Local couple announces pay-it-forward program

The road to becoming a dreamweaver
Oct 05, 2017
Reade Brower, far right, is joined by a group of runners and volunteers during the Horch Roofing Labor Day 5K as part of the Megunticook Race Festival Saturday, Sept. 2.

A few years ago, with birthday milestones approaching, a local couple determined it was time to develop their charitable legacy.

For the past three decades, Reade and Martha Brower have benefited from the generosity and continuous support of their Midcoast neighbors. It was their Midcoast neighbors’ random acts of kindness, especially in the early stages of starting a media company, that allowed the businessman to grow incrementally from one company into a Maine print media empire. To pay that generosity forward, the couple set out to establish a charity called "One Community Many Voices" (OCMV).

In determining the type of charity to establish, the couple had a few criteria: The charity had to provide some type of a hand up vs. handout action that would empower people to overcome a hardship blocking their potential; 90 percent of donations had to go directly to helping people; a for-profit company would be created as a sustainable mechanism to fund the charity’s operational costs (note: until the for-profit company turns a profit, the couple is personally funding the operational costs); a third party must apply on behalf of a family/individual; and, finally, those receiving assistance in return would somehow pass the good deed forward.

With these criteria in mind, the Browers brought together a group of community members to discuss community needs, possibilities, and necessary systems required for this type of charity. The idea and need that resonated to top the list consisted of creating an entity that provided some type of proactive gap funding for people in need, specifically targeting an individual who is just above eligibility for social services, yet, without a small boost to resolve that one issue, is highly in danger of financial, health, or well-being ruin. In return for the assistance, the recipient’s role would transform from being a neighbor in need to a neighbor able to assist others via some type of volunteering.

Following the Browers' required criteria and guidance from community members, OCMV became a 501(c)(3) charity in 2016. OCMV provides gap funding when no other resources are available to help neighbors in need resolve a hardship related to employment/skill building, youth aspirations, elderly independent living, or well-being. OCMV’s mantra is potentials and dreams do not have deadlines; as a result, the charity works with its Midcoast neighbors to help craft their destinies by providing small boosts that unlock their own skills and potentials, to create possibilities.

Dreamweaving and how it works

OCMV provides gap funding — or what it likes to call dreamweaving — through a model called "The Art of Good Fellowship – Paying It Forward One Neighbor at a Time." The model creates pathways that meet people where they are, to remove a barrier as quickly as possible. OCVM is currently collaborating with Hospitality House, MCH, Rockland Police Department, Youthlinks, and Knox County Community Health Coalition.

OCMV is a place for these agencies to turn for simple human solutions when they have no other means to help an individual. These third parties screen and submit applications on behalf of a recipient.

Currently, OCMV invests in:

  • Employment/ Skill Building: items that enhance chances of advancement or secure employment.
  • Well-being: treating physical accommodations that prevent achieving employment or healthy lifestyle, such as dentistry, eye care, or hearing aids.
  • Independent Living for Seniors: items that allow for independent living.
  • Youth: assisting with needs to strengthen learning, aspirations, or personal growth.

OCMV does not invest in anything that is covered by a social service or other agency (e.g., food, housing, emergency needs), major home repairs, medicine, addiction treatment, rehabilitation or recovery services, costs associated with infractions with the law, or debt.

Dreamweaving needs

For the past year, OCMV has been quietly developing collaborations and systems to be able to offer assistance, which has included:

  • Provided gap funding for the 2017 Summer Lunch Program overseen by Charles Butler at Regional School Unit 13 to pay expenses not covered by the USDA program, including 628 adult meals.
  • Established the Polly Chatfield Youthlinks Aspirations Fund. The fund allows youth enrolled in Youthlinks programs the ability to pursue their interest when it is beyond the financial capacity of their family.
  • Purchased a laptop for a single mom enrolled in online academics to earn her degree.
  • Covered the expenses to repair a Rockland youth’s bike that was stolen but recovered by the Rockland Police Department.
  • Purchased 100 Reflective Home Address Marker Kit Plaques to make sure senior neighbors' homes throughout Knox County can be found by service providers.
  • Assisted a senior with car repairs.
  • Provided gap funding to the 2017 Learn to Ski Program for Knox County fourth-graders.

Support for dreamweaving

OCMV currently has three means of generating revenue: healthy fundraisers, including six 5k races, Ragged Mountain Scuttle, Megunticook Triathlon, and the 2018 Destination Race in Miami; personal donations and grants; and
 OCMV Promotions LLC, the for-profit arm, to be operational in 2018 to begin developing a steady revenue stream to cover the charity’s operational costs.

Become a dreamweaver

OCMV organizers are hoping others in the Midcoast community would like to join them with this endeavor by becoming dreamweavers. Dreamweavers come from all walks of life, ages, and economic and social demographics. They contribute through a variety of ways, including volunteering or participating in fundraising events, being on the OCMV email blast list, following the OCMV Facebook page, making a financial contribution, or, as a business, providing at-cost services/products to address barrier needs.

Staying informed

Each month OCMV sends out to its email blast list an update about selected applications for help. The email list consists of community-minded people from across all sectors of the Midcoast.

Similar in concept to crowd funding, each month recipients have the option of helping to support a neighbor in need. Receiving updates does not require individuals to donate; it merely keeps them informed of what is being done to invest in their Midcoast neighbors. For those who wish to get involved, donations can be made either online or by mail; all is explained in the email blast updates.

For more information about One Community Many Voices and becoming a dreamweaver, check out its website at ocmv.org or "like" the OCMV Facebook page. To be on the email blast list or for other questions, send an email to info@onecommunitymanyvoices.org.

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