In 1969, the Rev. Charles Reid was assigned to two small, rural churches near Salem, Maine. At his post in the mountains of western Maine, he witnessed the need of the hard-working people in the area. Many struggled economically; poverty and the people in its grip were apparent. Although the residents of the community were strong and hardy, many families struggled to meet basic, daily needs like food, clothing, and adequate shelter.
Rev. Reid and his wife Norma recognized and responded to this call in their new community. The couple, with the assistance of their churches and other local congregations, began plans to address the basic needs of local residents. They moved a building to the current site the Salem UMEM and began a thrift shop, which offered good, used clothes at affordable prices. Norma Reid first stocked the accompanying Food Cupboard with items from her own pantry.
In the early 1970's, the first summer mission teams were welcomed to the Economic Ministry. These groups worked and stayed at the ministry during the warm Maine summers to help local families stay safer, warmer, and drier during the harsh Maine winters. The UMEM's outreach has expanded over the years to include three locations. The mission was expanded to the Solon community in the fall of 1995 with the opening of the Solon Thrift Shop and Food Cupboard. The Economic Ministries' most recent expansion was the Howland Thrift shop which started serving that its neighbors
in November of 2017.
Since it’s inception nearly 50 years ago, the UMEM has continued to provide first-step support the residents of western Maine to promote self-sufficiency as a means to break cycles of poverty. The core of our services continue to be our Food Cupboards, Thrift Shops, and Summer Mission Teams. And the scope and nature of our outreach continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs within our communities. UMEM strives to create healthy, sustainable communities through respect for and day-to-day connection with the people we serve!