South Portland Land Trust, in a Sept. 8 news release, announced the launch of its Community Business Partner Program. The initiative aims to increase business support of the land trust’s conservation efforts, including building and maintaining trails, conserving open spaces, and engaging people in projects to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the community.

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According to the release, benefits for local businesses include recognition on the land trust’s website, in the monthly newsletter, and on social media; free coordination of employee work days; and a number of other benefits.

Inaugural businesses who have already joined the program include Evergreen Credit Union, Lighthouse Bikes, The Maine Mall, and Rusty Lantern Markets. Local businesses, regional and national chain businesses are encouraged to participate. Businesses can sign up at a level of support that works for their budget.

“South Portland is fortunate to have businesses that are very dedicated to our community,” said Richard Rottkov, land trust board president, in the news release. “The Community Business Partner program offers them a simple and meaningful way to support our critical conservation work right here in the community that they serve.”

Leah Day, owner of Lighthouse Bikes in Knightville, in an email, said that supporting her local land trust is a given: “I can’t think of anything more important than preserving the land around us. A large part of our mission at Lighthouse Bikes is to share the beauty of South Portland’s coast with tourists and locals alike and to inspire them to value and protect it. South Portland Land Trust is doing vitally important work.”

Craig Gorris, senior general manager of The Maine Mall, said, “The Maine Mall is proud to be an inaugural member of the South Portland Land Trust’s Community Business Partner program. The key goals of the land trust align with our own sustainability priorities and we’re eager to work with them to help better our community this year and beyond.”

The new program also helps land trust build its internal capacity. With just one part-time staff member, the organization has its eye on future growth.

“For 35 years, we have worked to conserve open space and build and maintain trails in an effort to connect our neighborhoods,” said Rottkov. “The Community Business Partner program is one way we are asking the community to join us so we can continue this vital work.”

As the program continues to grow, the land trust plans to offer additional benefits for participating businesses, including an annual spring gala in the park.

Local businesses interested in joining the Community Business Partner Program, can visit southportlandlandtrust.org or contact Michelle Smith, program coordinator at [email protected].

Fundraisers to support awareness for learning disabilities and mental health

Members of the Aucocisco School community will meet and talk to the media at Oxbow Blending and Bottling at 49 Washington Ave. in Portland on Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. after a five-mile run led by Erica Richards, parent of an Aucocisco student, to support awareness of learning disabilities.

The team will go on to run in the Maine Marathon on Oct. 3, raising funds to support Aucocisco School and Learning Center.

Of particular concern to Richards is the potential link between learning disabilities and incarceration and/or drug addiction when learning difficulties are not treated. She is grateful for the meaningful instruction and guidance that her two children have received at Aucocisco School.

“I think everyone has heard of dyslexia, but is less aware of dysgraphia or dyscalculia, and the impact these and other neurodivergent differences, for example, ADHD and autism, can have on an individual,” said Richards in a Sept. 10 news release. “This became important to me when I learned my children have learning differences and what could happen if these were not addressed meaningfully.”

According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America, “While the U.S. Census reports that one in 5 Americans (20 percent) have a disability, the Bureau of Justice found that 32 percent of federal prisoners and 40 percent of jail inmates report at least one disability.” (LDA Today, Vol.3 No.4).

Of note, ADHD often accompanies learning disabilities and is a neurodivergent diagnosis. Approximately 25 to 40 percent of adults with a substance use disorder have ADHD, suggesting that if kids were provided necessary school interventions, we could keep more people off of drugs.

“I am running to encourage people to see why this is important and how it impacts everyone even if they are not personally affected by learning differences,” Richards said in the email. “Ultimately, everyone deserves to learn despite the challenges they face. It is important to remember, these are challenges they didn’t choose. This is why places like Aucocisco are so important. Aucocisco has helped our son by meaningfully addressing his dyslexia, and honoring him as an individual, who just so happens to also have ADHD.”

The Maine Professional Drivers Association announced the 23rd annual Trucking for Kids Convoy event will be held on Sept. 19. The event helps Camp Sunshine and Camp POSTCARD raise funds for operation, which have been difficult for the past few years.

Activities will include: Touch-a-Truck event (10 a.m.), truck show, drivers competition, raffle items and food. The lineup at Scarborough Downs will be from 8 to 11 a.m.. The convoy will roll out at noon, rain for shine.

The drivers’ association webmaster designed a registration process on at www.mpda.org/trucking4kids, where donations and sponsorships may be made via PayPal or with a credit card.

For more information, call call Jim Costa at 420-1816.

First Congregational to host barbecue fundraiser

The First Congregational Church of Scarborough will offer its fifth annual public dinner catered by Moe’s Original Bar-B-Q on Wednesday, Sept. 22, starting at 5 p.m. The church is located at 167 Black Point Road in Scarborough.

This year’s event will again be held on an all-take-out basis. There will be no inside dining. Vehicles will be directed inside the church parking lot. Payment will be made in cash only. Cost will be $12 for all meals. Meals will be handed to an occupant of the vehicle, starting at 5 p.m.

Meals will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until food runs out. The meal will include pulled pork and barbecue sauce, baked beans, potato salad, and cornbread. The meals will all be the same and boxed by church members, who will adhere to all food handling and sanitary precautions.

The dinner is a fundraiser sponsored by the church’s Men’s Fellowship.

South Portland Land Trust hosting trail cleanup

South Portland Land Trust will host a trail cleanup at South Branch Trail on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to celebrate National Public Lands Day. The trailhead for South Branch Trail is located on Philbrook Road near the eastern entrance to JCPenney at the Maine Mall.

The trail cleanup is made possible through the support from One Tree Planted, a Vermont-based organization that helps to fund reforestation efforts around the globe.

Trail work will include building new bog bridges, cutting back brush, removing invasive plants, and picking up litter that has accumulated over the summer. Volunteers are welcome to stay for the whole morning or come out for an hour to help. Those interested in helping should email Michelle Smith at [email protected] All volunteers will receive a free T-shirt and refreshments.

South Portland Land Trust celebrates National Public Lands Day each year. This annual event is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer event for public lands. For the land trust, it is an event that raises awareness of the many trails available in South Portland and offers individuals, families, and friends an opportunity to help steward important open spaces in the city. For more information, visit the Events page at southportlandlandtrust.org.

Library plans Stuffed Animal Sleepover

South Portland Public Library will host a Stuffed Animal Sleepover on Friday, Oct. 1. Guests are invited to drop off their stuffed animals. Dolls and other toys are invited as well. Preregistration is required for the program. Participants can register by calling the Children’s Room at 207-767-7660, ext. 3.

Stuffed animals can be dropped off on Friday, Oct. 1 between 2 and 4 pm. The stuffed animals, dolls, etc., will explore the library overnight. Participants are asked to provide one animal/doll/toy per child.

Pick-up time is 10;30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2. Participants are invited to an outdoor story time to wrap up the sleepover and find out what the stuffed animals were up to all night. All are welcome to attend this Saturday story time and invited to bring a stuffed animal friend if they’d like. Participation in the Stuff Animal Sleepover is not a requirement to attend story time.

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