The Jobs for Maine Graduates program at Freeport High School has concluded another successful year of work for charity and, at the same time, preparing students for their futures.

Jay Harper, in his 15th year as director of Jobs for Maine Graduates at the school, was the keynote speaker at the season-ending banquet, held last month at the Freeport Performing Arts Center. Amber Pelletier, a health-care services coordinator with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, accepted an $800 check from JMG’s Jumpstart Our Youth program, which distributes money to Maine charities through grants from the Unity Foundation.

Pelletier said she visited Harper’s students in February, and told them how a grant could help MDA. The $800 will go toward an MDA summer camp in Poland, which, for the first time this year, will host people from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as Maine.

“They do a ton of fundraising,” Pelletier said of Jobs for Maine Graduates. “The program allows them to do things for others.”

Pelletier, who grew up in northern Maine, said she had a good idea of what she wanted to do when she graduated from high school. But it’s not that way for everyone, she noted.

“I think one of the great things about the program,” she said, “is that it gives direction to kids who might not know what they want to do.”

Harper presented Taylor Ginn the Female Student of the Year award, and Alyssa Nielsen won a Career Achievement award. Kyle Burt is the Junior of the Year for Jobs for Maine Graduates, Hunter Grant is Sophomore of the Year and Reese Grabenstein won the Jumpstart Our Youth award.

“We inspired almost $14,000 this year for charity,” Harper said. “That’s pretty exciting.”

Jobs for Maine Graduates students from Freeport High raised $6,000 for cancer research in one event alone – the One Mission Buzz Off, in which students shave their heads in honor and support of kids with cancer. Participants ask for donations in exchange for a promise to shave their heads.

Freeport High JMG also raised $1,400 each for the The Thirst Project and the cancer research organization The V Foundation; $2,500 for Camp Susan Curtis, a summer camp in Stoneham for children in need; and $2,500 for the Maine Children’s Cancer Center Program.

Harper points out that Jobs for Maine Graduates benefits the students themselves. The program assists them in career preparation, leadership development, community service and in their social development, he said.

“The biggest thing is to motivate them about what they’re going to be outside high school,” he said. “It’s giving them a voice and helping them find where they belong.”

Jobs for Maine Graduates included 49 students at Freeport High this school year. Harper said that the program is being helped out greatly by the fact that JMG has a presence at both Freeport Middle School and at Durham Community School.

Jobs for Maine Graduates students at Freeport High School completed their inaugural Spring into Philanthropy Walk at Back Cove on May 15. They raised money for Camp Susan Curtis and Maine Children’s Cancer Program. Courtesy photo


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