An international organization is looking to set up a much needed office here in Maine and is raising funds to help establish a permanent office for local groups serving the organization in the state already.

The organization is called Best Buddies and is a nonprofit organization that looks to eliminate social, physical and economic isolation for people with developmental and physical disabilities.

The program works on three levels for those with disabilities: building friendships, assist in gaining job employment and develop leadership skills.  The building friendships piece involves pairing up school age young adults (in middle school, high school, and college) with people with disabilities.

Credit: Best Buddies Maine

The Director for Best Buddies in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, Sarra Dennehy, talks about their current efforts while they expand the organization into Maine:

“We are expanding into Maine now.  We have a few of our school chapters at three schools in Maine but we are working hard to bring more school programs as well as our adult programs.”

When asked about what kind of need Maine has for these services, Dennehy explains,

“There is a HUGE need for these programs in Maine.  So many folks with disabilities have some structure and social interactions until they are finished with high school at 21.  Then, isolation and loneliness really sets in. This is a nationwide problem, but even more so in states like Maine, and New Hampshire.”

Dennehy explains further that the ultimate goal for the organization is to not exist or, more accurately, have people with disabilities included in every area of society without the need for a program like this.

For now, Dennehy and the Best Buddies organization are focusing in the short term “to bring our friendship programs into as many Middle Schools [in Maine].  [As well as] high schools and colleges … [and] bring our Ambassador and Citizens programs to Maine as well as our JOBS program.”

There will be a Welcoming Reception is to take place in Augusta on April 4th and will include presentations by those who participate in the program.  There are suggested donation levels to help the disabled citizens of Maine, “from an environment of segregation and isolation to one where they are engaged, accepted and integrated into our schools, our workplaces and our communities.”

To stay connected with this organization's Maine efforts, like them on Facebook- Best Buddies Maine Facebook page.