June 23, 2011

Grant Supports Youthlinks Programs

Filed under: Teens — Tags: , , , — Sue Dirosario @ 2:57 pm

Youthlinks, a program of Broadreach Family & Community Services, recently received a grant of $10,000 from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation to support a variety of programs that benefit area youth and animals.  A common goal for most Youthlinks’ animal-related programming is to empower youth to advocate for responsible pet ownership and the humane treatment of animals, while a creating a generation of life-long community-minded volunteers.

The Elmina B. Sewall Foundation was established by Mrs., Elmina Brewster Sewall of Kennebunk, Maine in 1982.  The Foundation strives to enhance the quality of life for those in Maine through the conservation of the natural environment and support for the well-being of animals and humans.  The Foundation seeks to inspire the generosity of others and empower those who share its vision to work together for healthy, vibrant communities.

Youthlinks’ mission is to empower youth to commit to themselves and their communities, broaden their horizons, and acquire healthy life skills through focused enrichment programs and meaningful volunteer work.   Youthlinks offers a diverse menu of in-school, after-school, and summer programs to engage a broad base of youth with varying interests. Their programs rely on creating mutually beneficial relationships with other area non-profit agencies. Through these opportunities, youth are exposed to new experiences, develop new knowledge and skills and develop pride in the service they give to their community.

Animal-related programs that partner with local animal shelters are consistently among the most popular offered. The very popular Run-A-Hound Outing Club is an example of a successful and ambitious program.  Last year, the club provided 66 area youth with a program that integrated regular recreational running with a community service animal care program.  The club meets weekly for trail and road runs. Each youth is paired with a homeless dog needing exercise and companionship. This dynamic pairing introduces youth to the benefits of a running practice while developing their skills as caregivers to needy canine companions.  The participating shelter dogs experience increased fitness, socialization, and chances for adoption.

Youthlinks has many exciting animal-related programs planned for its free summer camp and after-school programs.  There are still a limited number of camp slots still available for summer 2011 programming. To find out more about Youthlinks programs, call 594-2221 or visit www.youthlinksonline.org.

New Literacy Outreach Stations for Waldo County

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Vicky @ 10:11 am

Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County (LVWC), a program of Broadreach Family & Community Services, has received a grant from the Waldo County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation to increase self-sufficiency and stability for area residents with literacy challenges. Broadreach will work with community partners to establish at least three Literacy Outreach Stations at local food pantries and soup kitchens.

Traditionally, LVWC tutors and adult learners make a six-month or longer intention to work together. While this schedule works for some in the community, there are other potential volunteers and service recipients who are not ready to make such a commitment but who might be interested in participating in a less intensive manner. The new Literacy Outreach Clinics will provide LVWC with the opportunity to
• create a greater presence in the community,
• serve more individuals and recruit more volunteers,
• reach potential learners at locations where they are already regularly accessing services, and
• create stronger partnerships with existing community service organizations.

LVWC Literacy Outreach Stations will provide benefits to recipients of the services, to those who volunteer their time and efforts to a worthy cause, as well as to the organizations that host them. Additionally, the project will raise community awareness about the issues of adult literacy challenges, increase awareness of available services by challenged community members, increase referrals for local service providers, increase participation in on-going literacy programming at LVWC and increase volunteerism in local communities.

LVWC is seeking community volunteers to provide literacy assistance, information and referrals to individuals at the Literacy Stations Clinics. A new volunteer training session is planned for later this summer. For more information about serving as a tutor for LVWC, or about the other programs of Broadreach Family and Community Services, please contact Patrick Walsh at 338-2200 Ext 109 or pwalsh@brmaine.org. Additional information about Broadreach is available at its website, www.BRMAINE.org and on Facebook.

Preschoolers in Unity to Enjoy Shady Play Thanks to Local Students

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Vicky @ 9:11 am

This summer, thanks to grants from local youth groups, preschoolers in Unity will enjoy improved outdoor play areas. Broadreach Family & Community Services was awarded two grants from the Jumpstart Our Youth (JOY) programs at Mt. View Junior High School and Mt. View High School. The JOY grant program is a collaborative project of Jobs for Maine Graduates and the Unity Foundation, designed to teach students about the critical roles that nonprofits play in meeting overwhelming community needs. Mt. View students spent several months reviewing grant proposals from area non-profits , and selected Broadreach was one of the award recipients.

