Author Archives: Kristin Harmon

  1. AmeriCorps/VISTA Member Job Description


    The Maine MultiCultural Center (MMCC) is a new, volunteer-based nonprofit organization formed in 2017 to help make Bangor a welcoming place for all.  We are a network of educational, business, and cultural stakeholders designed to promote community and economic growth by attracting, retaining, supporting and integrating people of diverse cultures and backgrounds to the greater Bangor community.

    MMCC employs two basic strategies to achieve its mission:  1) community outreach and education to help create a hospitable environment for new Mainers and to celebrate the diversity that already exists within the community; and 2) referral services that assist new Mainers in accessing the resources and training they need in order to successfully integrate into the community.

    Many new immigrants, particularly refugees, require some assistance when they first arrive.  For instance, refugees here less than 5 years have an average annual income of $22,000 nationally (New American Economy, “From Struggle to Resilience: The Economic Impact of Refugees in America”).  Interventions in these early years can help position new Mainers for social and economic success in subsequent years.  The goal of this project is to expand MMCC’s capacity to help connect low-income immigrants new to the area to the social services, economic resources, and educational and job training services they will need to successfully integrate into their new community. 

    MMCC’s clients are immigrants to the greater Bangor area.  MMCC also offers professional development for area public school teachers (to enable them to teach more effectively to a multicultural class), and community members (to help increase knowledge and appreciation of the many cultures found in the greater Bangor community).  In 2017 the 17,870 immigrants living in Maine’s 2nd district comprised 2.7% of the districts population (The New American Economy  From 2009 – 2013 In the Portland, ME area immigrants were found to be 3 times more likely to be living in poverty than native born Americans.  With a median income of $24,537 versus $46,821 for native born Americans, 40% of immigrants were living in poverty compared to 10% of non-immigrants (Dickstein et. al. “Building Maine’s Economy” a report for CEI, 2015). Poor English language proficiency is often a major challenge to successful integration and positive economic outcomes.   62% of new refugees struggle with poor English language proficiency.  While this improves over time, 50% still experience difficulty with the language several years on.  Capp et. al. “The Integration of U.S. Refugees:  Success & Challenges” Washington D.C. Migration Policy Institute, 2015).

    By expanding MMCC’s asset map of the community, supporting the design of a set of processes and procedures for providing high quality services, supporting the development of strategic community partnerships, managing and expanding MMCC’s presence on social media, and supporting the community outreach and education efforts of MMCC’s Education Committee, the project will improve and strengthen Maine MultiCultural Center’s infrastructure and thus expand its ability to provide services.

    MMCC’s work is currently dependent on the volunteer efforts of its Board of Directors and of the members of its various standing committees.  The AmeriCorps VISTA member will support the Board’s efforts to improve and expand the organizations infrastructure, and to develop strategic partnerships within the community.  MMCC’s ultimate goal is to hire a full-time Director to direct and manage these efforts.


    Objective 1  The AmeriCorps VISTA member will work to expand MMCC’s capacity to connect low-income immigrants in the Greater Bangor area with services and resources that will facilitate integration into the community and improve economic prospects, particularly in helping them seek jobs or start their own business:

    1. The AmeriCorps VISTA member will collaborate with other service delivery organizations such as Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Maine Stream Finance, and Welcoming Immigrant Neighbors (WIN), in service delivery efforts

    Objective 2  The AmeriCorps VISTA member will support efforts to expand MMCC’s capacity to connect low-income, new Mainers with the integrative services they need by:

    1. Updating and refining MMCC’s asset map, and using it to create a resource guide for MMCC’s clients
    2. Developing policies and procedures for client intake and service delivery

    Objective 3  The AmeriCorps VISTA member will work to create and sustain strategic community partnerships:

    1. Reach out to area organizations and agencies that provide services immigrants might need to:
      1. Inform them about the Maine MultiCultural Center mission and the needs and challenges of area immigrants
      1. learn about their intake process and establish reliable contacts
      1. explore potential collaborative activities
      1. keep the organizations and agencies informed about MMCC’s activities and immigrant issues

    Objective 4  The AmeriCorps VISTA member will manage and expand MMCC’s presence on social media and communications

    1.  Work with MMCC Board to develop a strategic communications plan.
    2. Manage Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and update notices and events as needed on the webpage
    3. Develop brochures, flyers, press releases, etc. to promote the organization and its activities
    4. Reach out to area radio and TV stations as well as local print media to explore avenues for promoting the organization and its services/activities
    5. Prepare a monthly e-newsletter

