PSL Services / STRIVE Newsletter

December 1st, 2020
Happy #GivingTuesday!

Giving Tuesday is a global movement geared toward giving back to your local community! You can find out more about the day of generosity here.


There are so many easy ways to give to STRIVE this #GivingTuesdayhere's a few! 
  • Purchase some of our STRIVE gear! Check out our new STRIVE shop HERE!  
  • Donate to STRIVE's Annual Campaign by visiting our website, clicking the "donate" button on our social media pages (links to them are at the bottom of this newsletter), or send a donation by mail to STRIVE at 28 Foden Road, South Portland, ME 04106
  • Select STRIVE as your beneficiary when using Amazon Smile. A portion of your purchase will go directly to STRIVE. To choose STRIVE, log on to Amazon Smile and select "PSL/STRIVE" before you begin shopping. Amazon will remember your selection every time you log in. 
  • Looking to purchase or lease a new car? Now through January 4th, if you purchase or lease a vehicle from Patriot Subaru, you can select STRIVE as your chosen Share The Love charity! Subaru of America will donate $250, and Patriot Subaru will donate another $50 as well, making your total donation to STRIVE $300! To find out more about Patriot Subaru's Share The Love program, click here or contact us here at STRIVE. 
  • Know someone who attends STRIVE's Wednesday Night Educational Series, STRIVE Nights or Camp STRIVE? Did you know you can purchase classes, STRIVE nights, and days of camp ahead of time? Contact Olivia at [email protected] to purchase for when we can return to STRIVE in person!
  • Volunteer in one of our many programs or at one of our fundraising events. Even though many of our programs and events are still virtual, there are so many unique ways that you can help out! For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact Whitney at [email protected].
Check out below how your financial gift can make an impact in our programs! 

Thank you for your support, today and EVERY day! 

STRIVE U Applications

Applications are now available for STRIVE U! Now through February 1st, interested students are welcome to request an application and submit it to our Office of Admissions.

STRIVE U is our two-year residential post-secondary educational program for students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. During their time at STRIVE U, students learn all they need to know to begin living independently, and by the end of the program, transition into their own apartment in the greater Portland Community. STRIVE U partners with Southern Maine Community College to provide an inclusive educational opportunity for our students. 

To learn more about this unique program, and to learn about the admissions requirements, visit our website at To request an application, or for any questions, contact STRIVE U Admissions Coordinator Olivia Fraioli at [email protected]


Staying Connected Even While Apart: Free Seminar on Social Connections Using Technology With STRIVE WorldWIDE!

STRIVE WorldWIDE has been offering online courses to neurodiverse learners since 2018 and we want to share our knowledge with you! It can be challenging to feel socially connected during this global pandemic. But technology offers us new ways to stay connected even when we are far apart.

Join us for a free seminar that explores accessible technology that you can use to stay connected with friends and family. CLICK HERE  to register for a session on December 17. Choose from one of three times that is most convenient for you:


2 PM Eastern Standard Time

6 PM Eastern Standard Time

9 PM Eastern Standard Time 


We record our seminars, so if you are unable to join us but want to check it out, email Dr. Anne Ryan for a link to the recording.  

This free seminar is a preview of a full 5-week, 10-seminar, Social Connections Using Technology course we are offering on January 4, 2021.  Our courses are a combination of self-paced, interactive work and live online seminars. See our courses in action HERERegister for the full class today and build your social network with individuals from across the United States and Canada! Click here to register today! 

STRIVE WorldWIDE is STRIVE's online program that teaching independent living skills. For more information about STRIVE WorldWIDE, contact Dr. Anne Ryan at [email protected] or at 207-879-0847.

November was jam packed with fun epsiodes of the STRIVECast! Jeff and Noel interviewed lots of great people - including our friends from Patriot Subaru, our very own Director of Programs Katie Collins, STRIVE supporter (and winner of our coveted STRIVECast guest auction item!) Austin Smith, and more! We're looking forward to some exciting holiday-themed episodes as we head into December, so stay tuned!

