Fellow Blackthorns, I am involved in a fundraising campaign with great time pressure, and I want to ask your advice. I want to reach out to the American rugby community and wonder if you might suggest whom I might approach. I would have included Donal but don't have his email address.
I serve on the board of Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition. MCRC is trying to purchase an historic building in Camden, Maine that has a long history of service to women in need, with the intention of turning it into a women's recovery house.
In short, recently we learned that we must raise $160K by January 1 or we will lose this opportunity for ever. People from all over are contributing, including significant contributions from at least two Blackthorn old boys already. I think this issue is something that American rugby could embrace, and I see it as something that would resonate particularly with women ruggers.
Here is my article that ran in The Free Press up here two weeks ago--just before we learned that instead of four months to raise the necessary funds, we have only one month. https://freepressonline.com/Content/Download-the-current-issue-as-a-pdf/Features/Article/New-Growth-for-a-Camden-Residence-with-Deep-Roots/93/78/62139
I know we all have causes that are important to us, and I know that Blackthorn people have done more than their share of supporting truly worthy charities. But if you can help me with ideas or by sharing news about this, I'd be much obliged.
Attached find the op-ed that I am submitting to numerous newspapers around the county (fingers crossed that somebody will run it). It helps provide context.
Racing the Clock to Help Women In Recovery
“Great Small Towns in New England”
“Ten Best Places to Retire”
“Most Livable Towns in America”
Maine’s lovely harbor town of Camden often shows up on such listings, surprising no one who has ever spent any time in Camden—even during formidable but entertainment-filled winters.
Paradise-like it may be, but Camden is not immune to problems that haunt the rest of America—like substance use disorder. Nearly ten percent of babies in Knox County are born to mothers addicted to opiates. The Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition (MCRC) operates a recovery house for men in nearby Rockland and is trying to establish one for women in Camden. A recent development has made their already steep climb even steeper, but MCRC and their supporters believe history is on their side.
In 1886, Camden resident Emma Knight and eleven other women created an organization that raised funds for twelve years then built an impressive Victorian residence to serve as a home for elderly women in Camden. Through the 20th century’s wars and economic ups and downs, the building at 63 Washington Street continued serving people in need (modifying its mission in 1983 to include elderly men) until its last resident died about a year ago.
When neighbor and MCRC board president Dr. Ira Mandel saw that this building with such deep roots in serving the needs of women was for sale, he instantly recognized that it could provide the ideal place to help women in recovery. In November, MCRC signed a contract to buy the property. According to the purchase sale agreement, MCRC had until the end of March to raise $160,000 to cover the debt incurred by fellow nonprofit “63 Washington Street.” The agreement allowed the property’s board to continue to market it in case they received an offer closer to market value in the interim, which happened just after Thanksgiving weekend. Per the original agreement, MCRC still can purchase 63 Washington Street but now must raise the funds within 30 days, meaning that if their suddenly accelerated fundraising campaign falls short by January 1, they will lose this opportunity forever. MCRC and their supporters need a holiday miracle.
In the last two weeks, MCRC has held information and discussion sessions for the public at local churches, and has another open meeting scheduled to be held at Camden’s town office on Wednesday, December 12. The organization’s planned Holiday Open House at 63 Washington Street on Saturday, December 15, originally conceived mostly as an awareness-raising event, now will serve as rallying event for donors both large and small.
Choral groups will sing holiday songs and carols by the decorated Christmas tree in the parlor. Neighbors and supporters will raise cups of nonalcoholic wassail. And donors will pitch in what they can to help keep the building functioning as a resource for those in need. Supporters unable to attend the event can donate at midcoastrecovery.org.
Why should people who live far from this idyllic little town with real world problems help?
Because recovery is not easy, for anyone, anywhere. Because women in recovery are three times more likely to succeed if they can stay with their children, and this residence would make that possible for mothers. Because Camden’s efforts to be supportive to women in need can serve as a shining example to communities large and small of how determined people can help their most vulnerable neighbors, even when that seems impossible. And because twelve women in a very different era who had the audacity to rise up and help others deserve to have their tradition kept alive.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Camden author Ned Bachus is a board member of the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition. His book of stories, City of Brotherly Love (Fleur-de-Lis Press) was awarded a 2013 IPPY Gold Medal in Literary Fiction; in 2017, Wild River Books published his memoir, Open Admissions: What Teaching at Community College Taught Me About Learning.