April 19, 2011

Scene & Heard: 'I can help'

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

When an unexpected death, a traumatic injury, a car accident or a fire strikes, a cadre of local volunteers swings into action to help those affected by the tragedy. Called the Trauma Intervention Program, or TIP for short, it is a service provided free of charge by Portland’s Community Counseling Center.

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Interim CEO Mary Jane Krebs, Heart of Gold award winner Kate Braestrup and Major General John Libby of the Maine National Guard.

Avery Yale Kamila photo

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Heroes with Heart award winners Lt. Aaron Osgood of the Portland Fire Department and Office Rocco Navarro of the South Portland Police Department, with Frank Navarro, Rocco's dad and a member of the Portland Fire Department.

Avery Yale Kamila photo

Additional Photos Below

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On Thursday night at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, more than 200 guests gathered for the Heroes with Heart awards dinner. The annual event honors the TIP volunteers and the police, fire and medical professionals who make this work possible and raised more than $26,000 for the program.

With WMTW-8 news anchor Shannon Moss and interim CEO Mary Jane Krebs on the stage, eight awards were handed out after dinner.

The evening’s top award, the Heart of Gold, went to Kate Braestrup, who is a New York Times best-selling author and chaplain for the Maine Warden Service. This special award was presented by Maj. Gen. John Libby of the Maine National Guard, who won the award last year.

The Volunteer Choice Award went to Seth Seder, a nurse at Maine Medical Center.

This year’s Heroes with Heart awards were presented to Sgt. Robert Doherty of the Portland Police Department, Sgt. Sean Lally of the Westbrook Police Department, Kandy Lefebvre, an emergency department nurse at Maine Medical Center, Officer Rocco Navarro of the South Portland Police Department, Lt. Aaron Osgood of the Portland Fire Department, and Chaplain Howard Sterling of the South Portland Fire Department.

Moss told us that “this past year, TIP volunteers assisted 181 first responders and helped 829 clients.”

During dinner, I enjoyed the company of a wonderful group of people. I sat between Russell Gauvin, a 2006 Heroes with Heart honoree and the current chief of the Capitol Police, and Portland Police Chief James Craig. Gauvin gave me some insight into the new atmosphere at the State House, and Chief Craig entertained us all with his comparison of news in his hometown of Los Angeles and Maine. Since Maine has considerably less crime, we report much more on the weather. The other big difference is that the paparazzi has yet to stake out the Jetport or our restaurants.

Also at the table was Janet Gauvin, award winner Sgt. Doherty, Commander Vern Malloch of the Portland Police Department, TIP volunteer Craig Treadwell and Cindy and Mark Delano of Scarborough, who lost their son Steven Delano last spring in a car crash as he was on his way to a prom. Treadwell was the TIP volunteer who was by their side in the immediate hours after the accident.

During the after-dinner program, Moss played a video of an interview she conducted with the Delanos. I know I wasn’t the only one who was brought to tears by the moving account and the strength of the Delanos in the face of such a tragedy.

During his remarks, board chair David Smith offered special praise to staff members Rebecca Hoffmann Frances and Erin Smith for coordinating this event, which is the primary funding mechanism for the TIP program.

“When someone is impacted by trauma, it’s a devastating experience,” Krebs told me during the cocktail reception. “The TIP volunteers are people who go above and beyond all the time. The people who do this work are so deeply compassionate.”

“I’ve seen some of these volunteers in action over the death of a child,” Elizabeth McLellan, a charge nurse at Maine Medical Center, told me. “The volunteers come in and help the family deal with the trauma.”

Her colleague, Julianne Ontengco, who is Maine Med’s chief nurse practitioner for trauma and critical care, wholeheartedly agreed.

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Additional Photos

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Avery Yale Kamila photo: Gabrielle Grub and her mother and TIP volunteer Sandy Grubb, who both live in South Portland.

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Spring Harbor Hospital CEO Dennis King and board member Dick Aronson, who owns Century Tire.

Avery Yale Kamila photo

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Members of the South Portland Professional Firefighters Honor Guard kicked off the after-dinner program. They are Commander Rob Simmons, Jon Perry, Josh Perry, Chris Swenson and Howard Sterling, who received a Heroes with Heart award.

Avery Yale Kamila photo

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