PSL Services / STRIVE Newsletter

January 1st, 2021
Happy New Year! 

What a year it's been! We kicked off 2020 with a large gala to honor 20 years of STRIVE, where 400 attendees helped us celebrate this milestone! It was an evening to remember, with awards, guest speakers, and of course, a STRIVE staple, dancing! The gala was the perfect way to look back on how far we've come, and to look ahead to a bright future. Who knew that our gala would be our only in person event of the year! 

Just a few short months after the gala, the world changed! In one weekend in March, we turned all of our STRIVE programs virtual. We are so grateful that we are still able to provide innovative and meaningful programming to our participants even though we aren't able to be together in person. From educational classes in our TOPS, STRIVE U and Wednesday Night Ed programs, to karaoke and Bingo during our socials, Zoom has been a lifeline for all of us this year! 

Although the majority of our programs are held virtually, a few of our programs are still able to meet in person. Our TOPS and STRIVE U programs still meet regularly, on and off the computer screen. We are so proud of the work  put in by both participants and staff to be safe while in person. 

We were also able to hold all of our annual fundraising events virtually! We stayed up all night on Zoom for STRIVE Rocks- The Virtual Edition. The night was full of special guests, live music, games and activities, and of course everyone's favorite STRIVE Rocks activity- dancing! Members of our community ran their own 5K courses for our annual STRIVE for 5K, Kevin spent 8 days atop the roof of Patriot Subaru (our most socially distant event!), and we held an online auction! 

This year has been full of ups and downs, but one thing has remained the same- our gratitude for our participants, staff, and STRIVE community. We feel honored to play a part in the lives of so many individuals, and to be able to do so even after weathering hard times. Thank YOU for your support, this year and every year. We would not be the strong community we are without you! Here's to a brighter 2021 and a happy and healthy start to the year!

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 


STRIVE WorldWIDE offered a free seminar on Social Skills Using Technology, and it's draw was.... Worldwide! We had over 500 people signed up from 48 states and 11 countries! It was wonderful to see such a broad and international interest in the program. In case you missed it, check out the recording here.  

The good news is, this was just a preview for our January 4 class, Social Connections Using Technology. If you'd like to register for the class, go to the course catalog, select the class, and you will be prompted to sign in (if you are a returning student) or create a new account (if you are a new student). Due to demand, we've already had to add a second section of the course, as well as adding an additional daytime Social Skills & Healthy Relationships course that begins 1/25/21. Our program is growing, and we'd love to have you be a part of it!

STRIVE WorldWIDE is STRIVE's online program that teaching independent living skills. For more information about STRIVE WorldWIDE, contact Dr. Anne Ryan at or at 207-879-0847.
It is hard to believe that we are well into our third season of the STRIVECast! We had so many great guests in December. Nell Shipman of Portland Ballet told us about how the ballet has transitioned to a virtual Nutcracker performance, Cary Tyson of Portland Downtown let us know of all of the exciting activities happening in downtown Portland this season, and Mitch Waterman joined us from Goodfire Brewing Co. We also welcomed our very good friend, Chef Brad, who gave us some ideas of delicious snacks and meals we could make with our holiday leftovers!

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! 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!


Just like many other programs, STRIVE 25 hosted a virtual holiday party- which was ugly sweater themed! We had so much fun- and laughs- showing off our festive outfits. We enjoyed singing holiday (and some non-holiday) karaoke together, played a tough game of holiday trivia and ended the night with everyone's favorite- Bingo! This month, we've welcomed a lot of new members to our virtual gatherings. Some are brand new to the program and others are friends that we haven't since since we've all be home in quarantine.  We are excited for a brand new year of STRIVE 25s and can't wait to meet again in 2021!

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 or Olivia (for the virtual event) at

STRIVE U has had a busy holiday season! The students completed a quarantine after visiting family homes for the holidays and staff filled the weeks with a ton of activities every day, from starting a gratitude journal, baking projects, science experiments, virtual tours and paint night to board games, movie nights and poetry writing. Despite the difficult parameters navigating this world right now, the students shared that they really enjoyed the activities and it was a nice way to infuse more creativity into the regular schedules, though we all are looking forward to a return to regularly connecting in person!

