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FairPoint Communications Awards $50,000 to Three Maine Non-profits Through New Connected Communities Program

Area Interfaith Outreach, Grahamtastic Connection, and Sunrise Opportunities will each receive a $16,000 grant and customized technology package

/EIN News/ -- PORTLAND, Maine, Aug. 08, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FairPoint Communications today announced winners of the FairPoint Connected Communities program created to recognize non-profit organizations dedicated to connecting and serving Maine residents and communities. The winning organizations are Area Interfaith Outreach of Rockland, Grahamtastic Connection of Springvale, and Sunrise Opportunities of Machias. FairPoint will provide each organization with a $16,000 grant and a technology package valued at up to $1,000 and customized to help advance its charitable mission. A total of 156 non-profit organizations throughout Maine submitted applications.

“The response to the Connected Communities program was overwhelmingly positive, and selecting only three organizations from so many worthy applicants was difficult for our team,” said Mike Reed, FairPoint’s State President for Maine. “The applications revealed a vibrant, active and dedicated non-profit and volunteer community that works each day to make Maine a better place for all its residents.”

Reed and other FairPoint representatives will visit the three non-profit organizations in the coming weeks to present the grants in person.

Launched in May 2017, the FairPoint Connected Communities program invited Maine-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to apply for grants. A total of 156 non-profit organizations submitted applications detailing their charitable missions, how the organizations connect Maine residents and communities, how the internet contributes to their services, and how the grant would help advance their missions.

FairPoint Connected Communities Program Winners

Area Interfaith Outreach (AIO), of Rockland, Maine, is an all-volunteer food pantry and emergency assistance facility serving Knox County. With food insecurity increasing in Maine in recent years, AIO serves anywhere from 25 to 50 families each operating business day, in addition to its Weekend Backpack Program which provides weekend meals to 300 children in 17 schools across the county. Beyond food services, AIO assists individuals who are facing eviction, are unable to pay heat or electric bills, need assistance getting to a medical facility, and any other emergencies that may arise.

“FairPoint’s wonderful grant has everyone at AIO smiling,” said Sherry Cobb, President of AIO. “As the number of families in need of help increases, we are scrambling to raise funds. We are lucky to receive donations for our Weekend Backpack Program but our food pantry doesn’t receive as much support. It is important to remember that you cannot end childhood hunger without ending family hunger, and this grant will help many struggling families in Knox County.”

FairPoint’s customized technology package funding will enable AIO to upgrade the software currently used to track families utilizing its services, which right now is outdated and requires multiple sources to track information. In addition to supporting general operating needs of the food pantry, FairPoint’s grant will be primarily used to purchase food through Maine’s Good Shepherd Food Bank.

Grahamtastic Connection, of Springvale, Maine, provides free technology to children with life-threatening illnesses for educational purposes. Founded in 1998 by Leslie Morissette in honor of her son, Graham, who lost his battle to cancer at the age of eight, Grahamtastic Connection allows children receiving long-term care to remain connected to school, family and friends without the financial strain of accessing the necessary technology to do so. Grahamtastic Connection has served 1,400 children since 1998.

“This is the largest grant Grahamtastic Connection received this year and we are extremely grateful to be selected by FairPoint Communications as one of their honored charities,” said Leslie Morissette, Founder of Grahamtastic Connection. “With such generous funding from such a community-minded company, together we will be connecting many kids when their world is out of reach."

FairPoint’s grant will shorten the waiting list of children in need of assistance by allowing Grahamtastic Connection to purchase additional laptops and iPads, provide free internet access for in-home care patients, and expand its tele-robotics program. This technology allows children to move around their classroom, “walk” down school hallways, attend assemblies and interact with teachers and peers face-to-face from hospital beds or homes. 

Sunrise Opportunities, of Machias, Maine, serves hundreds of children and adults throughout Eastern Maine. Celebrating 60 years of service in 2017, Sunrise Opportunities provides creative services and environments in which individuals can thrive, enjoy a high quality of life, make impactful friendships and achieve personal goals. The organization also offers housing for people with disabilities, seniors and low-income individuals. 

