MaineWorks opened its doors in 2010 as an innovative employment company designed to provide jobs to those facing workforce re-entry barriers.
MaineWorks, located in Portland, Maine, employs individuals who are recovering from substance use disorder, recently out of incarceration, and new Americans. For hundreds of men and women, this company has paved the way to long-term employment in the fields of construction, roadwork, carpentry, masonry, bridges, landscaping, and more.
In 2017, recognizing the need for additional support for those re-entering the workforce, MaineWorks founder, Margo Walsh, and partners established a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called Maine Recovery Fund (MERF). MaineWorks provides quality jobs while MERF uses a holistic approach to help people re-establish a productive life and bridge the gap between hopelessness and resiliency. Like MaineWorks, MERF supports people recovering from substance use disorder, recently out of jail or prison, and new Americans.
Lucy Edwards, president of MERF, says, “For many individuals trying to re-enter the workforce, it can be impossible to get ahead. Providing support through this transitional phase is crucial for people to establish economic independence and a newfound sense of purpose.”
Everyone who comes to MERF is provided transportation services as well as a “worker starter kit” that includes a hard hat, high visibility outer wear, steel toe boots, and a tool belt. Beyond transportation and the “worker starter kit”, MERF works with individuals to provide support on a case-by-case basis. Edwards says, “We truly believe in a wrap-around support system. We ask, ‘What do you need so you can show up to work every day and be successful?’” Cell phones, sober housing support, physical and mental health services, gift cards for groceries—these are all some of the essential tools MERF can help people access.
Mascoma Bank recognizes that Maine Recovery Fund’s work has instilled financial independence into the lives of hundreds of people across the state of Maine. Edwards says, “We are so grateful for Mascoma Bank’s contributions toward our transportation program. With this help, we are able to afford the cost of transportation without taking financial support away from our other programs. Mascoma Bank helps us maintain our wrap-around support system.”
Mascoma Bank is committed to ensuring all individuals have the opportunity to contribute to society in meaningful ways, and we are thrilled to support MERF and the people whose lives they touch. When people have a chance to thrive in their working lives, the whole community benefits.
* Photo Credit: Joanne Arnold