Lifelong Unity, Maine residents, Bert and Coral Clifford, generously supported community organizations that improved the quality of life for fellow Unity citizens. A family farmer born in 1920, who had served in the Navy during WWII and as Postmaster of Unity, Bert began to purchase shares of Unity Telephone Co. – eventually becoming majority owner in 1963. He constantly modernized and was among the first telecomm pioneers to “go digital” with what is now UniTel, Inc. in 1990.
Business success allowed Bert and Coral to quietly support community nonprofits—generally with an eye toward how to improve those organizations so that they could serve greater numbers. The Cliffords were the motivating force behind the establishment of Unity College in 1969. They gifted the local Field of Dreams in 1995 to allow young people free access to outdoor recreation space, and The Unity Centre for the Performing Arts in 2000.
In 2000, the Cliffords established Unity Foundation, emphasizing Bert’s preferred approach to help strengthen the organizations that meet the needs of students and families including arts and culture, human services, recreation and community development.
Bert Clifford passed away in August 2001, Coral in December 2012.
To honor Bert following his passing, Unity Foundation created UniKids Care Club, a youth philanthropy program whose first participants were the children of UniTel employees. These young people gathered as a club, finding community projects they could support through donations and volunteer time. They worked with UniTel executives to make donations while organizing community service projects. UniKids Care Club is still active in the UniTel service area. In 2008, Unity Foundation created the statewide youth philanthropy program Jumpstart Our Youth based on UniKids’ early success.
Read more about Bert Clifford.