more personal,” said Friant, managing director of TRI. In all, 52 backpacks went to the Homeless Coalition, but the generosity and support of the community did not stop there.

More bags and supplies were distributed to RSU 13 students in need. “This story highlights The Ripple Initiative's core values,” said Barbara Moran, a Rockland resident and board member of TRI. “TRI is a platform for rapidly mobilizing the community, and advancing the work of other organizations to fill unmet needs, and serve the people of Knox County.”

Contact TRI by calling 691-3827 or emailing ssetz@therippleinitiative.org. To make a contribution, make checks payable to The Ripple Initiative and mail to TRI, P.O. Box 1826, Rockland, ME 04841.