“Technology plays a significant role in our mission by providing entertainment, education and communication opportunities for the individuals we serve, which helps reduce feelings of isolation and adds countless possibilities in many rural areas,” said Thomas Michaud, executive director of Sunrise Opportunities. “We are so grateful and excited to receive this recognition and means to support our goals within the community.”

Sunrise Opportunities will use FairPoint’s technology package and grant funding to upgrade the routers and bandwidth used at its day-center in Machias. Through improved connectivity, day-center visitors will experience easier connectivity with peers and services through video chat, video, and music and game streaming with fewer interruptions.

“We wish to thank all the non-profit organizations that participated and congratulate them on the fine work they do,” said Reed. “FairPoint is dedicated to connecting Maine’s communities, and we are honored to help these three outstanding organizations continue their important work of helping Mainers.”

On July 3, 2017, Consolidated Communications announced it had completed the acquisition of FairPoint. This business combination creates an even stronger company that remains committed to investing in Maine communities and building broadband infrastructure to increase availability and improve broadband speeds across the state.

FairPoint’s Broadband Expansion

Since 2008, FairPoint has invested more than $50 million to extend broadband service in Maine, which is now available in more than 88% of its service territory. In 2016, FairPoint’s network investments impacted more than 60,000 locations in Maine, many of which are in rural areas, with new or upgraded service. FairPoint’s 2017 projects are expected to impact an additional 30,000 locations in the state.

Through the Company’s own investments as well as with support from Phase II of the Federal Connect America Fund, FairPoint is reaching more unserved and underserved rural residents and businesses in Maine. FairPoint’s next phase of upgrades, which bring local access to broadband technology for the first time or a significant upgrade over previously available speeds, includes projects in more than 100 towns.

FairPoint’s network – with approximately 18,000 miles of fiber in northern New England – is the largest in the region.

For information regarding the FairPoint Connected Communities winning organizations and information on FairPoint’s Maine broadband buildout project, including county-by-county details, visit www.fairpoint.com/connectedcommunities.

For more information about FairPoint’s voice and internet services in Maine, residential consumers may call 1-866-984-2001 and businesses may call 1-866-984-3001 or visit www.FairPoint.com.

About FairPoint, a Consolidated Communications Company
FairPoint is now a part of Consolidated Communications (Nasdaq:CNSL), a leading broadband and business communications provider serving consumers, businesses of all sizes, and wireless companies and carriers, across a 24-state service area. Leveraging its advanced fiber optic network spanning more than 36,000 fiber route miles, Consolidated Communications offers a wide range of communications solutions, including: data, voice, video, managed services, cloud computing and wireless backhaul. Headquartered in Mattoon, Ill., Consolidated Communications has been providing services in many of its markets for more than a century. www.consolidated.com.

About Area Interfaith Outreach
The Area Interfaith Outreach (AIO) food pantry in Rockland, serving all of Knox County, gave food to 13,000 people last year, but AIO is unusual among food pantries in that heating fuel and other emergency assistance is part of its continuing program. Also the Weekend Backpack Program sends food home on Fridays with 310 kids in seventeen Knox County schools: breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and ingredients for one meal for the whole family. AIO is a 501c3, non-profit organization, run entirely by volunteers for twenty-seven years. 

About Grahamtastic Connection
The mission of Grahamtastic Connection is to provide free technology to children with cancer and other serious illnesses for educational purposes. Technology includes, iPads, laptops, internet access and tele-presence robots.  Founded in 1998 by Leslie Morissette after losing her son Graham to Cancer, the program has now supported over 1,400 hospitalized and homebound children.

About Sunrise Opportunities
Sunrise Opportunities shines light into our communities by providing creative services and environments in which all can thrive, enjoy a high quality of life, and reach personal goals. Children and adults living in Washington, Eastern Hancock, and Penobscot County who have a mental illness, intellectual disability or are in need of counseling are eligible. Sunrise Opportunities is a private non-profit organization run by a volunteer Board of Directors. Federal, State, and local resources provide funds.

Media Contact:     
                    Angelynne Beaudry
                    207-210-3079
                    aamores@fairpoint.com

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