From the community

Innovation and Service – a win/win for the County

Posted Aug. 22, 2014, at 8:10 a.m.

Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: Heidis' Hope a Serve-a-Thon, Command Center: 754 Main Street, Presque Isle, ME

For more information: 207-760-0558; heidishope.dojiggy.com

Students across The County are lining up to participate in the inaugural Heidi’s Hope Serve-a-Thon, scheduled for October 18 at eight schools participating in this year’s pilot project. The Serve-a-Thon provides students the opportunity to come together in community service to raise funds for scholarships for County kids. But they can’t do it alone, and adult volunteers from throughout Aroostook are needed to help these kids turn their labor into dollars. Participating schools include Easton, Fort Fairfield, Fort Kent, Houlton, Mars Hill, Washburn, Wisdom (St. Agatha/Frenchville) and Hodgdon.

Volunteer adults are needed to help support the efforts of the teams of students, guided by teacher coordinators from the eight schools. Students will collect pledges for monetary contributions backed by community projects that include cemetery and park maintenance, painting and cleanup of historic sites, and other activities that help link students to the County Communities. Not only will those volunteers provide role models for the participating students, they will also help develop strong bonds to The County for the children who call this place home.

Heidi’s Hope Serve-a-Thon, developed by the Aroostook Aspirations Initiative, supports County students in a variety of community service projects to raise money for college scholarships for County kids. Executive Director April Flagg, executive director of the program, believes in the power of service and the promise of Aroostook students. “When we surveyed Aroostook students about community service, 80% wanted to be involved in some sort of service to their community. When we asked why, they responded that helping people makes them happy, Aroostook Aspirations is a great cause, and, perhaps the most powerful, they wanted to show their communities what their generation is capable of doing. They see the need for change, and they truly want to be a part of it. Heidi’s Hope is innovative, different, and most importantly it engages students in a project connecting to their communities.”

Volunteers who believe in both The County and its young people can sign up to participate in the mid-October event by going to the Gauvin Fund web page (www.gauvinfund.org) and clicking on the green volunteer tab or by contacting Aroostook Aspirations directly.

President Sandy Gauvin shared just how easy the Heidi’s Hope website is for participant. “We wanted to assure that students could run their own page without much assistance. The page allows them to reach outside of Aroostook County for sponsors. They can see locations for projects, lists of prizes, people who are participating, and can watch tutorial videos right on the site. It is an incredible asset.” The website: www.heidishope.dojiggy.com includes informational videos on registration and other aspects of the project for students, parents, sponsors, and volunteers to access online services and information about the project. This includes access to the project’s online store, a tally sheet for donations and pledges, technical support, and answers to questions that students or parents might have.

The Heidi’s Hope Serve-a-Thon concept is designed to strengthen the bond young people in Aroostook have with their communities, in hopes of working to reverse the disturbing trend of outward migration in the region – one of the primary goals of Aroostook Aspirations Initiative. It honors Heidi Graham, who was AAI Founder Ray Gauvin’s partner in Advantage Payroll Service for 26 years, and helped him strengthen Advantage Payroll, eventually the number one payroll processor in Maine.

In addition to her key role building Advantage Payroll alongside Ray Gauvin and her other full-time job as wife and mother, Heidi was always willing to help out in any way she could. She volunteered countless hours with schools, church, Girl Scouts, Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp, and other community programs. Graham lost a two-year battle to breast cancer in 2013. The Serve-a-thon honors Heidi’s spirit and determination and her commitment to community service and education.

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative, which includes the Gauvin County Scholarship Fund, was publicly launched in April 2013 by successful local businessman Ray Gauvin and his wife, Sandra Gauvin, a 25-year veteran of the education profession, along with project co-founder Jason Parent, a St. John Valley native and Caribou resident who spent 14 years working for local colleges. The mission is to support the educational and career goals of the youth in Aroostook County, and to mobilize the future prosperity of The County. The initiative, which is governed by a 24-member board of directors comprised of community leaders County-wide, provides scholarships as well as guidance and professional development support for high school seniors in all 16 of the County’s school districts. For additional information, please visit www.gauvinfund.org and click on the pink Heidi’s Hope tab.

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