The Penobscot County commissioners are shown in 2018. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

Penobscot County announced the first round of grants paid for with federal COVID funding this week, sponsoring a handful of organizations devoted to tackling mental illness and substance use disorder.

Nine organizations received about $200,000 out of the $29.5 million that Penobscot County received from the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress last year. Grants were limited to $25,000 apiece, and another round of grants will be awarded in coming weeks, Penobscot County commissioners said in a notice on the county’s website.

Breaking the Cycle and Pir2Peer Recovery Community Center, both in Millinocket, were awarded $25,000 each, along with Lincoln-based Save A Life, Inc. All three organizations serve people in recovery from substance use disorder.

Together Place Peer Run Recovery Center in Bangor received $24,250 and Bangor Area Homeless Shelter received $25,000.

Food distribution organizations like Food AND Medicine in Brewer and Neighbors Supporting Neighbors Community Pantry, which serves Hermon, Carmel, Levant, Etna and Dixmont, received awards of $24,835 and $25,000, respectively. Another Old Town-based food distributor, Welcome to Housing Home Good Bank Inc., received $15,000, and the Golden Harvest Grange hall in Carmel received $10,000 to recover lost revenue after the pandemic forced the town to stop renting the hall to outside organizations and to stop hosting bi-weekly Bingo nights.

All of the organizations said that they would use their rewards to expand access to the services they provided, according to grant applications that the Bangor Daily News obtained through a records request.

Pir2Peer planned to use some of its money to buy a used van and provide transportation for people seeking addiction treatment who did not have reliable transit options, according to its grant application.

Neighbors Supporting Neighbors said it would do the same and buy a used trailer to be able to transport food to people in need who were housebound or couldn’t afford gas to come to their community pantry.

Breaking the Cycle, Pir2Peer, Together Place, Food AND Medicine and Welcome to Housing Home Goods Bank are all members of Penobscot County Cares, which has advocated for Penobscot County and Bangor city government to devote a large proportion of their American Rescue Plan Act awards to funding recovery treatment, housing and mental health treatment.

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Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to