Mano en Mano has received a grant of $5,500 from the Washington County Fund and $2,000 from the Wayanne Fund of the Maine Community Foundation to expand a pilot welcome center for seasonal and migrant workers during wreath-making season in Downeast Maine.
Every year in mid-October, hundreds of migrant workers arrive in Downeast Maine to cut evergreen trees and assemble the holiday wreaths sold at Christmas time. These wreaths are sold at major national retailers and are even used to decorate soldiers’ graves at Arlington National Cemetery. We want wreath workers and all seasonal and migrant workers to know that Washington County values their presence and looks forward to their return every year.
First piloted in 2017, the welcome and resource center will provide critical support for basic needs during a stressful time. Workers travel long distances to arrive to Maine and frequently wait a week before their first paycheck. The welcome and resource center will address the immediate needs of food and clothing that many workers urgently need met upon arrival. Additionally, health clinics and referrals to other organizations in the area will connect workers with the crucial services they need.
The welcome and resource center is also about building community. In addition to providing food and clothing, we will also host community meals welcoming wreath workers in conjunction with clinics offered by the Maine Mobile Health Program. These hot meals will be cooked by groups of volunteers from the local leadership group Nuestra Voz en la Comunidad (Our Voice in the Community) and other volunteers. The goal of these meals is not just to provide food and medical services for recently arrived workers, but to welcome migrant workers back to our community, introduce workers to community members and resources, and share a meal together as neighbors.
With offices in Ellsworth and Portland, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. To learn more about the foundation, visit mainecf.org.
Have a look at photos from the 2017 welcome and resource center here: