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Making a difference.
Making a difference.


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More than 225 of Waban’s staff and family members gathered recently at the Waban TREE Center in Sanford to celebrate the organization and all that it takes to achieve its mission. Waban is dedicated to providing programs and services to help those with autism, intellectual/developmental, and other disabilities throughout southern Maine lead fulfilling lives.
According to Neal Meltzer, Executive Director of Waban, “Our model and spectrum of services are very comprehensive; we have over 450 employees working throughout the Sanford and greater York County area to help over 3,000 individuals reach their potential, be as independent as possible, and live their best lives. Our employees play a vital role in our members attaining their goals. Without their extraordinary efforts, we couldn’t achieve the results we do. This celebration honors that energy.” During the event, which coincides with September’s National Direct Service Professionals Recognition Week, the Waban administration handed out awards for longevity and employee effort.

Each year the staff appreciation and family-fun day event takes place at Waban’s Summer Camp and Conference Center, located next to Bauneg Beg Lake and includes a barbeque, games, sports and an awards ceremony, with an emphasis on the importance of the Waban’s staff commitment. Monetary awards and recognition cover several categories including: “Rookie of the Year,” for new employees, “Up and Coming,” for those who have been with Waban for 1-3 years, “Tried and True,” for those who have worked for more than 3 years, and also includes awards for each 5 years of service. This year’s show-stopping acknowledgments went to Donna Horrigan, Direct Support Professional for 25 years of dedicated effort and to Gervaise Flynn, Deputy Director, for 30 years of service. Executive Director Neal Meltzer commented, “This day celebrate our high-quality direct service professionals, Ed-techs and all our other staff, who enable us to provide high-quality services.”
Direct Service Professional, Patty Gammon, who received a 5-year service award, talked about her role at Waban, “What makes my job great is to see our members achieve their dreams. It’s such a joy to help people achieve what they didn’t think possible.”
For more than 50 years, Waban has been working on behalf of children and adults with autism, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, providing services and supporting more than 3,000 individuals annually. It offers many programs including residential services, therapeutic preschool and K-2 programs, children’s and adult case management, employment services and clinical services. For more information: or (207) 324-7955.
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- It’s August and that means getting ready for the school year to begin for children and parents, with shopping for pencils and notebooks, maybe some new shoes or clothes, a backpack, lunchbox, all the prep needed to start school. Well, maybe not all. For some students, getting ready to begin school takes years of prep, and the first day of kindergarten represents a major milestone after early intervention services to address the challenges of autism or other disabilities.

Waban’s Fraser-Ford Child Development Center will be celebrating the graduation of twenty-four students who faced just such a challenge and have accomplished a level of success that will allow them to be mainstreamed into the school system. For them and their parents, kindergarten readiness is the culmination of years of dedicated support, instruction and teamwork on the part of the teachers, staff and parents.

Jessica Montgomery, parent of FFCDC graduate Jackson, spoke about facing this moment, “Waban, as a whole, is truly a blessing and we cannot stress enough how much they have done for our family. What they say is true, ‘it takes a village.’ Without the support and encouragement of their entire staff, Jackson would not be where he is today. And I can honestly say, I would not be half the parent I am today if it wasn't for them. Countless meetings, going back to the drawing board trying to figure out ‘what works’ for Jackson. Their staff is highly educated, patient, and devoted to helping these children get to mainstream kindergarten. They listen. They strongly advocate for my child. They are my definition of super heroes. Leaving this tribe behind is truly one of the hardest things we will ever have to do!”

Montgomery went on to say, “I hope that one day our story will help another family who is living in the shadows of autism and needs to hear that there is hope.”

At the celebration event, teachers took to the microphone in turn, extolled the accomplishments of each graduate, and presented each child with a gift and a hug. Through smiles and a few tears, the teachers spoke of hope.

Amy Knapp, teacher in the RISE 3 classroom, said, “This is the hope that we pass on to those families that come to us in search of opportunities for their children.”

Brianne Westman, RISE 1 teacher followed with, “The hope that they will one day find their strength for communication, their power of social acceptance, and their piece of the puzzle. This is also what drives our team here at the Fraser-Ford Child Development Center to make a difference every day.”

Find out more about Waban’s Fraser-Ford Child Development Center at and see more photos of graduation on Waban’s Facebook page.
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Waban’s excitement for the Special Olympics was evident this month with events leading up to the Summer Games in Orono. Athletes and staff gathered at Waban’s Route 4 campus to cheer on runners in The Maine Law Enforcement Torch Run, which began in Sanford on Tuesday, June 5. Over 750 members of Maine Law Enforcement participated in the run across the state of Maine, acting as guardians of the flame carrying the Flame of Hope to raise funds for an awareness of Special Olympics Maine. Officers from the Sanford Police Department began the Maine run and handed the torch to North Berwick officers to continue onward toward Kittery for the first day of the run.

