Mention the word fundraising to people and it will evoke a number of reactions. Many people don’t like the thought of asking people for money. Others feel either an obligation or a discomfort at being asked. Either way, fundraising has become a fact of life and a way to generate much needed funds for a variety of programs that volunteer or non-profit organizations do.

I stumbled on the world of fundraising four years ago. A friend of mine had been to an education conference and got introduced to songwriter and performer Red Grammer. She returned from the conference with the idea that we should bring him to Scarborough for a performance. The question became how do we fund this? Not knowing Red Grammer, I asked to hear some of his music. After hearing the lyrics of one particular song, it became clear that this should be a fundraiser for Project G.R.A.C.E.

My exposure to Project G.R.A.C.E at the time was limited. But what I saw, I liked. I had witnessed this dedicated group of volunteers putting together food baskets at Thanksgiving and asking the public to take tags off Christmas trees during the holiday season so that those less fortunate would have a Christmas. The lyrics of Grammer’s song, With Two Wings spoke precisely to the work that Project G.R.A.C.E. does. This was my call to do a fundraiser for this group. With a plan in place, a promise was made to Project G.R.A.C.E. that “we” would raise $10,000 for the group.

Who was the “we,” you may ask? Even I didn’t know at the time! It was a spontaneous promise, that had me asking “what have I done?” after. You see, I had never fundraised before, and I didn’t know many people in town!

My very first stop was the Current. With my youngest on my hip, I met Lee Hews-Casler, publisher of the Current. She pledged advertising sponsorship, and advised me to visit Brown Fox Printing owner Russ Burleigh, who pledged his support as well. Having good luck in that block of Route 1, I visited Scarborough Community Services and the then Oscar G’s. The elements were all in place: Advertising, program, auditorium and ice cream. Creating buzz in town was the next challenge and I knew I was in good hands when I met Jack Cowie from Scarborough Rotary Club.

The old adage, “many hands make light work” was true. As I took to the streets asking businesses and organizations to sponsor the concert I was amazed at the positive reaction and generosity of so many in our town. Project G.R.A.C.E. is an acronym for Granting Resources and Assistance through Community Effort. Seeing members of the community offer up their gifts in an assortment of helpful ways, I witnessed first hand the truth in the organization’s name. It is the collective whole that pulls our community together. Each year since the concert, a hearty dose of community spirit is recognized by fundraising and I feel compelled to keep going!

Today, I know who the “we” is. It’s all of us who collectively have helped over 750 families who have fallen on hard times in Scarborough and five other surrounding towns.

Project G.R.A.C.E. works with 56 agencies, civic groups, and churches coordinating assistance in an efficiently compassionate way and ensuring that there is no duplication of effort. Short term assistance is provided to families throughout the year. From fuel assistance to clothing, camp sponsorships to medical assistance, collectively, each one of us can make a difference in a small or larger way.

Fundraising isn’t as bad as you may think. A good cause, and the courage to ask, is all that’s needed. The rewards are many – ranging from new friendships to job opportunities, I’m grateful for the whole experience.

The third annual “Race for G.R.A.C.E.” will take place at SummerFest August 20th.

Sponsorships are $500 and $100. Cost to play is $1.00, and there are prizes for all. Anyone interested in helping at the booth, learning more about sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, please call 883-5111 or visit the web site at

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