ARC, or Across the River Collaborative,  is a well established, nonprofit agency  located in the underserved, isolated and very poor Southwest corner of Maine, comprised of the towns of Baldwin, Porter, Cornish, Parsonsfield and Hiram, which make up MSDA#55, the Sacopee Valley School District.

IT IS THE MISSION OF ARC, FOUNDED IN 2011, TO SUPPORT ACTIVITIES FOR YOUTH IN OUR COMMUNITY WHERE PARTICIPANTS CAN LEARN FROM ONE ANOTHER, DISCOVER NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR THEIR LIVES AND USE THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE CREATIVITY TO EXPLORE POSITIVE CHANGE.

Our participants come from three Maine counties:  Oxford, Cumberland and York.  In this rural area there are few resources and folks often live in isolation.

ARC was founded by Charlene Manchester Barton who, with her husband John, has lived in this community since 1973.  Native “Mainers”, both Charlene and John have taught in local schools.  John now provides psychological services to MSAD#55 and Charlene is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Licensed Social Worker in private practice at Across the River Counseling & Wellness.  The couple raised their five children at their home in Hiram where they still live.  All their children attended local schools.  From her community involvement, Charlene realized that many youngsters have limited opportunities to experience the world beyond this river valley or to challenge themselves in a variety of settings.    Thus ARC was born.

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History

2010  The first activity was a week-long day camp for a co-ed, multiage group of youngsters from the community who lacked the opportunity to go to a summer camp or otherwise participate with other young people during summer vacation.  Charlene, Tim McLaughlin, Barry Aruda, Jeff Sawyer and Kevin Mason volunteered their time.  Participants learned to drum on plastic buckets, tie dyed T-shirts, decorated a float and participated in a community parade as well as enjoyed hiking and inner tubing on the Ossippee River.

Based on the success of this effort, Charlene was granted funds from MSAD55 to start TGIF.  With Jeff Sawyer as co facilitator, this became the model for  ARC “After School Adventures”.

A Board of Directors was formed and an application for nonprofit status  was submitted

2011  A nonprofit status was granted and an application for funding was submitted to the Maine Community Foundation.  ARC “After School Adventures”  began and continued through 2015.  At this time, the focus was preventing school drop-outs.  ARC worked closely with school administrators, social workers and counselors who identified youngsters who might benefit from “After School Adventures”.  What made this program unique is that barriers to participation were avoided. For example, lack of transportation prevents some youngsters for participating in programs outside school hours.  Our participants were picked up directly after school, taken on the “adventure” and then, after a communal meal, driven to their home.  Furthermore, as ARC is not a school program, participants who might be suspended or truant are encouraged to participate with a goal of keeping them connect to healthy options.  We have never, in three years, expelled a participant nor have any of our members dropped out of school.

2012  ARC “After School Adventures” continue.  Typical “adventures” included learning to rappel by working with a White Mountain guide, learning about building a sod house, visiting the Museum of African Culture, learning to throw pottery on a wheel, riding a ferry to  Peaks Island, tackling a ropes course, swimming, snowboarding visiting a lighthouse, making a movies, shopping for groceries and preparing a healthy, economical meal  and learning about logging with horses.  Community service was an important component of the program.  Participants volunteered at a wolf sanctuary,  an animal shelter and a local library.  Many of the “adventures” were hikes in the mountains that surround our lovely river valley.

2013, 2014  With funds from the Roxanne Quimby Foundation, Bangor Savings Bank, the Sacopee Recreation Council, Jobs for Maine Graduates, Maine Community Foundation and an annual appeal, ARC Adventures continue.

2015  The summer, week-long day camp model was revisited with a “Farm Art Camp” for middle school girls and a coed “Adventure Camp”.   Middle school boys had an opportunity to spend the night at the camp of a Maine Guide and, during Christmas vacation, youngsters rode a train and visited an art exhibit.

2016   ARC received a grant from the Maine Department of Corrections to provide programming for high school students identified by Christy McAllister, School Resource Officer.   ARC collaborated with Silas Hagerty of Smooth Feather Productions and utilized the old movie theater in Kezar Falls which Hagerty purchased and is restoring.  This “opened the door” to an opportunity for ARC to broaden service to the community and youth, in particular.

Funding, Affiliation and Contact Information

FINANCIAL SUPPORT has been provided in part by the Maine Community Foundation, the Roxanne Qumiby Foundation, Bangor Savings Bank, the Sacopee Recreation CouncilJobs for Maine Graduates, and the Maine Department of Corrections as well as the generosity of people in the community who responded to our annual appeals.

ARC is a member of CAB (the Cornish Association of Businesses).

CONTACT US:

DO NOT USE GPS!

To reach the physical address,

19 River Road, Hiram,

turn down bridge street opposite the Cornish Inn and across from Thompson Park on rt. 25.

Go down the hill, cross the bridge and you are in Hiram.

ARC is located at Across the River Counseling and Wellness, the first building on the right after the bridge.

Our mailing address is:

ARC, P.O. Box 318, Cornish, Maine 04020.

For questions, comments or information call

Charlene at 207 232-3234.