Aroostook County FFA Help Alleviate Homelessness, Food Insecurity
Aroostook County members of the Maine FFA Association (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) pitched in enthusiastically to help alleviate homelessness and food insecurity in their communities.
Under a “State Day of Service” grant from the National FFA Organization, and with an additional $2,000 community grant awarded by Walmart Presque Isle, along with in kind donations from some local retailers, Maine FFA student members and their Chapter FFA Advisors worked to organize, pick-up and deliver support to a number of different local community service agencies.
Community service participants included the Sister Mary O’Donnell Emergency Homeless Shelter in Presque Isle, the Dalgren-Skidgel Farm of Hope, Perham Food Cupboard, Washburn Food Pantry and the Presque Isle office of the Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP), which contributed an educational outreach component to the project. Further FFA outreach is being conducted in Cherryfield, Maine, Bangor and Waterville.
The homelessness and food insecurity project was originally slated for the spring of 2000 but with the onset of the coronavirus, items depleted from store shelves and schools limiting outside activities, FFA members had to wait nearly a year before being able to successfully complete their assistance.
Ashland FFA members under the guidance of Advisor Janet Perry purchased from the grants a number of linens, clothes and toiletries for the Presque Isle Homeless Shelter, packing many clothing/toiletry items into individual backpacks for shelter residents.
Presque Isle Regional Career & Technical Center FFA members with Advisors Vicki McCurry and Shelly Gross packed up and delivered building paper and cleaning products to the same location, as well as delivering requested linens and clothing items to ACAP Presque Isle for use by the many clients they service.
Caribou FFA members and their Advisor Scott Moir picked up and brought to the Dalgren-Skidgel Farm of Hope in Caribou requested linen, paper and cleaning product items.
Mars Hill FFA members and Advisor Whitney Williams picked up and delivered to ACAP Presque Isle cleaning products and toiletries from their “wish list.”
Washburn FFA students and Advisor Hollie Umphrey contributed to the project by collecting over 400 pounds of donated food items to bring to the Perham Food Cupboard and Washburn Food Pantry. In all, over $4,500 in food, clothing and personal items were contributed to local citizens in need.
Sherry Locke, Director of Advancement at ACAP, and staff members Heidi Rackliffe, Jeannie Fox and Beau Myrick created an educational youtube video for FFA students to better acquaint them with issues of homelessness, and delivered a live Zoom panel presentation to present further information and to answer student questions.
The FFA homelessness and food insecurity project brought out the best in local FFA students, teachers, community organizations and businesses as they worked together to assist citizens in need.
If you are interested in participating in a grade 7-12 local FFA program, contact one of the existing 9 Aroostook County FFA programs or consider starting a chapter associated with an agriculture & natural resources course at your own school. For further information, contact: Doug Robertson, Maine FFA State Advisor, (207) 624-6744, firstname.lastname@example.org