This is the first in our series of "Capital Conversations."  A greater look at the people, places & things that make the capital area of Augusta unique.  We hope to offer insight into what makes Augusta and the surrounding area tick. What problems as a community do we face? Who are the unsung heroes of the area? What historic stones can we over turn to learn more about where we live, work and play?

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Rob Gordon, executive director and Courtney Yeager, resource development & marketing director for the United Way of Kennebec Valley for a better understanding of how they serve the Augusta area and what are some of the issues effecting people locally.

They explained to me that being a local chapter of the United Way, the focus is on identifying community needs, raising funds to meet those needs, and coordinating volunteer efforts to make it all happen.

If you are the type of person that wants to do "something" but don't know "what" to do the United Way of Kennebec Valley is a great place to start. You can reach out to them via the website UWKV.ORG or by phone, 207.626.3400.

Certainly the needs of our area are many and varied. A few of the programs Courtney pointed out locally regarding basic need assistance are, Bridging The Gap ( 247-1782), a warming center that also assists with basic necessities such as toiletries.  The Augusta Food Bank ( 622-5225) and Meals on Wheels ( which aides many by delivering daily meals to those that are not able to get out on their own.

Surprisingly, many of the programs are not reserved for just those less privileged. The Hospice Support Program ( 626-1779) for example assists many that are faced with the prospect of hospice care for a loved one. This is not something that insurance generally provides for, and can be quite costly.

The "alternative to suspension" program provided by the Augusta Boys & Girls Club ( 622-0452) aides and acts like a liaison for at risk kids that otherwise may be forced to drop out of school or complete a basic education.

The "good works program" provided by Goodwill Industries of Northern New England (  626-0170) helps bridge the gap for those trying to re-enter the workforce for various reasons. This is a program I have personally utilized that paved the way for me to learn the welding trade from steel toes work boots to the hands on training to a job offer in the field.

These are just a few of the many programs that are connected to the United Way of Kennebec Valley. I have just barely scratched the surface of what is operating around us everyday, serving many, many people in our community. Young and old, privileged and non privileged alike.

As people we owe to one another to be aware and help where we can. That's how communities grow and thrive.  After taking the time to sit down with Rob & Courtney it was obvious and refreshing to know the United Way of Kennebec Valley has it's finger on the pulse of what is happening all around us whether we notice it or not. This is not meant to give anyone a guilt trip. Nor is it a heavy request for a donation. I simply want to open our eyes to the many things happening in and around Augusta.

This is the first in the series of our "Capital Conversations". If you know of something, someone, or someplace in the greater Augusta area that deserves a closer look, let me know, In the coming weeks we plan to highlight and celebrate the uniqueness that is Augusta! We welcome you to join us!