Officer Martin Morrissey of the North Berwick Police Department has been running in the Torch Run for 30 years, starting in 1988. This year, he will be retiring at the age of 75 and is among the oldest active duty officers still running in the Maine Torch Run. His leg of the 2018 run began at Waban and enthusiastic supporters held signs saying “Thank You Officer Morrisey!” He was presented with an award of recognition by North Berwick town officials and interviewed by Channel 13 News before holding the torch high and jogging off with his team of officers to applause and cheers.

On Friday, June 8, the athletes gathered again to board the bus and head north toward Orono. Amidst smiles and excitement, Special Olympians and staff waved their way up Dunaway Drive for the two and a half hour drive to Bangor Brewer Bowling Lanes for the first competitive event of the weekend. From there, the team proceeded to the University of Maine at Orono to settle in for the next two days of Special Olympics competition and comradery. Athletes stayed on campus in dorms at UMO and events took place at Harold Alfond Sports Stadium, starting with the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics State Summer Games, which included the culmination of the Torch Run on Friday evening.

Among the Waban athletes was Amy Reinholdtsen, granddaughter of Mickey Boutilier, the founder of Special Olympics Maine (1969) and long-term president and CEO of more than 35 years. Boutilier passed away in 2012, but his vision and spirit have carried on with the success of Reinholdtsen and her peers who live the motto of the Special Olympics, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Competitions in running, walking, jumping and softball throw produced cheerful participants and winners who reveled in the opportunity to stand on the podium for recognition. Beyond the medals and ribbons, athletes enjoyed socializing with peers at a dance on Saturday night and participating in the parade of athletes. Many Special Olympians see acquaintances they’ve made from across the state and renew friendships built on the common experience of the games.

“I feel very proud at the Special Olympics,” said Reinholdtsen, a feeling that was shared by her teammates and staff as they stood for the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday.
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In a world of “I want”, “Give me” and “What can you do for me?” there is a lady named Kathleen who has lived in a Waban home for over 30 years that I’d like to tell you about.
All year long she saves pennies for the Penny People at the Annual Waban Telethon to benefit the Frazer-Ford Child Development Center. She saves her change in a special bank that she donates to St. Jude on her birthday in July. Starting in October; Kathy buys 1 item a week for the Animal Shelter in Kennebunk. At Christmas time; she takes her donation to them for the animals that they support.
Kathy is the first to step up if she hears that somebody needs something. If you need a jacket; she would give you one of hers.
Is it any wonder that Kathy has friends everywhere?
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46th Annual Waban Telethon

SANFORD - The 46th Annual Waban Telethon was held on Saturday, March 18, at the St. Ignatius Gym on Riverside Avenue in Sanford. The Telethon was sponsored by the St. Therese of Lisieux Parish. Individuals, businesses, clubs and organizations once again came together as a community in support of Waban to raise $91,720.00!

The city of Sanford cleared the way for a very successful day by removing the remnants of the week’s heavy snowfall surrounding Riverside Avenue which allowed generous folks to come to the event throughout the day. Father Phil, pastor of St. Therese of Lisieux, made the first on air donation to get the tote board started and Neal Meltzer, Waban’s Executive Director, expressed his gratitude to the church for the donation and the venue.

“The snow storm earlier in the week could have sidetracked us, but I knew that the community wouldn’t let something as fickle as Maine weather stop the 46th Waban Annual Telethon from being a great success. Hundreds of volunteers and community members created crafts to donate, raised funds through the year, donated goods and services, and organized multiple other activities. All these efforts came together and reached fruition on Saturday including breakfast and lunch by the Knights of Columbus, orchestrating and running the phone bank, collecting raffle tickets, distributing gifts, and broadcasting the entire event on television and radio. In addition, let’s not forget the exceptionally talented musicians and dancers who travelled from throughout the state to be here and provided incredible performances.”

Waban staff member Beverly Lelievre received the Waban Making a Difference Award for her committed and passionate service to Waban. In the community category, the Waban Making a Difference Award was given to Evonik Cyro and graciously accepted by Bob Sullivan, CEO.

The Telethon was produced by a crew from Metrocast Cablevision. Coverage was provided by Metrocast Cablevision and Spectrum Communication with an expanded viewing area going from Kittery to Presque Isle and through most of New Hampshire. In addition, the entire Telethon was simulcast and heard live on “The Legends” radio stations 1220 AM and 102.3 FM. The phone bank was provided by DSCI. This year’s hosts were long-time volunteers RJ and Jim Legere, and Dave Stevens from “The Legends” radio. Some of the larger donors were:

“Pennies for Waban” - Doris & Val Grondin $8,800
($4,400, which is matched by General Electric)
Light It Up Blue $7,175
Evonik/Cyro Industries $3,500
Jammin’ for Waban $3,125
St. Thomas Knights of Columbus $2,952
O-N Enterprises Bowl-A-Rama $2,500
St. Therese of Liseux Parish $2,100
Springvale Social Club and Knights of Columbus $2,000
Metrocast $1,500
PATCO Construction $1,500
Marc Motors $1,190
American Security $1,000
Bangor Savings Bank Community Fund $1,000
Bonanza $1,000
Garnsey Brothers Insurance $1,000
H.M. Payson $1,000
Pratt & Whitney $1,000
Sanford Flooring $1,000
Sanford Institution for Savings $1,000

In addition to large business donations of goods and services from Central Furniture and Landry’s Furniture, there were many other large and small personal and business donors, too numerous to mention, that were instrumental in making the Telethon such a huge success.

