Through this column, on a regular basis, readers are asked to offer assistance, in a variety of ways, to individuals young and old, as well as to families and nonprofit organizations.
Your response is always positive, and that is what, to me, makes this column so meaningful and memorable.
Two recent requests have again demonstrated how much we care about the well-being of our fellow Mainers, whether we know them or not.
What is also a positive reflection of our support for and appreciation of one another is the commitment on the part of those benefiting from your generosity to be sure they thank you for your effort on their behalf.
Today, I share with you reports of two March fundraisers that have made, and will continue to make, a difference in the lives of Maine families.
The first letter was written by Brent Bailey of Brownville, grandfather of 14-month-old Karlee Shannon of Milo, who has a genetic liver condition that has resulted in her being placed on the national donor registry for a liver transplant.
Brent wrote to provide us with a follow-up on the column which included information about a March 12 spaghetti supper benefit for Karlee and her parents, Erynn Bailey and Brian Shannon of Milo.
Karlee’s grandfather wrote of “the fabulous turnout” for the benefit, adding that Melissa Weston, Ginger Weston, Morgan Morrison and Nikki Blake “did an amazingly wonderful job organizing this event.”
“Many terrific and special people gave of themselves and their time to make this possible,” he wrote.
“In just two hours, nearly 500 people were served a fine dinner and dessert in the Brownville Elementary gym.
“There were so many people who took time, on their Saturday evening, to stand in a line that stretched out into the parking lot waiting to be served.
“It was overwhelming to watch all these friends, relatives and strangers come to support Karlee.”
Brent noted that many of those folks had never met his granddaughter, or even knew what she looked like.
But, he added, “the important thing, to them, was a little girl needed help, and that’s why they were there.
“Through these rough economic times, people and businesses donated money, gifts, gift certificates and homemade items” for a raffle and auction, and contributed a great deal of “food, drinks, music and plenty of sweat and hard work!”
And although Brent knows “it has been said before, these words still ring true. We are so very lucky to live in small communities where people come together for one of their own.”
“My family and I can never say thank you enough, or let all these wonderful people know how much their love and support is so very much appreciated.”
And Karlee’s grandfather wants you to know that “when Karlee is old enough to fathom” the outpouring of support she has received, “she will be able to thank them all herself.”
“It will never be forgotten.”
This week I also received an email from Trisha Smith, the Voices of Change adviser at William S. Cohen School in Bangor, which hosted an Autism Awareness potluck dinner March 10 to benefit the Autism Society of Maine.
Trisha reported the host middle school pupils who are part of this after-school service learning group welcomed more than 120 people to their event, and raised about $1,000 for ASM.
She noted that, in addition to “the numerous dishes and crocks brought by parents, community members, boosters and staff,” the students also received several generous donations from local businesses.
Among those donations were “9 pizzas from Angelo’s Pizzeria, 200 rolls from Brick Oven Bakery, beans and franks from the Coach House, a party platter from Ichiban and four dozen rolls from Governor’s.”
She also believes that, with a presentation by the hosts and members of the student council, a question and answer session with Dr. Tim Rogers, live entertainment before and after the presentation, “the audience was impressed” with what these students had accomplished.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together for a cause so relevant” to the Bangor area, Trisha wrote, adding that she was also very proud that her pupils chose this cause for their service-learning project.
According to information made available by the Autism Society website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2009 that the rate of autism has risen to one in every 110 U.S. births, and to almost one in 70 births of U.S. boys.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.