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Fundraiser

Melanie Randall: Inspiring Others to Live and Dance Strong

Founder of Live and Dance Strong, and Owner of Dancewear House, Melanie Randall.

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with a loss, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Melanie Randall, decided to take one of the most difficult times in her life, and turn it into something beautiful as a way to process her grief.

Five years ago, Melanie’s father, Richard J. Randall, passed away and she set out to start an event that would help in her healing process. The result was Live and Dance Strong, a fundraiser that serves as a wonderful opportunity for choreographers and dancers alike to come together and deliver a unique dance experience.

Randall says, “Each year the show is different, and we have begun to touch on other people’s pain and grieving process. Cancer has affected so many people. I never dreamed that by starting Live and Dance Strong I would bring hope and empowerment to so many other young women who have lost someone—it’s been very special.”

This year, the event brought their total donations to the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care to more than $30,000 since its inception and for the first time, they paid a special tribute to cancer survivors.

Planning for Live and Dance Strong starts in early winter, and around March Melanie begins to send letters to local businesses, requesting sponsorships and donations for the show. In May, she sends out choreographer applications to studios in the area.

They recently added a concert element to the planning process, by hosting a concert at their home on the lake in an effort to raise awareness and funding within the community. Melanie adds that social media has also made the event easier to put together, saying, “Facebook has made it easy for us to have an online presence, enabling us to connect with choreographers and sponsors we may not have met any other way.”

Even after growing up dancing for Keltie Collins, Andrei Bossov and Genie O’Brien, she never imagined that she would have a career in dance. It wasn’t until she was getting ready to graduate with a degree in English that she considered buying Dancewear House in Hallowell, but after six and a half years, it was clearly the right choice. She says, “I wasn’t really sure that an English degree would prepare me for running a business, but my years in college certainly did.”

Melanie (center) with her Mom, Mary Elizabeth Randall (left), and her fiancé, Scott Lowery (right) following this year’s Live and Dance Strong event.

Most days, you will find Melanie helping young girls find their way on a similar career path. She says, “I spend most of my days with dancers’ feet in my face,” as the primary person that handles Pointe shoe fittings.

So what is her secret to happiness and success?

Randall says, “Follow your dreams—find something in life that you’re passionate about, and keep it close to you, especially when life gets hard. We all have the ability to take a negative situation and make it into a positive one, so don’t ever give up! One person has all of the potential in the world to touch someone’s life and change their own.”

To learn how you can get involved with Live and Dance Strong, please visit, liveanddancestrong.org, or like the Dancewear House on Facebook.

Creating a Catalyst for Change

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” –Mahatma Gandhi

Founder and Creative Director of Katalyst, Kyle Poissonnier

It is one of the most recognized quotes from Gandhi, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Kyle Poissonnier, brings the idea to fruition with the launch of his new Portland-based brand, Katalyst.

Poissonnier first garnered media attention five years ago when he took a thesis project from an entrepreneur class and made it a reality. The brand Elykssor (pronounced elixir) was formed. Essentially, Kyle says, “Someone asked me what I wanted to do. I said I liked clothes, started, and learned as I went.”

It wasn’t until his fourth year in business that the brand began to see any real traction, and so he went back to the drawing board to focus on the direction he wanted to take—enter Katalyst. Kyle says, “I’m taking all of my experiences—wins and losses—into Katalyst. With Elykssor, I found myself doing so many different things. Katalyst encompasses all of them.”

So what is Katalyst? Kyle says that it is based on the idea that “every person in the world affects us in some way,” and that this brand embodies that, by acting as a catalyst for change and enabling people to accomplish their goals as a symbol for confidence and positivity.

Katalyst is a brand that plans to pay-it-forward by developing ‘Katalyst Kollaborative’ communities. While the brand will be developing and selling a variety of clothing, ranging from fitness gear to everyday wear, they will also be providing custom-designed wear for fundraising opportunities.

Kyle says, “I remember when I was a kid the fundraiser stuff was all candy bars and magazine subscriptions—what we offer are custom shirts that are fun to wear, to sell and to bring a community together.”