    Objective 5  The AmeriCorps VISTA member will support MMCC’s Education Committee community outreach & education efforts:

    1. Provide technical support for virtual teacher workshops
    2. Provide technical support for monthly community forums
    3. Work to publicize Education Committee events


    The candidate should have the following background and interests:

    • International studies, social services, immigration law, equity and inclusion (income, racial, gender, religious), economic development and immigration.
    • Must have a demonstrated commitment to MMCC’s mission to serve immigrants and diverse populations.
    • Outstanding attention to detail with strong organizational, analytical, logical and problem solving skills. 
    • Strong interpersonal and communication skills, both written and verbal.
    • Sound time management and organizational skills, with an ability to coordinate complex activities and prioritize conflicting demands and deadlines.
    • Computer proficiency and experience, including, spreadsheet, word processing, and presentation software.


    Send résumé with a simple email message of 1-2 paragraphs on your interest for the position to Pamela Proulx-Curry, mmccBangor@gmail.comby Monday, May 17. 

    To learn more about AmeriCorps/VISTA, visit Maine’s sponsor organization, Goodwill Northern New England:

  2. World Tour of Food & Restaurants in Greater Bangor + Eastern and Midcoast Maine!

    Early March to March 12, 2021 was Maine Restaurant Week (+/-). As a sub-set, we celebrated our immigrant/New American-owned restaurants and worldly cuisine-themed restaurants in Greater Bangor, especially Bangor, Brewer, Old Town, and Orono, as well as other communities, like Ellsworth, on our Facebook page. As we took the tour around the world, folks highlighted and added their favorites, especially if we missed anyone (and made a few mistakes as well!). We hope we encouraged many to grab some takeout for those few weeks and beyond at these wonderful establishments to let to those businesses and entrepreneurs know we are here for them! Here are the highlights by country.

    Day 1: Chinese Restaurants. So who’s hungry? We start with our many restaurants with an influence/connection to Asia, particularly from various parts of China for today. The author’s go-tos are Oriental Jade and Fresh Ginger Fusion as well as Happy China Buffet.

    Annnnddd while we are on the topic of restaurants, Asia, and equity & inclusion – did you know many of our perceptions of MSG and ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ are really outdated, wrong, and even racist? Here are some articles from the BBC, LA Times, and CNN on the topic.

    Day 2: Japan. Sticking with the Asian continent & islands, we focus today on Japanese Restaurants or those of Japanese influence/fusion or sushi focused. Yoshi is great – yum! We’re also fans of Umami Noodle Bar.

    Day 3: Thailand! We actually have a few choices in our area. Thai Orchid in Orono was mentioned a few times – Yes! We also like the no nonsense but oh so good Thai Etc and Mama D in Downtown Bangor.

    Day 4: Vietnam. Pho Hoa Grill (Website, Yelp) in Bangor. We love the pho chicken broth and array of ingredients.

    Day 5: Korea. We’re not sure exactly when – but we’re excited about Korean Dad opening up in Bangor in the Spring. Check out his dishes on their Facebook Page while we wait – we’ll be the first in a socially distanced line for pick-up (for now)! And some BDN press coverage.

    • Flavors of Korea/Seoul Shack – Belfast Farmer’s Market (BDN Coverage) – coming soon

    Day 6: Incredible India! Taste of India Inc. in Bangor does a wonderful job of presenting the many different tastes and dishes from India’s diverse regions. There is the big difference between some northern regions’ preferences for vegetarian dishes and the south’s leaning to spicier fare. But with its mountain ranges, deserts, rain forests, and seashores, you can imagine the regional cuisines are so different and wonderful in their own way. Check out the dish you are ordering online and what region it originates from or ask the staff at Taste of India – ENJOY!

    Day 7: Sri Lanka has its own unique tastes from other South Asian cuisine – a little more seafood, tropical fruit, and spice – and very good! We’re very lucky to have Serendib (Website, Yelp) in Ellsworth serving Sri Lankan (and Indian) dishes! I’m particular to the wild boar dish (yes! wild boar), dhal, and the fresh lime soda.

    Day 8: Mediterranean Food – Greece and Lebanon. Today we’re moving to the Mediterranean region with influences from countries such as Greece and Lebanon. The author’s go-tos are Manny’s Greek Grill – Ellsworth, KEBAB DEN – Bangor, and Kosta’s Restaurant & Bar – Brewer.