Each year, the Broadreach Unity Early Childhood Program provides rich early childhood learning programs for seventy young children at its new location at the old Unity Elementary School. Broadreach will use the JOY grant funds to construct a shade structure to protect children from overexposure to damaging ultraviolet rays. Most children accumulate between 50% and 80% of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, and it is proven that sun exposure over time is related to the risk of developing skin cancer.

Broadreach serves children, teens, adults and families across Waldo, Knox and Lincoln Counties. Our programs include early childhood education, community and enrichment programs for teens, case management services for children and adults, confidential literacy tutoring, parent education and much more.

The Unity Early Childhood Program is currently taking applications for fall 2011 programming. For more information about Broadreach’s many educational and support programs for children and families, please visit www.BRMaine.org or call 338-2200.

June 21, 2011

New Program for Waldoboro Families with Teens

Filed under: Teens,Uncategorized — Sue Dirosario @ 12:57 pm

June 21, 2011

The Youthlinks Program of Broadreach Family & Community Services has received a grant from the Maine Children’s Trust to expand the innovative model parent education program, Staying Connected with Your Teen (SCT), to youth and families in Lincoln County, Maine.  The SCT training program has already been very effective in decreasing conflict in  families with teens in Knox and Waldo County.  Youthlinks is accepting applications for SCT, and will begin to offer the  program again in September 2011.  Youthlinks SCT is open to families with teens throughout  Waldo, Knox and now Lincoln County at no charge to participants.  Enrolled families work at their own pace, in the privacy of their own homes, to  complete a series of exercises and reflections that strengthen  communication, cooperation and family management skills.

Youthlinks provides in-school, after-school and summer service-based skills-building programs to youth across Waldo, Knox and Lincoln Counties.   For more information about Youthlinks program for youth or families, please call 594-2221 or visit www.youthlinksonlline.org .


June 14, 2011


Filed under: Broadreach Events,Preschool — Sue Dirosario @ 12:22 pm

Broadreach Family & Community Services would like to invite you to a Touch-A-Truck fundraiser, a day of fun for the whole family. Children and families are invited to explore trucks of all sorts (firetruck, dump trucks, big rigs and more), get their face painted, play in a bounce house and much more. Suggested donations of $5 for a family of two and $10 for a family of four. All donations are greatly appreciated. We hope to see you there!

Save the date: July 30th,2011 10am-1pm.
Place: Troy Howard Middle School

June 5, 2011

Mid Coast Children’s Services Now Accepting Summer and Fall Enrollments

Mid-Coast Children’s Services is in the midst of planning our 28th year of summer and fall programming. Our qualified staff has been hard at work designing a variety of early childhood education options that will enrich a child’s early years providing a language and literacy enriched, nurturing learning environment with certified teachers.

This summer beginning June 6th, we are offering our regular extended day program (childcare). Our hours of operation will be Monday thru Friday from 7:30AM to 5:00 PM. In addition, a special six-week Early School summer program (July 11th – August 18th) for children ages 3 – 5 will be offered. This program will be Monday through Thursday from 8:30 – 11:30 AM with the option of our ever popular “Lunch Bunch” until 12:30 if needed. This is a wonderful opportunity for your child to maintain his /her skills that he/she achieved over the past months, have fun, and make the transition to kindergarten smoother.

In addition, we are asking for your help and support by spreading the word that MCCS is now accepting applications for our fall programming beginning September 6th. This new school year, we will be offering the regular Early School morning sessions (8:30 to 11:30AM) for 2 ½ years olds (Tuesday and Thursdays); and for 3 years old on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. We are excited to share that we will be bringing back the 4 year olds programming that will focus on school readiness skills for preparation for entering kindergarten. The 4 year old classroom will be offered Monday through Thursday, 8:30 to 11:30 AM.
For those families needing extended days coverage for childcare services, we will continue our same hours of operation in the afternoon as this past year.

As always, we’re happy to answer any questions and/or provide more information. You can contact Sandy Billington at 594-8474, ext 301 or via email sbillington@brmaine.org, or Mary Bailey MCCS Director at 594-8474 ext.304, email mbailey@brmaine.org.

