FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
“How can you mend a broken heart?” by the Bee Gees is playing on my radio as I write this inaugural newsletter greeting. It is a question I ask myself frequently. Many of our neighbors have faced down trials that most of us will never (gratefully) understand. While laughter is the most prominent sound emanating from the Center, tears flow as well. So how dowe mend a broken heart? How can we help ease the sorrow and isolation that can accompany it?
We lend a compassionate ear and we invite the heart to break open into more fullness rather than break apart. When we are hit with a crisis in our lives that causes injury to our soul, we have a choice. We can let the crisis define us or we can choose how we will respond. Sometimes all it takes is being reminded that we don’t have to make that choice or walk that path alone. Seeds of Hope strives to be that place where the hurting can find support.
After years of being one of those people others turn to for help, I have learned that it is possible, indeed it is often likely, that one comes out of a crisis even stronger. A challenge in building that strength is to not let it make us harder; rather, we strive to become more open and tender.
When our heart breaks open, it gives us a greater capacity for healing and loving again. It also increases our ability to have compassion for others. The original meaning of compassion was from the Latin and old French meaning “to suffer with.” We can suffer with another when we have known ourselves what it means to suffer.
One of the lessons I have learned at Seeds of Hope is the extraordinary kindness and generosity expressed daily by our neighbors toward our neighbors. The community formed over the past several years has become one of the ways a broken heart can be mended. Shared sorrow can transform into shared laughter. And shared laughter heals. (Artist: Molly Hahn)
Meet Sheila Jezar
Sheila Jezar has volunteered at Seeds of Hope every Friday since 2009. She started out by donating clothing and was asked to consider volunteering. “All they had to do was ask once. The Neighborhood Center is the real world” said Jezar.
After 30 years of teaching almost every grade in the Biddeford School system, Jezar was looking for a way to stay connected to the community. She found that and more. Many of the neighbors at Seeds of Hope were her former students.
They greet her as an old friend. Jezar said she loves them and, in turn, they love her. “And that is the most important feeling in the world.”
Union Church, Biddeford Pool
Just before Thanksgiving of 2009, Union Church collected funds, at an interfaith service, which were given to Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center. Since then two congregation members have joined the SOH Board of Directors and collaborations have continued such as repairing floors at the Center. Union Church also provides “emergency funds” to be used at the Center’s discretion. “Those of us at Union Church describe ourselves as a community of faith that seeks to reflect the love and compassion of God through our conduct. A major way that we do that is to contribute financially and through volunteering where there is need. Seeds of Hope helps those in need in a compassionate and respectful way and we feel honored to assist in that ministry.” said Nancy Bancroft, Pastor of Union Church.
3rd Annual Community Soup-er Huge Success!
On Sunday,March 12, the 3rd Annual Community Soup-er attracted more than 150 people to try delicious soups donated by Back to Basics, Biscuits & Co., Cowbell Burger Bar, Custom Deluxe, Jonesy’s Main Street Cafe, Los Tapatios, Mae Mee, New Morning and TJ’s Pizza.
The event was co-sponsored by Heart of Biddeford and Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center and showcased local restaurants and the downtown. It is the kick-off to Biddeford + Saco Restaurant Week, a project of HOB and the Biddeford + Saco Chamber of Commerce.
The evening was rounded out by live music performed by Bradford Laverriere and Freddy Dame Jr. in the Pepperell Mill Event Space which was donated by Doug Sanford and Scott Thibeau. Biddeford’s 5th grade students donated hand-made and decorated clay bowls to be taken home by guests.
“The Community Soup-er accomplishes so many complementary goals. Breaking bread (or biscuits) together builds community,” said HOB Executive Director, Delilah Poupore. “And the proceeds went to an organization, Seeds of Hope, that is essential to Biddeford and surrounding communities”.
“We are deeply grateful to Heart of Biddeford, the local restaurants and other contributors, and to the community for your support. It means so much to us.” Debbie Lamb, SOH Board President.
Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution
From the very beginning, Seeds of Hope has counted Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution among its supporters. Their commitment to supporting the communities they serve is well known.
Recently we met with Amanda Lutz, Community Relations Assistant for Saco & Biddeford Savings. When asked about the nearly decade long involvement with Seeds of Hope, Lutz replied, “We are proud to have supported Seeds of Hope since they opened their doors in 2008. They not only offer a friendly environment for neighbors in need, but offer an array of resources for those seeking to enter the workforce. Having visited Seeds of Hope, I was able to personally see the strong bond, passion and devotion the volunteers and neighbors have with one another. It’s truly a welcoming organization with a family atmosphere, advocating for those in need. We hope our community continues to support this wonderful organization.”
The “Teddy Bear Toss” was a first at University of New England’s Alfond Forum and was modeled after similar events held around the country. The event was organized by the Student Leader Building Managers of the Harold Alford Forum and overseen by the General Manager of The Forum, DJ Whitten. “The Student Building Mangers are some of UNE’s finest student employees as they play a key role in the Forum’s daily operation and receive a scholarship for the work they do. In addition to their daily duties to support the building, we challenged them back in August 2016 during their annual training to collaborate as a team to work towards a common charitable goal. The Teddy Bear Toss was the event they decided upon,” said Cynthia Furber, UNE Athletic Department.
More than 1100 stuffed animals were tossed onto the ice as UNE’s Andrew Slotnick of the Men’s Hockey Team and Abby Kinens of the Women’s Hockey Team scored their first goals. Seeds of Hope Neighborhood
Center was presented with 100 teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Other recipients included the Center for Grieving Children, the Morrison Center, Corner Cupboard, Trauma Intervention Program and Second Congregational Church in Biddeford.
Organizers have decided to make this an annual event due to its popularity and success. (Pictured are UNE student leaders and Linda Edgerton, Seeds of Hope Development Associate).
BY THE NUMBERS
In 2016 Seeds of Hope had
230 service encounter days, serving approximately 12,500 meals. Thanks to our fabulous volunteer teams, we had over 4,200 volunteer hours staffing the Center with an in-kind contribution of $75,000.
Due to generous donations from partner organizations and businesses we gave out 30 turkeys to families for Thanksgiving, invited 35 parents & grandparents to “shop” for Christmas gifts in our large toy donation supplies, have made up over 150 packages of under wear and socks to give away and will be distributing Easter Baskets to parents for their children. The generosity of our communities is overwhelming!