For example, if a high school athletic boosters program needed to raise money, they would contact Kyle and his team, and they would design a Katalyst-branded shirt with the high school’s logo that could be sold to raise money. In return, that school is added to the Katalyst Kollaboration community.

Last year, the Skowhegan freshman class sold their custom shirts and raised more than $2,500. Kyle presented the shirts to the class, and spoke with the students about pursuing their dreams by sharing his own success story.

At 28, Kyle is the youngest inductee to his alma mater, Husson University, Hall of Fame for his professional success. He has also been featured on a TED Talk and MSNBC’s “Rediscover” for his accomplishment of launching soon to be two successful lifestyle clothing brands.

For all of his success, Poissonnier is humble stating, “I don’t feel like I have an impressive resume—I feel like I have impressive friends and people that have helped me get any type of positive recognition. All of this has happened because photographers, videographers and friends in general have wanted to help me out.”

The support from his friends and other Maine people that believe in the sense of community that encapsulates the state has been incredibly helpful in the creation of his official launch party for Katalyst: State of the State on Friday, July 12, 2013 at the State Theater in Portland.

The event will become an annual party to celebrate the “state” of Maine—the music scene, the businesses, and all that Maine has to offer.

To learn more about Kyle and the Katalyst community, visit their Facebook page today at www.facebook.com/bethekatalyst, or follow Kyle on Facebook, www.facebook.com/kylepoissonnier and Twitter, www.twitter.com/bethekatalyst and www.twitter.com/Kyle_Katalyst.

Almost Home Rescue: Where Volunteers Make A Difference

Almost Home Rescue Director/President, Bonnie Martinolich with her three dogs at home.

Just about everyone in the NMC office has a pet that they brag about, posting pictures on their office walls, desks and more! As animal lovers, we can appreciate the work of nonprofit organizations such as Almost Home Rescue and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Bonnie Martinolich.

Martinolich serves as the director and president of Almost Home Rescue (AHR). AHR is unique in that they are a nonprofit corporation, made up entirely of volunteers without a single paid staff member. A part of her work includes managing their Facebook page and she says, “We only have one very basic rule: we never post negative stories about cruelty and neglect.”

In a world filled with violence and negative images surrounding animal cruelty, it is important to AHR that they emphasize the passion of volunteers for positive outcomes and as Bonnie adds, “We want parents to feel comfortable with having their children view our Facebook page, and for people to understand the good that comes from volunteers and adopters working with AHR.”

On June 15, 2013, hundreds of people showed up for Amy Buxton’s Underdog Jog. Almost Home Rescue was a benefactor of the race and volunteered as course marshals.

The passion of volunteers displayed on their social media sites is what brings in most of their new volunteers. Bonnie says, “They are a friend who had a friend who adopted an AHR dog, or is a foster parent, and they want to do the same.”

With mobile accessibility to online sites increasing daily, it is only natural that they would look there first when they begin a search for new four-legged family members. This is why sites like Facebook, Petfinder and AHR’s website are essential for AHR.

Another key element to the success of AHR is volunteers. The rescue organization doesn’t have a shelter of their own; they simply transport dogs to foster families and partner rescue organizations, so visibility of their program is critical.  Bonnie adds, “Our foster program is the heart of what we do, and allows us to continue our rescue effort.”

This past weekend, they were one of the benefactors of the Underdog Jog, a fundraiser 5K held in memory of their late volunteer, Amy Buxton.  AHR not only had multiple volunteers that donated their time as course marshals, but they also brought their rescue van, full of adoptable dogs to the race, mingling with the crowd and talking about what they do within the community.

AHR relies on volunteers to raise awareness of their program.

To join their community of animal lovers you can contact them by emailing, info_ahr@yahoo.com, or donate on their website, www.almosthomerescue.net.

 

Trek Across Maine 2013

With friends, family members and employees participating in the Trek Across Maine this weekend, we are saddened by the tragic accident this morning. We wish everyone a safe ride on the remainder of the Trek.

