St. Francis Fair’s Role as Important as Ever



BLUE HILL — Organizers of the 20th annual St. Francis Summer Fair are reminded daily that the social services supported by the annual fund-raiser are needed more than ever.

“The demands upon our church’s services to the community have doubled in the last year and our Fair partner, Hancock County HomeCare and Hospice, faces a $50,000 deficit this year,” said Emily Chaney, publicity chairman.

Each year, St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church in Blue Hill splits the proceeds from its summer fair with a nonprofit organization that provides services to people in Blue Hill and surrounding communities.

“We tend to run at a loss,” said Kathy Lirakis, director of Hancock County HomeCare and Hospice (HCHC). “But donations make up for that and get us over a hump. We’re very lucky to have a community that helps us. We’re very grateful to have been chosen as this year’s Fair partner.”

HCHC provides home care and hospice services to county residents regardless of ability to pay. Among the services provided are hospice care, skilled nursing, therapy, home health aids and social work. Last year, HCHC made 17,000 home visits to 950 patients, driving 325,000 miles and logging 196 ferry trips.

Lirakis said the organization faces a $50,000 operating deficit in its current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

“Donations get us over the hump, and we come in at just barely a positive bottom line,” she said.

While demand for services provided by HCHC is rising steadily, reimbursement rates paid for services are declining, especially those paid by Medicare, the organization’s top reimbursement source.

“Instead of reimbursement going up for Medicare, it’s going down,” said Lirakis. “Medicare pays rural home health agencies less than urban agencies. But we travel further and go out to the islands. It’s a very unfair system.”

Other organizations supported by St. Francis are experiencing stiff increases in demand.

Chaney said the Tree of Life food pantry in Blue Hill helped more than 500 area families last year, more than doubling the previous year’s demand.

“The demand is still heavy, even though it’s summer,” she said.

Likewise, the church has fielded more requests from area families for help buying prescription medicine, children’s eyeglasses, home heating fuels and so on.

“We try to help those who fall through the cracks, those who make too much money for welfare but not enough for a mortgage payment,” Chaney said. “These are things we’ve done for a long time, but we’re getting more and more and more requests.”

The 20th annual St. Francis Summer Fair will be held at the Blue Hill Fairgrounds Saturday, Aug. 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.

Fair activities include the area’s biggest yard sale — everything you need to furnish a house or garden, as well as bargains in new gifts, plants, books and beautiful handmade items.

There will be plenty of fun activities for children, including games, a bounce house and wagon rides. Scott Grindle will entertain the crowds with live music, and a silent auction will “feature everything from priceless antiques to dinner at a local restaurant.”

Food will be available daylong, starting with coffee and breakfast snacks and including grilled sausages, burgers, sandwiches, ice cream, fresh berry shortcakes, beverages, popcorn and an assortment of homemade entrees and baked goods to take home.

A package-check service and shuttle transportation from the parking lot will be available for the convenience of visitors.

For information, call the St. Francis church office, 374-5200.

For more arts & entertainment news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

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