WATERVILLE — Faye Nicholson believes in building community by helping people make their dreams and passions become reality.

The co-executive director of the community group REM, Nicholson also believes that the organization will be better able to further its mission when it moves to its new location at 31 Temple St.

REM, which stands for Revitalizing the Energy in ME, will move July 7 from the basement of The Center at 93 Main St. to the former Let’s Talk Language School space on Temple Street. It has been at The Center for 21 years.

“REM means revitalizing your own energy, getting engaged and involved, and then revitalizing energy in Maine,” said Nicholson, 72. “One of our major goals is to have a REM in every community, because imagine the power of that.”

The Temple Street building is the perfect space for being closer to downtown revitalization efforts, according to Nicholson, who says REM is excited that 200 Colby College students and staff members involved in a special civic engagement and community service curriculum will move next year into a new $25 million residential complex the college is building at 150 Main St.

“We intend to work very closely with Colby,” Nicholson said Tuesday at the Temple Street space. “I’m looking forward to it very much.

Already, employees of CGI Group have been volunteering to help REM with technology-related needs at the new Temple Street location, according to Nicholson. CGI group is a technology business that is housed temporarily at the Hathaway Creative Center but will move this summer to upper floors of the former Hains building at 173 Main St., which Colby is renovating.

Nicholson, REM co-executive director Jackie Dalton and volunteers are renovating the new space — installing new walls and floors, painting, revamping two bathrooms and reconfiguring spaces.

The building has eight rooms, including a community room, a conference room, a board room, a kitchen, offices and storage.

REM is leasing the building from Matt Hancock, a Colby College alumnus who lives in Casco and who bought the building as part of downtown revitalization efforts. He is installing two new furnaces in the building, Nicholson said.

The new location is being named the REM Community Center. It has a large room that may be rented out for parties, workshops, celebrations, meetings and other functions; and an adjacent kitchen also may be rented. The setup is similar to REM’s former space at The Center, where the organization rented the Forum Room and nearby kitchen for functions. The large room at the Temple Street building holds 90 people, and if the board room is used as well, 110 people can be accommodated, Nicholson said.

The new community space will have cutting-edge technology, including wall screens for Skyping so that an elderly family member from far away may view a wedding taking place in the room or a business person in another country may be present via video for a meeting, according to Nicholson.

Nicholson launched REM in 1996 when it opened on the first floor of The Center. Its offices moved to the basement of The Center earlier this year with an eye toward finding a new space because The Center was becoming mostly arts-related, according to Nicholson.

“It’s transforming into primarily arts at the same time we are focusing on the growing community piece,” she said.

REM, a nonprofit organization, has helped to launch various other initiatives, including Kennebec Messalonskee Trails; Women’s Initiative, a safe and supportive place for women; and the Kennebec Club, which offers a supportive environment for those addicted to drugs, alcohol or other substances. The Tourmaline Singers group, which sings to people who are infirm or dying, also is under the REM umbrella.

Nicholson said people wanting to form such organizations do not have to get their own 501(c)(3) tax status because they are under the umbrella of REM, which already has it. Having that status enables the organizations to raise money, according to Nicholson.

“I think of REM as a nonprofit incubator,” she said. “We are here to build community and get people engaged in something — a passion. To me, it’s a place where you have a passion that you honest-to-goodness get a total shot to make that happen.”

REM is all-volunteer, has about 60 “partners” who pay a yearly fee to be members, and operates on an annual budget of about $50,000. Nicholson said REM was paying $32,000 in rent annually at The Center.

Large REM partners include Inland Hospital, MaineGeneral Health and Colby and Thomas colleges. Smaller partner organizations include Kennebec Behavioral Health, Literacy Volunteers, Healthy Northern Kennebec and PFFLAG, a peer support group for parents, families and friends of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, according to Nicholson.

REM gets its funding from member fees, space rental, an annual craft fair it holds at Champions, grants and gifts. Volunteers write grants, help with public relations, do technical work and help in other ways.

REM keeps a website, rem1.org, on which it touts partner activities and events.

Nicholson, who in 1996 was featured in U.S. News & World Report magazine for a three-day community catalyst she held at the Waterville Opera House, loves her work. She said she not only gets to work with great people, but she also has a bird’s eye view into seeing people’s dreams materialize.

“You could fill this city with money, and it wouldn’t be enough to take that away from me,” she said.

REM has about 4,000 volunteers on the books, but probably about 175 are active, according to Nicholson. While the organization will move July 7 to Temple Street, shortly after that it will invite people in the community to come in and say what they want to see in the community room, Nicholson said. REM also plans to hold an all-day open house Aug. 2 during the annual Taste of Waterville celebration, for which Temple Street is closed to traffic.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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