The Art of Brand Communication

Portland Museum of Art Brand Strategy Coordinator, Caitlin Brooke

When you think of a museum, what comes to mind? Do you envision a forward-thinking, branding machine that brings art to life on your phone, through an artist-inspired cocktail, or by offering Free Fridays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.? That’s the exact image Portland Museum of Art (PMA) Brand Strategy Coordinator, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Caitlin Brooke, hopes to conjure when you think of PMA.

After graduating from Cony High School, Caitlin attended the University of New Hampshire where she received  dual undergraduate degrees in art history and communication, and an MBA in marketing. A summer internship with PMA’s PR department was her first taste of the career path she would choose, but not before spending three years in Boston working as an associate for an investment firm.

Brooke says, “I absolutely loved developing my professional identity in Boston and being thrown into the fast-paced and demanding world of corporate finance. My role evolved from investor relations to marketing, and I began to take the reins in redesigning the firm’s marketing materials and communications plan.”

At the PMA’s Winter Bash Brooke’s job was to sit and draw the guests as they enjoyed the evening.

By 2010 Brooke decided to leave Boston and do some soul-searching saying, “I wanted to eventually establish myself in Maine, so I took a break and traveled the country before beginning my search for jobs in Portland.” Why Maine? Her reason is simple stating, “The cultural vitality of the city had always enticed me and it’s the perfect location—access to the water for surfing and the mountains for skiing!”

This vital culture of Portland is the driving force behind the success of Brooke’s work with PMA. She says, “It’s about being in the know; having relationships with every department and PMA staffer so they think to call me when something cool is happening in the galleries, on TV, or across the street; it’s about embracing social media as a part of our roles.”

In 2012, the institution officially began to integrate social media into staffers’ professional roles. With this change came the need to create a social media policy and social media team who create content, take photos, Tweet and post on behalf of the museum covering all facets of the institution, and giving dynamic perspectives of what is happening on the PMA campus.

Stop by the PMA Café for an artist inspired cocktail created byAurora Provisions.

This new branding initiative plays a major role in Brooke’s daily routine. She starts her day by scrolling through social media feeds and emailing herself potentially relevant content. She adds, “I need to scope the scene and see what people are talking about. A big part of my job is connecting PMA’s exhibitions, programs and collections to what’s happening in the ‘real’ world, which in my opinion helps pull together the bigger picture of why art matters.”

2012 was a major year of rebranding for PMA, when they gathered national and international traction for their exhibition Weatherbeaten: Winslow Homer and Maine. Brooke says, “Homer was an American artistic genius, and also a hermit with a fantastic moustache and a studio on Prouts Neck in Scarborough.”

PMA used this attention as an opportunity to launch their new logo and to overhaul their brand identity. Brooke says, “Prior to 2012, the museum had an undefined strategy for social media. It was almost a marketing afterthought, but because of all the media attention, we were able to really throw our new look out into the public arena and have a lot of people see it.”

A lot of people have been seeing a new side of PMA, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is having fun. Caitlin says, “There is no other form of communication that can convey the energy of an organization like social media, so don’t take yourself too seriously!” While social media is a part of business, Brooke says that it is a part of building relationships, too, adding, “People like to see the behind-the-scenes, real parts of an organization. If something makes you and your coworkers laugh, more than likely other people will see the humor in it too.”

To learn more about the Portland Museum of Art, visit www.portlandmuseum.org, or like them on Facebook to keep up with their latest events and exhibits.

The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers’ Teen Parent School Program a Success

We’re proud to work with our client The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers in Waterville for so many reasons. This year, we were proud to spread the word about the success of their Teen Parent School Program, a program that has been helping young parents for more than 39 years. This spring the program graduated 7 teens, including 2 fathers.

Pictured from left to right: Graduates Brianna Bernier and Leah Broulliet along with Sharon Abrams, executive director of The Maine Children’s Home, graduate Kelsey Marcia and Jana Burgoyne, teacher of the Teen Parent School Program

Earlier this month, The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers awarded graduates Brianna Bernier, Leah Broulliet, and Kelsey Marcia with $1,000 scholarships at a Teen Parent School Program celebration luncheon at Joseph’s Fireside Steakhouse.

Next year our agency is looking forward to helping The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers celebrate the 40th anniversary of their Teen Parent School Program as they continue to help young parents in Maine succeed.

