Topic: Soup Kitchens

Preble Street Friend and Volunteer Leon Gorman Dies

… Leon Gorman also donated his labor. Every Wednesday morning for more than 12 years, Gorman – who was known simply as “Leon” – helped cook breakfast for 400 people at Preble Street’s soup kitchen. There, he was just another volunteer who started off as a dishwasher and worked his way up to the grill, where he cooked eggs, hash browns and pancakes. When breakfast was over, he would pull the stove away from the wall and get down on his knees and scrub the grease that had splattered behind the stove, Swann said. Most volunteers wouldn’t bother.He said Gorman became an important adviser for the nonprofit and used his experience to help it develop a strategy and a business model.

“We were incredibly fortunate to have had him as a kind of mentor to the agency,” Swann said. “He was a wonderful man. I will miss him terribly …”

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L.L. Bean leader Leon Gorman dies at 80

FREEPORT – L.L. Bean Chairman Emeritus Leon Gorman has died at age 80.

Gorman, the grandson of company founder and namesake Leon Leonwood Bean, had cancer and died on Thursday at his home in Yarmouth, according to a statement from the company.

Gorman became president of the company in 1967 before retiring in 2001 and becoming chairman. He held that position until 2013.

According to L.L. Bean’s website, Gorman brought tremendous growth to L.L. Bean. As president, he grew it from a $4.75 million company to one worth more than $1 billion.

Chris McCormick, L.L.Bean president and CEO, sent a note to the company Thursday morning to offer his sympathies to Gorman’s family and to let employees know Gorman had died.

“Leon has been a great presence in my life for the past 32 years,” McCormick said. “He was a boss, mentor, coach, community leader, dear friend and inspiration. Most importantly, he was the most decent human being you would ever want to meet.”

Gorman’s daughter Jennifer Wilson also sent a note to the company saying her father will be greatly missed.

“My dad’s passing leaves an immeasurable void in our family,” she said. “Leon was a larger than life figure in my world growing up.”

Wilson said Gorman cared deeply about L.L. Bean and instilled his values in the company.

“He was my dad, yet his life was closely intertwined with the company he built, nurtured and loved,” she said. “Not surprisingly, the personality traits that describe our company fit my dad to a tee.”

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also released a statement.

“Leon Gorman was a great American who loved the state of Maine and built an iconic brand in L.L. Bean,” she said. “His visionary leadership of the company created thousands of good jobs for Mainers.”

Collins also commended Gorman for his charitable work.

“Along with his wife Lisa, Leon was an extraordinarily generous contributor to countless causes including educational institutions and conservation organizations, reflecting his belief in our state’s future and his determination to preserve its legacy,” the senator said.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, also recognized Gorman’s generosity.

“He not only supported many worthy causes with his philanthropy, but also frequently volunteered at places like Preble Street without thought of publicity or recognition,” Pingree said in a prepared statement. “Down-to-earth, compassionate, and an incredibly hard worker, Leon loved Maine and it showed in his generosity and commitment to our state.”

According to the company, the Preble Street Resource Center in Portland was very important to Gorman; he volunteered there every Wednesday morning for 12 years. In 2009, Preble Street named Gorman its volunteer of the year.

According to L.L. Bean, Gorman requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Preble Street.

Homeless campsites spreading in Portland

… The increase in homeless encampments is just one example of how desperate some people have become, Yellen said.

She points to the loss of federal food stamp benefits to childless adults between the ages of 19 and 49 who don’t have a disability, and Medicaid cuts in Maine that have caused thousands of people to lose access to health care. Those cuts also have reduced access to the state’s substance-abuse treatment system. Even relatively small cuts, such as new limits for using bus passes for medical appointments, make it harder for the poor to get around the city, she said.

“People are falling quickly and hard,” she said.

Preble Street Executive Director Mark Swann agrees.

From 2007 to 2015, the average number of food boxes that Preble Street delivers at its pantry jumped 50 percent, from an average of 111 a week to 166.

“I think there’s an impression that there’s a healthy social compact where people can get the help when they need it, and that’s so not true,” he said. “The human service network is being wrenched apart.” …

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Breakfast cookoff kicks off Maine Restaurant Week

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine -The annual Maine Restaurant Week kicked off Friday morning with the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off.

