FREEPORT — Most people take the simple act of brushing their teeth for granted.

But for individuals who are living with illnesses, injuries and disabilities, something so routine can be a challenge.

Staff members in the Casco Bay YMCA’s Adaptive Services program help people in such situations build and maintain strength and, hopefully, achieve a sense of normalcy.

“At the Y, strengthening the community is our cause and we believe that lasting personal and social change,” said Scott Krouse, executive director of the program. “Adaptive services falls within our social responsibility, giving back and supporting our neighbors. We know that everyone in our community has different abilities and we want to make sure that the Y is there to support people, no matter what their capacity is.”

The 12-year-old program has humble roots, but continues to expand its services year after year. One way it has been able to continue to grow is through an annual Adaptive Services Auction.

The auction, now in its 10th year, seeks to reduce the gap in funding for the program. Each year the program costs more than $100,000 to run; last year the auction raised more than half of that amount. This year the goal is to raise $60,000 or more.

“At first we embarked with the philosophy because we knew it was the right thing to do; we wanted to extend a hand and help those in our community, and we sort of put the cart before the horse as we started dedicating resources,” Krouse said. “Our whole goal is to continue to raise funds to meet the need so we can expand the program. We are trying to catch up.”

In addition to funding the work done with its current participants, the Adaptive Services Program will use money raised in this year’s auction to build a partnership with Livestrong in order to improve its support for cancer survivors.

The Cumberland County YMCA, along with nine other YMCAs in the state, is working hard to bring Livestrong back to Maine communities. Staff members at each of the YMCA locations will be trained in June to help plan new services that help cancer survivors improve the qualities of their lives.

According to Krouse, program goals include helping participants build muscle strength, flexibility and endurance; improve functional ability; reduce severity of treatment side effects, and, most importantly, to improve levels of self esteem.

“It’s going to be a program that will help connect and build relationships with other cancer survivors,” he said. “To adopt a healthy lifestyle is not only a part of recovery, but just a way of life.

This year’s auction will take place on April 5 from 6-9 p.m. At the Hilton Garden Inn, 5 Park St. Several local businesses have partnered with the YMCA to donate items ranging from restaurant gift certificates to week-long getaways.

The volunteer-led auction will not only help defray the cost of new programs for Adaptive Services, but it will allow to program to continue offering free services.

In order to participate in the YMCAs Adaptive Services program, individuals must be a member of the YMCA, but all other services are free. Additionally, the Livestrong program will be a 12-week program, completely free of cost to its participants; if all goes according to plan, the program will start in December or next January.

Krouse knows that in order to reach the $60,000 goal community support is crucial and said he hopes people think about things from a personal perspective.

“You never know when you’re going to need support yourself because life can change like that,” he said. “(But) we’re here to provide support for people of all abilities and we want to help the total person because in order to live a healthy life, you need to be able to provide support with spirit, mind and body.”

Amber Cronin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 115 or [email protected]. Follow Amber on Twitter: @croninamber.

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