PSL Services / STRIVE Newsletter

March 1st, 2021

STRIVE WorldWIDE Makes Its Way to California!
STRIVE WorldWIDE has a new partnership with Community Catalysts of California.    This partnership makes Community Catalysts of California the exclusive California provider of STRIVE WorldWIDE┬« online educational content to individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism in the state of California.  Community Catalysts of California and STRIVE will be working together over the next few months to implement Community Catalysts of California's online educational program.  Community Catalysts of California will also be seeking funding approval from state regional centers.    
"Everyone at STRIVE is thrilled with this new partnership with Community Catalyst of California.  We are proud of the STRIVE WorldWIDE platform and very excited to expand the program to California.  We feel that Community Catalyst of California is a great fit for our goals and a significant next step for our program. And we are open to exploring similar partnerships in other states," said Dr. Anne Ryan, the Program Director of STRIVE WorldWIDE.
"We are very excited to be partnering with STRIVE to bring this very innovative and accessible service option to California to better meet the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism," says Wendy Forkas, CEO at Community Catalysts of California.  
The benefits of this new partnership include. 
  • Access of STRIVE WorldWIDE┬« educational content to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in California. 
  • Proven and successful online service option for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism
  • First-of-its-kind post-secondary programming designed with neurodiverse learners in mind which can serve as a bridge to other traditional post-secondary programs
Not in California? Fear not, you can sign up from anywhere! Registration is now open for Self-Advocacy & Boundaries, beginning 3/8/21 and  Brain Fitness (Executive Functioning), beginning 3/29/2021.


About Community Catalysts of California: Community Catalysts of California is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), organization that provides community-living skills training, residential support, in-home respite care, crisis intervention, rapid re-housing, vocational counseling, job placement and other services to individuals and their families throughout California.  Various private, federal, state, and local agencies as well as generous donors in the community support us.  We have successfully provided services for thirty-eight years creating limitless pathways for individuals and their families to belong where they live, work, learn, and play reaching their highest level of self-sufficiency and independence.  For more information about Community Catalysts, please visit our website,, or call 858-292-2024.

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.
February was such a fun month for our team on the STRIVECast! We had lots of fun guests join us, like Rebecca Williams of Best Buddies Maine, Wendy Forkas of Community Catalysts Inc., Nate Barr of Zootility, and more! In March, we're looking forward to interviewing some of our favorite faces from our local news stations, like Todd Gutner, Meghan Torjussen, and more!

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!


As always, we had so much fun during STRIVE 25! We are still welcoming new members each week, and had even had some join us from other states! It has been so much fun getting to know our new friends and welcome them into the STRIVE 25 family. Karaoke never gets old and our bingo games get more and more competitive each week! We are looking forward to another month of laughs and fun in March! 

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

We're in an exciting time of year at STRIVE U! Graduating students have begun to look for and apply to apartments that they will move into when they're done the program. Applicants for the class of 2023 have finished their interviews and will move on to the virtual "overnight experience" and then on April 1 we'll be sending out acceptance letters! After a year like 2020 where so much was changed it feels really nice to get back into the swing of things at Strive U.
We've been learning about some healthy breakfast options with our staff Nicole during our weekly Wednesday Wellness class. Nicole has supported the students virtually to make avocado on an English muffin with everything but the bagel seasoning and yogurt with yummy granola flavors! Each week Nicole will introduce the students to some new exciting and healthy breakfast recipes, lead them in some meditation and discuss current events.
In Learning Group the 2nd years spent the past few weeks working on public speaking skills and put together a slideshow presentation through Google. Each student presented on a different residential goal (cooking, cleaning, budgeting) and explained what it takes to complete that goal successfully. The 3rd year students have been discussing what their life might look like after graduation in June. A Landlord and Property Manager visited class to talk about the expectations of tenants as well as the role of a Landlord. We are currently discussing how to create a weekly schedule and how to set aside time to spend with friends and family.


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.

Bayside is so excited to be able to join both of our group Zoom programs and our on-site program at 38 Darling Ave, South Portland. We have been able to combine the groups each day. Now they will not lose contact with their peers during the pandemic and together we can work on our goals. Our focus this month is our environment. What are our natural resources vs man made? How do we protect our natural resources? And what effect do they have on our communities.

This month for our nutrition goal we are looking at why our grocery stores are set up the way they are. Participants have looked at a diagram and noticed that the outside perimeter of the grocery store is the most nutritional way of shopping. They have also been learning about one ingredient foods, organic foods and processed foods. Participants have seen on the diagram where these types of food are located throughout the store.

We also just finished up a fun favorite book, "Diary of the Wimpy Kid". This was really an enjoyment for the participants, as they were able to watch the movie and compare it with the book. It was rewarding to see how much they could identify in the book that they did not see in the movie. This was a valuable lesson on listening and comprehension skills.

