New Waldo County Fund helps families in crisis

Posted Oct. 24, 2011, at 4:38 p.m.
Belfast Institute of Lifelong Learning, a nonprofit organization formed to assist families in need, is raising funds to aid Vivian Simone, 3, of Belfast who needs surgery to correct a serious medical condition.
Courtesy photo
Belfast Institute of Lifelong Learning, a nonprofit organization formed to assist families in need, is raising funds to aid Vivian Simone, 3, of Belfast who needs surgery to correct a serious medical condition.

BELFAST, Maine — The Waldo County Family to Family Fund is a new endeavor that will work with and raise funds for a Waldo County family that finds itself in financial crisis, because of illness or other circumstances.

This fund has been started under the umbrella of the Belfast Institute of Lifelong Learning, or B.I.L.L., is a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Started in 1994 by the late Pat Strauss to produce Elderhostel programs, B.I.L.L. now promotes and produces intergenerational family programs such as the annual Waldo County Pie and Story Festival, poetry and reading programs, as well as being a fiscal agent incubating new nonprofit organizations such as Come Boating, New Years By The Bay and the Belfast Community TV Channel, which have all gone on to become strong separate nonprofit community organizations.

“We do some fun things for the community, such as the Pie and Story Festival,” said B.I.L.L. Vice President Jennifer Armstrong, “but we wanted to do something that was about helping a local family in need, and when a family came to our attention this idea just grew out of the desire to help this little family, and other local families in the future.”

The first recipient of this fund drive will be Vivian Simone, a 3-year-old Belfast native who is has had six surgeries to insert, maintain and replace malfunctioning shunts from her brain. A recent MRI shows a life threatening condition in the child’s’s brain that will require her to have major surgery on Oct. 28. She will be in intensive care at the Barbara Bush Pediatric Care Center in Portland for at least five days and will need extensive time to recover at home.

Her mother, Patricia Toy of Belfast, is doing all she can to help her daughter, but because of Vivian’s serious condition, she is unable to find child care and to pay living expenses. She is facing eviction from her home. Because of the medical severity of the situation Toy and her daughter cannot move at this time. The Waldo County Family to Family Fund is taking steps to assist her.

The Waldo County Family to Family Fund drive has produced a public service announcement on Belfast Community TV Cable Channel 2, allowing the community to meet and get to know Vivian and find out how they can help. Several Belfast businesses are helping the fund including the Belfast Co-op, where Toy worked for a number of years, and Darby’s Restaurant, which features a special table where 10 percent of a meal price will be donated to the Waldo County Family to Family fund in support of Vivian. The Belfast Coop will dedicate its Third Thursday Donation Day in January, where 1 percent of the day’s sales will be donated to the fund. Armstrong, a professional musician, will cap off the fund drive, after the new year, with a special performance and family event.

B.I.L.L. is run by volunteers with no overhead and all donations to the fund are tax deductible. The funds will be paid directly to the need such as electric bill, medical bills, back rent, etc., and will not be given directly to family, unless that is the specified wish of a particular donor.

Visit http://www.helpvivian.org to see Vivian’s video, “Nobody Knows,” with music by Jennifer Armstrong. For more information, call Susan Guthrie at 338-6140, or email waldofamilyfund@gmail.com.

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