Allen and Sally Fernald have a bird's-eye view of the Maine coast from their home in Rockport, with the Camden Hills in the foreground and the islands of Penobscot Bay beyond. This special perspective strengthens their commitment to the community, the region and the state, where both have enduring roots.
Sally Carroll Fernald is a descendant of six generations of Southwest Harbor farmers and sea captains. Her father was the local pharmacist. Although Allen admits to being born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, he swears it was only 20 miles from the Maine border.
He can also point to twelve generations of Fernalds in Maine. The couple met at a freshman dance at the University of Maine and have been married more than 50 years.
After the Fernalds purchased Down East Magazine and moved to Camden in 1977, their love of Maine began to express itself through deeds. They became involved with the Farnsworth Museum, the University of Maine (where Allen is now chair of the Board of Visitors), their own church and, more recently, the Camden YMCA.
In January 2005, they deeded the 86-acre summit of Bald Mountain in Camden to the Coastal Mountains Land Trust for conservation and public access.
Part of Allen's appreciation for the state derives from his long association with the Maine Community Foundation. From 1989 to 1999, he served as a board member. He helped to establish the foundation's Knox County Fund and co-chaired a successful campaign to build its assets in 2004.
What has always impressed the Fernalds about MaineCF is its statewide focus. "I began to appreciate how its orientation to the entire state set it apart from other charitable organizations in Maine," says Allen. Sally admires the foundation's willingness to fund new projects."A small grant—and the recognition that someone believes in it—can give a project a real start," she notes.
While the foundation may take risks on creative undertakings, the Fernalds know that their own legacy is safe under MaineCF management. "We can leave a legacy that will continue our interests for generations," says Allen.
Such permanence appeals to both of them, as does the ability to focus their giving. "If we want to support the arts, or rural medicine, or community planning and development," Allen explains, "we can provide for that, and it will go on, forever."
There's one more reason the Fernalds have named the Maine Community Foundation to receive a bequest. As good business people, they recognize that their funds will mean more at MaineCF because the foundation can leverage their money and advance their philanthropic interests through its broad connections. "The foundation staff knows so much about what's going on in the state," Allen states. "They can gather other organizations to support a project."
The Fernalds recognize that establishing a legacy for Maine is not only about money, it's also about making connections, building relationships and creating change step by step. "At the Maine Community Foundation," Allen concludes, "charitable funds go a long way."