One Community Many Voices

One Community Many Voices

Imagine your car breaks down, but you cannot afford the repairs. You need your car to get to work. But you do not qualify for any assistance programs because those are for people in crisis. What are you going to do?

Audrey Lovering. Photo by Christine Simmonds

That is where Audrey Lovering comes in. Audrey seems like an unassuming woman. She has long brown hair and brown eyes. She wears a black long-sleeve shirt and jeans, with knee-high boots pulled over them. She wears silver earrings and a stack of six silver bracelets that jangle together as she moves.

The reality is that Audrey is a powerful force. She is working to make the world a better place one person at a time, and her two jobs are working in tandem to achieve this goal.

Audrey is a co-founder of One Community Many Voices (OCMV), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit operating out of Rockland. She runs the program out of a small office on Tillson Avenue, which she shares with Tammy Rolfe, the Program Manager for OCMV.

Audrey describes OCMV as providing a “hand up” to those in need who do not qualify for crisis programs. The nonprofit is designed to assist community members with issues that could potentially have a devastating impact on them. “Because at some point in our lives, we all need that little boost,” Audrey says. “And if we could just get that boost, we’re up and going again.”

“If you can’t fix your car, you can’t get to work,” Audrey says. “If you can’t get to work, you can’t pay your bills. And to pay for a taxi while you try to save money… it takes your whole paycheck.”

The concept for the program came about after talking with local organizations who provide assistance to people in crisis. Audrey says they were seeing a population of people who were not in crisis yet and were not eligible for their programs. The problems these people were dealing with, however, had the potential to snowball until they did become a crisis.

Many Hands.

One Community Many Voices is the proactive solution to stop that snowball. They work with a number of organizations and business partners to provide that assistance. In return, the recipients perform self-selected volunteerism to pay it forward.

“It’s also about feeding your soul,” Aubrey says. “I always tell people we’re bartering. You might need some cash today to help you overcome this problem. I might need your expertise tomorrow to help someone.”

The Meals on Wheels program is one example. The local Meals on Wheels program found that many of the recipients did not have house numbers. This lack led to new volunteers getting lost while trying to make deliveries.

If a volunteer might get confused, Audrey explains, what happens during an emergency? “That one or two minutes is life or death.”

So, in partnership with the organization Making Community Happen and the Meals on Wheels program, OCMV purchased address numbers, and volunteers put them up on the houses. To pay it forward, the seniors who benefited then assembled the goody bags for the OCMV annual Ragged Mountain Scuttle. “If you’ve ever had to put on an event, the last thing you want to do is stuff 400 goody bags,” Audrey laughs. “That was really cool . . . Those moments make everything else worth it.”

Audrey’s favorite part of working with OCMV is seeing firsthand how their work helps people. Two years ago, the hospitality house reached out to ask about buying new school clothes for children.

“For most people, especially parents, they hate back to school shopping . . . It is not fun,” she says. “But what about that little kid who gets on the bus in used clothes with stains or a hole in their shoe? How does that make them feel?”

Audrey’s voice wavers as she continues, and tears fill her eyes as she talks about this project. “Where does that start them off in their year?” she asks. “When they’re already dreading getting on that bus.”

Audrey knows it only takes one person to believe in someone for things to change. “And that’s what we get to do,” she says. “We don’t do emergency stuff. We do the other stuff that strengthens a person.”

Audrey’s second passion project is her bracelet company, Ka Ora. The name comes from the New Zealand Maori people, and it translates to “I live.”

Audrey noticed that women often doubt themselves. “It’s easier to believe the negative versus the positive,” she says. So, she wanted to create a product that would reassure people in that moment of doubt. “Is there something that says yes I can?” she asks. That something was Ka Ora Bracelets.

The bracelets are designed to be durable for the everyday life of the average woman. “I’m not nice to jewelry,” Audrey says. “I wear them to the dump. I wear them doing whatever. I beat the bajeezum out of them.”

The first place Ka Ora advertised was Maine Women Magazine, and they were chosen as a must-have gift in 2017. Audrey says Maine Women was instrumental in the company’s slow, steady rise as a small business.

Ka Ora Bracelets come in 31 designs so far, and each one is connected to a positive message to lift up the spirit.

Currently Audrey wears six of the bracelets. She says the 207 bracelet “is a must” because she is a Mainer through and through. She also wears Reflection, which reminds you that “the way you treat yourself sets the standards for how others should treat you.” She wears Adventure Continues to remember her connection with nature. She also wears Meander and Feet, which are reminders to continue on your path.

The final bracelet Audrey wears is the League of Extraordinary Women, Ka Ora’s signature bracelet. “Part of the whole premise behind this [Ka Ora] is I feel I’ve been very blessed in life when it comes to my tribe,” she says. “I have a great network of friends across the world.” The message behind this bracelet is that “behind every successful woman is her league of extraordinary women.” For Audrey, her league also includes Tammy at OCMV and her mother Brenda, who helps her with Ka Ora. “Having an amazing team who also believes in what you’re doing has allowed me to slowly grow both,” she says.

The latest bracelet design is Many Hands. It is decorated with a series of hands, and 100 percent of the profits go to One Community Many Voices. The design reflects the core belief of OCMV that “people are given two hands because one is to help themselves and the second is to help others.”

The bracelets cost $35 and are made from a core of jeweler’s brass and plated with pure 925 Sterling Silver. The designs are embossed on the bracelets using traditional jewelry crafting techniques passed down through generations.

Audrey and her mother work with six different small New England businesses to produce the bracelets, and Many Hands is their first charity design. “I’m a tiny little company. It’s my mom and I,” Audrey says. “So, I can’t write a check the way I want to. But I can do it this way.”

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Christine Simmonds

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