STRIVE U Admissions is also well underway! Olivia and Katie have been hosting Informational Sessions for prospective students and families to explain the program and answer questions. Look for more in January and reach out to Olivia at if you are interested in joining.
Happy 2021 from STRIVE U!

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 or call (207) 774-6278.

We made it to the end of the year, and what a year it has been. This has been a wonderful opportunity to show that we can rise to the challenge and make the best out of unusual circumstances. The participants at Bayside have really shown their best while participating in activities on Zoom this month. We start at 9:30 am, program throughout the afternoon, saying goodbye at 4:00 pm. 

This month our Bayside goals we have been working on computer safety and how that works in the community. We have begun to do break out rooms on Zoom, letting us work with smaller groups on math. Each group is still working on math with money. 
During our  library goal, participants are enjoying listening to a book that is being read to them and practicing their listening skills by answering questions about what they have heard. On Adventure Day Fridays, we have had a good time playing "name that tune" and Christmas Jeopardy. We have also found a real cool game that uses a Snowman to guess words. We finished the month discussing how being thankful for little things can make for a healthier way of living.

While we are not out of the woods with the pandemic challenges, here at Bayside we are looking forward to the New Year 2021!   Bring it On!

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

Each school year, TOPS has welcomed in a new group of students which in-turn brings a new group dynamic.  This year has been nothing but out of ordinary and our group of students, both in-person and virtual, has far exceeded our expectations for growth and flexibility!  It is usually January/February before our staff actively reflect on how much progress an individual student has made- this year we are seeing it daily and it is only December!
Our groups pushed hard this month, getting out of their comfort zone in many new activities.  Our in-person groups had some much-needed practice walking on ice/snow, while the virtual group bonded during a class on self-reflection.  All three groups learned more about cultures and reviewed ways to stay connected.



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, or by phone at 207-879-0847.

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 or 207-879-0847. 


December was such a fun month for our Friday Night bunch! We culminated the year with our annual Holiday party, that nearly 30 members attended in style! We played a holiday trivia game, sang some fun Christmas tunes for karaoke, and closed out the party discussing what gifts we were excited to give to others this holiday season. We're looking forward to many more fun nights together in 2021!


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

Tweens had such a fun month in December! We got the ball rolling again with two of our regular members coming back and hanging out each Friday afternoon. While there are always lots of fun jokes and dances moves being had, we're also working on our conversational skills, and it's been awesome to watch them improve even in the course of one month!

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, or Whitney at
Wednesday Night Educational Series

For the past two months, we have been focusing on a very important topic Self Care!  We have discussed what self care is and why it is important. We learned about different types of self care, like movement, creativity, mediation and more! Each week we even practiced different types of self care. This is such an important topic, especially during this time of year. Hopefully students were able to learn some helpful self-care  activities that they can do throughout the year!

In January, we will discuss employment skills and professionalism! We have a jam packed month and will even have a special guest join us at the end of the month! We hope you'll join us! 

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! The price per series is $20. Contact Olivia at for your link to join class. 
Active & Waves

This month, participants have enjoyed seeing friends and peers that they haven't seen in a long time on Zoom. Many participants are enjoying one on one Zooms with some of their staff as well where they can visit and check in on how things are going. Everyone is adjusting as best they can to the "new normal" of continuing program on Zoom and are making the most of what we have at this time! Participants helped to spread holiday cheer by making each other holiday cards this season. Some especially generous members of our program helped a family in need by getting them Christmas gifts. The gifts were funded by the money raised by our volunteer organization, Aktion Club, whose members run fundraisers throughout the year to save up for events like gifting for a family in need.

As the year draws to a close, our participants shared some of the things they are looking forward to and hoping for in 2021. Many participants are hopeful that we will return to STRIVE and get to do some of their favorite activities again like cooking, volunteering, Qi Gong, walking at Fort Williams, swimming and seeing their friends and staff in person.

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

Happy Birthday to the following STRIVE Members!


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

Emily Murray
Brittany Bean
Owen Wolterbeck
Jordan Young
Sumner Ellis
Nicholas Cataldo
Nathaniel Rines
Peter Tarling
Leeann Brionez
Marshall Noyes
Kelly Mberaba
Jacob Benvie
Thomas Hartnott
Samantha Mueller
Lindsey Foster
Destiny Lemine
Ryan O'Donovan
Cera Ann Lane
Kayla Haggett
Benjamin Beisswanger 

Happy Birthday! 
Thank You to Our December Donors!