Area restaurants battled to see who has the best breakfast dish.

All the proceeds from Friday’s event go to Preble Street’s food pantry and soup kitchen.

“We don’t have the resources within Preble Street to have our own event, so we really rely on community organizations like Maine Reataurant Week, to do it for us, and we’re so grateful to them when they do,” said Preble Street communications manager Jaime McLeod.

Vignola Cinque Terre of Portlandwon this year’s event.

“Smoked beef brisket hash, scrambled eggs, pea shoots and cheese fonduto,” said sous chef Mitchell Ryan.

The goal of Maine Restaurant week is to help area restaurants during what is normally a slow time of year.

“Winter is hard on restaurants, brutally hard this winter, parking bans, snow storms, you name it, has interfered with day to day business,” said Maine Restaurant Week founder Jim Britt.

This is the sixth year for Restaurant Week.

“It’s really something to celebrate,” said Britt.

Maine Voices: Wealthy ‘angels’ needed to help end suffering in Portland

We are blessed at Preble Street with generous, loyal donors who, year after year, send us a check. Whether the donation is $50 or $500, we are inspired by their support. Some have been doing this for as long as we can remember. I’ve been sending "thank you" notes for over 20 years to people I feel I know well, though I’ve never met them. These donors and their heartfelt gifts save lives and meet growing needs in Portland and beyond.

We also have some "angels" who have made very large, transformational donations to keep a shelter for children open when another agency announced its closing; to open Logan Place, a housing alternative to overcrowded shelters; to launch the Maine Hunger Initiative effort to improve Maine’s tragic status as the country’s fifth hungriest state.

All the donations, large and small, make Preble Street a strong, committed, solutions-centered organization, and we appreciate the investment each donor is making to our relentless, mission-driven work.

But something is missing.

Specifically, it’s people like the couple who gave $30 million to a homeless service organization in Philadelphia to replicate successful models and move thousands of people from the streets to stable housing. When I heard about that gift, I filled a whiteboard at Preble Street with a vision map, and our New Year’s resolution is to find visionaries here in Maine with the means to underwrite those dreams.

With a fractured social compact, where government is no longer able – or willing – to support a sturdy safety net, it has fallen to private funders to keep emergency shelters open, stock shelves at soup kitchens and meet the basic needs of our brothers and sisters.

But philanthropy can do more: It can build bridges to dignity, stability and independence.

Yet in 2012, only 13 percent of philanthropic dollars nationally supported human services, according to Giving USA 2013. Human services doesn’t even appear on the list of "causes that received gifts of $5 million or more" in a 2012 Chronicle of Philanthropy report.

And, most troubling to me, the percentage of donations allocated to social services sinks as incomes rise, with only 4 percent of donors with incomes over $1 million designating contributions to basic needs, according to a New York Times report.

In 2012, of 95 individual gifts over $1 million (totaling an amazing $7 billion), only four were donations to human services – and those went to the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation.

None were made in Maine, and that needs to change.

Human service organizations are not simply "do-gooders." We are thoughtful, strategic, expert problem-solvers. We have to be: The stakes are too high. Every day, thousands of Mainers count on us to help them survive the ravages of poverty, homelessness, hunger and abuse.

Every day we witness these struggles at Preble Street:

• A 79-year-old woman with dementia, getting around in a wheelchair, living in shelters and on the streets, unable to access an assisted living program.

• A 17-year-old boy whose only experience of family has been 14 foster homes.

• A 35-year-old man with untreated severe mental illness, shuttling back and forth between shelters, hospital emergency rooms and jails.

• A 30-year-old victim of domestic violence, forced to trade her body for a place to stay.

They deserve better, and agencies like Preble Street know what needs to be done. All that’s missing is the power that wealthy donors alone have: the power to capitalize on what we’ve proven works, allowing us to dramatically improve outcomes. And to save lives.

Some examples from Preble Street’s whiteboard:

• $1 million would run a recovery house for homeless women struggling with addiction.

• $5 million would provide a comprehensive service system replacing the long lines of mats in jam-packed shelters and endless wandering from one end of town to the other to get a meal, register for a job and sign up to see a doctor.

