Benni Fund helps single mothers in need 



Benni McMullen
PHOTO COURTESY OF JACKIE DAVIDSON

BAR HARBOR  In March, the YWCA announced The Benni Fund, a program created in memory of its former Executive Director Bonita “Benni” McMullen. By all reports, it has been a great success. The program offers aid to single mothers living in Hancock, eastern Washington and western Waldo counties who have been financially impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During her 39 years working at the YWCA, McMullen was known for her helpfulness and generosity. She was known for “making sure people got what they needed when she sometimes went without her own salary,” said YWCA Executive Director Jackie Davidson. McMullen would find work for capable women who found themselves jobless. According to Davidson, Benni took the statement “empowering woman” very seriously. She was also instrumental in forming the Island Arts Association that provides local crafters an outlet to make income. For many years, she was the treasurer and organizer of the association. 

Donations to The Benni Fund continue to be accepted. The funds will help women pay expenses like utilities, groceries, childcare and rent. The eligibility guidelines for the assistance depends on the amount of people in the household under the age of 18 and is determined on an individual basis.  

To date, the funds have helped 22 different women (some more than once). Donors have written personal checks, deposited cash and even signed off their entire stimulus funds to the cause. “People were so generous when we first set it up,” said Davidson, who said that the YWCA has noticed a dramatic increase in applicants recently as more women have been laid off from their jobs due to the pandemic.  

If the Benni Fund continues, the plan is to expand beyond single mothers and ultimately donate to other women. “On one hand, I’m sad that it has to be done, but at the same time, I’m delighted it can happen,” Davidson said. Those interested in making contributions are encouraged to send checks to the YWCA, 36 Mount Desert Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, or donate on the YWCA website. For more information, visiywcamdi.org/what-were-doing/economic-empowerment/. 

Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.
Ninah Rein

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