What if … people just helped each other a little more? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place? That’s the idea behind Rockland, Maine-based One Community Many Voices. Our 501(c)(3) operates in Knox County in a simple way: A person facing a financial obstacle that could snowball into a bigger problem applies for a small grant through one of OCMV’s partners.
In return, grantees pay it forward through self-selected volunteerism – thus making it a hand up, rather than a handout. Grant-eligible issues relate to employment, youth aspirations, senior independent living, transportation and well-being.
The concept of One Community Many Voices is the result of several “what if” conversations. What if we could create a way for acts of kindness, generosity and cooperation to be easy to accomplish and contagious?
What if, instead of getting bogged down in protocol and bureaucracy, we streamlined – and developed a proactive-preventive system to help neighbors instead of relying on a crisis-reactive system? What if if could draw on our neighbors’ talents, resources and connections to help fellow neighbors? And … what if we involved previous recipients in the process of paying it forward – allowing them to help someone else?
We believe that people are given two hands because one is to help themselves and the second is to help others. All of these thoughts combined are the makings of OCMV.
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”
— Bernice Johnson Reagon, musician and activist
At the inception of OCMV in 2016, Reade and Martha Brower of Camden provided onetime financial lifts to people who needed a small amount of money to get back on their feet. Through trial and error and learning about evidence-based research from Communications Across Barriers President Donna Beegle, we realized that we’d need more than positive words and onetime financial boots to sustain success. That’s why we created The Art of Good Fellowship – Paying it Forward One Neighbor at a Time model.
One Community Many Voices has a business-venture arm that funds some of its philanthropic work: OCMV Promotions, LLC. Income comes from sales of products developed with Maine business partners and from various events and excursions. Keeping this company successful is key to allowing OCMV charitable operations to have a steady stream of income.
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