March 2017 Newsletter

JMG Student Mackenzie Hansen

"I am a senior and this is my first year in the JMG program because I didn't think it was an important class at first.  Now JMG is my favorite class. I have learned valuable skills that I use every day in the real world.  It's the only class I look forward to every day."

Mackenzie Hansen, Senior,
Shead High School
The Augusta Civic Center auditorium was full to capacity. Seven hundred guests had accepted invitations to join the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce for its annual Kenney Awards celebration. There were bank presidents, realtors, restaurant managers, healthcare professionals, food-service workers, and artists. The place erupted into cheers as the host announced that JMG had won the Chamber's Community Service Award for 2017.

JMG President & CEO, Craig Larrabee, knew exactly whom the applause was for.  "I work with 6,500 of the best kids in the state, and they show us their potential every day," Larrabee said. "They're out shoveling the driveways of their elderly neighbors, raising money for homeless shelters, and collecting food for soup kitchens. We always invite people to drop by a JMG classroom for a visit, but we should warn them to call first. These students are very busy." 

The Kenney Community Service Award honors a company that is "extremely active in the betterment of our community." Every year, JMG students from as far north as Fort Kent to as far south as Berwick spend more than 35,000 hours raising money, raising awareness, and volunteering for charities across the state.

"It's important to be involved in things going on in the world around you in a positive way," said Nicareece Hunter, a JMG senior at Waterville Senior High School. "Community service teaches you about the needs in your town, and how you can make a difference for people who don't have the same opportunities as you."

And, if being chosen for the Kenney Award wasn't exciting enough, the Maine State Senate formally congratulated JMG by presenting us with an official Sentiment, a declaration of honor, for receiving the award. 

JMG President_ Craig Larrabee_ with Vassalboro CommunitySchool JMG students
Craig Larrabee, president/CEO of JMG, and JMG students from Vassalboro Community School receive the official Sentiment from the Maine State Senate.

During the presentation, several lawmakers stood, including Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash, and talked about JMG's impact on the state.  "As the father of a young son who didn't have a whole lot of interest in going to high school and all he wanted to do was work in the woods -- the Jobs for Maine's Graduates program went out of their way to keep him in high school. They did everything they could to make sure his interest was sparked. As a parent, I couldn't be more appreciative of what they did for my son. And I know they are doing that for people all around the state. It is a tremendous program."

To hear more of what Maine's senators think of JMG, check out the YouTube video at:

Just before the holidays, a news crew from WABI TV5 caught up with a band of JMG students roaming the aisles at the Skowhegan Walmart in search of gifts to brighten the holidays for local children in need. The students had raised $3,000 for the shopping spree.
JMG Students Shop for Needy Children at Christmastime
Just last month, the young philanthropists received the following email from the director of the Margaret Chase Smith Library:

Photo of Sen. Margaret Chase Smith
Margaret Chase Smith, U.S. Senator
This is the time of year when we like to invite groups of young people who have been involved in community service projects to the Margaret Chase Smith Library.  Back during the holidays, I saw a news report on WABI about how JMG students from Madison, Skowhegan, and Carrabec High Schools so generously served as Santa's Helpers at Christmastime.  Their commitment to helping the less fortunate in our region during the season of giving is both impressive and commendable.
After serving over three decades in the United States Congress, Senator Smith returned home to Skowhegan and devoted the final years of her life to teaching young people the importance of service, of helping others.  To promote this important lesson and carry on her vital legacy, I would like to extend the following invitation.  If you and some of your students will come to the Margaret Chase Smith Library and tell us about the project, we will donate $100 to the school to support the Jobs for Maine Graduate's program. I hope to hear from you and to have the chance to meet some of the caring and concerned students working to make a positive impact in the local area.

THIS JUST IN:   While the students plan to visit the library next month, we've just learned that JMG students from Erskine Academy received a similar invitation and gave an enthusiastic presentation at the library on their community service work for the local veterans' luncheon.

Erskine Academy JMG Students Present at Margaret Chase Smith Library

By: Brooke Ahonen, Portland High School, Class of 2014
When I was a junior in high school, I struggled to fill my schedule with the right amount of credits. I randomly selected JMG thinking that it would be an "easy A" class. Boy, was I in for a surprise. From the first to the last day of JMG, I was learning things about high school, college, and life that I never thought I would need to know. I learned what it takes to be a leader; the importance of organizing my time; how to problem-solve; and so much more. That "random" class turned out to be one of the most useful experiences of my education.

Although high school was a rough four years for me, I had a Specialist who had my back and helped me in any way he could, and inspired me to keep going. Mr. Mosen was so genuine about making a difference in each student's education, and was dedicated to helping us improve and succeed in all areas of life. 

JMG Student Brooke Ahonen receives Hannaford Service Star Award
The award recognizes Hannaford employees who are role models in customer service, and who inspire others to be and do their best. It shows that with all of the hard work you put out into the world, good will come of it. So, maybe randomly selecting JMG as an elective all those years ago wasn't such a bad decision after all.

The manager of the Forest Avenue Hannaford store in Portland, Anthony Prock, pictured above, said, "Brooke received the Service Star award because of her involvement in the community with volunteering and her excellent customer service. Brooke consistently went over and above assisting our customers with a friendly and enthusiastic approach. (She) exemplifies our values: integrity, humility, humor, determination and courage."

By Dee Butler,  JMG Master Specialist, Houlton High School
For the past 15 years I have had a job that surprises me every day. A job where I get more energy from the people I am surrounded by than any other job I can imagine. A job where I get to be around the most interesting of human beings. I work with teenagers. I prepare them for their futures, and guide them in making decisions that help them see their true potential. I love what I teach.
If you think about it, teenagers are somewhat self-centered. It's my job to help them discover who they are, and to think about and start planning for their future. It is the perfect curriculum for this age. "They" are their favorite topic. I get to watch them as they discover opportunities; consider post-secondary education; and, begin designing a path toward their goals. I get to have conversations with their parents about the cost of college, their child's options, and the hopes that their son or daughter will find a job that they truly love. 

I also get to do all of this in Southern Aroostook County. I truly love this area. Our community supports our students like no other. This community wants to see our students succeed and will do anything they can to make it happen. Typically, all it takes is one phone call, and I have a guest speaker for my class; a quick email and a student has a job shadow. When I say, "Dee Butler from Houlton JMG," they say, "What can we do for you, Dee?" They love my kids as much as I do. Our goal is to keep our kids here and introduce them to what this area has to offer. 

What I really like about being a JMG Specialist is that I get to work with supportive staff, at JMG and Houlton High School. I am surrounded by people who care about me, personally, and who make it clear that I am valued and appreciated. Every day is a new day, and I look forward to tomorrow.

Dee Butler with students
Dee Butler, third from the left, standing proud with her JMG students.

We Do What We Do Because of You!
Whether it's offering a student the chance to experience an internship, providing critical funding for services for youth in foster care, or volunteering to conduct mock job interviews, JMG could not do what we do without the amazing support of our public and private partners.

Our sincere appreciation to the following funders for their commitment to our students and investment in our programs!