If you, like me, are tired of whining Republicans who have nothing better to do than try to instill a lack of confidence in Maine’s electoral system, a governor who feels better about himself only when he can inflict hurt on others less powerful, and a president who allows the teargassing of women and children who only want to escape the terror in their own countries to live and work here, I have some good news for you.

There are many organizations who are working to make Maine the way life should be. Below are four that I am especially excited to support.

For over 20 years, my sisters and I have exchanged donations to each other’s favorite causes rather than Christmas or birthday presents. If you are looking for a meaningful gift — or just a chance to usher in a new way of thinking that is based in social justice, peace, and hope for the future — you might consider supporting one, two or all of these organizations with your time and/or money.

Hardy Girls Healthy Women is working to support girls in finding their strength in changing the world, rather than in shopping. At a time when we need all the young people to engage in social justice work, Hardy Girls is making a difference here and across the state. Nuturing girls’ critical thinking skills, Hardy Girls allows girls to support each other in deconstructing the messages the culture sends them and helps them figure out who benefits from the ads designed to keep them focused on their bodies and their looks, rather than their skills.

Hardy Girls celebrates the accomplishments of girls and raises awareness of their strengths as champions of civil rights, their entrepreneurial skills, disabilities rights, and their voices for social justice. The organizations welcomes all who self-identify as female and provides platforms for girls to learn, support each other, and create a world that values them.

Teaching girls how to “raise a ruckus” to change unfair policies or implement fair ones, Hardy Girls shows girls they don’t have to be best friends to work in coalition to achieve a goal.

Emerge Maine is helping young progressive women learn the ins and outs of running for office. We often forget that the true purpose of political office is service. We forget that politicians are there to make government work for us, not to eliminate it. Emerge is teaching the skills that young women who want to raise a ruckus need to manage campaigns and to run for office. Women understand that affordable, accessible, high-quality childcare, paid sick time, domestic violence and sexual assault — issues men like to label as “women’s issues” — are actually issues that affect women’s productivity in the workplace and when addressed, strengthen the economy. It’s time for government to be in the hands of women who know how to work in coalition to get things done.

Maine Wabanaki REACH envisions and prepares for a future where Maine and Wabanaki people join together, acknowledging truth, promote healing, and create change.

We white folks live on indigenous land and continue to benefit from our colonization of Native people. It’s time to acknowledge the ways our power have allowed us to prosper at the expense of other human beings and have produced intergenerational trauma as a result of our treatment of people who welcomed us to Maine’s shores.

Scientific research is clear that generational trauma is held in the body, affects a person’s well-being, and is passed from one generation to another. REACH is working to help native people recover from that trauma and to work cross-culturally to implement the recommendations of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which include respecting tribal sovereignty and committing to resolve and uphold federal, state and tribal jurisdictions and protocols at both state and local levels.

In addition to supporting REACH’s efforts financially, opportunities include showing support at rallies, raising your voices in your communities and at the Legislature, and lending a hand with activities and events, particularly important in Skowhegan as the school board decides whether to acknowledge the harm done by its choice of mascot.

The Immigrant Resource Center is organized to assist immigrant and refugee women and children living in Maine in a manner which reflects their gender and cultural practices. For the past 17 years, the Center has been a bridge between community partners and the immigrant and refugee community to empower families and support their independence. They are cultural brokers working to assist schools, social services and medical providers by providing an understanding of the needs of people who have fled war and famine in their own lands and want nothing more than to live and work here in ours. We need all the energy and creativity we can get for our shrinking workforce and supporting the New Mainer community benefits us all.

There are many more organizations worthy of your support this holiday season and all year long. I hope you’ll remember that while you are also shopping locally. Happy holidays and best wishes for the New Year.

Karen Heck is a resident and former mayor of Waterville.


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