BANGOR – Strengthening communities has never been more important, making this the optimal time for United Way of Eastern Maine and United Way of Mid Maine to officially align service areas, with the mutual goal of increasing impact both locally and across the region. As of Dec 31 all of Somerset County and the five Waldo County towns previously served by United Way of Mid Maine, will now be served by the United Way of Eastern Maine. The leadership of both UWs have initiated plans to ensure increased efficiencies and a seamless transition for the region.

“For 84 years we have been focused on mobilizing the caring power of people and communities to meet immediate needs and create long term change,” said Shirar Patterson, president and CEO of United Way of Eastern Maine. “This expansion is a natural evolution that builds upon the rich history of both organizations that have worked to improve lives across our region. This alignment has been designed to create efficiencies, streamline administrative operations and increase resources to serve individuals and families in Somerset County.”

Partnership and collaboration are a cornerstone of the United Way philosophy which made a formal alignment a natural step in the evolution of both organizations to deepen impact and results for the communities they serve. In September, United Way of Mid Maine aligned the Kennebec County communities they served with United Way of Kennebec Valley to unify the full county under one United Way.

United Way of Mid Maine has remained deeply committed to ensuring that the more rural areas of their region are able to grow and thrive well into the future. Al Smith, outgoing president & CEO of United Way of Mid Maine said, “The United Way of Mid Maine board is committed to developing a model that will increase revenues and support for the local community. United Way of Eastern Maine approached this partnership with the spirit of innovation necessary to succeed while honoring the rich history of United Way of Mid Maine and the unique needs of this community.” Smith continued that, “United Way of Eastern Maine was the natural choice for the Somerset community due to their wide geographic reach and demonstrated track record of support to rural communities, specifically Piscataquis and Waldo counties.”

The United Way approach in Somerset County will continue to be grassroots in nature with local staff leading the charge and commitment to increase funds raised and invested in the local community. “We are excited to welcome Lori Costa to the United Way of Eastern Maine team as Community Engagement Director for the region,” said Patterson. “Costa is a longtime resident of Somerset County and has built many relationships that have led to the success of fundraising and community engagement in the county. She will continue to bring a local, community minded focus to her work in this new role.”

Costa most recently served as director of operations for United Way of Mid Maine.

United Way of Eastern Maine is now serving 26 percent of the state’s residents, second only to United Way of Southern Maine in population and is now the largest United Way by geography covering 51 percent of the state.

Pat Kimball, board chairperson of United Way of Eastern Maine shared that, “Our board has been very intentional in exploring this expansion and growth; and what that means to our community, our donors and the impact we can have with our work.” Kimball continues, “Our theme of HOPEFUL this year has brought to light not only providing hope for those that need it but to challenge individuals and communities to action. This opportunity for expansion came at the perfect time to do just that.”

UWEM is committed to ensuring that Somerset County support remains and grows throughout the transition. Officials shared that in the coming weeks they will be engaging in conversations and gathering input from partners, stakeholders and community members across the six-county region to evaluate the name and brand of this United Way to ensure it is reflective of the diverse area it serves; with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all in our community feel that their United Way is accessible.

Established in 1937, United Way of Eastern Maine mobilizes the caring power of people and communities throughout Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, and Washington counties to provide essential services and identify solutions, aimed at the root causes of the community’s most pressing needs. UWEM is focused on basic needs, substance use disorder and early child development through the Opportunity 2028 initiative. UWEM supported more than 109,000 people through their efforts in 2020-21.


United Way of Eastern Maine is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Bangor. For more information on UWEM and our work visit http://www.unitewayem.org or call us at 207-941-2800.