March 12, 2010

Paying tribute to Heroes with Heart

— Heroes with Heart pays tribute to professional workers and community volunteers who help people coping with tragedy. The Community Counseling Center sponsored a dinner and auction to honor police officers, firefighters, medical personnel and members of the Trauma Intervention Program, which provides critical support to first responders.

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John Patriquin/Staff Photographer;Tues.,December,23, 2008. Joseph Brannigan is a state senator who has also run the Shalom House in Portland for more than 30 years.

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An honor guard of firefighters launched the program at Holiday Inn by the Bay.

Lisa Toner, CCC board chair, introduced remarks by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree. The guest speaker was Steve Rowe, Maine's former attorney general. Rowe commended TIP volunteers for their emotional and practical support to victims. He also emphasized the importance of social services provided by the agency.

Shannon Moss, emcee, offered statistics, stating TIP volunteers responded to 140 crisis calls last year, assisted 322 first responders and furnished aid to 899 clients.

Leslie Clark Brancato, CCC executive director, thanked committee workers including event coordinators Lynn Weisz and Rebecca Hoffman Frances. Avery Jenkins, director of the TIP program, introduced 25 ''everyday heroes'' to the audience. She also called on Julann Cadorette, who described TIP's swift assistance when her husband suffered a brain injury.

The Heart of Gold Award was presented posthumously to Rita S. Willis, a lifelong supporter of the center. Daniel Willis, her grandson, accepted the award. Robbie Lipsman, the presenter, announced that the center's resource library will be re-named in Rita Willis' honor.

The new Heroes with Heart honorees are Carrie Walker, a nurse in the Maine Medical Center emergency department; Lt. Michael Sauschuck of the Portland Police Department; Tiffany Bombard of the Portland Fire Department; Kevin Battle of the South Portland Police Department; Joshua Pobrislo of the S.P. Fire Department; and the Rev. Phil Shearman, chaplain for the Gorham Fire Department.

Jane Croston and Gary Landry, representing fellow TIP volunteers, presented the group's Choice Award to Eric Gunnoe, a pediatric critical care physician at MMC. According to a TIP spokesman, Dr. Gunnoe's compassion, sensitivity and outstanding dedication are inspiring.


The Maine Women's Hall of Fame celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday with a silver tea and induction ceremony at the University of Maine at Augusta. The organization is co-sponsored by UMA, the Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women, and the BPW/Maine Futurama Foundation. Proceeds from the event benefit a scholarship program.

The induction ceremony honored Sharon Barker, of Bangor, director of the Women's Resource Center at UMO. She was praised for her commitment to the advancement of women and girls in Maine and for her exceptional public service contributions to the state.


It took 34 years, but Joseph Brannigan finally had a retirement party. His friends and colleagues turned out to honor Joe as he signed off as executive director of Shalom House.

The agency helps people find affordable homes and also receive the mental health support needed to live as independently as possible. Under Joe's leadership, Shalom House has grown from a single halfway house to 25 properties serving more than 600 people every year. In addition, programs are available for disabled Mainers throughout the state.

Becky Humphrey was emcee of the reception at the Marriott. After welcoming remarks from Shalom House board president Ric Hanley, state and national leaders congratulated the honoree. There were video messages from members of the Maine congressional delegation. Pingree was there to present a tribute, as were many of Joe's associates in community agencies. Gov. John Baldacci and Sen. George Mitchell sent their best wishes. Former Rep. Tom Allen spoke about serving on the Shalom House board in the mid-'70s.

In his ''other life,'' Joe has served 12 terms in the Maine Legislature. His current position is Senate Chair of Health and Human Services. During his time at the dais, he spoke about ''several previous lifetimes.''

The list includes four years in the U.S. Navy followed by his ordination as a diocesan priest. Joe served in that capacity in South Portland and Fairfield. Later, he was a chaplain at the University of Maine in Portland and Gorham (known at the time as UMPG.)

Ric Hanley led a champagne toast to the new retiree. Proudly sharing the tribute were Joe's wife, Claire, and their son, Luc.

Natalie Brenner has been observing and writing about the social scene for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 29 years.

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