BAR HARBOR — The legacy of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated Monday at Sonogee Rehabilitation and Living Center as a handful of visitors kicked off a new community volunteering program.
A couple dozen Sonogee residents joined the volunteers for the first of the Mount Desert Island YMCA’s planned “Togetherhood” events. Everyone involved enjoyed the chance for good conversation, donuts and coffee provided by Hannaford and simply being together, said organizer Doreen Willett of the YMCA.
“What was, on our part, a very small effort, ended up providing a huge impact on those folks. They were so excited to have us there. Every single one of them asked when we were coming back,” Willett said.
Togetherhood is a national YMCA program that invites people to help strengthen community and become more socially responsible. The program is meant to provide volunteers with fun, convenient and rewarding ways to give back and support their neighbors.
While the program is based out of the YMCA, it is open to all members of the Mount Desert Island community who want to participate whether they are Y members or not, Willett said. She encourages anyone interested to contact her.
“These projects are not about the Y. The Y is helping to facilitate, but it is more about our volunteers, who are really coordinating and doing the work,” Willett said.
Togetherhood plans to continue to meet at Sonogee on a monthly basis. They will next be visiting there on Presidents Day, Willett said. The group also is planning other social service events this year, including a mobile wheelchair ramp project and a community garden.
The garden is slated for the site of an old tennis court located behind the YWCA building on Mount Desert Street. Willett said that the intention is to gather a crew of volunteers to work at the site throughout the season and donate the produce grown there to the Bar Harbor Food Pantry, which is also located in the building.
Willett said that she would love to see people from all walks of life joining the Togetherhood volunteering effort. She especially would like to see families getting involved.
“With volunteering, the joy is felt on both sides,” Willett said. We would love to see families getting in involved in projects together. It’s a great way for parents to be able to teach their children the importance of giving back and how good it can feel.”
Willett may be reached at the YMCA at 288-3511 or at [email protected]