Do you have guest suggestions, ideas for fun games we could play, or want to participate in the Ask Jeff segment? Shoot us an email at [email protected]! We'd love to hear from you. The Ask Jeff hotline is still up and running, too - you can leave Jeff a voicemail asking him your life advice question at 207-774-6278, ext. 352!

Thanks, as always, for 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! Like what you hear? Shoot us an email at [email protected]!

November gave us back to back STRIVE 25 nights which is always fun! We've enjoyed welcoming new STRIVE 25 members each time we meet and look forward to meeting even more new friends in the months to come! 

Even though we can be together in person, we love checking in with our old friends through Zoom, signing karaoke together, playing a competitive round of bingo and of course having lots of laughs!

We hope you'll join us in December for STRIVE 25! We will be meeting Thursday, December 3rd and 17th (we will only meet twice in December due to New Year's Eve), and then we will see each other again January 7th!

STRIVE 25 is a social event for folks 25 and older, and typically happens here at STRIVE the first Thursday of each month (currently running bi-weekly online during COVID-19). For more information on STRIVE 25, contact Caroline (for the in-person event) at [email protected] or Olivia (for the virtual event) at [email protected].

STRIVE U has been reveling in the warm fall we've had!
One of our second year students planned a Halloween Party for everyone to participate in (outside) and took the lead on learning how to party plan. It was a great time full of amazing costumes, games, and of course, snacks!


The annual Progressive Dinner was moved up several weeks and didn't involve our traditional apartment-to-apartment, course-by-course alumni and student gathering, but the current students and staff all enjoyed a Thanksgiving lunch outside complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and dessert. While it's not what we are used to, it was a nice way to celebrate together and share what we are thankful for.
SMCC classes are more than half over for the semester! The students have been settling into their new routine and are enjoying the curriculum.
We are working on developing activities that students can participate in throughout the winter to stay active and connected but also warm and safe!

STRIVE U applications are available for the class of 2023! Please reach out to Olivia Fraioli at [email protected]
if you have questions or would like an application- we are available for individual virtual meetings and a virtual tour in lieu of on-campus meetings right now.
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 Olivia Fraioli, STRIVE U Admissions Coordinator at [email protected] or call (207) 774-6278.

Fall is coming to a quick end and like all seasons we expect changes. The staff here at Bayside would like to give a Great Big High Five to all our participants that come to Bayside each week. You guys have shown incredible patience in accepting a whole different way of learning to achieve our goals at Bayside. So, from the staff to you, thank you for going with the flow.

This month for Curriculum we have been working on vitamins A,B,C. We've been learning things like where we get these vitamins, and how can they apply that knowledge by finding recipes that are rich in A, B, and C.

For our goal in the community, we are still working on how the tones in our voices affect our experience in the community and with one another.
To improve our listen skills, we have been listening to a read-a-long adventure book. Using a worksheet, we carefully listen to identify details in the story.

Some participants have been working on reading a fast food menu and prices to improve their math skills. By learning to add and subtract prices, participants learn real life skills that carry over to other areas of independent living. Other participants have also been learning coins and value.

In November we also welcomed a new participant in our program, Charlie! We are all very happy to have Charlie join us here at Bayside.

We appreciate the care and support from all the staff, parents and the STRIVE support services, as we continue to work through the Covid 19 virus, thank you all.
Stay safe.


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 Kim O'Connor at [email protected].

The TOPS students have worked on many new things this month, including Human Anatomy, Cooking Groups and Job Interview skills.  Our students tried out chair-workouts, practiced using new technology and the majority of our students voted! Along with these topics, all three of our groups took a day to identify things they are grateful for, creating a spectacular visual in our classroom space; The Gratitude Tree.  


The TOPS Team wants to acknowledge all the hard work and dedication our students have put in so far this year to allow our program to be as successful as possible.  We are also grateful for all the sending schools and families for their support as we adapt to this new way of living. 

Interested in TOPS? TOPS (Transition Outcomes Program for Students) provides transition programming for high school students from area school districts who are typically in their 13th and 14th school year. For more information, please contact Betsy Morrison, [email protected] or by phone at 207-879-0847.

