What is the Working Communities Challenge Initiative?
The Working Communities Challenge advances local collaborative efforts that build strong, healthy economies and communities in Maine’s rural towns, regions, and smaller cities. Launched in 2020, the initiative supports local teams working together to improve economic outcomes for all people in Maine’s towns, cities, and rural communities.
Sagadahoc County Working Communities Team
Youth Action Board Members
Katie Joseph, Asst Supt, RSU1
Claire Berkowitz, President, Midcoast Maine Community Action
Deborah Hagler, MD, Mid Coast Hospital
Julie Kenny, Bath Tech
Melissa Fochesato, Mid Coast Parkview Health
Emily Ruger, City of Bath
Chris Ouellette, Bath Iron Works
Amy Holland, HUB Coordinator
Kirsten Latter, Midcoast Youth Center
Matthew Goodman, Southern Maine Community College
Dawn Wheeler, Merrymeeting Adult Education
Sara Cunningham, CEI
Gina Longbottom, Midcoast Youth Center
Jamie Dorr, Midcoast Youth Center
Liz Kovarsky, Initiative Director
Sagadahoc County Youth Action Board
Sagadahoc County Compelling Cause
Create a comprehensive web of education, mentoring, training, jobs, and programs that decrease the rates of hopelessness among youth and young adults and improve projected lifetime health and economic outcomes by 15% in 10 years, especially for those with low to moderate income.
We are very excited and honored to be part of the Maine Working Communities Challenge.
Bath is home to a rich maritime history, our downtown area is ranked one of the best in the country, and we are home to one of Maine’s largest employers. If you happened to be here last weekend for Winterfest, you might have wondered if you had just stepped into a real-life Hallmark movie!
Yet, when we look to our youth and young adult community – we see a disengaged population, struggling to find success in school or in the workplace, with high rates of depression and anxiety, substance use, and involvement in the juvenile justice system. Our youth are struggling with homelessness, they are losing their parents to the opioid crisis, and we are losing them to violent crimes, overdose, and suicide.
Our initiative will focus on reducing the rate of youth hopelessness by 15% over the next 10 years by creating a comprehensive web of support that includes education, mentoring, training, jobs, and healthcare; so that one call for help unlocks, and sets into motion, a wide range of support systems and removes the numerous barriers often faced – especially by families with low-to-moderate incomes, families of color, and members of our LGBTQ communities.
In ten years, our vision is for Sagadahoc County youth to be thriving, well-equipped, and eager to enter the workforce, resulting in a flourishing local economy and a healthy community. With your support, we believe we can begin to unravel these complex issues for sustainable systems change throughout the Midcoast region.
Six Working Communities Principles
- Cross-sector team of leaders from private, public, non-profit, and community working toward an ambitious shared goal;
- Engagement of community members in setting direction and decision-making;
- Economic inclusion, racial equity, and diversity across age, gender, and sexual orientation an important part of process and shared goal;
- System solutions, not just programs, to achieve team’s shared goal;
- Learning and adaptation through research, data, and peer exchange,
- Connections to ideas, people, and markets within and across local economies and communities.
Join Our Team
Interested in learning more or want to get involved? Reach out to Liz Kovarsky by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (207) 504-2908.
About Liz Kovarsky
I am an artist, a teacher and a social worker. I had the joy and privilege of studying art-making and art teacher education at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. Teaching in the public school systems exposed me to the inequities that some students face, which made me curious to understand the roots of these issues.
At that same time, my hometown (like many others) was dealing with the impacts of the opioid epidemic, which grabbed my heart and attention. Searching for an understanding of the origins of these issues, I began studying addiction, trauma and subsequently oppression; I also began studying the connective antidotes to these issues including embodiment, anti-racism, restorative justice, art therapy, and community organizing. I eventually went back to school and earned my Master of Social Work from the University of Southern Maine.
In my time as a social worker, I have worked directly with individuals and families throughout Southern Maine focusing on the interconnected fields of addiction, trauma, women’s issues, parenting, and public health, across multiple systems including schools, government, the department of corrections, housing, healthcare, and child welfare.
All of these life and educational experiences have led me to this role as the director of the WCC for Sagadahoc County, and I am humbled every day by the deep care that this community has for each other. This work is deeply personal to me, and it’s my belief that we already have within us everything we need to create better systems of care for youth by strengthening our connections to this place, to ourselves, to each other, and across systems.