Category Archives: Family Planning

What is a community organizer and why does MFP have one?

Maine Family Planning would like to welcome guest blogger (and co worker) Cait:

I’m Cait, and I’m lucky enough to be Maine Family Planning’s new community organizer. I’ve been organizing with the statewide Health Care is a Human Right campaign for the past four years, and I’m very excited to bring my passion for human rights, reproductive justice, and a deep love of Maine people to my role at MFP.

One thing I get asked a lot is: What does a community organizer do? A lot of things! Here are a few that are very important:

  • Build people power. The overarching goal of community organizing is to put ordinary people in touch with their own power by learning about our rights, joining with others to analyze problems we face, and working collectively to advance solutions. Some solutions are policy-oriented, and to that end, I will build bridges between Maine people and what’s developing in Augusta and Washington, DC. My hope is to make sure that you know who represents you at the state house and in congress, and how to communicate with elected officials about the reproductive rights and justice issues that matter to you.
    Other problems we face around reproductive rights and justice are less concrete and more cultural—such as abortion stigma, ageist ideas on young people’s sexual and reproductive lives, or stigmatizing responses to addiction. In approaching these deeply embedded attitudes, we can build power through public education efforts and campaigns that tackle stigma; creating welcoming forums where communities share stories and build relationships; and other diverse, localized initiatives that bring people out of isolation and into contact with new information and ideas.
  • Listen. One of the most important things I’ll do in this role is ask questions & listen to the stories of clinic patients and providers, students, young people, parents, grandparents, and anybody willing to share with me. Organizing’s power stems from an unshakable belief that our lived experiences provide the best raw material for policy and social changes that truly meet our needs and dignify us. Your insights about your community or school, and experiences accessing reproductive care, will guide the work we do together.
  • Share. My hope is to foster a grassroots network of volunteers across Maine who want to get trained up to lead and grow local efforts to advance reproductive health, rights & justice in their towns. This means hanging out with me a fair amount at first, so I can share all the stuff I know about organizing, community work, and all the important things MFP does. Developing leadership in others is the best thing I can do; basically, a good organizer makes more organizers!
  • Turn strangers into neighbors. I love Maine and its people with all my heart, and I know how much the majority of us care about our neighbors. We’re the kind of folks who are a funny mix of proud and humble, and we show up for each other, even if we do it quietly. As an organizer, I go out into the world with a goal to help folks expand our sense of who counts as a neighbor. I want to engage new people every day in honest conversations and creative actions until we truly embrace the notion that every person in this state is our neighbor. We need to look out for each other and defend everyone’s right to lead lives of health, autonomy, and dignity.

I’m so grateful to be on board with all the dedicated clinic workers and practitioners, administrators, advocates, and educators at Maine Family Planning. I can’t wait to see what we’re able to accomplish when y’all out there join us! Contact me at cvaughan @ mainefamilypanning.org or 207-480-3518 to get started.

In like a lion…

Spring has sprung here at Maine Family Planning and with that, the annual 40 Days for Life anti-choice demonstration outside of our gates.  For 40 days, staff, visitors, and clients must drive through a gauntlet of ugly protesters outside.

I am new here in my third month at this organization.  I have learned about the wonderful work we do – operating 18 health sites across Maine’s rural landscape, serving over 21,000 patients per year for all of their various needs from birth control to STD tests to Pap smears to early detection services.  I have also met the many women and men who work diligently to help these patients and the broader community.

Each week during non-Lenten time, I have been faced with protesters outside our gate and I am driven to think about the women coming in for the exact services they are protesting.  I wonder about the thoughts that these women must have coming into their visits – relief, fear, grief, pain – in addition to the stigma they feel.

At Maine Family Planning, we collect “share your truth” cards from our patients and one struck me: “People think you are heartless because you have an abortion, but it is the complete opposite.  My heart and my brain made the decision to wait to bring a child into this world.”  She adds that she doesn’t feel like a failure because, “a house, a husband, who will father my child.  Without those things I would feel like a failure of a parent.”

Another patient writes, “Your office was helpful in the most meaningful of ways, although hard emotionally and physically, I am glad I made this decision.  It saved my family; now we can focus on us again.”

From the strength of these women, I find the strength to face 40 Days for Life because honestly, that is exactly what we are providing.  A life for Maine women and families, and for that I am so proud.

~Victoria
Director of Marketing and Communications, Maine Family Planning

Click here for more information on Pledge-A-Picketer and how you can support Maine Family Planning patients and staff.

B.Y.O.R. (Be Your Own Receptionist)!

Things I do from my phone:

  • Keep in touch with friends and family
  • Listen to podcasts (and Beyoncé)
  • Check my bank account balance
  • Look up driving directions
  • …Basically everything important

And now:

  • Schedule appointments with Maine Family Planning (!!!)

We’re excited to announce that online scheduling is now available at MaineFamilyPlanning.org.

While current patients have been able to schedule online (using the Patient Portal) for a few years, new patients have always had to call us or come to a clinic to make an appointment. Now, anyone can make an appointment online, day or night.

