The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
Capital Areas New Mainers Project
CANMP is actively pursuing its mission of welcoming immigrants and refugees and helping them thrive in Central Maine by: meeting the short and long-term needs of New Mainers, building community relationships, and advocating for New Mainers.
Community Contact Information
Temple Beth El
January- February 2016
Temple Beth El held interfaith meetings, including one at Temple Beth El and one at the home of the Iraqi community leader.
March- August 2016
Temple members joined in holiday celebrations with the community, including breaking the fast for Ramadan. Under the leadership of a local Lutheran-Episcopalian church, congregants gathered much-needed winter boots and coats to New Mainers and began to meet needs for housing and furniture.
Catholic Charities began placing new refugee families in Augusta. Temple members worked with others to find housing (including one Temple member hosting a mom and her two children for a few weeks), but the congregation saw a need for a more coordinated effort. A steering committee of local people, including several Temple members and New Mainers, held meetings to develop a better community response.
January 2017: Launching CANMP and advocating for New Mainers
The steering committee presented its work to more than 60 people at Temple Beth El. The group agreed to officially form the Capital Area New Mainers Project. CANMP formed three working groups (transportation, housing, and education), and Temple members secured a fiscal sponsorship to allow CANMP to be a non-profit and receive donations. A Temple member donated the time and funds to design the organization’s web page and started CANMP’s Facebook page.
After the president announced a travel ban on refugees from seven majority-Muslim nations and Ku Klux Klan flyers were posted in an immigrant neighborhood in Augusta, a Temple member organized CANMP’s response. CANMP released a letter signed by almost 500 local residents and public officials urging our federal representative and senators to oppose the ban and expressing solidarity with the New Mainer community. Held at a local Iraqi market, the press conference included several state senators and representatives, as well as two mayors of local towns. It generated front-page coverage in the local paper.
CANMP formed Family Mentor Teams to work directly with individual immigrant/refugee families. Under the direction of a Temple member, six teams were formed and trained to work with new Mainers. These teams of 4-5 local families help new immigrants with employment, transportation, doctor's appointments, banking, childcare, and more. They also serve as ambassadors to welcome new families to Maine by inviting them for sledding, meals, and even a Passover Seder. Roughly one-quarter of the Family Member Team members are Temple members in an area where Jews are less than 1% of the local population.
CANMP began advocating for New Mainers in the media. An op-ed co-written by a Temple member and an immigrant appeared in the local paper. (See attached article). It shared how much immigrants contribute to our community.
The Waterville Area New Mainers Project began. Modeled on CANMP, this project works with new immigrants in Waterville, Maine, 30 minutes north of Augusta. Two Temple members are involved in this new program.
CANMP and clergy leaders met with the mayor and city manager to explore the possibility of an immigrant welcome center in Augusta. The city agreed, in principle, to donate unused public property to CANMP.
CANMP hosted Augusta’s first Nowruz celebration for the Persian New Year. The local paper covered the event. One refugee told CANMP, “This is the first time I have had fun since moving to America.” CANMP worked with the Unitarian Church to organize the first Game Night, bringing together local teens and New Mainer teens for activities at a community center. These meetings now occur monthly. CANMP members also organized a weekly play group at the local library for mothers with young children.
CANMP, in partnership with the Capital Area Multifaith Association, began selling 200 yard signs reading, “No matter where you from you are our neighbor” in English, Arabic, and Spanish. Signs appeared around the community and helped make our values apparent in the public square. CANMP also offered a four-hour workshop on Islam co-taught by a local professor and a leader in the Muslim community. The classes, hosted at Temple Beth El, drew more than 40 people.
CANMP successfully completed our first fundraiser, “Send CANMP Kids to Summer Camp.” Under the guidance of Temple members, we raised nearly $4,000, secured two full scholarships to the Julia Clukey Camp for Girls, and negotiated partial scholarships. The money will help us send more than 20 immigrant children to spend more than 40 weeks in day camp and other activities this summer.
CANMP continues to host events to give New Mainers and local community members the opportunity to develop lasting relationships and meet important needs. Our first cooking demonstration will be held in the Temple. New Mainers will teach congregants and others how to cook traditional Afghan and Iraqi dishes. CANMP also will host a Mother’s Day Celebration and a community furniture/clothing swap.