Posted on Wednesday November 30, 2011
On November 17, hearststudios in Camden was hopping with music, disco lights and fabulous food as more than 60 community members gathered to dance the night away in the name of a good cause. The occasion was the first ever Mamas for Mamas Ladies’ Night Out, a fundraiser for Wayfinder Schools’ Passages Program for teen parents.
Passages, founded in 1994, helps 45 young parents throughout seven counties in Maine work toward their high school diploma. Each student receives individualized instruction in their own homes, thereby eliminating the need to secure daily transportation and childcare in order to attend school. Students complete course work in 24 core skill areas related to academics, parenting and life skills. They focus on everything from math, science, social studies and language arts to child development, budgeting and nutrition. Students also participate in group workshops and community service projects, and complete an intensive “passage”, or graduation project that addresses a particular challenge or goal for each student.
Earlier this year, Heather Hearst, board member of Wayfinder Schools, started brainstorming new ways to support the Passages Program. Knowing that many program participants are in need of baby supplies, she conceived of Mamas for Mamas, a combination baby shower/ ladies night out, to which each guest would bring a baby gift for a young family.
The result was spectacular. Weeks before the event, donations started coming in, and as more and more guests arrived on the big night, the newly renovated hearststudios began filling with baby clothes, diapers, Sippy cups, baby books, strollers, car seats and more. One guest brought a child-sized table and chairs, others brought toys, diaper bags and much needed winter gear.
Watching the guests arrive, Passages Program Director, Martha Kempe said, “This is amazing! To see so many people come out in support of these young families, it reminds you what an incredible community we live in.”
In the coming weeks, Kempe and the Passages teachers will distribute the gifts to their students, spreading holiday cheer as they go. Meanwhile, Hearst and Wayfinder Schools’ staff and board members had high praise for the many volunteers and supporters who made this event possible. Hearst’s mothers group, the Hot Mamas, took the lead on organizing the event, and one of the Hot Mamas organized a diaper drive through her place of work. Each of the Mamas brought food for the potluck, including soups, salad, bread and wine. Hearst’s husband, Jason, set up the sound system and disco lights, while Heather took the lead in organizing food, decorations and other event details.
Anneli Skaar of Skaar Design designed a delightful invitation and guest book, Chocolatier Blue donated gorgeous chocolates, and Beauty Mark Spa donated a luxurious spa package as a raffle item. Amy Wilton took photographs, and each participant donated to the Passages scholarship and technology funds.
The whole event raised more than $3,000 for the Passages Program, and hundreds of baby gifts. Wayfinder Schools extend their sincere thanks to all who participated in making the night such an overwhelming success. Head of Schools Dr. Dorothy Foote said, “We simply couldn’t do it without the support of our community and we are so grateful to everyone who supported this wonderful event.”