Why schedule online?

Privacy

Need to make an appointment but don’t want people around you to overhear your concerns? We know it can be tough to find time and privacy to call us during business hours, and while nothing freaks us out, chances are you may not want your coworkers, family, or strangers in the coffee shop to know about your birth control method or that you think you might have a UTI.

Convenience

You can schedule your visit using a computer, smartphone, or tablet whenever and wherever works best for you. Waiting in line at the grocery store and just remembered you need your next Depo shot? Only have a couple minutes during your lunch break to schedule an STD test? Did you put off calling about your annual exam until after our offices close? No worries—our website is always open.

Peace of Mind

We know what it’s like to feel anxious about something going on with our bodies. We also know the relief that comes with knowing you’ve scheduled time to figure things out with a healthcare provider. With online scheduling available 24/7, you don’t have to lose sleep worrying about when you’ll be able to get a pregnancy test or see a Nurse Practitioner about that weird bump you just found.

How it works:  Continue reading

Thank you.

During the 40 days of Lent each year, anti-choice protesters descend on Maine Family Planning’s Augusta headquarters to spew lies, judgment, hate, and to intimidate our patients and staff. These picketers can not understand the lives of those who enter our gates, yet they show up daily to harass patients, despite the fact that protesting does not change the minds of people who know what’s best for themselves and their families.

In an attempt to make lemons out of lemonade (and to show our patients and staff that they are supported by many of their neighbors), Maine Family Planning runs a Pledge-A-Picketer fundraising campaign during these same 40 days. This year, we raised about half as much as we typically do; the Christian Civic League of Maine claimed that their prayers were responsible for defunding abortion and family planning.

But that wasn’t the end. Over the past week, Mike Tipping, Dan Savage, and advocates all over the world stepped up to speak out against the CCL’s harassment and bigotry.

Since the CCL’s claim of righteous victory, we’ve received almost $24,000 from over 720 new donors in six countries and 45 states (pushing our total over $29,000).

Many of you stepped up and donated, despite not knowing Maine Family Planning or the work we do. Perhaps you heard about our effort from  Dan Savage, Mike Tipping, Think Progress, Raw Story, Wonkette, Daily Kos, or our supporters on social media. Despite the fact that many of you don’t know us, you’ve made it clear that you trust family planning clinics to provide reproductive care, and that you trust women, men, teens, and trans* people to make the decisions that are right for themselves and their families.

The work we do is important. We provide confidential reproductive health care that people can afford, including birth control, pap smears, breast exams, STI testing and treatment, pregnancy testing and counseling, and queer and trans-friendly care. At some of our centers (we operate 19 practices at 18 sites), we provide abortion care, primary care, support for growing families, needle exchange services, and hormone therapy for transgender patients.

We work with schools throughout the state to provide evidence-based, comprehensive sex education. We work with legislators, policy makers, and advocates to ensure that sexual and reproductive freedom are protected in Maine. We work in coalition with many other organizations to address sexual assault and domestic violence, to promote the rights of LGBTQIA Mainers, and to help make our state a place where people can create their families safely and with dignity.

Our patients, like many across the country, can’t always afford the health care they need. Health insurance does not always cover the cost of reproductive health services, and thanks to corporations like Hobby Lobby, it may not always have to. We do receive federal Title X funds— and (like many Planned Parenthood centers) we rely on those funds to keep our doors open. Federal dollars make sexual and reproductive health care available to many people who would not otherwise be able to afford services, but those dollars do not always cover the full cost of care, are not available for every patient, and don’t cover every service.

That’s one reason your support is so important. Throwing up our hands and allowing basic reproductive health care to be a luxury afforded only to those with enough money is not an option. This is a point you’ve helped us make and a promise you’re helping us to fulfill.

Access to family planning allows people to pursue education, to make a living wage, to leave abusive relationships, and to create the healthy families they choose. Celebrating a lack of funding for family planning services means celebrating the perpetuation of inequality.

Your support accomplished something else, too. You sent an emphatic message to those who would foster discrimination, inequality, and hatred in the name of religion: bigotry is not divine.

We’re proud to be an organization that works to promote sexual health and reproductive justice in Maine, and we are grateful to have received such an enormous outpouring of support for our work and our patients.

Thank you.

p.s. Haven’t donated yet but want to? Now’s your chance.

Update: as of Monday, April 13th, you’ve helped us raise over $40,000! Thank you, thank you, thank you forty thousand times over. 

PAP 40k 2

 

Meet Pam ~ A Maine Family Planning Staff Profile

pam jandreau-3For thirty years, Pam Jandreau has been doing family planning work in Aroostook County. That’s right… thirty years!

Earlier this week, Pam and I talked about her family planning work experience, among other things.

How did you start working in family planning? I was taking some college classes and volunteering for the sexual assault hotline. This job came up and I applied and I fell into it. It was a great job right from the start.

What kind of work did you do before coming to family planning? In my twenties, I worked as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home. I totally enjoyed that. Then I lived in Portland for a while and worked at the Executive Inn on Congress Street. I enjoyed that too. I just love working with people.

