Mid Coast-Parkview Health President Lois Skillings, center, receives United Way’s Community Builder Award from Board Chairperson Joel Merry and Executive Director Barbara Reinertsen Contributed photo
At United Way of Mid Coast Maine’s annual meeting Tuesday, held at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Board Chairperson Joel Merry gave a summary of the organization’s work in 2021, including a successful campaign, work by United Way’s 36 local partner agencies, 46,000 diapers distributed to babies in need by the Diaper Project, $379,000 in tax refunds generated for local people by the United Way-led CA$H Coalition, and 3,874 calls answered by 211 Maine from Mid Coast residents.
“Together, United Way-funded programs and initiatives mobilized close to 2,000 volunteers and helped over 20,000 Mid Coast residents to a better life,” said Merry. “Our ability to do all of this rests on our generous donors.” Merry also reviewed United Way’s three big goal areas: Financial Stability, Health – including Healthy Community Connections, and the Best Start for Children.
Mid Coast-Parkview Health President Lois Skillings delivered the keynote address: “Could We Become the Healthiest Community in America?” She provided information on Mid Coast Maine’s current health status and encouraged people to think in a transformative way about how to become healthier.
Skillings shared research about factors that influence health outcomes even more than access to care when sick. These include “social determinants of health” such as affordable housing, quality child care, education, community rates of poverty, access to healthy food, and community spaces and programs that encourage social connections. She gave examples of other communities that had significantly improved people’s health after tackling such issues, and encouraged people present to think what they could do personally, and together, to create conditions for people to thrive.
Merry and United Way Executive Director Barbara Reinertsen presented Skillings with United Way’s Community Builder Award for “going above and beyond in working to build an even stronger, more compassionate Mid Coast Maine community.” She received a standing ovation.
Merry cited Skillings’ leadership of a complex health system over the years, “healing health care” by bringing Mid Coast and Parkview together, and her and her team’s tireless work, at great personal sacrifice, to keep people safe during the pandemic. “We are deeply grateful to you all,” said Merry, to further applause from the gathering.
Merry also praised Skillings for her leadership in “going far beyond medical treatment toward the overall health and well-being of our community. That takes prevention, it takes diving into public issues, and it takes working with partners in the community, which you have excelled at.” Merry mentioned Skillings’ personal leadership to groups including the Mental Health Task Force, Sexual
Assault Support Services, Oasis Free Clinics, the American Red Cross, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, and the Bath-Brunswick Area Chamber, as well as many other non-profits and coalitions served by Skillings and members of her leadership team.
“We at United Way are especially grateful for your leadership with us,” Merry said. “From one of our all-time greatest Campaigns that you chaired in 1998, to leading our Community Compass outreach and vision, to chairing our Safe & Healthy Community Council, to chairing our Board, to continuing to serve on our Community Impact Overview Committee and working to open new campaigns – you are one of the greatest advocates for United Way we have ever seen.”
“Lois leads with her heart, with compassion,” Merry said. “She gives an encouraging call. She lifts others up. You can tell she’s a nurse!” In presenting the Community Builder Award, Merry said, “I can think of no-one who deserves it more.”
Four people were elected or re-elected to United Way’s board of directors: Marcia Benner of Waldoboro and the First National Bank in Damariscotta; Carol Dexter of Edgecomb, a retired math teacher at Lincoln Academy; Louisa Edgerton of Now You’re Cooking in Bath, and Scott Zamer, Chief Financial Officer of Bath Iron Works. Retiring board members include Mary Ellen Barnes of the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, Keith Bisson of CEI and Brunswick, and Shelley Taylor of UMA Brunswick Center and Bath.
Joel Merry was elected chairperson of United Way’s Board of Directors, Coleen Farrell of Mid Coast – Parkview Health was elected as first vice chairperson, Sean Martin of Bath Savings as second vice chairperson and Bob McCue of Brunswick as treasurer.
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