Joseph McKeen, Bowdoin's first President, who was famous for his inaugural address about the Common Good, would be proud if he heard about the $15,050 in grants recently awarded to non-profit organizations in the Midcoast area.
The 2008 Common Good Grant Program announced the recipients of nine grants at an awards ceremony in Main Lounge of Moulton Union on Tuesday. Beneficiaries included a range of organizations from Sexual Support Services of Midcoast Maine (SASSMM) to Bath Community Garden.
The majority of grants were selected by the 12 members of the Common Good Grant Committee, headed by Ben Brennan '08 and Jasmine Fei Qu '09. The committee fielded 23 applications from area organizations and then narrowed down the pool to a group of seven finalists.
The Common Good Grant Committee was financed through an anonymous alumnus gift of $10,000. An additional $5,050 in student-raised funds allowed for another committee, the Common Good Grant Extension Committee, to support two more organizations.
The Extension Committee raised these funds through appeals to donors.
"Our mission is really not a tough one to sell," said Pooja Desai '08, leader of the Extension Committee. "Conveying our passion about what we do is the best part. If others see that you believe in the cause, they will as well."
Desai said that the process of selecting organizations for grant money was incredibly rigorous.
"People [on the committees] are passionate about different grants, given their interests," she said. "Deciding on finalists is a tough thing to do because you cannot rank need in the community."
In the end, the committees selected nine recipients representing various community sectors and interests. The organizations rewarded were Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark Center, Bath Community Garden, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Brunswick Teen Center/People Plus, Family Crisis Services, Family Focus, Habitat for Humanity, SASSMM, and The Sweetser Family Institute.
Committee members commented on the eye-opening experience of working with the grant process.
"As a senior, I thought I knew everything about Brunswick and the surrounding area," said Alison Spencer '08. "Yet over the course of this year I have come to realize how wrong I was."
"There was still so much to learn, see, and appreciate about the community of which Bowdoin is a part," she added.
Likewise, Community Service Resource Center Director Susie Dorn emphasized the importance of the students' work within the greater Brunswick area.
"Projects like these connect students with the local community," said Dorn. "When they leave Bowdoin, they will better understand the community they find themselves in as young adults. Yes, this project is about Bowdoin and Brunswick, but it's also about what students will do with their experiences once they graduate."
"We aren't just teaching students about community needs," Dorn added. "This is also an exercise in philanthropy. Bowdoin is a very privileged community, and it is key to understand the importance of the habits of giving back to society."