The second Metamorphosis Awards garden party honored five women for the transformative nature of their work with Portland-area youths.

Mary Allen Lindemann and I, who are co-hosts of this party, started having a conversation three years ago about how we both didn’t adequately thank people who had changed the course of our lives,” said Charlie Miller, who hosted the Sept. 15 event on the lawn of his West End home. “We thought that organizations that serve young people fly under the radar and should be recognized.”

The honorees were Suna Shaw, the East Bayside community policing coordinator for the Portland Police Department; Tiffanie Panagakos of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine; A Company of Girls Executive Director Jennifer Roe; Sonya Tomlinson of The Telling Room; and teen librarian Kelley Blue of the Portland Public Library.

As Shaw commented, “It takes many partnerships.”

“The depth and breadth of these programs is shaping the next generation,” said Karen MacDonald, chief operations officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs. “Today’s teens are optimistic, community-minded and inclusive.”

Panagakos runs two clubhouses in community housing neighborhoods, Riverton Park and Sagamore Village, with about 500 youth members, and she leads holiday gift drives and campership fundraising.

“I don’t do anything different than love my kids,” Panagakos said.

The other honorees said basically the same thing in different words – that they’re doing what they love.

At A Company of Girls, Roe has expanded the after-school arts program from elementary school-aged kids to middle school and now high school.

“It has done as much for me, I think, as it has for the girls in the program,” Roe said. “It has helped me grow as a woman, as a mother and as a person who cares about the arts. Who I needed as a kid is who I want to be for these kids.”

Tomlinson leads the Young Writers and Leaders Program for youths who have come from other countries and settled in the Portland area.

“There’s nothing I’d rather be doing,” she said. “Validating young people is vital. It sets the course for the rest of their lives.”

Four members of the teen advisory council of the Portland Public Library came to congratulate Blue, who runs the teen library at Monument Square.

“I came to teen librarianship because I love the literature and wanted to be in a serving profession,” Blue said. “I didn’t know I would love working with teenagers so much. This is the best community to work with youth in.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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