Social-issues theater disbanding, donating funds

Posted Dec. 18, 2008, at 7:57 p.m.

Recently I was contacted by Ann Davis Lanford of Bangor with a not-so-good-news and a good-news story about an organization to which she belongs, the Bangor-based Family Life Improvisational Theatre Educators.

After 25 years of creating “individually crafted performances on social issues” that affect Maine residents, which the group performed for schools, organizations and institutions statewide, Davis said, FLITE has voted to disband.

That’s the not-so-good news.

Now for the good news.

FLITE had funds remaining in its bank account so, “true to the FLITE mission of giving back to our Maine communities,” Davis said, FLITE voted “to disburse our remaining funds to select groups and organizations.”

Benefiting from the generosity of this organization’s demise will be Democracy Now — which, according to its Web site, is a daily television and radio news program hosted by Amy Goodman — and Shaw House of Bangor.

Additionally, according to Davis, FLITE funds were dispersed to the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, Ten Bucks Theatre in Brewer, the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine, “the theater in Penobscot and the animal rescue in Sullivan,” Davis wrote.

Other recipients of FLITE’s funds include radio station WERU in Orland, the Bangor Humane Society, Rape Response Services and Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, both in Bangor.

Fellow members of FLITE, with Davis, are Jan Carpenter, Bob Salesi, Marian Allen, Pam Nelon, Peter Phillips, Valerie Felt McClead, Lois Marchand and Rita Haunert.

“We did a lot, in schools, for children,” Davis said of the efforts of the group that created “interactive dramatic presentations … on topics including alcoholism, AIDS, age discrimination, blended families, child abuse, conflict resolution and date rape.”

They also addressed issues such as “divorce, eating disorders, gender bias and stereotypes, incest, sexual harassment, substance abuse and tolerance of diversity.”

Davis believes the group’s performances “really got the attention” of young people, especially because, after the performance, the actors would “stay in character” and answer questions from the audience.

“It was amazing,” Davis said, “to be able to get, and hold, the attention of the kids, and get the kids to participate.”

The group was forced to vote to disband as schools and other hosting organizations are being forced to cut costs in these difficult economic times.

“There are lots of cutbacks,” Davis said, and FLITE is not immune as it ends a quarter-century of service in Maine communities.

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The public is invited to see 500 lighted luminarias at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, in Orland village.

For information about this holiday event, call Alvion and Cindi Kimball at 469-0077.

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Heartiest congratulations go to Brenda Davis, executive director of Crossroads Ministries and Food Pantry in Old Town, for the successful completion of her record-setting fall journey throughout Maine to raise funds for and awareness of the needs of Maine’s food pantries.

According to the Maine Credit Union League, many food pantries report that requests for assistance are up 30 percent to 40 percent this year.

Davis began her monthlong tour of the state Oct. 28, in Augusta, and visited a record-setting 56 communities.

This year’s tour contributed more than $27,000 to ending hunger in Maine, covering 750 miles on foot and a total of 1,800 by foot and car. In each of the 56 communities, funds were donated to local food pantries.

In the tour’s seven years, more than $140,000 has been raised, reported Jon Paradise of the MCUL and, of that amount, Maine credit unions have contributed more than $125,000.

Since 1990, he added, “the Maine Credit Union’s Campaign for Ending Hunger has raised over $2.7 million to help end hunger in Maine, including $366,000 in 2007.”

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People searching for a practical gift this holiday season, and one that might make an individual very happy, should consider giving the gift of hearing, especially for members of our aging population, wrote Mary-Anne Saxl of the Warren Center for Communication & Learning in Bangor.

“A hearing aid is a gift that will continue to give, throughout the year, for your aging parent or loved one,” Saxl wrote.

“It will also be a gift to your whole family as you are able to enjoy stories and everyday events together.”

Saxl reminds readers that “hearing loss is the most common neurological disability” in the U.S., adding “the impact of hearing loss on the personal and professional lives of the deaf or hard-of-hearing, and on society, is profound.”

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.net; 990-8288.

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