The following article was posted on Seacoast Online
The community, including actor Patrick Dempsey, turned out last week to support Community Outreach Services, an organization of “neighbors who are reaching out to help our neighbors.”
The fourth annual Farm to Fork dinner, a fundraiser for COS, gathered more than 100 community members at Wardbrook Farm in West Kennebunk for a hearty meal and neighborly conversation. COS helps feed the hungry, provides fuel assistance to keep people warm, and addresses specific needs of children and the elderly. The organization coordinates with the general assistance offices in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel to help individuals in need with paying their rent or electric bill, getting items they need like eyeglasses, and more.
“Within our community, within our sphere of influence, there are individuals that depend heavily on COS. We are the neighbors who are reaching out to help our neighbors,” said Mark Jago, the organization’s executive director.
Karen Winton, Kennebunk’s general assistance administrator, shared stories of those who have benefited from the organization’s support. They are neighbors who stand in the same line at the grocery store, or who are stuck sitting in the same traffic on Route 1, she said. For one woman, $157.86 for car repairs so she could get to work helped her on her way “to getting back on my feet.” Through Winton and COS, a local veteran, who had received ill-fitted dentures from the Department of Veterans Affairs, was able to connect with a local denture specialist and “now every time I see him he’s smiling from ear to ear,” Winton said.
“These are our neighbors. These are individuals and families who live in our three towns,” she said. “It can be hard to qualify for these types of programs, yet people still have needs. These people would otherwise fall through the cracks of our programs. But not in our community.”
Dempsey, who owns a home in Kennebunkport, said he was invited to the dinner by a friend and supporter of COS, and wanted to learn more about the organization and ways to support its efforts.
Earlier in the week, Dempsey had been in Boston at a special screening of the new film he produced, “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” a fundraiser for The Dempsey Center. Dempsey founded the center in his hometown of Lewiston, and recently a second site opened in South Portland. According to its website, the center offers “quality-of-life services at no cost to help people manage a cancer impact emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or physically.” Thanks to grants, donations, and fundraising, these services are offered for free.
“We don’t treat the disease, we treat the person,” Dempsey said of the center.
Being back in the Kennebunks, Dempsey said, “I’m home.”
“I love it here. I love it all,” he added. “I’m from Maine so it’s good to be back here.”
The community, he said, is filled with “really good people” and he was happy to be surrounded by some of those community members at the Farm to Fork dinner.
Attendees were surprised by Dempsey’s attendance and excited to welcome him to the event, and share the work of Community Outreach Services with him and others.
Amy Costa, who lives in Massachusetts and has a home in Kennebunk, said the annual dinner is “always on my radar.” “It’s an amazing cause,” she said.
The idea of the Farm to Fork fundraiser, said COS Development Director Michelle Allen, “is to talk to your neighbors, to get to know one another. There’s no better way to do that than with food and wine.”
The evening’s dinner was cooked by local chefs and served by COS volunteers: Chef Tyler Laroche, of 50 Local in Kennebunk, prepared a beet salad and fish stew; chef David Angenend of Texas Grace Kitchen served champagne mashers and coffee and chili smoked beef tenderloin; chef Shannon Bard served herb roasted Wardbrook Farm chicken; and the Bitter End served roasted sweet potato salad and local corn and green bean ceviche.
For more information on The Dempsey Center, visit www.dempseycenter.org.
Link to the original article from Seacoast Online