Ruth Southworth to Retire in September

We’re in the conference room looking out the wide picture window toward Penobscot Bay. CEO Ruth Southworth, along with a few others, erupts into a spontaneous round of Broadway tunes as everyone settles in for the weekly staff meeting at Broadreach Family & Community Services. I look around the table. People are smiling and joking. Some folks are laughing so hard tears roll down their cheeks, the camaraderie palpable.
After everyone has arrived, Ruth calls the meeting to order and turns to more serious discourse. She leads us through the agenda with her usual wit, visionary thinking, and confidence. She has this knack for making you feel like you’re irreplaceable—that your ideas are truly important and valued; in a word, deeply respected. She also knows when to probe for answers, how to nudge ideas forward and how to elicit ownership from this group and demand excellence. As I sit here at the conference table, I feel grateful to be part of a service community where employees are sincerely valued not only for their skill and experience, but also for who they are as individuals.
Indeed, what people do here, how they do it and who they are have been continuously nurtured and valued by this exceptional woman who has led Broadreach for over 24 years. And it has clearly been a labor of love. “As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to impact the lives of children…and it’s been an incredible journey for me.”
In 1967, Ruth opened her own nursery school in her home. She did that until she began to work for Head Start in l973. “I was teacher aide number 2…low man on the totem pole. They were very gracious about helping me and I worked my way up the career ladder. One day I got my courage up and started looking at the University of Maine Catalog, thinking maybe I could take a college course. I was scared to death—I was just sure I’d fail. I took the plunge and enrolled. On my first day of class, I was leaning over my notebook and taking notes so hard I literally fell out of my chair. My professor looked at me with panic in his face. I figured things could only go up from there!”
Later in her career, Ruth earned her Masters Degree in Special Education and Leadership from the University of Maine. “Wonderful program. I learned way beyond what I thought I’d learn and it’s served me well. It helped me further refine my vision for Broadreach and honed my leadership skills as well.”
All together, Ruth has worked as a leader in the field of early education for 44 years; first as the owner of her nursery school, to the Assistant Director at Head Start, to the CEO of Waldo County Child Development Services (CDS) and Waldo County Preschool & Family Services (WCPFS). In l992, she resigned from CDS as their CEO and devoted her full attention to the growth and vitality of WCPFS, now known as Broadreach.
Ruth initiated and spearheaded the creation of Broadreach as a private, non-profit agency from day one. “WCPFS began its solo voyage by depositing $5 in a bank account, hired 3 half-time employees and one half-time CEO. To say the agency started out with few resources would be very accurate.” Fortunately, determination and passion were matched with a commitment to offer the best possible services to midcoast families. Core values, founded on integrity and principles, have never wavered, regardless of the challenges.
“There’s no doubt about it at all. I’ve grown personally and professionally and I learned that I could make a difference in the lives of children and families. I have tried to hang on to my integrity. At the end of the day, I hope at least one person will say, ‘Wow, she had the right stuff.’ ”
The truth is that more than just one person will tell you she “has the right stuff”. Ask any employee at Broadreach about their experience working here and they will invariably speak about Ruth with great affection and respect. Her steady, burning love for the agency she helped to found, her unflagging desire to further its mission, and her loyal commitment to its workers have earned her a permanent spot in the hearts of teachers, social workers, staff, parents and children at Broadreach and beyond.
“The quality of people at Broadreach is just exceptional. It’s been an honor to be a part of it. I just can’t take sole credit for what this agency has accomplished. Sure, the leadership is important. But it’s also very important whom you surround yourself with. Weak leaders surround themselves with weak people so they appear strong. Strong leaders surround themselves with strong people. I surely hope I fall into the latter category.”
How has she done it? “I’ve always been careful to not model administration-through-intimidation, but rather, administration-through-appreciation. I very, very carefully choose the people I want to work here. Sometimes I’ll conduct an interview for 2 or 3 hours…just to get to know the people and who they really are. Very rarely have we chosen poorly.”
Ruth says her parents taught her many things, but right at the top of the list was the importance of a sense of humor. “That’s one reason people think it’s fun to work at Broadreach! When you don’t have the extra money to boost your spirits, humor just keeps our boat sitting way up in the water. We take our jobs extremely seriously, without a doubt. Everyone gives over 100 percent every day, and we do it while remembering how important it is to laugh. We have that little twinkle in our eyes.”
