HISTORY OF THE RURAL COMMUNITY ACTION MINISTRY
Rural Community Action Ministry (RCAM) was founded in 1970 by an ecumenical group of ministers from fifteen area churches. These ministers had a vision: churches that work together can do far more to help rural Mainers than can one church working alone. After 50 years, that cooperative spirit is still the driving force behind delivering services to people in need in fourteen towns of Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Oxford counties.
Throughout its history, RCAM has formed partnerships and networks that created services to help people help themselves. Today, as a secular organization, RCAM works with and is financially supported by other organizations, foundations, town, state and federal entities, and private individuals, as well as local and out-of-state churches. RCAM also receives funding from the United Ways of Androscoggin County, Kennebec Valley, and Tri-Valley; as well as the towns of Buckfield, Canton, Greene, Hartford, Leeds, Litchfield, Livermore, Livermore Falls, Monmouth, Sumner, Turner, Wales and Wayne.
Current efforts include providing bundled services for housing repair and rehabilitation, homelessness prevention services, transportation for the elderly, comprehensive services for rural families and seniors, gardening, hunger prevention activities, support of local food pantries, and assistance for shelter and other needs. RCAM also provides clients with self-sufficiency assessments and counseling, budget counseling, resource information and refers them to other organizations that offer special services not provided by RCAM.
Volunteer support is vital in helping RCAM carry on its work. Volunteers help clients directly and also serve on the Board of Directors in assisting a small staff to plan and implement the services. Many churches and hundreds of volunteers have come during the summer months to repair houses and work with other RCAM services.
ADDITIONAL RCAM HISTORY
RCAM has been involved in many other projects, including the following: arts and crafts and economic development, a bartering center, a coffeehouse for teens, a “Help-line” to establish phone contacts for people in need, TRIAD, assistance to flood victims, supported senior housing in Androscoggin county and others.
RCAM is also the service unit for the Salvation Army for the towns of Monmouth, Litchfield, Buckfield, Greene, Leeds, Turner and Hebron.
1970 RCAM incorporated as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization enters partnership with Tri-County Mental Health Services and others to have counseling service with pastoral counselor and Executive Secretary
1972 Housing Program begins
1976 Office moves from Franciscan Monastery to Farris Equipment Building
(Greene); Emergency Shelter Program begins
1977 Office at DFD Russell Medical Center Building in Leeds; Office moves to back of Leeds Community Church
1979 Emergency Fuel program begins
1980 Gardening Program begins
1981 Transition and reorganization– loss of Tri-County Mental Health funding; RCAM Coordinator position created; Adolescent Pregnancy Program begins
1982 RCAM adds Canton to service area; RCAM sponsors Whitney-Brookside elderly housing in Canton
1985 Outreach Program begins
1986 Explorations into United Way funding; pass-through funding for food pantries begins; Major expansion of Housing Program, staff added
1987 Expansion of Emergency Shelter Program
1988 Revolving Loan Fund established; grants from Maine State Housing Authority and Maine Enterprise; retirement of Carl Geores, minister in Leeds, Hartford and Wales Parish, Coordinator of MATE and a founder of RCAM
1992 Addition of Wayne as part of RCAM service area; Change in Executive Director
1993 Office moves upstairs in new addition of Leeds Community Church
1995 RCAM’s 25th Anniversary
1996 “Blink” performed at Leeds Community Church for RCAM fundraiser; construction started on Emergency Shelter Duplex
1997 APP received “Baby Think It Over” dolls made possible by a grant from the Maine Children’s Trust Fund
1998 Change of Executive Director
1999 RCAM enters into 20-year lease with the Town of Leeds for the Tri-Corner building; Volunteer Coordinator hired
2000 RCAM’s 30th Anniversary celebrated at Annual Meeting
2001 Board approves acquisition of Nason Property for RCAM offices
2002 RCAM moves to new, permanent office space at 81 Church Hill Road in Leeds; RCAM received Robert Wood Johnson grant for the Faith in Action Program; Transitional Unit is started
2003 Outreach Program name is changed to Homelessness Prevention Services
2004 Change of Executive Director; Transitional Unit opened; RCAM Housing Services receives donation of van from Oxford Networks
2005 RCAM 35th Anniversary – celebrated by open house held in February
2006 “Roadways to Friendship” program developed; The Rural Youth Services group holds “Learn to Serve” tennis clinics which provides both a recreational and community building learning experience
2007 Receive Barbara Bush Foundation Community Literacy Grant; Slab prepared for workshop/storage building adjacent to the RCAM office
2008 Workshop/storage Building completed; Carl Geores – Coordinator and a founder of RCAM passed away
2009 Purchased property adjacent to the office building through a grant from Maine State Housing Authority to be renovated as a residence for homeless, at risk seniors
2010 30-year anniversary for visiting summer workgroup – Christ Clarion Presbyterian Church from Pittsford New York; RCAM celebrates 40th anniversary
2011 First annual “Auction for Action” held
2012 RCAM receives the “2012 Spirit of America Foundation Tribute” for outstanding community service. Spirit of America is a public charity that was established to encourage and promote volunteerism.
2013 The Senior Residence opened with room for 5 residents, ages 55+
2014 Change of Executive Director; dedication of the Gilbert A. Ward Senior Residence; 10 year anniversary for CMMC Family Medicine Residency Program Volunteer Partnership
2015 Establishment of 4 Hunger Coalitions to address hunger in each of the 13 towns that we serve. Celebrated our 45th Anniversary!
2017 Took on Livermore Falls as a “Pilot Project”. Transportation program expands to 47 riders.
2018 RCAM and Monmouth Hunger Coalition received the “2018 Spirit of America Foundation Tribute” for establishing the Monmouth Backpack Program. In November a new Executive Director was hired.
2019 RCAM implemented a bundled services approach to its delivery of services. Clients were offered the opportunity to complete a Self-Sufficiency Assessment and receive self-sufficiency counseling. Financial education and budget counseling services began.
2020 RCAM received funding from the Maine Community Foundation to pilot a Rural Youth Life Skills Leadership (RYLSL) program in Leeds. The COVID-19 pandemic forced RCAM to restructure its delivery of services to client, resulting in a four-month remote work and contactless assistance to needy families. Seasonal 24/7 Essential Stands provided increased access to nonperishable groceries and essential items to address the unprecedented increase in rural food insecurity. One 24/7 Essential Stand in Leeds was keep stocked between late April and mid-November. RCAM partnered with the Nezinscot Food Collaborative to stock 24/7 Essential Stands in Hartford and Buckfield.
A big thank you to all of those people who have participated in the life of the Rural Community Action Ministry. We are grateful for all the many volunteers and contributions that have been made.