• $10 million would open another Logan Place for medically compromised people living in poverty.

• Four $10,000,000 gifts would virtually end chronic homelessness in Portland.

I am certain that social service agencies all over Maine have their own whiteboards. They, too, deserve angels. There is so much we all can accomplish, if we have the means.

We’re grateful to all our donors. They underpin the lifesaving work we do. If they could, we know they would do more.

But to move beyond rescue operations, social service agencies need investors who understand the urgency of our work and who believe that all people matter.

With a few generous donors we could transform Portland, filling the cracks so no one falls through, moving everyone closer to their dream, celebrating a city where all are better off when none are suffering.

Help us meet our 2015 resolution.

– Special to the Press Herald

Maine Observer: Sadness needn’t diminish joy of holidays

… Yesterday, I volunteered at the Preble Street soup kitchen for the first time. There, in the big gray building, amidst the homeless, was joy. Mary welcomed me with a "thank you hon" and put me to work.

As I was setting salt and pepper shakers on the tables, an older man handed me a piece of cardboard with pinecones and red berries glued to it saying, "Here. I made this for you." It was beautiful and became a lovely centerpiece for one of the tables. As Shirley and I served desserts and replenished trays through lunch, we shared in many smiles and holiday wishes … 

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Heaping Helping

1418739441Volunteering is technically a selfish act. I jumped on the opportunity because I thought that by making others feel good, I would inherently feel good too. So, in a way, I initially decided to serve lunch at the Preble Street Resource Center soup kitchen, to selfishly address my own conscience. Either way, I definitely felt like it was about time I did something altruistic in my life …

Snow doesn’t stop volunteers from helping needy

PORTLAND, Maine -The snow may be slowing a lot of Thanksgiving plans, but not for two local groups serving those in need this holiday.

They were hard at work Wednesday afternoon getting set for events on Thursday to help hundreds of people.

Just as the first flakes fell, volunteers at Preble Street started the heavy lifting, unloading thousands of pounds of food collected through the Stuff the Bus campaign.

"With a combination of actual food and buying power, 101,600 pounds of food. Just an incredible outpouring of support for the community," said Chuck Igo with Preble Street.

The weather didn’t stop the work, stocking the kitchen and officials said it won’t stop them on Thanksgiving when they plan to serve dinner.

"So if the roads are clear, the sidewalks especially for our folks, they’ll get around it, but they’ll always have a place to be. There’ll still be three meals a day, in addition to our special Thanksgiving meals," said Jon Bradley, associate director of Preble Street.

Bradley said there’s a number of people who tend to find other places to stay on Thanksgiving with family or friends, but it could be different this year because of the storm.

"We may see a jump tonight, but we may also see it flatten out because there may be some people who find other places to go," said Bradley.

The kitchen at Wayside was also a flurry of activity on Wednesday with volunteers braving the weather to help prepare dinner for nearly 400 people.

"I don’t think it will be a problem tomorrow, we’ve had snowy winters before and it doesn’t seem to be an issue with people who want to come out," said Mary Zwolinski, executive director at Wayside.

Thirty-six turkeys have been seasoned, cooked and prepared by DiMillo’s.

Rotarians practice “service above self” at Preble Street

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — You might notice the Rotary symbol that’s posted on several town signs, or maybe you’ve enjoyed the delicious food at a Rotary Fair booth. At it’s core though, the club is about a lot more than that and the members of the South Portland Cape Elizabeth Rotary are an excellent example of that.

The SPCE Rotary has around 50 members that belong to the club, attending weekly meetings and discussing membership duties. The place where you really understand what the club is all about though isn’t at a round table, but out in the community.

"Many members who have belonged to this club, 30, 40, 50 years and some people who have joined three or four weeks ago," said club president, Kathy Cotter.

Those members make sure to honor the motto of "service above self" as much as possible. Joe Conroy is one of the longest running members of the SPCE Rotary. He was there when the club was founded in the early 1960’s and organized the volunteering that happens at Prebble Street Resource Center 15 years ago.

"The motto, the mantra, is service above self," said Conroy.

The next SPCE Rotary community event is going to be held July 27th. They will have their annual Spring Point 5K Race at 8 AM at Bug Light Park in South Portland.

Video here.