PSL Services / STRIVE Newsletter

April 1st, 2019
STRIVE Rocks 2019 Breaks New Record!

March was a big month here at STRIVE, with our annual STRIVE Rocks Weekend setting another consecutive fundraising record! This year, the weekend-long event raised $111,269.15.00 - and donations continue to trickle in! Culminating at the Cross Insurance Arena on March 16th, STRIVE Rocks All Day welcomed over 700 individuals to an enormous festival, with bounce castles, live music, face painting, a petting zoo and more. It was so great to see so many familiar faces, and to feel the immense support of the community around us. Then, as the sun set, we began our 15th annual overnight "dance marathon!" Over 170 local high school students and STRIVE members filled the arena, dancing and spending twelve full hours together, celebrating and encapsulating the inclusive community we "strive" to create. It was certainly a big weekend for us all, and we can't thank everyone enough who supported this event (by donating, volunteering, and more). We couldn't have done it without you! In April we'll be catching up on sleep, and setting our sights on STRIVE Rocks 2020!

Calling All Artists!


2019 marks STRIVE's 20th anniversary! To celebrate, we will be having several small-scale celebratory events to commemorate 20 years of success, before having a formal gala in January 2020. Our first event will be an Art Show, happening at the end of this month, featuring creations from a number of STRIVE participants

Join us Thursday, April 25th here at STRIVE, from
 Interested in submitting a piece, or being involved with this event? Contact Whitney at! We ask that all pieces be submitted by April 18th. Stay tuned for more information!


STRIVE is excited to announce a brand new program, STRIVE WorldWIDE! STRIVE WorldWIDE is our new online program to teach independent living skills to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Not only will the program be able to be accessed from anywhere in the world, but WIDE also stands for " W elcoming I ndependence, D iversifying E ducation." Our pilot program for STRIVE WorldWIDE begins TONIGHT, April 1st!

For many years, we have been approached about how we can expand our services to provide training on independent living to a broader population, and even a broader geographic area. STRIVE
WorldWIDE is a big step in doing so, and we are so excited for the future of this program! 

For more information about STRIVE WorldWIDE, contact Anne Ryan at!


STRIVE TOPS Experience Program!

STRIVE TOPS is offering an opportunity this spring for groups of students from area high schools to come, with their school staff, for a session and experience the program. Students will come for either the first or second session to participate in a series of experiential activities designed to support students to better understand all that TOPS has to offer them. Current TOPS students will be guiding visiting student groups through these activities. There is a $25 fee per student per session to participate.


Sessions will be offered from 8:00-10:30 AM, or 11:00-1:30 PM.
April 24th- Team Building Activities
April 25th- Fix-It Stations
May 1st- Zumba/Fitness
May 3rd- Nutrition Activity
May 7th- All About Me/Self-Awareness
May 9th- Communication Games

Register is limited!
To schedule a session for your student or group, or for any questions, contact Betsy Morrison at or 207-774-6278.

TOPS (Transition Outcomes Program for Students) provides transition programming for high school students who are in their 13th and 14th school year from area school districts. This innovative program supports students to acquire additional independent living skills, provide opportunities to increase independence in the community, prepare students to transition to adult services, and offer experiences that promote social skills with students from other districts.

Join us Thursday, April 4th for STRIVE 25's WWE Themed Social!  STRIVE 25 is a social event for folks 25 and older, and happens here at STRIVE the first Thursday of each month. For more information on STRIVE 25, contact Caroline at


March brought some really exciting guests to the STRIVECast, including representatives from Disability Rights Maine, Mike Antonellis, the radio announcer for the Portland Sea Dogs, Miss Maine and more! We've loved getting to chat with such interesting guests and learning all about the important work they do. In April we're looking forward to to sitting down with News Center Maine meteorologist Jessica Conley, disability advocate Dylan Volk, and others!

The STRIVECast also had a visit from our friends at News Center Maine this month! Jeff and Noel sat down and were on the other side of the microphone, being interviewed about what it's like to host their very own podcast and more. Check out the piece by  clicking here!

The STRIVECast is still seeking sponsors to take us on the radio! If your business would like to advertise on the STRIVECast, contact us at Happy listening!

