When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the State of Maine, UMF and the Farmington community quickly jumped to action.

May 2020

At its very core, UMF is a community, and what better way to see our values in action than helping our neighbors in times of crisis. When COVID-19 sent our students home for the remainder of the semester and moved staff and faculty to remote teaching and working environments, it also activated many in our community to lend a hand wherever they could. 

The following are but a fraction of all the good our fellow Beavers are doing, but it represents the myriad ways in which Farmington responded and continues to respond to the many calls for help. 

UMF Donates Needed Toilet Paper to Riverview Facility in Augusta

When the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta put out the call for hard-to-find toilet paper at the end of March, Farmington came to the rescue with 320 rolls. 

With many students studying remotely for the spring semester, the University is able to identify potential surplus resources that can be contributed to the public good.

“Community values are one of Maine’s most important resources, and we are just happy to help,” said Keenan Farwell, UMF director of Facilities Management, pictured above on the left helping load boxes of toilet paper with Mark Soisson, Riverview maintenance staff.

UMF University Store manager supports health care workers and small Maine business with homemade masks

DeGroat in a facecovering

Aimee Degroat ’19, University Store Manager at the University of Maine at Farmington, and her partner, Dane Kaiser, were both adjusting to the new normal of self-isolating at home when they discovered a kit to make COVID-19 masks for sale on the Auburn Fabric Warehouse website.

Kaiser ordered a couple of kits even though he hadn’t sewn since eighth-grade home economics class. He took a quick refresher on YouTube, borrowed a sewing machine, and started sewing at the kitchen table. Though the kits were challenging at the start, he completed both, making a total of 25 face-covering masks. All that was left was for Degroat and Kaiser to ship them where they are needed most.

“This is truly a labor of love,” said Degroat. “It’s times like this that bring out the very best in people. We want to help people protect themselves, encourage others to be involved, and at the same time, support our local businesses.”

They brought some of the masks to the Rangeley Health Center, Franklin Memorial Hospital, and mailed others to caregivers in the nursing field or relatives with compromised health situations.

UMF pitches in to help school district with food program for local children

Adam Vigue, General Manager of University of Maine at Farmington’s Sodexo food service (pictured left, below), and Doug Winslow, Executive Chef (pictured right, below), jumped in to help RSU 9, the local school district, as soon as they heard of their need to feed the district’s students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Vigue is providing meals for approximately 80 college students still on the UMF campus, Andy Hutchins, RSU 9 Food Service Director, and a team of staff and volunteers are providing breakfast and lunch every weekday for approximately 2,000 students who are no longer at school.

Vigue and Winslow learned of the Mt. Blue program and immediately delivered over $700 worth of fresh produce to the Mt. Blue High School kitchen.

“We learned of the school district’s need for food to supplement what they had on hand and looked for any way we could help,” said Vigue.

Hutchins and a fleet of hard-working staff and volunteers plan, prepare, and package healthy meals to be picked up by or transported to students from the Western Maine district’s seven schools.

A packaged meal consists of lunch for that day and breakfast for the next morning. Meals provide fresh fruit and produce; juice and milk; breakfast items; and fresh, cooked, or microwaveable lunches.

“This would be impossible without our wonderful and caring staff and volunteers, and the commitment of community partners like UMF,” said Hutchins. “District food service staff, school staff, and community volunteers were eager to help and came together without hesitation.”