This past month in Next STEP has been filled with fun and learning! The group has continued to work on our budgeting skills related to grocery bills. We've discussed how to shop for sales, how to plan our shopping trips by looking on-line, how to comparison shop and how to save money by using what we already have to make new culinary delights! Additionally, we have spent some time thinking about what we have to be thankful for and making some holiday decorations.

Although Next STEP is currently on a hiatus due to the impact of COVID-19, please contact Betsy Morrison with questions or for more information about the program. Betsy can be reached at [email protected] or 207-879-0847. 


November was filled with some extra fun Friday Night's - and as always, lots of laughs! This month, we added a new element to our weekly routine - we call them our "check-out questions!" Now instead of each person sharing what they'll be doing over the coming weekend, each participant has two check-out questions they're responsible for asking a person of their choice. It's been awesome to watch everyone pick up the concept quickly - and has added another great element of practicing social/conversational skills! 

While we of course miss getting to be together in person each Friday night, one of the most positive aspects of doing our socials on Zoom is getting to work on these conversational skills each week! We've seen so many awesome improvements in our participant's abilities to carry on reciprocal conversations independently - and it has been awesome to watch!

As we head into the holidays, we know we'll be sad to miss one of our favorite STRIVE Night's of the year, our holiday party. But don't worry! We'll celebrate together and have a Holiday Theme Night on Zoom on Friday, December 18th! 
Can't wait to see you there!


Friday Nights at  STRIVE, fondly referred to as "STRIVE  Night," is a relaxed but fun evening of socialization for 15-24 year olds. New members are always 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 [email protected].

We had some familiar faces join us this month - and it was so great to re-connect with old friends! While we miss getting to see each other in person, it was awesome to be able to see each other in some way and make our Fridays feel routine again! We're always looking for new members to join us in Virtual Tweens, so whether you're new or old to the Tweens bunch, we'd love to have you! Contact Olivia at [email protected] to receive your link to join.

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 [email protected], or Whitney at [email protected]
Wednesday Night Educational Series

We are halfway through our Wednesday Night Educational Series about self care. What better time to discuss the importance of self care and different activities we can do for our mental and physical health! 

We only had 2 classes in the month of November, but during the times we met we talked about self care basics and the importance of self care! In December, we will go deeper into different types of self care like creativity exercises, movement, yoga and more! We will even spend some time practicing different types of self care. We are excited to continue to do the different self care activities that we learn in class throughout the year! 

The Wednesday Night Educational Series is held every Wednesday at STRIVE (but are currently virtual) for participants 15-24 years old. Series are between 4 and 8 weeks and topics vary from month to month! Contact Olivia at [email protected] for your link to join class. 
Active & Waves

The Active and Waves groups had a great time celebrating Halloween last month. Participants both in person at our three locations and on Zoom dressed up and got to celebrate with each other. One highlight was dancing to the Just Dance routines to Halloween themed hits like "Thriller" and "Monster Mash". 

On site participants braved some of the colder weather and continued walks, art groups, movement and other fun activities outdoors. On November 13th, we had to close our in person programming for now, moving everyone back to Zoom. While we are missing seeing each other in person, participants have enjoyed getting into a new routine of Zoom and seeing their peers and staff regularly. 


For more information on PSL Services/STRIVE's Community Support Day Programs, Active & Waves, please contact Emily at [email protected].

Happy Birthday to the following STRIVE Members!


To all who are celebrating birthdays in December- 
we hope you have a great day!

Alex York
Ashley Bowers
Jacob Hill
Shania Smith
Ivan Scheloske
Vitality Chan
Kaleb Divney
Victoria Felt
John Mancini
River Cummings 

Happy Birthday! 
Thank You to Our November Donors!

Kevin and Lea Foley 
Will and Erin Rowan 
Susan Bouton- In Memory of Sally Bouton
Brian and Bethany Dodge
Daniel Reardon and Bernadette Woodcock 
John and Katherine Emory

Thank you for your generous support of STRIVE! With your support, we are able to continue our work each and every day.

