AUBURN — The Maine Community Foundation’s Androscoggin County Committee awarded Community Concepts a $750 grant to train members of the Somali Bantu community as volunteer drivers. At the end of the week-long session in January, five Somali Bantus were trained and ready to drive members of their community to MaineCare appointments under the Community Concepts transportation volunteer program.
New Americans, like the Somali Bantu, face many challenges when they arrive in a new country. The Community Concepts training opportunity has made it possible for the Somali Bantu to help members of their own community – building their own social capital for the benefit of all.
The grant enabled Community Concepts to hire two interpreters from the Bantu community, translate written material and provide food during the training. In addition to learning the Community Concepts volunteer reimbursement system, the five Somali Bantus took the State of Maine’s Driving Dynamics course and learned how to properly install child car safety seats.
Glenn Gordon, associate director of transportation for Community Concepts said, “The challenge is creating a situation and willingness for individuals to meet so that mutual respect and affection can take place and grow.”
“The effect of the training, sharing food, asking questions and expressing interest in a culture, inspired me with awe and gratitude,” said Gordon.
The five volunteer drivers join more than 375 volunteers that help run the Community Concepts volunteer driver service for MaineCare recipients. Last year, Community Concepts volunteer drivers contributed more than 550,000 hours to the communities of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.