Briefs – 10/5


College money available from VFW

Cdr. Roger Timmons of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 10643 announced the kick-off of this year’s VFW Essay Competition for students from grades four through high school.

Financial awards vary for each grade level. Deadline for entries is Nov. 1 and interested students and teachers should contact the local VFW Post by phone at 892-6582 or write the Post at Box 1776, Windham, ME 04062 for more information.

Students in grades 4-5 are invited to write a 300-400 word essay with the theme, “What freedom means to me”; the first place winner will receive an award valued at $1,000.

Students in grades 6-8 can enter the “Patriot’s Pen Essay Competition,” writing a 300-400 word essay with the theme of “What I would tell America’s founding fathers.” Students compete at the local Post level, and winners advance to District level; District winners go on to compete at the state level where $46,000 in awards is given. The first place winner receives $5,000.

At the high school level, the Voice of Democracy Scholarship Competition winners can receive a trip to Washington, DC and up to $30,000. Competition begins with students writing and recording a three to five minute essay with the theme, “Is our constitution still relevant?” on an audio cassette tae or CD and present their recording, typed essay and entry form to the local VFW Post. After competing locally, winners at this level advance to District and the first place District winner goes on to state competition. All state winners receive a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. where the first place winner, nationally, receives $30,000.

The VFW provides more than $2.3 million annually in scholarships and each year, around 50,000 students participate in the competition.

Camp Sunshine’s Hoidal to sit on national SADD board

SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), the national school-based, peer-to-peer prevention, education, and activism organization, has announced that Matthew Hoidal, executive director for Camp Sunshine, has been appointed to the 2012-2013 SADD National Board of Directors.

Hoidal will join other professionals in the youth health and safety field and serve as an advocate for the 31-year-old organization which has nearly 10,000 chapters and more than 350,000 active participants in schools nationwide. During his three-year term, Hoidal will serve as a member of the Strategic Planning and Resource Development Committees.

“I’m honored to serve on the board of SADD and use my skills and experience to help influence teens across the nation to make better life choices,” Hoidal stated.

Camp Sunshine is a national nonprofit in Casco that provides fun, hope, and recreation for children with life-threatening illnesses and respite and support for their families. Since joining Camp Sunshine in 2001, Hoidal has helped transform what was a seasonal program into a year-round, financially independent, stand-alone organization. Camp Sunshine serves more than 800 families in need annually, with a 14-member staff and a network of more than 2,500 volunteers who donate more than 70,000 hours each year.

“An outstanding leader, a caring parent, and a committed family advocate, Matt is an exceptional spokesperson for SADD, working tirelessly to ensure that teens are fully prepared to make good choices in a world full of challenges,” said Danna Mauch, national chairman of SADD. “It will be an honor to work side-by-side Matt on the board as we continue to help communities across the country find answers and alternatives to destructive teenage behaviors.”

Prior to joining Camp Sunshine, Hoidal was founder and director of Miracle Marathon, recruiting a team of 12 runners from around the country who participated in a 1,600-plus mile East Coast trek and raised funds for Camp Sunshine. Hoidal’s professional experience also includes working in the Office of the New Hampshire Attorney General and conducting legal research for New Hampshire Legal Aid. Hoidal graduated from St. Lawrence University with a Bachelor of Arts and then received his Juris Doctorate from Vermont Law School in 2000.

Hoidal also serves on the board of the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and has an affiliation with the Massachusetts Bar Association. Previous volunteer work has included serving with the WCSH 6 Who Care Board of Governors, the Maine Marathon Committee, and as the founder of Miles for Smiles. Hoidal and his wife, Jennifer, and six children live in Falmouth.

Bridgton shops to shine the light on domestic violence in October

October is recognized nationally as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This October, Family Crisis Services is partnering with local business owners in Bridgton and Brunswick for the Glowing Purple Project, a campaign to turn our community purple to bring attention to this issue.

Businesses on Main Street in Bridgton and Brunswick will be “shining the light on domestic violence” by displaying purple lights from Monday, Oct. 1, to Sunday, Oct. 14. The goal of the Glowing Purple Project is to send the message that “Domestic Violence Has NO Place in Our Community.”

When asked about her participation in this event, local business owner, Deborah Ripley of Women in Balance, had this to say, “Having grown up in a home where domestic violence was present, I am always ready, willing and able to help out when someone asks me to participate in any event that will bring awareness to this issue. It was a horrible thing to experience, as a child, watching my mother married to someone who controlled all her money, told her what to wear and who she could go out with and even ordered off menus for her. My mother is now 74 and free of the oppression. So, when Family Crisis Services, asked me to put purple lights in my office windows, I told them without hesitation, that I would put lights in every window to celebrate the fact that my mother is finally free from family violence.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, Family Crisis Services will be holding the first annual Color ME Purple event throughout Cumberland County. Given that purple is the color chosen to help spread awareness of domestic violence, everyone is encouraged to wear something purple on that day and take a stand against domestic violence.

Family Crisis Services is the local domestic violence agency covering Cumberland County. If you are being hurt by someone you love or know someone who is, reach out for help by contacting a trained advocate at: 1-866-834-4357 (24-hour hotline) or contact your local outreach office: in Bridgton 647-8501. You can also visit the Family Crisis Services website at

Falmouth Kitchen Tour to aid hunger initiative

Nine homes will be featured on the Falmouth Kitchen Tour, highlighting several of Maine’s top designers, cabinetmakers and countertop crafters, as well as the newest lighting, tile and appliance trends. The public is invited to take it all in Friday and Saturday Oct. 5 and 6, from 10 a.m.-to 4 p.m.

The tour will benefit the Maine Hunger Initiative, a program developed by Preble Street Resource Center. Guests taking the tour are asked to bring non-perishable food items to the Falmouth Country Club, One Congressional Drive, Falmouth, where the tour begins. In addition to the food items, the Maine Hunger Initiative will receive a portion of all ticket sales.

The event will feature Nancy Cerny, head chef at CVC Catering, who will be serving lobster salad cucumber canapés. CareyAnne Hill of All Whipped Up will offer samples of baked goodies. Maine landscape artist, Mary Byrom will be working on site at one of the homes. On Friday, Jill Hannaford from Southern Maine Community College’s McKernan Culinary Center, will be in a featured kitchen. On Saturday, guests will also meet some of Downeast Magazine’s cookbook authors, including Kathy Gunst, Alison Pray, Tara Smith and Dana Moos. Jaynie Higgins, author of The Ultimate Diabetes Meal Planner, will be offering healthful cooking tips.

Author and food historian Sandy Oliver will be at the Falmouth Country Club Saturday at 9 a.m. with a program,“17 Things you Need to Know About Maine Food.”

Tickets are $25 per person in advance and available online at, where more information about the tour is available. Tickets purchased the day of the event are $30.