St. John Valley

Van Buren Resiliency Project wants to use new grant to help community

VAN BUREN, Maine — The Van Buren Resiliency Project and the town of Van Buren were awarded $41,145 in grant funds in August to design a program to address local issues associated with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). 

The Van Buren Resiliency Project was formed by a group of Van Buren residents who saw a need for more resources and support for those struggling from their ACEs. 

The group aimed to “engage community members in understanding ACEs and resilience and to work together to design and implement ways to promote resilience among community members,” according to Rev. David Cote, director for the project.

“ACEs are prevalent in every community among all socio-economic strata and they impact families, generations and communities,” Cote said. “However, there are many ways in which a community can combat ACEs by supporting ACEs-impacted children and adults through providing services and opportunities that help increase their resilience.”

To help the community serve affected community members, the VBRP submitted a proposal to Volunteer Maine, the state agency for AmeriCorps in Maine, to be one of six AmeriCorps members to receive grant funding. 

Van Buren submitted a proposal that identified the needs of community members who have been affected by ACEs within the area from Limestone to Cyr Plantation to Van Buren, find local resources to assist in meeting those needs, research successful programs in comparable areas, develop a model of services using evidence-based successful programs, and form partnerships with local agencies and organizations to assess and address issues that arise as the project progresses. 

“The team will present the completed three-year strategic plan to Volunteer Maine in April 2021 to serve as the basis for a grant proposal supporting the services of up to six AmeriCorps members recruited from the local area as well as nationally,” Cote said. “With the award of the

implementation grant in 2021, the AmeriCorps members will work with community members to follow up the work of the planning team, designing, implementing and staffing two to three pilot programs to meet the most critical community needs identified by the planning team.” 

Each month until May 2021, after VBRP demonstrates that it is on track with the project’s progress, Volunteer Maine will reimburse for those expenses through the town of Van Buren — the fiscal agent. 

Limestone and Van Buren, their school systems, Cary Medical Center, and the Center for the Advancement of Rural Living are all working with the VBRP. 

“There are very few social services available to children, youth, families, or elder adults and transportation to the limited services in Caribou or Presque Isle can be quite problematic,” Cote said. “Social activities and services for elder citizens are very limited, as are programs to assist preschool and school-age children or provide programs outside school time to assist working parents. 

He said, “The needs are many, and the strategic plan will present a blueprint to involve existing agencies, new programs, AmeriCorps members, and VBRP members in building resilience and skills for a healthier community.”

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