The STRIVECast is a podcast brought to you by the team at STRIVE in South Portland - bringing you engaging, hilarious, and thoughtful conversation through one interview week by week. Co-Hosted by two young men with Down Syndrome, the STRIVECast aims to change the voices we typically hear on the radio and through podcasts, as well as to provide meaningful dialogues with all sorts of public figures in our world. We are very proud to be both hosted, edited, and produced by people with disabilities! Episodes can be found on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, as well as on our website and Facebook page. Like what you hear? Shoot us an email at !
Emerge Program

STRIVE's Emerge Program is a three-week Extended School Year Experience for Middle & High School Students. This year, Emerge will be taking place July 29th-August 15th, Monday-Thursday, 12:00-4:00pm!

STRIVE is pleased to offer this collaborative program to interested school districts. Emerge is an extended school year service for students entering 8th grade through high school. This experience supoprts the maintenance of skills in executive functioning and social skills instruction while offering opportunities to transfer skills to other settings through natural experiences within the community. The prgoram will be based out of our STRIVE Center in South Portland.

For more information on Emerge, please contact Betsy Morrison at or 207-774-6278!

It has been a very busy month here at Bayside! We finished up our unit on nutrition and did a fun scavenger hunt at the grocery store. There we took some time to find all kinds of different foods and write down how much they cost. It was a lot of fun and we exercised our new label reading skills quite a bit.  This month, we started a new unit on self-care! Sometimes it can be hard to make sure we are taking care of our physical bodies as well as our emotions. We are learning how important it is to eat well, stay hydrated, exercise, and get enough sleep! We will also be exploring different methods of stress management.

It's still pretty cold around here, so we have been staying vigilant with community safety. We have been working on watching out for icy spots, walking around large snow piles, and staying together in a group while we are in the community. We are still bundled up, although not quite as much, since spring is just around the corner!  We're excited for warmer weather and chances to spend time outside.

Additionally this month, we celebrated a couple of birthdays with some cupcakes and handmade cards from friends! It's always great to celebrate each other!

STRIVE Bayside is a unique community supports program that is dedicated to exploring and increasing independence. Some of the goals we work on are grocery shopping, budgeting, cleaning, navigating the community, cooking and social skills. We run five days a week, Monday through Friday and have two daily sessions, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm and 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm. We operate out of an apartment in down town Portland to simulate actual apartment living. If you would like more information about our program, or to schedule a tour please contact Kate McGovern at 774-6278 x309 o

Happy Spring from STRIVE U! We're getting ready for our second-year students to begin finding the apartments they'll be moving into soon, as well as preparing for their second-year presentations and graduation!  

The last week of March wrapped up our overnight students time at STRIVE U- stay tuned as we send out acceptance  letters in the beginning of April to the STRIVE U class of 2021!

An important aspect of the STRIVE U program is employment. We would like to highlight a few students who are recently employed! We are always looking for more employment partners, if you or someone you know are  looking for highly motivated, hardworking and qualified candidates let us know! We could have a STRIVE U student who would be the perfect fit for the job!

Lucas has been working at Mercy hospital in the kitchens. He has worked at both hospitals washing dishes, collecting trays from patients and ensuring everything is clean.  Kevin recently got hired at MEMIC- a long-time employment partner of STRIVE U. Kevin will be helping with processing policies and  office up-keep. Matt will be starting at Disability RMS in the imaging department helping with all their scanning needs.

As always, we are so proud of how hard our students work. Between classes goals, employment and community support their isn't a lot of down time to be had. But, our students always rise to the occasion to maintain their busy schedules!
STRIVE U is a comprehensive two-year residential, post-secondary educational opportunity for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To learn more about the program, schedule a tour or get an application, please contact Bill Hughes, STRIVE U Admissions Coordinator at or call (207) 774-6278.


TOPS recently held an open house for prospective students and had a great attendance! The interested students and their families toured the TOPS room, saw the STRIVE building and talked with our team to learn more details about the day to day activities. TOPS is designed for high school students with disabilities who are interested in learning more independent living and self-determination skills as a way to support their transition out of school.

