Thanks to the support of a local non-proft, a handful of at-risk kids are getting a taste of some positive possibilities for their future. Children’s theater helped one girl build confidence, while one teen realized he might just have what it takes to be in film.

Fiddlehead Art and Science Center in Gray hopes to continue this work. Jacinda Cotton-Castro, co-founder and executive director of Fiddlehead, says a positive environment between 3 and 6 p.m. is critical for many of today’s youth.

“Those are the latchkey kids,” Cotton-Castro said. “It’s not good if they’re left home alone.”

Since 2002, as its name suggests, Fiddlehead has been a place where individuals can unfold into their potential. As a nonprofit, Fiddlehead provides a positive environment for both youth and adults, offering classes and workshops that help each of us to grow in art, science and cultural exploration — from music lessons and painting, to yoga, clay animation and theater.

“Aftercare” is offered at Fiddlehead five days a week from September through June. Transportation is provided for Gray-New Gloucester, Raymond and Poland residents.

To support its mission, on May 1, Fiddlehead invites everyone to their third “Palette” annual fundraiser and auction. It’s called Palette to reflect the fact there will be delicious food. Among the offerings, a $15 ticket price allows you to enjoy beer and wine poured by staff from The Good Life Market in Raymond, and Margaritas restaurant in Auburn will be serving fried ice cream.

Auction items include a week getaway for a party of four at the Linekin Bay Resort in Boothbay Harbor; an afternoon journey by train to Boston to see the Red Sox; a private chef in your home for a Spanish dinner party for six; and theater tickets, jewelry, private tours and more.

“We’ll have a wide range of items,” Cotton-Castro said, “everything from $10 right on up through.”

Local artists will also be contributing. “Fresh paint art,” as it’s called, features paintings of local scenes done earlier in the day that will be available for bidding.

Thanks to community support from last year’s Palette, more Maine kids participated and engaged in enrichment programs, developed self esteem and connected with their community. Fiddlehead provided 10 scholarships to Maine youth.

One at-risk youth, a 10-year-old girl whose parents were suffering through a difficult time — one was laid off, the other very sick with a pile of medical bills — was helped through Fiddlehead.

“She was in our big children’s theater production,” said Cotton-Castro. “It helped her develop confidence and improved her reading proficiency; she had to practice lines.” Cotton-Castro said the girl loved the experience and also helped with the theater’s set design.

“Oftentimes it’s nothing more than being someone who cares,” said Cotton-Castro. “Being a mentor, it’s really important.”

Fiddlehead gets many kids who are on the edge.

“You can tell they’re going to take a turn one way or the other,” Cotton-Castro said. “coming in and taking classes on animation, or building and engineering, the kids get exposed to things they can do with their life that might otherwise be totally off their radar. We’re hoping businesses and individuals will step up and support these kids.”

Palette begins at 6 p.m. May 1 at Fiddlehead, 25 Shaker Road in Gray. The silent auction begins at 6:30 runs until about 8 p.m. when the live auction gets under way. Live music is planned as well.

For more information and tickets, as well as marketing perks for business that support the cause, visit, or call 657-2244.


Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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