    Day 9 – Ireland and Irish Pubs. I’m having a real tough time saying which one in the area I like best. Paddy Murphy’s Bangor is our go to but we love Geaghan Brothers Brewing Company too. Our kids love Finn’s Irish Pub in Ellsworth and its funky building. I think that is why we love the pubs so much – most, if not all, are very kid/family friendly!

    Day 10: Bella Italia! Is there any country’s cuisine that has had a bigger influence on American cuisine? The country known for its fresh produce and food – origin of the Slow Food Movement. We have many choices in our area that are inspired by Italian cuisine. Tesoro New Italian Restaurant and Novio’s Bistro, are local favorites for a variety of dishes and pizzas! Angelo’s Pizzeria is a favorite and owned by a first generation family. A little further out there is Provender Kitchen + Bar in Ellsworth, Meanwhile in Belfast, and the oh so good Italian Bakery+, Holy Cannoli – Waterville.

    True story: When the author was a SAHD taking his son to daycare in Rome, the staff eventually told him not to cook lunches anymore because a few hours old pasta was not OK. I always imagined the staff laughing and tossing out the food I made each day after I left, as the nonnas/nonne looked on shaking their heads in disapproval…American foodies have nothing on every day Italians…

    Day 11: Togo, West Africa (sandwiched right between Benin and Ghana on the coast). Me Lon Togo (Yelp) in Camden offers traditional and fusion dishes with flair, primarily from Togo but also other countries like Ghana, Senegal, and Morocco as well as France, as they rotate the specials menu often. It’s worth the beautiful drive down Route1! Here is some great coverage on their journey.

    And let’s remember Africa is not a country, but a continent of 50+ unique countries and cuisine. May we welcome many more restaurants, their owners, families, friends, and colleagues from different parts of Africa in the future!

    Day 12: Jamaica. Today is officially the last day of Restaurant Week – but we’ll be going thru the weekend – too many choices! Today Jamaica! We were sad to see Jamaican Vybz Take-Out Restaurant close in Bangor (while we’re at it Cubita Libre too – sigh). But there is Taste Jamaica (Website, Yelp) in Ellsworth with rave reviews. We are guessing JJ’s Jerk Shack (Website) food truck will be back on the road as well in the summer! For now, drive out to Ellsworth and get your fix!

    Day 13: Mexico. Our family’s comfort food – Mexican…nom, nom, nom. Our Gotos are Las Palapas Brewer and Bangor and Miguels Mexican Grill & Cantina. We have a date night 1-hour +/- driving rule radius – so you can also check out Buen Apetito – Waterville and catch a movie while you’re at it. In the summer months, we highly recommend Vazquez Mexican Takeout – Milbridge for the food and the drive along the Downeast Coast. Do call ahead (they run out fast) – grab your food – and drive a ways to eat by the seashore…nothing better. Buen provecho!

    Day 14: Final Day – markets, stores, food trucks, and side hustles from the home. All the informal places where we can find different foods in our region: the markets, stores, food trucks, and the side catering hustles from folks’ homes. Lots of ‘foodpreneurs’ get started with these types of venues before putting up their own ‘shingle.’ For markets with worldy food offerings, our favorites are Bangor’s European Market and Belfast Farmers’ Market – lots of choices of breads, sweets, and cuisine from different parts of the world. Food trucks as well are picking up in Bangor, Belfast, and Ellsworth. For Bangor, watch Bangor Parks and Recreation for who will be on the waterfront for the summer (they announced at the end of May last year).

    While there are no specific restaurants or food-related businesses that we know of in our region (please share if you do!), we would be remiss not to mention the origins of and influence from African-American and Native American communities on modern American cuisine. Here is a BBC article on Native American food and vegetables becoming part of our “normal” diet here and in Europe and how some are raising up those influences and dishes more explicitly, called “The Crucial Legacy Missing from US Food” as well as a link to food resources from the National Museum of the American Indian. There is much written about African-American influences on cuisine, how slavery shaped much of it, and the awful erasing and sad depictions of Black chefs and cooks, but most of us do not know the full story. Here are a few articles: one called How Enslaved Chefs Helped Shape American Cuisine as well as articles on the history of barbeque and soul food and some cuisine resources and articles from the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Adrienne Miller is releasing “Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue,” April 27, 2021.

    Hope you had a good ‘trip’ with us, got hungry, and got out there and bought some takeout! All of our foods come from somewhere else – even what is considered to be American. What is great are the new and wonderful tastes and varieties to try – not that one is better than the other. Enjoy and let us know how it went!

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