Providing Emergency Assistance to Needy Individuals and Families in Calais
The Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry (ICEFP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting individuals and families in need. Located in the greater Calais area of Washington County, Maine, the pantry offers emergency food and essential household items to those facing difficult circumstances.
A Source of Support for the Community
ICEFP operates various programs within the Washington County community. Despite its modest hours of operation, the pantry now serves a wider population than ever before, owing to the closure of several smaller food pantries in neighboring towns. As a result, there has been a surge in demand for aid at the Calais location.
A Wide Range of Services
Throughout the year, ICEFP offers a multitude of services to the citizens of Washington County. In addition to providing pantry basics like beans, rice, pasta, and canned items, the organization also supplies perishable items such as milk, eggs, and cheese to eligible individuals and families. With a recent expansion of its facility, the pantry can now accommodate an increased number of clients, offering a waiting area for those in need. Winter fuel assistance, a backpack drive, and a winter coat collection are just a few examples of the many services generously provided by ICEFP. According to Len Hanson, the Director of the pantry, the organization now supports over 250 families each month, a significant increase compared to the approximately 125 families it served four years ago.
The Revitalization Effort
In April 2015, ICEFP reopened a thrift store on Main Street in downtown Calais, following the closure of another one the previous year. The pantry was able to take ownership of the space, which was generously donated, and after some renovations, they successfully reopened the doors. This shop, open six days a week, offers gently used clothing and household goods at very low prices. All the proceeds directly benefit the pantry’s programs, and the staff members volunteer their time to support this cause.
A Vision Turned Reality
Established in 1992, ICEFP initially operated in the basement of the Catholic Church in Calais. However, as the years went by, the pantry moved to its current location, a remodeled home donated by a generous parishioner. In 1996, the pantry was officially incorporated as a charitable organization. Since 2009, CGWEH has consistently supported the pantry, and together, they have initiated a new project to take place in the summer of 2015. As part of a downtown Calais revitalization effort, a large mural painting is scheduled to adorn the vacant building side of the Calais Thrift Store on Main Street. Covering an area of approximately 14’x65′, this painting depicts Calais harbor at the turn of the 20th Century, aiming to reinvigorate the seaport and international border town with a surge of energy through art and culture. The renowned artist Amy Bartlett-Wright, contracted by ICEFP, is responsible for designing and executing this large artistic display. Weather permitting, the work is expected to be completed by early September. Moreover, a well-planned seating area, consisting of locally crafted benches and landscaping, will be added to encourage travelers, residents, and passers-by to enjoy and learn about the natural and economic history of Calais.
The mural artistic display
Meet the Artist
Amy Bartlett-Wright, the artist behind the mural, has been a professional artist for over thirty-five years. Her specialty lies in the portrayal of animals in their natural environments, employing various scales to create a sense of space and dimension. Amy’s passion for exploring the woods and shores of Rhode Island, where she lives and works, greatly influences her art. She obtained a BA in Scientific Illustration from the University of Maryland in 1980, during which time she worked as an illustration intern at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian. Amy furthered her studies in painting and drawing at the Rhode Island School of Design, earning a Certificate in Scientific and Technical Illustration in 1990. Today, she is a valued member of the RISD Continuing Education Faculty.
To learn more about Amy Bartlett, the talented artist behind the mural, visit her website here.
The Charles G. Wright Endowment for Humanity’s Support
The Charles G. Wright Endowment for Humanity is proud to support the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry. The organization’s mission, dedicated staff, and the impact it has on the people it serves make it an incredibly successful force in this small rural town in Maine. To learn more about the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry and its programs, visit their website here.
Written and Compiled by: Laura Kathleen Wright
Charles G. Wright Endowment for Humanity, August 2015