Get to know Matthew Winch – Chair, Spurwink Board of Directors

By September 5, 2016Blog

You could volunteer with any number of nonprofit organizations. Why did you choose Spurwink?

In early 2004, during a friendly conversation with George Campbell, he suggested I become involved with an area non-profit and to get more involved with a community “service.” Having a connection to Spurwink through both a former Humanitarian (Greg Shapiro) as well as a client (Spurwink Institute), I was aware of the quality work that Spurwink was doing in the surrounding communities. That work in the field of mental health services resonated with me, as I believe strongly that we should provide access, support and services to those in our communities who are affected by mental illness.

How did you first become involved with Spurwink?

The Spurwink Institute was a client of my former architectural firm, Cubellis Associates, in late 2002. I was the architect for the Institute’s relocation to the Pineland Campus. A couple of years after that work was complete, I attended a Spurwink event and reconnected with Mike Higgins, CEO of the Institute. I told Mike about my conversations with George Campbell and that I was at this event to learn more about how I could help. Mike quickly recruited me onto the Institute’s Board and I began my Board service in 2005. After the merger of all of the Spurwink agencies in 2009, I formally became a Board member of Spurwink Services.  All told, I have been involved with a Spurwink Board for 11+ years

Are there particular Spurwink programs that you resonate with, or has meaning for you?

Gosh, there are quite a few:   Project Shifa, AllTech, i3Barr. That said, I think it is the work of Glickman Academy that occupies that special place for me. I have had the great opportunity to take a number of people on a tour of Glickman and the stories I hear when I am there are so amazing. The kids are inspirational and the staff do such a wonderful job there. However, that is a distinction shared by some many other day treatment programs as well. The help and support children in day treatment receive and the staff who provide those services are such an amazing part of Spurwink’s story.

What has been the most meaningful project you’ve worked on while on the Board?

While working with senior staff on the completion of the Strategic Plan was probably the most important piece of work with which I have been personally involved, the search for Dawn Stiles’ successor and the hiring of Eric Meyer as Spurwink’s next President and CEO probably edges that out by just a smidge. Given the importance of the task and the obvious positive outcome bringing Eric into the role, it was an important assignment for the Board itself. The Board was fully responsible for carrying out this task, so doing it well and finding the right candidate was a strong test of the Board’s strength and cohesion.  We are so pleased to have such a great result from the search process.

What do you see as Spurwink’s larger role within the nonprofit community and Maine as a whole?

Spurwink is an essential provider of both residential and day treatment services across the state of Maine, but with a higher concentration in southern Maine. While our reach is broad, I hope that Spurwink can expand its programs even further to communities in the state that may be lacking access to quality mental health care. Mental health services should not be limited to areas or regions with a greater population density.  Rather, we should all endeavor to provide services to those who need them within the communities in which they live.

When you’re not leading Spurwink’s Board, how do you spend your time?

Outside of my professional practice as an architect, I spend as much time as I can with my wife Jenn and our three young children, ages 10, 7 and 3. Since I work from home, it can sometimes be hard to separate work responsibilities from family responsibilities, but it also provides me the opportunity to shift very easily from work to enjoying an activity or event with my family. Maine is a wonderful place to raise a family and it is a blessing to be in a position where I can focus on that.

I also try to stay active in community events, volunteering at Preble Street Resource Center once a month with some rugby friends, and volunteering at my children’s school as a parent advisor to the newly created Spanish Immersion program. Our 7 year-old daughter is entering second grade and is in her third year in the program, with 90% of her school day taught in Spanish by an immersion-trained teacher. By the time she leaves fifth grade, she will be fluent in two languages while meeting all of the educational targets in reading, mathematics and writing. A pretty amazing achievement for such a young learner!

And I do still help out coaching and refereeing in the sport of rugby.

You are a dedicated rugby player and coach.  Do you have a favorite team and player?

The beauty of being a (former) player, coach and fan of rugby here in the U.S., is that there is no “home” team (except at the international level) in professional rugby.  I am often simply rooting for a great match, be it test rugby (internationals) or top-flight rugby (professional club rugby).  Being proud of my Scottish heritage,  I do root for Scotland at the international level. I also enjoy watching Saracens of England’s Rugby Premiership play club rugby whenever their matches are broadcast here in the U.S.  I do like to see the USA play on the international stage, but since the sport is still growing here in the U.S., one must temper that support with the reality that comes with the relative amateurism of the sport stateside.

As for a favorite player, I do enjoy watching quite a few different players, all of whom share some of the same qualities:  a dedication to their craft, a social awareness outside of sport, and a humble demeanor on (or off) the pitch. Dan Carter, Chris Wyles, Ruan Pinearr and Maro Itoje all come to mind as players who I feel reflect the tradition of rugby as a gentleman’s game along with the strong values we all share in communities anywhere in the world.

What is the most important lesson you learned from your parents?

I have learned quite a few things from mom and dad, but probably at the top of that list is a feeling of responsibility to support and also be active in the community in some way or form. For my mother Susan, that was professionally as a librarian at the public library and as a member of the school board in Scarborough for nine years. My father, who is well into his 70s, still serves on a local planning board, sits on two non-profit boards, and has a long history as a Rotarian. Back when I was 11, he also became president of the local little league I played for because that was how he could best support me and the league when they were recruiting parents for various positions.

I suppose what they have taught me can be distilled to this: Don’t spend your time complaining about something unless you are prepared to offer viable solutions and get involved with the matter. Also, be active in supporting a cause that you have a connection to or have become passionate about. Become a part of the solution and be actively engaged in the community in which you live.

What is the best book you’ve read lately?

I seem to read a lot of Amelia Bedielia and Fancy Nancy books. I have also found that raising children allows me to revisit some favorite books from my childhood and to read them with my children. That has included almost all of Roald Dahl’s books:  The Fantastic Mr Fox, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, and my personal favorite, Danny the Champion of the World.

For a more adult book, my latest was Jim Rendon’s The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth. It has helped put a number of things in perspective for me.

Favorite pizza and pizzeria?

Any that make a good goat cheese pizza. So far, the best I have found is in Crested Butte, Colorado.

Favorite place to spend time in Maine?

My family has a house in Ocean Park and we love taking the kids there to spend time at the beach. Ocean Park is a truly special community that has a very unique set of traditions and history.

A close second is Acadia National Park. We have been traveling there every Memorial Day weekend for the last 12 years. We love spending time hiking and exploring new vistas, biking the carriage trails with our children, and visiting a couple of favorite restaurants in Bar Harbor.

Favorite superhero?

Underdog. When I was young, I would wake early on Saturday mornings to try and align the rabbit ears on my small B&W TV to watch The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show followed by the Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo show. The name says it all. Underdog took on challenges large and small and always came away the victor.

Lastly, what advice would your adult self offer to your twenty-two year old self?

The advice that Barbara Karanian, my college Industrial Organized Psychology professor, shared in class one day is absolutely true: Happiness does not come from wealth.  It comes from finding the things in life you truly enjoy doing and being a part of.  For me, that is family, my profession as an architect, perhaps a little too much rugby, and of course my involvement with a wonderful and meaningful organization like Spurwink!