STRIVE Member Spotlight 

Meet Damian! Damian attends STRIVE Night's each and every Friday Night, and has been coming to STRIVE for almost two years now! Here he is pictured last year at our annual Holiday STRIVE Night, with two very special guests!

We've loved getting to know Damian, and are so lucky to get to spend our Friday Night's in his company! Damian tells us his favorite part of STRIVE Night, when we hold them in person, is "playing Apples to Apples with friends." Now, while we hold STRIVE Night virtually, Damian sings us his favorite song each week for Karaoke, "Somebody Told Me" by the Killers! We are proud to know Damian and are honored to play a role in his life.
STRIVE Staff Spotlight 

Meet Kelly! (Pictured here with her adorable son, Liam!) For those who don't know, Kelly is the STRIVE Transition Specialist and Lead Teacher in our TOPS Program. Kelly has been with STRIVE since August of 2015 - when the program began - and has led this program from it's very beginnings to now! TOPS partners with area school districts to support students in the 13th and 14th grade to prepare them to transition into life after high school, and all the various options that might bring. Kelly says her favorite part of working at STRIVE is "being part of a community; building relationships, celebrating successes together and leaning on one another when times are tough." 

When the pandemic first shut things down, Kelly and her team didn't miss a beat - seamlessly transitioning into online learning and continuing to provide quality programming and education for all of her students. TOPS now runs both virtually AND in-person, to accommodate various school district's protocols. Teaching is no easy task in any year, and this year in particular has just proved how incredible educators are. We are so lucky to have Kelly in the STRIVE family - thank you for all you do, Kelly!
STRIVE Volunteer Spotlight

We just wanted to take a moment to thank YOU - our STRIVE Community, for all of your support this year. At the start of 2020, we gathered 400+ people strong to celebrate our 20th Anniversary at our Gala - not knowing what the future would look like just two short months later. As we realized what this virus was looking like, we made the decision to switch all of our programs to run virtually in March - and we weren't sure what the coming months would look like, let alone the rest of the year. Throughout this pandemic, you have shown up and showed us just how strong the power of community is, and continues to be. We stayed up all night on Zoom together, we ran a Virtual 5K together on our own courses, we turned our annual auction into a website - we even put a man on a roof! - and you chose to join and support us every time. We do not take that choice for granted - and we just want to express our most sincere gratitude for your continued support of our organization, and the people we support. We certainly miss getting to see everyone - whether we usually see you at our various program locations, or annually at a certain event - but we want you all to know we are so grateful to have you in our STRIVE family, and we can't wait to see you when it's safe to. Thank you for your continued support of our mission, our work, and our people. 
Share the Love

We mentioned it at the top of the newsletter, but STRIVE has been selected as a beneficiary of this year's Share The Love event at Patriot Subaru! 

Are you or someone you know looking to purchase or lease a new car? Now through January 4th, if you purchase or lease a vehicle from Patriot Subaru, you can select STRIVE as your chosen Share The Love charity! Subaru of America will donate $250, and Patriot Subaru will donate another $50 as well, making your total donation to STRIVE $300! Patriot will also add $3 for every routine service visit to your selected charity! 


Thank you to Patriot Subaru for your support of STRIVE! We are so grateful to work with you throughout the year! 



New STRIVE Shop!

STRIVE has a new store! We've launched an online store to purchase all your STRIVE swag needs...just in time for the upcoming holidays! Take a look at all the shop has to offer HERE! There are so many items to choose from AND you can customize any item by choosing the color and STRIVE logo that you want. Happy shopping! 

General Announcements


Virtual Tweens: Every Friday from 3:30-5:30pm
Virtual STRIVE Night: Every Friday from 6-9pm
Virtual STRIVE 25: Thursday, December 3rd and 17th, 6-8pm


  • Thursday, December 24th
  • Friday, December 25th

Subaru Share the Love: Now through January 4th at Patriot Subaru (769 Portland Road, Saco)  

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 [email protected] 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!