Posted by John Marr

Matt Wolcott introduced the immensely accomplished duo guest speakers, Tony Cipollone and Katie Fullam Harris, a magnificent tag team to inform and promote the motivation of the Thrive2027 Council. In Maine we boast that we enjoy the “way life should be,” but at the same time worry about our future. Fortunately, we know that worry doesn’t get you anywhere unless you act to remedy the worrisome situation. In order to further our enjoyment of the riches of living in Maine, we must preserve and expand the foundation to allow our future to flourish. We often lament that Maine is an aging state and face a rash of challenges. If we are going to pass our good fortune of enjoying the “way life should be” to our beneficiaries, we have to salvage and stimulate the basis of our way of life. 

The Gorman Foundation gathered support from some 225 of the most prestigious businesses, such as WEX, IDEXX and MEMIC. It didn’t take them long to determine that there was no need to come up with revolutionary ideas, but rather it was better to focus on nurturing the foundation that has made Maine a special place where people want to live. The counsel from the group was to support, stimulate, and embolden the state’s early childhood programs and the health of our communities. The target is to have the framework in place and progress to be evident by 2027. 

There are three prime objectives of the Thrive2027 council. The first and foremost objective is to have every child reading at grade level by the end of the third year of school. In order to achieve that goal, the next objective is to empower the community to “thrive, not just survive.” When a community is left floundering and just trying to get by, they too often overlook fundamentals, such as health and education. When more than 70% of the population is spending more than 30% of their income on housing, there’s going to be trade offs and this usually works to the disadvantage of the schools and structure of the community. When the foundation of the community is sound, it is premised that, the parenting will improve and the young population will thrive and develop the skills businesses need to expand, create and flourish. 

When our neighbors are doing well, our communities will thrive; it’s so simple to understand. We need to assure that children are capable and enticed to complete high school with skills to commensurate with the degree. Once the young adult graduates from school, they need a viable pathway to a genuine career, not just a subsistence job. If we are to achieve these common-sense goals, we need to help create an affordable platform of education. It’s not just left in the lap of the teachers and the schools. The community must step up and help the institutions by helping to mentor and assist.  

The simple take-aways from the meeting are that we have to throttle up the good programs we have in place, such as The United Way, and to ask every business to develop best practices that enrich their employees to seek sound healthcare and life choices. Furthermore, we need to give more support to local food pantries and never avoid checking on your neighbor to be sure they are okay and or if they need assistance. If we don’t put ourselves out there, we aren’t going to get there, so let’s all thrive to make every year a special year between now and 2027. 

(Photo L-R:  Matt Wolcott, Katie Fullam Harris, Tony Cipollone, and President John Curran.)