Our students access the community an average of three times a week per group, practicing real-world skills like grocery shopping, navigating in the community and restaurant etiquette. Back at the STRIVE building, our students get hands-on practice with daily household chores like washing dishes and sweeping. They often cook a meal and problem solve how to fix broken items. Some other lessons might be about healthy relationships or how to format an email correctly. These are just a few examples of what students work on here in TOPS!

Interested in TOPS?  TOPS (Transition Outcomes Program for Students) provides transition programming for high school students who are in their 13th and 14th school year from area school districts. This innovative program supports students to acquire additional independent living skills, provide opportunities to increase independence in the community, prepare students to transition to adult services, and offer experiences that promote social skills with students from other districts. For more information, please contact Betsy Morrison, 207-774-6278.
Next Step

An ongoing focus for Next STEP is healthy lifestyles and
nutrition. Toward that end, we have started circuit workouts once a week as well as having a trainer from UMed gym teach a workout class to us twice a month. The low-impact exercises for both of these activities promote life-long health as these are all things that participants could do on an ongoing basis outside of the Next STEP program.

As we have shared before, we are also always learning about how to put healthy eating into our lifestyles. We continue to learn about and practice portion control and what types of food we should be eating every day. We have been discussing the importance of incorporating all of the food groups into our diet.

Every week we prepare a group meal and a healthy snack using what we have learned about nutrition. In preparing our meals or snacks, participants are working on their own individual growth. We have several participants who have reached the point where they can prepare a meal independently with staff only observing from a distance rather than providing direct support. The participants feel very accomplished when they have mastered a new cooking skill!

Next STEP is a great option offering quality curriculum for those who are on a waiting list for other services, in combination with other services or for those who may not qualify for other services. Please contact Betsy Morrison at or 207-774-6278 if you would like more information regarding Next STEP or would like to schedule a tour. Part-time and full-time options are available.  

Camp STRIVE is so excited for April Vacation Camp! We'll be running Monday, April 15th-Friday April 19th, with tons of fun community outings planned! The schedule will be released next week. For more information, or to register your camper, contact Olivia at!

As the weather gets warmer, we get more and more excited for Summer Camp! This year, Camp STRIVE will begin on June 17th - we are counting down the days!
Camp STRIVE provides tweens, teens and young adults, ages 11-24, with a supportive, safe, and active program during school vacations and throughout the summer. During each camp session, campers participate in activities including cooking, community trips, arts and crafts, games and physical fitness and of course social time! Campers are supported at all times by professional staff who have completed PSL's full training and are certified Direct Support Professionals. 

March was such a fun month for STRIVE Nights! We couldn't believe how many people showed up the  Friday following STRIVE Rocks, and hit the dance floor immediately. We've had a great time welcoming new  members, as well as welcoming tons of new volunteers who have joined us from local high schools and colleges. It's been so fun to see some new faces and welcome them into our STRIVE Night family!

For STRIVE Night, April brings us our annual Advisory Board elections! The Advisory Board is a group of STRIVE Night members who meet weekly to plan theme nights, talk about updates and additions we can use, and also serve as leaders and ambassadors to our program, being the first people to welcome new members and show them around. The elections will be held Friday, April 12th!

Our theme night for April will be our annual April Fool's party! Join us THIS  Friday, April 5th in your silliest outfit!
Friday Nights at  STRIVE , fondly refer red to as " STRIVE  Night," is a relaxed but fun evening of socialization for 15-24 year olds. New members welcome, and your first night is free!  STRIVE  Night is every Friday from  6-9pm, with at least one special "theme" night happening each month.  For more information, contact Olivia at


Tweens had such a fun month of March! We loved getting to dance with our friends from Portland Youth Dance, as well as decorating green cupcakes during our St. Patrick's day celebration! We've gotten to welcome several new faces over the past month or so to Tweens, and it's been so fun to watch friendships bloom and members become more comfortable each and every week.
In April, we're looking forward to three Occupational Therapy students coming in for several Fridays to run some games and activities for us! We can't wait to see all the fun they have planned!

Tweens is a safe and fun environment to build new friendships and learn new skills for folks 11-14 years old. Structured in our Teen Center, we run every Friday from 3:30-5:30pm. We have a scheduled activity each week, with free time built in to maximize socialization. For more information about STRIVE Tweens, contact Olivia at 

Wednesday Night E ducational Series

In March, we wrapped up an amazing month of learning all about Independent Living! From learning about different forms of guardianship, to learning about in-home support options, and various household chores, we loved getting in-depth about the various ways we can achieve living independently. 