The funds from the Telethon will go toward the capital campaign for the new Autism Therapy Wing of Waban’s Fraser-Ford Child Development Center. Waban is exceptionally grateful and appreciative for all the tremendous support we received from all the volunteers and donors both before and during the Telethon.

Learn more about Waban at
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Today in the fishing group our goal was to learn how to prepare a fish from catching it to cooking it. Thanks to a donation from Jerry's Meat Market in Sanford, Adventure group was able complete their goal. The fishing group members watched a demonstration on properly cleaning fish and then had the opportunity to practice. Each member also helped prepare the other ingredients such as cutting the lemons. Mark gave it a taste test and Kevin stated, "This smells so good! We did a good job."

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Ten years ago Michael set a goal for himself to achieve a lifetime milestone that is not always guaranteed for the folks we serve. Earlier this month Michael retired from Walmart with his ten year pin. Ten years ago he said he wanted his ten year pin and in November he achieved that goal he set for himself.

While working at Walmart as a greeter Michael’s personality was on full display. Both Walmart management and customers of Walmart often referred to Michael as the “Mayor of Sanford”. He knew most of the regular customers that walked through those doors and they always looked for Michael.

Victoria, Michael’s manager, reported that every day she misses him and so do the customers. Victoria also stated that she is glad he comes back to visit and that many of the customers continue to ask about him. Victoria reported that she will cherish the inside jokes she and the cashiers had with Michael.

As Michael moves on with the next phase of his life he still plans on being productive. Michael would like to volunteer to read to school kids. If you see Michael around congratulate him on working for the same business for ten years and for retiring. This is a wonderful achievement. Congratulations on retirement Michael, enjoy the golden years!
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Waban Celebrates 50 Years

On October 16, amidst glorious fall colors surrounding the waterfront areas of the Camp, TREE Program and Wormwood Banquet & Conference Center, visitors celebrated Waban’s 50th Anniversary. The gorgeous day and mild weather were the perfect accompaniment, encouraging attendees to tour the grounds and remember their connection to Waban, whether it was decades ago or yesterday.

Inside the Wormwood Center and out on the large patio area that had been covered and enclosed with a heated party canopy, there were multiple displays of photos, scrapbooks, archived newspaper articles, various artifacts and mementos from Waban’s history as well as a “Waban By the Decade” full wall photo display. While mingling and partaking in refreshments, old friends and acquaintances reconnected and “walked down memory lane” embracing Waban’s 50 years of providing essential services to children and adults with special needs.

Neal Meltzer, Waban’s Executive Director, took microphone in hand to thank everyone for their contributions over the years, whether as a volunteer, an employee, a donor, a legislator, a receiver of services, or a friend.

Representatives from U.S. Senators Angus King and Susan Collins’ offices brought remarks from the senators and State Representatives Anne-Marie Mastraccio and Patty Hymanson delivered an official Expression of Sentiment from the 127th Legislature of the State of Maine.

In a more formal presentation, Neal recognized Icons of the Decade, going from Waban’s founding year of 1966 through the 5th decade in 2010. These individuals truly represented the essence, spirit, dedication, and commitment of the hundreds of other engaged community members who all contributed to Waban’s success. For the 1960s, it was Wayne Wormwood, the founding force behind Camp Waban and Waban’s Executive Director for many years. Wormwood’s son Vance Wormwood was on hand to accept the honor in his father’s place. Other icons included participants Mary Ellen Fenderson, Michael Liberty, Paul Sicotte and Rory MacKenzie for the 1970s; previous Waban and community leaders Jan Fraser, Charlene Ford Ralston, and Bud and Sandy Legere for the 1980s; early recipient of service and now dedicated Waban staff and her exceptional son, Pam and Ryan LaJoie, for the 1990s; current and previous Board members Roberta Milo and Laurent Paré for the 2000s; and representing the confluence of the past, present, and future, long term (28 years!) employee and current Deputy Director, Gervaise Flynn, for the current decade.

At the end of the celebration, Neal’s closing remarks were representative of the feelings felt by all. “It is truly humbling to look around and see what the dedicated and committed efforts of so many people have accomplished over 50 years. Thousands of people’s lives have been impacted and are better for the programs, services, and experiences they had at Waban. Waban’s and their success is truly the success of all of you that are here today and of our entire community. For all that you have done, we are truly grateful.”
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Want to apply to become a Direct Support Professional at Waban? You'll be making a difference in the lives of our adult members every single day.
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Come join the Waban Team! We are seeking a candidate as a Lead Daycare Assistant, who would be responsible for utilizing best practice methods, planning and implementing appropriate curriculum for preschool children in a daycare setting. Responsible for all aspects of classroom management including supervision of assistant teachers in the classroom. Must have a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited college in child development, early childhood, special education or related field. Educational Technician III certification preferred.
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