Click here to learn more about the Teen Parent School Program at The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers.

Empowering Young Women at 18 Years Young

Founder of Girls Above Society, Lauren Galley

The quest for perfection is one that young people face each and every day. We all went through middle school and know about the pressures that come with growing into your own skin. This week’s Monday Maine Maven Lauren Galley, at 18 years young, has developed a successful career as a working model/actress, radio show host, blogger and, most importantly, a mentor for young women through the nonprofit she founded, Girls Above Society.

Girls Above Society provides mentorship and awareness surrounding the pressures girls face on a daily basis, and works to promote strong leadership skills. Lauren says she was inspired by her own experiences in middle school and high school to start the organization. She adds, “I want to empower girls to accept who they are—to be their best, be healthy, and have the confidence to go after their dreams!”

Lauren has pursued her dream as an actress and model. She grew up in theater with her mother working as a director, and transitioned into film beginning as an extra. Since then, she has been on ABC Family’s “The Lying Game,” and NBC’s “CHASE” as well as national commercials such as Fox Sports and Jarritos. Currently, she has two films in post-production, “Matt Mercury Movie” directed by Bill Hughes and “The Making of a Serial Killer” directed by Russell Miller.

An additional creative outlet for Lauren has been writing. After founding Girls Above Society, she realized that being present and available was important. She created Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with a blog. She adds, “Blogging is a new thing for me, but when I feel inspired I also feel the need to write. I focus on creating images with motivating quotes, since that’s what teens like and enjoy sharing.”

Girls Above Society is a nonprofit that focuses on empowering young women.

It is appropriate that Lauren would choose to focus on teenagers since that’s when she was inspired to create her nonprofit.  She says there was a lot of pressure to conform and she realized that she was incredibly lucky to have the support system she did, but she also realized that wasn’t true for everyone saying, “I would see so many girls and friends trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations created by the media—magazine covers, reality TV shows and celebrities.”

During that time, Galley had the opportunity to live in Waterford, Maine, and she says, “Having lived in the big city my whole life, I found it so beautiful and really loved the small town feeling. I found it surreal that everyone knows each other—there are literally no strangers!” That sense of community is something that has stayed with her even though she no longer calls Maine home.

The Maine experience impacted Lauren and she is currently partnering with Camp Waziyatah in Waterford, as a part of the Empower a Girl campaign. The camp is known as the location of Disney Channel’s hit reality camp series, “Bug Juice.” Waziyatah shares many of the same values as Girls Above Society—they teach kids to respect themselves with the hope that they will build a healthy image of themselves.

Galley’s mission in establishing self love is evident in her choice to be an ambassador for Free2Luv, hosting their Web segment, Free2BeYOU. Free2Luv’s motto is, “Take a stand to spread love and to end bullying.” In her Free2BeYOU segment, Lauren will be hosting Q&A sessions with tips for dealing with bullies and peer pressure, as well as hosting contests and giveaways to encourage participation. Galley says, “I hope to share, inspire and make a difference.”

To learn more about Lauren and how you can get involved, check out her website at http://www.girlsabovesociety.org/.

KVYMCA Goes Social

KVYMCA CEO, Mark Yerrick

Organizations such as the YMCA and Boys & Girls Club are prominent within their communities for families and teens—promoting positive self-image and high self-esteem for young adults. The local Kennebec Valley YMCA has the same goals, and CEO Mark Yerrick says, “I am honored to be able to work with people dedicated to improving their community.”

Yerrick first joined the KVYMCA as a member in 1986, and his children learned to swim at the old location on Winthrop Street, next to the Augusta courthouse. By the 1990’s he was elected to the Board of Directors and served one three-year term, and it was only natural that he would apply for the CEO position when it became available in 2008.

Since beginning his role as the CEO in June of 2008, Mark says that social media has played an increasing role in the way the organization connects with their community. “We have to reach out to consumers in the way they want to be reached. The days of phone calls, direct mail and newspaper advertising are dwindling. Social media is quickly become the best resource for us,” he says.

