Organizations Celebrated at 15th Annual Maine Nonprofit Day in Augusta

Published: Jan. 16, 2018 at 4:11 PM EST
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A dozen organizations set up exhibits at the State House in Augusta on Tuesday for the 15th annual Maine Nonprofit Day.

According to the Maine Association for Nonprofits, there are more than 95,000 nonprofit jobs in the state.

"We put out a biennial report that gives a snapshot of what the nonprofit sector looks like, and what we know is that 1 in 6 Maine workers works for a nonprofit," said Jennifer Hutchins, Exec Director of the MANP.

In 2015, Maine nonprofits paid $4.3 billion in taxable wages, generating more than $260 million in state income tax revenue.

These organizations range from economic development nonprofits to those that serve veterans, immigrants, and disabled individuals.

"When people are calling us they're not calling on their best days, and so we know that there's been a wrong that they would like righted," said Sara Squires, Public Policy Director for DRM.

Disability Rights Maine serves thousands in the state by providing legal-based advocacy services for disabled individuals whose rights have been violated or who've been discriminated against on the basis of their disability.

"One of the most rewarding things for us is when people say 'thank you for listening, thank you for acknowledging me, thank you for talking to me.' And sometimes they say 'thank you for returning my call because not everybody does,'" said Squires.

The work is challenging but rewarding.

Other nonprofits in attendance included the Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition. What began in 2005 as a means of enhancing immigrant lives while strengthening Maine now has 51 organizations involved and a social media hashtag movement called WeAreMaine.

"We come from different backgrounds, we come from different cultures, we are a different color, but when we come to Maine we are all one. So that is our hashtag," said Mufalo Chitam, Executive Director of Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition.

While employing thousands across the state, Maine nonprofits also take advantage of the generosity of countless volunteers to make their operations run smoothly.

The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland has a staff of 50 employees but regularly receives help from the community to care for the more than 4,000 homeless and displaced pets in the Portland area every year.

"We have about 300 weekly volunteers so we have a lot going on. We just moved into a new facility in Westbrook and we do really important work that we're very proud of," said Jeana Roth, Director of Community Engagement for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

Nonprofits here say they hope this annual event reminds public officials of the wide range of benefits these organizations provide to Maine's communities, economy and quality of life.