Besides bringing a terrific sense of humor to her demanding work at Broadreach, Ruth has also earned a reputation as an exceptional community leader and tireless advocate for children and families throughout the State of Maine. Over the years, programs and agencies have approached her to collaborate and, in many cases, to merge with Broadreach. “We’ve had 5 mergers: The Teen Parent Program, The Child and Parent Council, Midcoast Children’s Services, Youthlinks, and Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County. We’ve had a lot more than that ask, but for one reason or another it didn’t work out.”
Ruth is pleased to note that in this very busy day and age there are still people out there who recognize and affirm quality service. From Former First Lady Barbara Bush to Sen. Susan Collins, to former DOE commissioner Susan Gendron, the accolades tell the same story: Broadreach is a leader in its field in this state.
Indeed, Ruth speaks of Broadreach employees as a well trained, exceptional bunch. “Our staff members truly do wonderful work,” she says. She shares a story about a child who came to Broadreach with very limited language. The teacher worked hard to infuse language and literacy into every part of the curriculum, often showing famous paintings to children to elicit language skills and promote vocabulary. One day this teacher showed a painting of a man with what looked like dirty clothes and hands. “This little fellow pipes up and says, ‘Those aren’t dirty hands, those are working hands…I think…I think he works on trains…he works really hard.’ I mean this is a child who had very little language when he came to us. Now his introspection and language skills are far beyond anyone’s expectations!” Ruth pauses to look out the window in a sigh of appreciation. “This is the type of programming we are running here. Staff who reach children and families. They truly care. We had a child with special needs in one of our classrooms who just graduated from High School as valedictorian. A high quality early childhood experience is just invaluable. Our Broadreach employees are like diamonds in the sand. But you have to pick the right people first. Then you believe in them, support them and respect them.”
Ruth has taken great care to nurture this respect, enacting strong measures of professionalism at Broadreach to ensure high levels of programming. She insisted on raising the bar in classrooms by requiring that all teachers hold 4-year degrees and certification. She has forged effective collaborations with major partners and fostered the creation of 22 preschool classrooms in Waldo and Knox Counties. Under her expert leadership Broadreach acquired 5 Broadreach buildings, expanded its workforce to almost 100, merged with 5 agencies, opened a Mental Health Center, and acquired two federally-funded Early Reading First Grants. She has presided over an agency that has been awarded the Best of the Best Preschool for 3 years in a row, as well as receiving the Greater Belfast Chamber of Commerce Non-Profit of the Year Award for 2010.
During the difficult economic times our country has seen in the last 3 to 4 years, the work of a CEO is not just critical: it’s the hedge against disaster. Ruth has had to make hard decisions, prevail upon legislators, and rely on relationships forged over time to help. Through it all, however, the agency has not only survived, but also maintained the highest ethical stance and reputation for excellence in programming. At a time when many non-profit organizations have had to close their doors, Ruth has stood as firm as any sea captain on deck in rough waters, guiding the ship of Broadreach with grace and courage through some treacherous shoals and very narrow places.
“It hasn’t been an easy voyage. It’s been rough, but we’ve made it through. Our secret is that we band together and we’re genuinely good folks who have a strong work ethic and a real passion for providing the services that we do.”
Ruth Southworth’s passion has never burned out. Her dedication, her 50 to 60-hour-work weeks, and her high intensity commitment have paid off. She leaves an agency that has come to exemplify excellence, is committed to high quality services of all kinds, and leads the field in early childhood education. Former State Senator Carol Weston calls her “…an inspirational leader who brings an authenticity to everything she does.”
And what would Ruth like to say about her tenure at Broadreach as she goes forward into the next chapter of her life?
“I want to stress that this work has come right from my heart. I want community members to know what a jewel they have in their own backyard. That jewel is Broadreach. It’s not because of me as it has been a true group effort. It’s been an honor and a privilege to have worked here.”
Broadreach is the lengthened shadow of Ruth Southworth. Her leadership launched the little dory of an idea called Waldo County Preschool many years ago in a tiny office in Belfast, Maine. Her care and courage transformed it into the stately sailing ship now aptly named Broadreach. And it flourishes in the lovely white building overlooking Penobscot Bay where it is now located.
Ruth has piloted her ship with skill and courage, greased its ways with wit and humor, bailed when she needed to bail, reefed n sails when they needed to be trimmed, and when the wind was right she let them all the way out. In hard times especially, she has stayed the course. The quote on Ruth’s office wall says it all:
“In the midst of winter I learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
In September, Ruth Southworth will retire. She hopes that her legacy, in some small way, might live on. It will. Ruth Southworth will be missed more than anyone at Broadreach can properly express.