Story posted December 08, 2010
Mano en Mano, located in Milbridge, ME, is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide affordable housing and educational opportunities to diverse populations, especially Latinos, remove barriers to health and social services, and advocate for social justice in Downeast Maine. Bowdoin alum and Director of Mano en Mano, Ian Yaffe '09, had been in touch with Janice Jaffe at the McKeen Center and had conversations with seniors Sam Collins and Elsie Thomson about potential collaboration. "After meeting with Sam and Elsie earlier this fall, I brought their ideas to my staff. We came up with a plan that would mutually benefit Mano en Mano, the Bowdoin students, and most importantly, our constituency," said Yaffe.
The trip was organized by Thomson, who organizes all Weekend Service Trips through the McKeen Center. "The goal of this program is to provide students with opportunities to get off campus and learn about a new community while doing service," said Thomson. She was accompanied on this trip by Mariya Ilyas '13, Sandra Martinez '13, Somya Mawrie '14, Danielle Orchant '14, and Rachel Turkel '11.
Bowdoin students arrived in Milbridge on Friday night and more about Mano en Mano's mission and history over dinner with Yaffe and his colleague Anna Blagojevic. The next morning, the eager students rolled up their sleeves and got to work. They first cleaned and reorganized all the bookshelves in the community center. After a quick lunch break, they planned reading activities for the community kids and their families. "We got the chance to spend time with local community members and work with them to plan a story hour event for small children that they can hopefully repeat in the future," said Thomson. "The most rewarding part was definitely spending time with the kids – some of them were so ecstatic and excited to read," said Turkel. "With my own stress of homework and classes, it was great to be around the energy and optimism of little kids."
"I'm especially proud as an alumni to be establishing partnerships between Mano en Mano and numerous students and staff. Bowdoin inspired a lot of my beliefs about the common good so it's a real honor to be connecting back with the College in a way that furthers our mission, helps our constituency, and provides opportunities for students to see a different side of Maine and make a real difference.
"This trip made me want to get further involved and possibly join forces with Bowdoin’s Latin American Student Organization to organize more trips and forge a stronger bond with Mano en Mano."
— Sandra Martinez '13