In April, our Wednesday Night Ed Series will be the pilot for our newest program, STRIVE WorldWIDE! STRIVE WorldWIDE is an ONLINE course that teaches independent living skills. For more information on STRIVE WorldWIDE, contact Anne at!


The Wednesday Night Educational Series is held every Wednesday at STRIVE for participants 11-24 years old. Series are between 4 and 8 weeks and topics vary from month to month! For more information about the program or to sign up, contact Whitney at

After School

After School has had such a great month of March, with new faces joining us, and old friends coming back again! In March, After School was a huge help with getting things ready for STRIVE Rocks. We helped picked up sponsor banners all over town, as well as help send out mailings with coupons to local schools and daycares to make sure the event would be as well attended as possible.

In April, we're looking forward to getting back outside and getting into the spring routine! We can't wait to see what local parks, beaches and activities await us when the warmer weather arrives.

STRIVE's After School Program provides an opportunity for students to participate in an engaging extension of their typical school day that reflects their individual, family and school goals. During each afternoon, students work on skills that support self-determination and independence, as well as spending time socializing with peers in a relaxed environment. After School runs Monday through Friday from 2pm-5pm during each student's respective school district schedule. For more information on After School, contact Olivia at  
Active & WAVES

Spring has sprung!  We had our final snow tube of the season this month as the snow is finally melting away. Our participants cannot wait for the warmer weather to kick in. Walks at Fort Williams, exploring local state parks, walking paths and outdoor games are just around the corner!

While we patiently await for sunny, warm, spring days, we have a few fun events lined up. The 2018-2019 bowling league will be celebrated on April 5th with a pizza party, bowling, and awards. Participants have been playing in the league since November 5, 2018. They are looking forward to celebrating another great year in the league! 

Last Thursday, to close out March, 25 participants joined program all day long for a fun day of laser tag, a show at the planetarium, art, and games at the Point.

We continue to welcome new participants and staff to our growing program. Thanks to everyone for creating a warm welcome to all of our new members!

Member Spotlight

Meet Eben! Eben is a long-time STRIVE member who has participated in a number of STRIVE programs over the years, including graduating from both our TOPS & STRIVE U programs! Eben still attends STRIVE Nights regularly, as well as serves on our STRIVE Rocks Committee. Make sure to say hi to this guy if you see him around STRIVE. He'll be sure to make your day!
Happy Birthday to the following STRIVE Members!


To all celebrating birthdays in April - we hope you have a great day!

Andrew Bryant                        
Josh Shaughnessy
Evan Riker
Catlyn Almodovar
Bridget Lally
Megan Pelletier
Daniel Berenson
Adam Boudreau
Bradley LaPointe
Thomas Bordeaux
Bridget Parker

Thank You to Our Donors

-United Way of Eastern Maine
-Arlene Tanous-McCracken & C. Lance McCracken
-United Way of Androscoggin County
-Katherine Cardinal
-Raymond Purcell
-Melissa Dudley
-Catherine Chapman
-Susan Remsen
-Helen Meyer

...and an ENORMOUS thank you to all who donated to STRIVE Rocks 2019. We are so  grateful for your support!

Thank you for your generous support of STRIVE! With your support we are able to continue what we do each and every day.
General Announcements

Mark your calendars for these upcoming STRIVE events!

WWE Themed STRIVE 25-  April 4th, 2019
April Fool's STRIVE Night- April 5th, 2019
STRIVE Night Advisory Board Elections- April 12th, 2019
April Camp STRIVE- April 15th-April 19th, 2019
STRIVE Art Show- April 25th, 2019

Has your Mailing Address changed recently?
Have a new Mailing Address to add?

We are updating our mailing list, and want to make sure we have all our supporters on there. Email to send in your updated information so you will continue to receive our electronic and print newsletters!

Members, you will be asked to complete an updated information form upon arrival to tweens or STRIVE Night. Want to get a head start? Go to our website to send in your contact information today!