Four hundred people attended Spurwink Services’ annual Humanitarian Awards on Oct. 12, enjoying a “Casablanca”-themed dinner party at Thompson’s Point in Portland and raising more than $150,000 for the nonprofit behavioral health and education services provider’s statewide services for children, adults and families.

“I’m always stunned by the outpouring of support from across the state,” said Spurwink President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Meyer. “Tonight we have three honorees. The company and two individuals we are honoring represent some of the best of our community.”

The Going the Distance Award went to Dick Tryon, a retired psychotherapist who was a major player in the region’s transformation of services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities over the past four decades. In 1976, Dick and Nora Tryon co-founded Community Support Services, Inc., and started bringing home patients from the now-closed Pineland Center to live with them in the home where they were raising their own children. Over the decades, group homes became the norm, and Community Support Services became Community Partners, which merged with Spurwink in January.

“I became involved in working with and serving people with developmental disabilities when the term was ‘people with mental retardation and multiple disabilities,'” Tryon said. “It took until 1996 to get everyone out of Pineland. That was the civil rights movement for people with developmental disabilities, and I’m so proud to have been part of it.”

The Humanitarian Award went to Danielle Conway, dean of the University of Maine School of Law.

“Spurwink’s ShifaME work serving immigrant youth resonates with me because it focuses on building cultural competencies for both host culture and new American community members,” Conway said. “This kind of work is aligned with that of the University of Maine School of Law, the state’s public and only law school, which is the promotion of the rule of law for the benefit of all citizens and residents within our state.”


“Danielle’s commitment to serving people in poverty, underserved populations and refugees mirrors Spurwink’s own commitment to these groups and their behavioral health needs, making her an ideal recipient of the award,” said Kristen Farnham, Spurwink vice president of development.

The Corporate Care Award went to insurance company Sun Life Financial, whose president, Dan Fishbein, and vice president, Cathy Liston, serve on Spurwink’s board of directors.

Sun Life’s Scarborough campus hosted Spurwink client Zachary Miller for once-a-week pre-vocational training that included running a coffee cart and learning to use mailroom equipment.

“If you believe that work is healthy, and we do, giving a kid without experience the opportunity to be part of the team is really rewarding for everybody,” said Shawn Smith, assistant vice president of national accounts at Sun Life. “It was a treat to have Zach in the office, and it was an opportunity for him to see a workplace, be a part of it and build some relationships.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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