Maine Community Foundation Piscataquis County Fund reaches 35-year milestone

For 35 years the Maine Community Foundation Piscatquis County Fund has awarded nearly $1 million in grants to nonprofits working to improve the quality of life in the region. 

The county fund anniversary, along with those serving Aroostook and Washington counties, was celebrated during a late afternoon presentation over Zoom on Sept. 28. The program included the presentation of a 35th anniversary award to the Appalachian Mountain Club.

“We are here today to celebrate the importance of these three county funds, Aroostook, Piscataquis and Washington counties,” said MCF Board of Directors Chairperson D. Gregg Collins. “They’ve helped pave the way for permanent funds which now include all 16 counties. These funds strengthen regions and improve the quality of life for so many Mainers in this beautiful state that we call home.”

Collins thanked all the local county advisers, who he said serve as ambassadors for the foundation. “The advisers know the needs of the communities where they live. They award grants and build charitable resources in their regions,” he said.

Collins also thanked the MCF nonprofit partners for the daily work providing local resources as well as the “hundreds of donors who have a passion for Maine and have built these funds over the years.”

Celebration attendees watched videos highlighting each of the three regions — Piscataquis County’s is at and the entire celebration is also on the MCF YouTube page.

“I think the Piscataquis County Fund of Maine Community Foundation is very important because we are a small population,” said former county committee adviser Cathy Sweetser. “Our nonprofits are all just on the edge of surviving so any grant that they can get is very beneficial”

“Honestly there’s probably no part of this building or the programming of this building that the Maine Community Foundation hasn’t been a part of supporting over the years,” Center Theatre Executive Director Patrick Myers said. 

Piscataquis County Committee Chairperson Ethan Annis mentioned the 35th anniversary and said, “We get to use our local knowledge and expertise to give these grants away to the local nonprofits for their new opportunities. The other piece of it is that we are to build philanthropic resources for our county and for the fund.”

Sweetser then said she and her husband started a scholarship fund with MCF, and Myers said the organization helped get the Center Theatre started and he knows the support will be there forever.

“The Maine Community Foundation has supported us to be able to expand our mission beyond just sharing the history of this region through the Katahdin and being able to develop educational outreach to area students in the entire county of Piscataquis,” said Liz McKeil, executive director of the Moosehead Marine Museum. “That means we are involving more people, and people support that which they create. It’s just going to strengthen the whole region.”

“We are independent people but the togetherness in our area is so strong,” Annis said. “It’s important to keep the fund growing and sustain the fund to improve the quality of life for all Maine people.”

“Maine Community Foundation has time and time again provided that link to local ideas and local people and helped us fund those ideas,” said Steve Tatko, director of Maine conservation and land management for the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Annis, who is vice president of Lary Funeral Home, said he is a third-generation business owner. “As a funeral director I focus on taking care of families. As a volunteer for the Maine Community Foundation, I’m happy to be able to improve the quality of life in our county and strengthen our communities,” he said. “I would like to thank more than 30 current and former county committee advisers for serving as ambassadors of our region. Over the past 35 years the Piscataquis County Committee has awarded over 245 grants totaling over $900,000.“

He said in honor of the Piscatquis County Fund’s 35th anniversary, the committee has selected an anniversary awardee, the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Tatko said it has been an honor and privilege to “have support from Maine Community Foundation and all that they’ve done to advance AMC’s work for conservation-oriented education and programming and actual conservation restoration here in this region. It’s a great legacy they’ve made for themselves and we’re so happy they are doing this work.”

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