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Community group to host forum on Yarmouth's needs, resources

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Community group to host forum on Yarmouth's needs, resources

YARMOUTH — A new group called Yarmouth Cares About Neighbors, or YarmouthCAN, will host a Community Night on Monday, May 11, to discuss the needs of the town.

The forum will be structured after the Freeport Community Night, which brings together organizations and community members to share concerns, ideas, resources and needs with each other.

Julia Martin, YarmouthCAN organizer, said the group started in October 2008 as a meeting of residents concerned about rising heating fuel costs. She said she wasn't aware there was a town fuel fund, which made her wonder how many residents were also unaware of the help and resources available in town.

"The group began when people started talking about what was needed in town," she said. "It was clear people didn't know what resources were available. There was a lack of coordination."

Martin said the YarmouthCAN executive committee is made up of seven residents with various strengths and specialties to help move the group to its goal of connecting and strengthening the community.

Joy Ahrens, YarmouthCAN secretary, is member of the Community Garden steering committee. Treasurer Carolyn Johnson is an active member of the Rotary Club. Other members include Scott Krause, executive director of the Casco Bay YMCA, Martha Dunlap of Affordable Housing, volunteer Debra Serino, and Kent Allen, pastor at the First Parish Congregational Church.

Martin said in addition to the core group, there are many other people who are committed to helping the organization succeed. She said there are food pantry volunteers and town councilors, a representative from Bartlett Circle and Police Chief Mike Morrill.

The group has met once a month for for about a year and a half, and have had nearly 20 residents attend each meeting.

"We want to find ways to bring people together, and give community members the opportunity to have ownership in the effort," she said. 

In order to connect residents, YarmouthCAN has created a 50-page resource guide to help residents find what they need and become aware of the opportunities. It is available at Town Hall, the schools, and soon on the YarmouthCAN Web site, yarmouthCAN.org.

Town Manager Nat Tupper said he is hopeful the group will succeed.

"From the beginning, an outpouring of people have stepped forward to say 'we want to take care of our neighbors,'" he said. "People want to be involved and this forum will be a great catalyst for people to come forward and offer suggestions."

Tupper said there are significant needs not met by the town, school or recreation departments that are important. He said services for the elderly, the hungry, the poor and the lonely need to be addressed.

Martin said she hopes for a good turn out on May 11.

"This group hopes to bring to people together and shed light on the resources available in town," she said. "The forum in May is a way for people to meet and a way for us to find out when the needs are."

The meeting will take place at the Town Hall Community Room, Monday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m. For a ride to the event, or more information, call Martin at 749-8096.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110, or aanderson@theforecaster.net.