By LIZ GOTTHELF | Staff Writer
SACO — Have an idea to help the community, but don’t know how to get it off the ground? The Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement wants to help.
State Rep. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, recently started the charitable center, which is in the process of acquiring nonprofit status, inspired by some of his own charitable work in the community.
Chenette was involved in a campaign to acquire digital equipment to save the Saco Drive-In, and he said the experience showed him when the community really believes in something, it has the ability to come together.
“We said, ‘Why end it here?’” he said, and decided to create an organization to network and channel this community spirit. There are a lot of people with great ideas, but who don’t have the resources to move forward, said Chenette.
The Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement is a virtual center, said Chenette, and meetings take place at different locations. A recent kick-off meeting took place at the Saco Museum. The center’s goal is to bring together local organizations and people to collaborate on community service projects, and foster commitment to active citizenship and social responsibility, said Chenette.
“When there’s an idea, boom, let’s just do it,” said Chenette.
Chenette said the center will provide the support and resources to help people come up with creative solutions, foster them, and let them grow and prosper, with the eventual goal that a project becomes its own separate entity.
The Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement has a board of directors with representatives from a variety of different backgrounds, said Chenette.
“Our community needs a new initiative like this to re-engage past volunteers and to draw in younger people who are looking for a way to get involved,” said board of directors member and local author Luke Nielson, in an email statement.
Nielson will soon be launching Dirigo Talks, a civic speakers series.
“Even in our new hyper-connected world, Dirigo Talks will inspire action the old-fashioned way: through meaningful, face-to-face communication between Maine neighbors,” said Nielson.
For more information or to get involved, go to www.sacobaycenter.org.
— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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