The First Congregational Church of Blue Hill has always been actively involved in direct service to the greater Blue Hill Peninsula community. The Church’s Outreach Board administers two scholarship funds for college students, oversees the Dolly Fisher Emergency Fund and the Christmas Angels program, and informs Church members about volunteer opportunities (Habitat for Humanity, WindowDressers, and the Hancock County-Wide Food Drive are examples). We also collect food donations for the Tree of Life Food Pantry on the first Sunday of each month. A portion of the annual Church budget is dedicated to helping other non-profits locally and abroad, that fall within our Church’s mission of serving others.
Our Church supports a wide variety of programs in the community through volunteer hours and donations, including the following:
All of these programs rely, in part, on financial support from the community. Contributions are always welcome, appreciated and tax-deductible. To donate to the Dolly Fisher Fund or Christmas Angels, please make your check payable to First Congregational Church of Blue Hill, and indicate the program name in the memo. Please mail to P.O. Box 444, Blue Hill, ME 04614. To donate to Simmering Pot or The Tree of Life Food Pantry, please contact those organizations directly.
The Christmas Angels program, originally coordinated by Four Town Nursing, was adopted by the Church in 1989. The program provides gifts of warm clothing to children in need who reside full time in Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Castine, Penobscot, Sedgwick, Surry, Deer Isle, and Stonington.
Coordinated through our Church, the program depends on the generosity of individuals, clubs and businesses all over the peninsula who shop for children and donate financially.
Each Angel is provided with a detailed list of a child’s clothing wishes including age, size and any specific needs. Individuals can shop for one or more children, and clubs or businesses are encouraged to organize a team to shop for one or more families. Distribution of gifts is in early December. To learn more about Christmas Angels, contact the Church office at (207) 374-2891.
Dolly Fisher Emergency Fund
Founded in 2008, The Dolly Fisher Emergency Fund is named for the wife of our Church’s founding minister. The Fund is dedicated to providing emergency fuel, food and utility help for households on the Blue Hill Peninsula, and informing the public about other available resources.
The Dolly Fisher Emergency Fund provides aid in the following ways:
- Provides #1 (kerosene) or #2 fuel oil, propane, pellets or firewood from area dealers.
- Prevents disconnection of utilities by Emera or CMP.
- Issues food vouchers for Tradewinds.
- Makes referrals to other community resource services.
- Offers a listening ear, encouragement, and a church family.
The Fund greets requests positively and with a “can-do” attitude. Even if it cannot meet a specific request, the above options will often help the situation. The Fund’s Administrator, a member of the Church, strives to maintain confidentiality at all times. The Dolly Fisher Emergency Fund Administrator can be reached at (207) 412-8072. The phone is monitored Monday-Friday, except on holidays, and a return phone call will be made within 24 hours.
H.O.M.E. Christmas Boxes
In the late 1990’s, the Christian Education Board partnered with H.O.M.E. in Orland to provide Christmas boxes to their shelter guests. Historically a youth project, every year 20 boxes are filled with assorted toiletries, a warm hat and pair of gloves, then wrapped and decorated. As one H.O.M.E. staff member said, your Christmas gift is often the only present someone in our shelter receives and they are grateful to find out that a complete stranger cared about whether or not they had a gift to open.
H.O.M.E. welcomes donations for shelter guests year-round. Items that are most needed are toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, shaving supplies, and body wash), bath towels and wash cloths, nail clippers, denture cleaner and adhesives, and undergarments for both men and women. Donations can be dropped off M-F, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, at the front desk of the Learning Center: 90 School House Road in Orland.
Keep Warm Clothesline
In the winter of 2020-2021, the Church strung a clothesline out front and filled it with free colorful hats, gloves, scarves and socks. The community pitched in as well by donating items, many of them hand-knit. It was such a great success, the Church committed to making it an annual project. It’s surprising how something so simple can make someone’s day but could also help prevent cold weather injuries. As one of Northern Light Blue Hill’s doctors described, frostbite can develop on exposed skin in as little as 10-30 minutes in conditions commonly experienced in Maine and on the peninsula. Wear your hats, gloves, and mittens!
Donations to the Keep Warm clothesline can be dropped off at the Church office year-round or you’re welcome to pin them on the clothesline when it’s up. Donations of quality warm gear and clothing can also be dropped off at the TurnStyle 24/7 in their drop-box next to the shop door; located at 23 South Street in Blue Hill.
Due to COVID-related building closures, Simmering Pot is operating out of the Halycon Grange until further notice.
In 2009, Blue Hill resident Hadley Friedman founded The Simmering Pot, and it has been housed at the Church from the beginning. Simmering Pot is a non-profit entity under the umbrella of ROSC (Resources Organizing for Social Change). It provides a weekly wholesome and nutritious meal, free of charge to anyone, regardless of income, in the Blue Hill Peninsula community. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, supporting local farmers. More than one hundred dinners are served each week. On the first Monday of each month, volunteers from Blue Hill Memorial Hospital generously prepare the dinner.
Meals are served in Jonathan Fisher Hall at the Church, Mondays from 2:30 to 6:00pm year round, except major holidays. All are welcome to eat in or take out. There is never a charge, but a donation basket is available. Donations from individuals and businesses help sustain the program. If you have questions or would like to volunteer, please contact Jeff Milliken at email@example.com.
Tree of Life Food Pantry
The food pantry was founded in 1987 by the Church, and the thrift shop was added in 1990. After being housed in a few locations, and a change of name, the Tree of Life Food Pantry and TurnStyle Thrift Shop have been at their current location on South Street since 1994.
Food is given free of charge to citizens from the eight towns on the Blue Hill Peninsula: Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Castine, Orland, Penobscot, Sedgwick and Surry. No one in need of food is turned away. Currently over 1,300 families are registered. About 220 families come in for food each week.
The Tree of Life purchases food from the Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine, and from various wholesale food companies or stores. Donations of food may be delivered to the TurnStyle during open hours, or to the Food Pantry on Thursdays from 8:30am to 3:30pm. All food is received and stocked by volunteers.
Sale of good quality used clothing at the TurnStyle is the primary source of funding for the Food Pantry. Donations of used clothing arrive daily and are sorted by volunteers. Only clean, quality items are for sale, at low prices. Volunteers help shoppers select items for men, women and children.