How is working in family planning different from other health care work you’ve done?  Continue reading

Family Planning in Aroostook County ~ A Photo Narrative

Jennifer Thibodeau here…

It’s been almost a year since Maine Family Planning assumed the management of Fort Kent, Houlton, and Presque Isle Family Planning health centers in Aroostook County, and the staff there have been doing amazing work in their communities!

Last week, I took a trip up to The County to meet with some local community partners and our own staff. It was a lovely few days in northern Maine, and I thought I’d share some photos and notes with our readers. Continue reading

Earth Day, Wildlife Protection, and Family Planning ~ What’s the Connection?

Safe Intercourse Saves Seahorse

Earlier this week, Earth Day celebrations were held in many U.S. cities and around the world. Started in 1970 to raise awareness of the impact human activity was having on the planet, Earth Day is considered the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Here in the U.S. we have a keen responsibility to consider the impact of humans on the environment, because we use much more than our share of the world’s resources. It’s great that so many Americans have become more aware of environmental issues, but we’ll only get so far by reducing, reusing, and recycling. We need to start talking about population growth and its impact on planet Earth.

Since the first Earth Day, 44 years ago, the world’s population has increased by 95% ~ yup, you read that right. In 44 years, the earth’s population went from 3.7 to 7.2 billion. And the folks who study such things, tell us that we can expect to add another 2 billion people to our world by the year 2050. Continue reading

A Brighter, Healthier Future, With the Help of Family Planning

lemons and lemonadeWhen we chose the theme Turning Lemons into Lemonade for our Pledge-a-Picketer campaign this year, we were thinking about the protesters at our gates as the lemons and the support for our services as lemonade. It makes perfect sense and it’s a catchy title.

This week, as I was reading through some of the comments we’ve received from our patients, I was struck by a totally different way that the lemons into lemonade theme can be used in relation to our work.

Reflecting on the stories our patients shared, I realized that when we provide  family planning and abortion care services we are helping the women and families who rely on us to turn the lemons that life presents them into the lemonade of a brighter, healthier future.

I’d like to share two very different patient experiences – in their own words – to illustrate what I mean. Here’s the first one: Continue reading

Protesting Doesn’t Reduce Abortion. Effective Birth Control Does.

This piece originally ran in the Bangor Daily News.

This week marked the start of “40 Days,” an anti-abortion protest that is held all over the United States at this time of year. Every day for about six weeks, patients, visitors and staff of Maine Family Planning in Augusta will pass a gauntlet of protesters at our front gates.

These protesters wave rosaries, sing hymns and pray loudly. They gather near the gates, trying to slow down the cars approaching our parking lot. They make no distinction between patients who are coming in for an annual exam, to pick up their birth control supplies, or to get life-saving breast and cervical health screenings. Worst of all, the protesters will display and carry signs spreading lies about abortions and the women who have them.

Are these protesters interested in knowing the facts surrounding abortion? I suspect not.

Based on what I’ve seen of their tactics in my 25-plus years doing family planning work, they don’t want to hear the truth. However, Bangor Daily News readers deserve better. They deserve to know the real story of abortion in our country and our state. Continue reading

Family Planning in Maine Has a New Look!

The Family Planning Association of Maine is thrilled to announce the launch of our new website, logo and name ~ Maine Family Planning!

We’ve made many changes over the last few years, as we’ve taken on direct management of several family planning health centers and are now operating 18 clinics in 12 counties! We’ve also opened a primary care practice at our Belfast location, and in Downeast Maine, we’re providing families with additional support.

Our new name, Maine Family Planning, better reflects our ongoing efforts to provide innovative, high-quality services amidst a changing healthcare environment. We’re no longer simply an association that oversees the work of other agencies, but a leaner, more responsive organization dedicated to the sexual health and reproductive rights of all Mainers.

Our website has been updated with a fresh look and user-friendly navigation to better connect visitors with the information they are seeking. The site is designed to work seamlessly on mobile phones and tablets ~ so users can find the services and information they need, wherever they happen to be.

We hope our new site will be a helpful resource for you. Here’s what you’ll find:

  • Find a Clinic: Finding a family planning health center is easier than ever.
  • Get Involved: Stay informed by signing up for our Action Alerts.
  • The Buzz: Our exciting new program helps pro-choice Mainers make their voices heard through social media and other online forums.
  • On The Front Lines: Our blog informs, inspires, and gives readers a chance to take a more in-depth look at sexual health and reproductive rights issues.
  • Looking for something specific? Our new website has sections especially for patientseducatorsparents and familiescommunity partners, and donors.
  • Health Topics: you’ll find information on sexual health, birth control, STDs, abortion services, and more ~ because everyone deserves a local resource they can trust.

After you check out our new website, connect with Maine Family Planning on Twitter and Facebook! We want to be your Maine resource for sexual health and reproductive rights information and support.

Please let us know what you think of our new look and website.

We value your feedback!