Perry Sutherland has quietly been using his CLYNK account for good since 2018. Tired of waiting in long lines and feeding finicky deposit machines, he was one of the first CLYNK members when Hannaford in Portland, Maine first started offering the service at their location. The funds he collects go directly to teens in need. His tireless commitment to support homeless and at-risk teens has made an incredible impact and has inspired a community to donate their returnables – almost 65,000 containers – towards his fundraising efforts …and it is all done from a small island off the coast of Maine.
Meeting Teen Needs
A social worker at Westbrook High school,Perry has a deep understanding of what teenagers need. Over the span of his career, he has worked with hundreds of kids, many of them living in unstable homes or who are homeless. These kids have found refuge and safety during school hours talking with Perry about their lives and ongoing struggles to obtain basics that many of us simply take for granted. Since morphing his personal CLYNK account into a fundraising account two years ago, Perry has raised over $3,000 to provide essentials to teens such as snacks, clothing, shoes, winter boots, school supplies, and even phone service to help homeless students stay connected. These essentials help sustain students outside the classroom, and, most recently, during school closures as a result of COVID-19. “You can’t learn if you’re hungry, so healthy foods are such an essential need. We have so many students and families who experience food insecurity, and we frequently purchase Hannaford gift cards to provide them funds to get food and other essential items over the weekend. It’s not a lot, usually $10 to $20, but milk and eggs and juice are greatly appreciated,” Perry recently told CLYNK.
A labor Of Love
Although CLYNK’s convenient drop off locations offer an efficient way for mainland members to easily process their containers, living on an island creates unique transportation challenges for Perry. Accessible only by ferry, Perry, who has called Peaks Island, Maine his home for over 30 years, provides designated bins for community members to drop off their beverage containers. Thanks to word-of-mouth, fellow islanders learn about his work and are always eager to donate their containers to help the teens Perry works with. Currently, there are about 20 households on Peaks, including the Peaks Island American Legion, that regularly stop by and drop off their collected returnables. To lighten the load, a few will even volunteer to take tagged bags, fill them up, and deliver them to the CLYNK drop off locations directly.
However, due to the stay-at-home orders, Perry has seen a significant increase in donations and working from home has created a backlog…a collection of 24 tagged bags to be exact! Given the height of the summer season during a Global Pandemic, transporting a few bags at a time across on the boat to the mainland is a less-than-desirable option. Given these barriers, sometimes it truly takes a village (or an island) to lend a hand, or in this case a boat, to get the job done. Thanks to Captain Bridge and his boat, The Sound, Perry was able to safely shuttle all 24 bags across Casco Bay where they were successfully dropped off and processed, resulting in over $100 deposited directly into his CLYNK account! The money will continue to support Perry’s ongoing efforts to meet the basic needs of teens as they head into the 2020-2021 school year under challenging circumstances.
Additionally, onsite at the school, students will also be able to collect returnables to raise money for the Westbrook High holiday fund where about 80 gift cards are provided during the holiday season.
CLYNK members like Perry are an incredible inspiration to us. Their generosity and commitment to a cause highlight the impact and impressive reach small communities can have when they work together and support each other. We are so proud to serve these CLYNK members.