April 17, 2011

Society Notebook: 'I Can Help'

The Heroes with Heart awards honor those who step up to help neighbors in need.

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Interim CEO Mary Jane Krebs, Heart of Gold award winner Kate Braestrup and Maj. Gen. John Libby of the Maine National Guard, last year’s winner of the Heart of Gold award.

Photos by Avery Yale Kamila/Staff Writer

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Lt. Aaron Osgood of the Portland Fire Department and Officer Rocco Navarro of the South Portland Police Department, with Frank Navarro, Rocco’s dad and a member of the Portland Fire Department.

Additional Photos Below

“The TIP folks are amazing,” Ontengco said. “It relieves the (medical) staff to go back and take care of the patient.”

The 38 TIP volunteers gave more than 10,000 hours of their time last year. Additional volunteers are always needed.

“There’s a large need,” board member Cindy Libby told me. “We have programs for veterans, immigrants, children and elders. Our program is very broad.”

Leslie Skillin-Calder, who trains the TIP volunteers, told me about the commitment and service these people provide to the community.

“The background of our volunteers is varied,” Skillin-Calder said. “Students, business owners, homemakers. It takes a willingness to put yourself aside and care for someone in a crisis. It does take a special person to do it.”

Following an extensive initial training program, the volunteers then commit to serving three 12-hour shifts each month, plus a three-hour monthly training session.

One of the organization’s longest-serving volunteers is Sandy Grubb of South Portland, who has been part of the program for five and a half of the six years it’s been in operation. She told me what most of us would say to someone in a crisis, the “it’s going to be OK” type of statement, is the absolute wrong thing to say to someone experiencing tragedy.

“I don’t know how many times I say, ‘I’m so sorry,’ ” Grubb told me. “And often I just need to be silent with them. You come and bring that calm to the storm.”

She and the other volunteers help families understand there are many ways to grieve. While one person may sob, another may want to punch a wall and another may just need to sit in shocked silence.

It’s the TIP volunteer’s job to be present with the person and offer comfort and assistance navigating the system.

“After each call,” Grubb told me, “I walk away knowing that I just made their personal 9/11 a little bit easier.”

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Gabrielle Grubb 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, at the Heroes with Heart awards dinner. The annual event honors Trauma Intervention Program volunteers and police, fire and medical professionals.


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