The Women’s Health Resource Library has received an unrestricted donation of $25,000 from Jasper Wyman and Son, the Milbridge-based blueberry company. Wyman’s is a family-owned company founded in 1874 and is one of the area’s largest employers.
The Women’s Health Resource Library is a non-profit based in Milbridge and was founded in 2004 by area nurse practitioner Christine Kuhni. The center opened in 2005 with a mission to advance and promote the health of the woman, her family and her community. Before the WHRL opened, Wyman’s CEO Ed Flanagan visited the unfinished center and learned about the services being proposed. Wyman’s has been a financial supporter ever since.
April Norton, Director of Human Resources at Wyman’s reports, “Wyman’s is a company with a deep commitment to sustainability and we recognize that a healthy community is central to our mission. The Women’s Health Resource Library has been a perfect marriage for our company and our employees through the years. We are proud to have sponsored the WHRL through many projects and we hope to continue that relationship far into the future.”
Wyman’s has supported the ongoing programming at the WHRL, including lectures and workshops on a variety of health and wellness topics, the Bone Builders Exercise Class, the Parent-child Play Group, and most recently Incredible Edible Milbridge.
Wyman’s has a progressive focus on employee’s overall wellness and in 2010 initiated an employee wellness plan to further invest in the health of the community. This is more than a top down initiative. Since 2010 Wyman’s employees have:
- Walked a total of 66,750 miles
- Received company paid health bonuses for annual walking and/or weight loss totaling $147,500
- Contributed countless hours of volunteer efforts primarily to WHRL initiatives in Downeast Maine.
Incredible Edible Milbridge was started in 2013 and has been WHRL’s most successful community outreach effort. IEM grows free, organic vegetables in 25 beds scattered throughout Milbridge and includes educational initiatives around home gardening. IEM has expanded each year in response to the community’s need and continued demand for quality produce. Each year the gardens are picked clean.
In 2017, Incredible Edible will expand again to include Milbridge Commons, a 4.6-acre coastal parcel in easy walking distance to downtown Milbridge. The “Commons” will provide additional garden space but will add other dimensions that will create an oasis of sorts in town. The land is situated in perhaps the most beautiful location on the Narraguagus Bay and hosted BikeMaine this past summer. There will be walking trails looping the perimeter of the property and interlacing the gardens as well. The cutting-edge park will be revolutionary in meeting the wellness needs of a rural community.
WHRL’s executive director Chris Kuhni explained her thoughts about the recent Wyman’s financial boost. “This donation provides our organization with the additional capacity to help our community. When we can spend our collective time and energy on meeting our mission, then we have an unparalleled level of potential for real and lasting impact on holistic community wellness. This strong union between our organizations demonstrates what collaborative effort can produce and basic human kindness can achieve.”
Photo caption: April Norton, HR Director at Wyman’s of Maine hands off $25,000 check to Chris Kuhni, Executive Director at the Women’s Health Resource Library at the site of Milbridge Commons.