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Staff and board present at Maine Philanthropy Center conference


Photo by Troscianiec Photography.

On May 15th, the Maine Philanthropy Center hosted a conference titled "Moving Beyond this Moment," where Mano en Mano staff and board members presented alongside partner organizations. The panel included (pictured above left to right) Ian Yaffe (Executive Director, Mano en Mano), Charles Rudelitch (Executive Director, Sunrise County Economic Council), Laura Thomas (Board President, Mano en Mano), Edith Flores (Client Services and Advocacy Coordinator, Mano en Mano), Andrea Perry (Broad Reach Fund, Maine Community Foundation), and Juana Rodriguez-Vazquez (Migrant Education Regional Coordinator, Mano en Mano).

The goals of the conference were to:

  • Bring together more than 400 funders and nonprofit leaders from across Maine.

  • Offer opportunities for participants to learn together, exchange ideas, and speak frankly about shared issues and current challenges.

  • Bolster the strength, connectivity, capacity, and effectiveness of Maine’s philanthropy and nonprofit networks.

Speakers shared perspectives from both their personal experiences and professional expertise. Juana Rodriguez-Vazquez specifically spoke to the issue of language access in Milbridge:

"When my family first came to Milbridge, no one spoke Spanish. Everything was in English, whereas in Florida there were teachers who spoke Spanish and could understand us," she described. "Now the school district has a contract with Mano en Mano to provide translation and interpretation access for families. This was done because a group of parents met with the school district to voice this need from the community."

Rodriguez-Vazquez also commented on the importance of courage in creating more welcoming and inclusive communities. "It takes courage to settle here and learn a new culture and language and become part of a community. But it also requires courage from people who have lived here a long time and are set in their ways. It takes courage to be open to change and new ideas and to also be welcoming to new people in town."

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