UMEM's new director wants to be a community connector

October 17, 2022

In September, the United Methodist Economic Ministry (UMEM) welcomed a new executive director. 
Helen Pinkham, a long-time resident of Salem, ME, where one site of the ministry is based, comes to UMEM with a strong sense of community. UMEM also has a location in Howland, ME.
Helen Pinkham
UMEM, according to its mission statement, “exists to be in partnership with rural communities in western Maine to create healthy, sustainable communities within the region” through food pantries, thrift shops and emergency assistance programs. 
Asked what drew her to the role, Pinkham said, “Well, I wanted to see more things that happen in the community. I want to get more things going for the elderly, for the teens, for everyone — to see more community involvement and just help be a connector.”
“It’s all about community,” she said.
Rev. Eleanor Collinsworth, president of the UMEM Board of Directors, said, “[The board] is delighted to welcome Helen. Helen brings much to the role.  She is a long-standing member and leader in the greater Salem, ME, community, having worked in hospitality management and health care administration in the area.”
Pinkham, who continues to work as a Referral Specialist and Patient Service Representative for HealthReach at Mt. Abram Health Center in Kingfield, said that she hopes that the center can be another point of connection for UMEM.  
“I'm actually seeing a lot of community members over at the health center, so I’m trying to connect and kind of explain to them that there's help out there,” she said. 
Getting the ministry’s message out and making more folks aware of its work and resources is one of her initial goals, Pinkham said. 
She particularly wants to connect with students at the local high school, which is located nearby.
“So that's one of my big key points is getting the youth back into really helping the community and doing volunteer work,” Pinkham said.
The high school has a community service requirement, and UMEM can always use volunteers, she said. She would also like to make sure the teens know about resources like UMEM’s Prom Shop. 
And as the mother of two young adults who have recently gone out on their own, Pinkham would like to see UMEM offering some practical life skills training for those just starting out.
“When they moved out, they did not have a clue about how to pay bills, how to write a check, and how to budget their money,” said Pinkham. 
“[Helen] loves the mission of UMEM and the people served by UMEM,” Rev. Collinsworth said.  “We were impressed by the ideas for enhanced and new services that she offered in the interview process.”
Helping small businesspeople, re-starting the warming center, and finding new ways to use the UMEM space – including its outdoor space, are just some of the ideas Pinkham is considering as she looks to move the ministry forward. 
“I’ve got a lot of ideas just rolling through my head,” Pinkham said. “Some nights I’m not even sleeping because my brain is just revolving through the ideas that I could do.”
“We are thankful to have found someone with such passion for community service to build upon the strong UMEM foundation set by her dedicated predecessors. Thanks be to God!” Rev. Collinsworth said. 
Learn more
Click the link to learn more about UMEM and how to support the ministry. To reach Executive Director Helen Pinkham, email