Nonprofit organizations like the KVYMCA are limited when it comes to funding advertising campaigns, which is why social media is increasingly vital to their success. Yerrick says, “The volunteers on our marketing committee are a huge asset to us. They have worked on developing our online presence—we now use our Facebook page to announce special events, and to build our membership.”

The most influential marketing tool available to the KVYMCA comes from Olympian and Maine native, Julia Clukey. Last year, she developed Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls, a two-week program that promotes healthy relationships between girls of all ages. Mark says, “Julia has been involved at every level—from training with other counselors, planning the curriculum, and assisting us with interviewing potential staff members. Her enthusiasm is exciting for all of us!” Last year, Clukey’s camp was incredibly successful bringing in more than 90 girls for that program alone and they are hoping for an even greater turnout this summer since Julia will be heading to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Mark Yerrick and Julia Clukey announce Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls program last year.

The most challenging part of running a successful nonprofit organization like the KVYMCA is finding balance in the multiple hats each person has to wear every day. This is a challenge Mark has willingly accepted and credits an incredible team and Board of Directors for the success of their programs and facility. He says the key to success comes from the team as a whole stating, “You have to surround yourself with quality staff members that are experts in their fields. There is nothing more valuable than the professional men and women who give their time to assure that the KVYMCA is a quality organization for our community.”

To learn more about membership and to see how you can participate in their upcoming programs, please check out their website at http://www.kvymca.org/programs.php, or like them on Facebook today https://www.facebook.com/kvymca?fref=ts.

Strutting Their Stuff

Kennebec Valley Humane Society Executive Director, Hillary Roberts (image via KVHS Facebook page)

Community involvement is the key to success for any local nonprofit, and social media has played a major role in the continuing success of the Kennebec Valley Humane Society (KVHS). This week’s Monday Maine Maven and KVHS Executive Director Hillary Roberts says, “Educating the public on what we do and raising money toward our efforts is very important.”

Almost two years ago Roberts was featured on our blog and discussed how the social media movement was positively impacting their organization through donations of time, money and just about anything else they might need. Since that time social media, Facebook in particular, has only improved and with that so has the strategy KVHS uses to spread their message.

Currently, they have a team of seven people that handle the Facebook page and Roberts says, “We only have two rules: the posts must be positive and they must be accurate.” Their most popular posts are about their adoptable dogs, cats and other pets, and of course the happy-endings posts about past adoptions.

KVHS is currently accepting submissions for their annual Paws in the Park & Mutt Strut Art Contest. Winning submissions will be used as posters, t-shirts, and more to promote their Paws in the Park event.

Hillary says the power of Facebook for their organization is unbelievable stating, “It’s amazing to reach thousands of people to tell them about adoptable animals, or a special event we’re having through a single post. Even better? It’s free!” She adds, “We have even seen an increase in the distance people will travel to come and see a potential pet having seen them online first.”

This past Saturday, KVHS hosted a successful Strike Out Animal Abuse Bowl-a-thon at 1-7-10 in Augusta. On Saturday, May 18, 2013 they will be hosting their 20th Annual Paws in the Park & Mutt Strut—an all day family and pet-friendly event at Capitol Park. This year’s event will include the following activities:

  • Animal nutrition workshop with Dr. Judy Herman
  • The first annual KVHS Best in Show competition
  • Dog micro-chipping and nail trimming
  • Food vendors
  • K9 Police and Agility demonstrations
  • Raffles, contests, and more

Events like the Mutt Strut and Bowl-a-thon are essential to raising awareness to the various programs offered by the KVHS; such as their volunteer and foster programs, micro-chipping, animal nutrition and more.

Roberts has a lifelong love of animals and believes that regardless of how you find the next furry member of your family, the most important part of the decision should be based around research. She adds, “You have to consider your lifestyle and figure out what kind of pet will best fit that lifestyle, and if you do adopt, know that your new family member is grateful for the second chance!”

To learn more about the Mutt Strut check out the Facebook event page www.facebook.com/events/497132327019644/, or see their adoptable animals on the KVHS Facebook page, www.facebook.com/KennebecValleyHumaneSociety. To speak to Hillary directly, you may email her, director@pethavenlane.org.