The Center for Grieving Children’s Midsummer Night’s Soireé at the Vinegar Hill Music Theatre in Arundel was an intimate celebration held in a community the organization is looking forward to getting to know much better.

“This is a ‘friendraiser’ and a celebration,” said Executive Director Anne Heros, who was joined by incoming board President Dr. Ed Tumavicus. “We’re building awareness for our services and celebrating 30 years of supporting families in southern Maine.”

Guests began the balmy July 12 evening at a cocktail reception in the garden of the rustic music theater. Board member Rick Dempsey, who attended with his wife, Patty, chatted with Kevin Hogan of Falmouth, who attended with his wife and board member, Katie Hogan.

Jim Buttarazzi and his wife, Donna, of Arundel were joined by Brenda Buttarazzi and Traci Moore of Scarborough Dental Associates. Cynthia Greene of Kennebunkport turned out with friends Judi Clifford and Juli Frawley, also of Kennebunkport, Lisa Harrison of Kennebunk and Allison McGuckin and Laurel Mullen of Kennebunk Beach.

“We’re here supporting a friend,” said Greene.

“I’ve been a volunteer for 14 years and a supporter of the Center for longer than that,” said Steve Hart, who chatted with Janice Zurlo, a York County coordinator. “It’s a rewarding and powerful experience. The Center offers a safe place for families to come and talk about their experiences. It’s a rich, emotional experience.”

“We added a Sanford location five years ago,” said Kristina Powell, development manager for the Center, which is based in Portland. “We want to expand our reach and offer our services and programs in the greater Sanford area. We are looking to bring friends together, meet volunteers and help people learn more about us.”

The soirée moved into the historic theater and guests took their seats as emcee and board member Cindy Williams of WCSH-6 introduced Heros, who got up to speak about the organization, which offers support for grieving children, teens and families throughout southern Maine.

“It takes a village, and that’s what this is about,” Heros told the attentive audience. “It’s a sad reason why we exist, but it’s when they need us all the most. That’s why we’re meeting here tonight, and we hope our friendship will continue to grow.”

The Bob Charest Quartet treated the crowd to a set list of old standards and pop songs before guests were invited back into the garden for a nightcap.

Kimberly Simard, past board president, attended with her daughter Erin Ryan, a volunteer, and friend Diana Fletcher of Scarborough.

“The Center created a safety net, and it caught my family,” said Simard, taking a moment to share a personal experience. “My kids lost their dad, and I didn’t know what to do to support them through their grief. It helped them find happiness again. It’s such a loving, warm place. It’s pretty amazing and truly changed my children’s lives.”

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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