The Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement is a Maine 501(c)(3) non-profit that empowers people to a lifelong commitment to active citizenship and social responsibility through volunteerism by partnering with schools, businesses, municipal government, non-profit organizations, and residents.
State Representative Justin Chenette founded this 501(c)(3) non-profit service organization to help continue his efforts of creating a more civic-minded society by challenging individuals to become active participants in their community and better their neighborhoods through service.
Throughout Justin's life, community service as always been a centerpiece. This commitment to help others can be traced back to growing up in a Rotarian family. Both of his parents served as Rotary officers when Justin was young. Every week he would attend meetings and help out on service projects including Operation Christmas Child, organizing pancake breakfasts, and even attending the International Rotary Conference and shaking hands with it's president when he was a mere 11 years old.
Fast forward to high school, Justin's interest in helping others grew through the National Honor Society, Student Council, and becoming a Youth Ambassador for Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership both at the Maine seminar and the World Leadership Conference in 2007. His volunteering through these endeavors, at the local soup kitchen, as a public education ambassador for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, on the State Board of Education as it's first student member, and his work informing people through community journalism, earned Justin numerous civic awards. These included the President's Volunteer Service Award from President Bush in 2008 and a 2009 Exemplary Service Award from Governor Baldacci.
Three things happened that spurred Justin's interest in ultimately starting the non-profit charity; Saco Bikes for Kids, his community service bill becoming law, and saving the Saco Drive-In.
In July of 2013, after concluding his first session in the Maine House of Representatives, Justin founded the Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement as an official Maine non-profit. The mission would be to promote active citizenship and social responsibility specifically in the Saco Bay area including Saco, Biddeford, and Old Orchard Beach. This would be done through community based service projects by partnering with other non-profit and philanthropic groups, schools, municipal government, businesses, and residents.
Justin felt by tapping into skill sets he acquired as a legislator, TV broadcaster, print journalist, business owner, and as an active community volunteer, he could amplify the ability for others to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors, family, and friends.
In September of 2013, Justin became the President of the SBCCE after the founding board of directors was in place.
In January 2014, the SBCCE was launched to the public.
June of 2014, the SBCCE was officially recognized by the IRS as a national 501(c)(3) public charity organization.
The SBCCE is an official Maine 501(c)(3) non-profit charity. In the future, Justin hopes the Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement will be able to grow into a statewide network connecting people to service opportunities in their local community.