We ARE Maine.
We are not “just students.” Our lives are not “on hold” while we wait to graduate. We are living our lives now. We are changing our communities now. We are volunteering with local and national organizations. We are holding positions in civic offices. We are community activists. We are testifying at town council meetings and at the State Legislature. We are writing petitions. We are developing projects with schools, town offices, and community organizations. We are making Maine better. We ARE Maine.
The “We ARE Maine” series seeks to honor the fact that so many of our students are doing amazing things in their lives in addition to being students at UMA. “We ARE Maine” celebrates and supports the involvement of our students in their community lives. The students who are showcased serve as a role model for other students who are just beginning their journeys as active community members.
Spring 2016 Honorees:
Pamela Belisle is a UMA student and 2015 Rising Scholar who founded a shaken baby syndrome awareness program called “Don’t Shake Jake.” She conducts SBS prevention workshops and educates communities to raise awareness and prevent shaken baby syndrome. Pamela has been a leader in lobbying in Maine and many other state legislatures to change the criminal law on the matter. She has spread her message across the country, and has successfully helped change the law in Maine.
Patti Brown is a student at UMA working towards her BS in Mental Health and Human Services. Patti is a dedicated student who also works tirelessly to increase awareness of the needs of veterans and their families, especially after returning home from war. Patti is the mother of a wounded soldier. She and her son were featured in the documentary, Searching For Home: Coming Back from War, about returning veterans and their search for the “home” they left behind–physically, mentally and spiritually. It is also the story of the caregivers and family members trying to get help and support these veterans. Watch the trailer here.
Patti is a natural collaborator and networker. She incorporates her passion for the needs of veterans and their families into everything she does. Patti is involved with several veteran advocacy groups in Maine including the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine. This past fall, Patti spearheaded an effort to host the East Coast screening of Searching for Home: Coming Back from War at The University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall Auditorium in the Abromson Community Education Center. She is currently working on coordinating a screening of this film here at UMA.
Sam Cannon is currently working for the Katahdin Area Council BSA at Camp Roosevelt as the new Fire Arms instructor and Ranger Supervisor in Holden, Maine. Sam is also the Hampden’s Veterans of Foreign War Commander. And as a man of many talents, Sam also belongs to the Anah Shriners Funster, his character is Stewart the Minion. In Sam’s work for the camp, he teaching marksmanship to approximately 300 Boy Scouts each summer. The Veterans of Foreign War is a nonprofit organization that raise and disperse money for our local community and veterans. Starting in June Sam will become the District 4 Commander who oversee all the local VFWs (Bangor, Old Town, Orrington, Ellsworth and Hampden). He will work directly with the State Commander and ensure all post are functioning flawlessly and legally. Sam also oversees fundraisers, several mandated ceremonies with in the district. Since Sam is very passionate about giving back to the community, helps the Shriners Funster with raising money for the Shriners Hospitals that care for children with medical issues. To be a Shriner you first must be a Mason, which Sam is. Sam belongs to the Mystic Lodge #65 of Hampden which helps the community, and support local schools through a program called Books for Bikes. The lodge raises money and gives 4-8 bikes to children who read a certain amount of books. The money donated goes toward scholarships.
Kimberly Carter is involved in a couple of different projects. One is volunteering with the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, specifically with their Pride Film Festival. She has been involved for the past year with this event. She has helped with the set up and staffing of events. The Pride Film Festival occurs in October for Pride History Month and is about celebrating LGBT+ history through film. With the HHRC, she also helped at the Hearts for Human Rights event, which is a Valentine’s Day fundraiser to help the HHRC keep promoting human rights through their educational outreach and original programming.
The other project that she is involved with is the AFS program, a high school exchange program. She has volunteered for the past four years as an activities coordinator at orientations. The AFS program coordinates exchanges between countries all over the world, and it places high school students in host families in whatever country they’ll be staying in for 10 months.
Ultimately, the goal of the two programs are very similar. Both work towards building understanding and relationships between people. The HHRC does amazing work to promote kindness and inclusion. The AFS program brings people from across the world together to help educate about cultures worldwide.
Danielle Gray and her husband Josh manage a transitional recovery/discipleship home called Joe’s House through Charleston church. A pastor at the Charleston Church helped get this house open and available. The reason they opened the house was because they saw a lack of supervision, resources, and accountability to those leaving rehab, and have a higher rate of relapse. They both work one-on-one helping men who are struggling with addiction who are coming out of rehab. Danielle, Josh, and their daughter live in the house, in a separate apartment, so they can manage the men. Danielle creates recovery plans for each individual allowing them to set goals and then gives them the steps to obtain them. Each individual is mandated to attend recovery meetings, go to church, and to work/volunteer in the community. Members of the church come into the house to teach the men the skills they need to be independent once they leave like; cooking, finances, creating resumes, and more. She hopes to open another house for women in the close future.
Stacey is a UMA student working toward her BS in Mental Health and Human Services. In addition to being a excellent student, Stacey is dedicated to raising awareness of suicide and suicide prevention. She works with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Stacy has organized the Out of Darkness suicide prevention walk in Bath for the past two years, and is planning another walk in Bath on 9/18/2016. She also organizes bake sales and outreach activities for the cause. Stacey’s efforts have had a substantial impact on the local community and raised thousands of dollars in much needed funds for this cause. She says, “It’s an honor to be recognized for my work with suicide prevention and education. It’s a cause that is very important to me, and unfortunately many others.”
Stephen Perkins is a psychiatric Registered Nurse (RN), a member of the substance abuse team at Mayo Psychiatry and Counseling in Dover-Foxcroft. He is a community activist, working to bring attention to the epidemic of drug use, misuse, and abuse within the community, directing the community’s attention to the lack of treatment infrastructure, and promoting open conversation about the problem. He also volunteers as a community health adviser to the Piscataquis Thriving in Place (PTiP) Collaborative, a community initiative funded by the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) and facilitated by the Charlotte White Center in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine; he has been involved with PTiP for a year. He has been studying the community health issues in Piscataquis County for the past ten years.
In the community he along with the organization has initiated Qigong and Matter of Balance classes to help elders improve balance and avoid falls; October, 2015, they held a county-wide Wellness Expo in Monson and have another scheduled for Milo in May, 2016; they are working through senior housing complexes to identify where and what services for seniors are lacking; the organization has instituted a program to provide nutritious meals to those with food insecurity; they are continuing to seek ways to further service the aging community. On April 19, 2016, he will be a member of a panel presenting the Maine Opioid Collaborative’s “listen to the public” town hall event addressing the opioid crisis in the community at two sessions hosted by Mayo Regional Hospital.
This project is funded by the 2015-2016 University of Maine at Augusta Presidential Mini-Grant.