Marjorie, Robert Murray & Susan Guerrette
Denise & John Palmer
Peter & Melissa Merfield
Cynthia & David Barnard
Sally Webb & Matthew Anson
Andrew & Nancy Wickwire
David & Fela Shapell Family Foundation- In Memory of Jake Shapell
Shoshana and Jeremy Bannett- In Memory of Jake Shapell
Kurt & Kelly Stokes
Janet Francis- In Honor of Sally Alexander
Arthur Batson, Jr.
Norway Savings Bank
John McKernan & Olympia Snowe
Hartley & Benson Webster
Barbara Frodin
David & Beverly Sherman
Molly Salt
Emily Rose
Renate Masse
Matthew Campbell
Amy Carson
Kathy Woodman
John Tabb
Tracy Welsch
Erin Cinelli
Paul Klemt- In Honor of Melissa Klemt
Alden Bohrmann
Kristen Bell- In Honor of Katie Elliot and STRIVE U
John Gaudet
Carolyn Bird
Cam & Kathy Taylor
Kristopher Seidell- In Honor of Kerri Seidell
Katie Spotz
John Makrides, MD
Stone Coast Fund Services
Mimi Gough & Tim Reardon
James Moran- In Honor of James A. Moran Jr. 
Jane O'Rourke & Frank O'Hara 
Fraternity Lodge #6 I.O.O.F
Shoresh Foundation- In Memory of Jake Shapell
William Taplin 
Nancy & Edmond Beaulieu- In Honor of Madeleine and Bella Joyce 
Cynthia & Lawrence Vaughan
Gillian & Brian Ballute
Timothy Agnew
Bennett Agnew
Rachel Morin
Peter & Anne-Marie Brown
Josh Chase
Wendy Bush

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 Nate! Nate has been coming to STRIVE for close to SEVEN years now! Nate has participated in just about every STRIVE program we offer. He's taken part in our After School program, Camp STRIVE, our Wednesday Night Educational Series, graduated from our TOPS program, and now attends ACTIVE, Bayside, AND is a regular STRIVE Night attendee! We love having Nate as such an integral part of our STRIVE family, and can't imagine STRIVE without him! Nate says his favorite part of coming to STRIVE is "getting to see all of his friends and learning new things." We feel very lucky to play a role in Nate's life!

*photo taken pre-COVID*
STRIVE Staff Spotlight 

Meet Maggie! Maggie is one of two Community Support Program Managers at PSL/STRIVE! Maggie in her role "has the awesome privilege of helping to oversee our Day Program, also known as our ACTIVE and WAVES programs." Maggie says she "has a number of different responsibilities but the main ones are helping to develop our programs and support our amazing DSP's!" Maggie says her favorite part of her job "is being able to work for such an incredible organization with great staff and participants. I am always impressed by how kind, dedicated, and inclusive everyone is. I feel very lucky to do what I do every day and I am grateful to have been welcomed into this amazing team!" We're lucky to have you in the STRIVE family, Maggie!
Share the Love

There's a few more days of Patriot Subaru's Share the Love event! It's not too late to get involved! 

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!

Don't forget, STRIVE has a new store! We've launched an online store to purchase all your STRIVE swag needs! 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! 

Save the Date!
 We are excited to announce the date for STRIVE Rocks 2021! We hope you'll join us Friday, May 7th to Saturday, May 8th on Zoom for our second STRIVE Rocks-The Virtual Edition! Keep checking our website- and our social media pages for updates on the event as the date gets closer!

We are in the early planning stages- do you have ideas to make this event great? Share your ideas with STRIVE Program Director, Whitney Wildes, at, or join our committee! We are also looking for new event sponsors! Is your business, or a business you know, interested in supporting the event? Be sure to check out our sponsorship opportunities HERE!

General Announcements


-Friday, January 1st, 2021
-Monday, January 18th, 2021
Virtual Tweens: Every Friday from 3:30-5:30pm
Virtual STRIVE Night: Every Friday from 6-9pm
Virtual STRIVE 25: Thursday, January 7th and 21st from 6-8pm
Subaru Share the Love: Now through January 4th at Patriot Subaru (769 Portland Road, Saco)  
Don't forget! STRIVE U Applications Due February 1st!

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!