Congratulations to Jack  on his graduation from the Bayside program. For three years, Jack has been an enthusiastic and positive influence, displaying a sincere caring attitude for others. On his last day, Feb 19th, we celebrated with his peers online by sharing stories about and with Jack. We will always remember Jack closing out each day at Bayside/STRIVE with his famous, BEST DAY EVER!" We wish him all the best in his life journeys.

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

TOPS enjoyed a quick February, taking school vacation week during the third week.   The students practiced different workouts, including basketball indoor/outdoor drills and a band-workout.   As we got closer to February break, the students made chocolate covered strawberries to take home to their families for Valentine's Day. 
Each group participated in a basic first aid class where we reviewed using items found in a first aid kit and knowing when to call for additional help.  The students wrapped up the month with deeper discussion on relaxation, coping skills for dealing with change and self-awareness topics like body image. 

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. 


February was a great month for our weekly STRIVE Night socials! We've been welcoming new members from a variety of different states lately - and it's been so fun to welcome them into our little STRIVE Night family! Do you, or does someone you know, want a fun social outlet in their week? Contact Olivia at to receive your link to join the fun!


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

We've had a great month of Tweens! One of our longtime members moved onward and upward to our STRIVE Night program, and we were able to welcome back an old friend from Camp STRIVE to join us for our Friday fun! We are looking for new members! Do you know an 11-14 year old who would benefit from a virtual social outlet? Contact Olivia to receive the link to join us for Tweens!

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

We've learned so much in the month of February about healthy nutrition and kitchen/food safety! One of our favorite parts of the month was having our food friend, Chef Brad, do a knife safety demonstration with us. It was so helpful! 

In March, we will be putting what we learned in February to good use! Our class facilitators will lead cooking demos with each week focusing on a different major food group. We hope we will learn some healthy recipes that we can make for ourselves or our families!

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-$30, depending on the series' length. Contact Olivia at for your link to join class. 
Active & Waves

We had a holiday-filled long week AND weekend! Generally, ACTIVE and WAVES community support celebrate Valentine's Day by giving those we love, such as friends, family, roommates, etc, special attention and sweet gifts. This year we had the opportunity to create on Zoom. Some peers even had the chance to send Valentines to each other through the mail! Leading up to the holiday, we celebrated on Zoom by writing cards in writing group and art group, as well as making Valentine's Day-themed art. During field trip Friday, we also baked heart-shaped shortbread cookies and pretzel peanut butter chocolate pie, along with playing love song "Name That Tune" and a little bit of Valentine's Day jeopardy and trivia. On Zoom, our community feels that we have created a space where we are like one big happy ACTIVE/WAVES family all together and we collectively send our best Valentine's Day wishes to everyone in our lives and beyond.

Additionally, we are excited to share that we officially re-opened the STRIVE building at 28 Foden Road on February 17th! Participants have enjoyed coming back to program and seeing their peers and staff. While we are still doing center based activities, participants and staff are getting creative with fun activities. Indoor bowling, mini golf, art, yoga, music groups and of course winter walks to get some fresh air. We are grateful to be back and, as always, look forward to when we can get back to being out in the community.

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 March- 
we hope you have a great day!

Eddie Wickwire
Forest Leavitt
Andrew Tanguay
Carley Chapman
Cory Hutchins
Austin Pietras
Tyler Smith
Andrew Jenkins
Devon Frederico
Jordan Curtis
Taylor Geiger
Kaitlyn Patterson 
Nava Aryan
Calvin Mahoney
Nicholas Smith
Shamus Colson
Bridget Kusturin
Lola Goldman
Ethan Aube 
Bradley Parker 

Happy Birthday! 
Thank You to Our February Donors!


Emily's Designs
United Way of Southeastern Connecticut
Eliot and Melanie Cutler
Gaia Cloutier
MEMIC and Karen Johnston 
Fred Bopp

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 Emily! Emily has been coming to STRIVE for quite some time now, and has participated in a variety of different programs over the years! Emily graduated from our TOPS program in 2016, attended Camp STRIVE, and now regularly attends our ACTIVE, Bayside, and STRIVE Night socials! Emily says her favorite part of coming to STRIVE is " ." We love having Emily's bright spirit and positive attitude in the STRIVE family!
STRIVE Staff Spotlight 

Meet Conner! Conner is a Team Leader in our Community Supports ACTIVE Program. In her role, Conner is responsible for coordinating volunteer relationships, researching and building curriculum for participants' many community- and program-based activities, putting together our program's newsletter and annual yearbook, and, pre-pandemic, coordinating extended- day activities in the community, just to name a few roles! Conner says her favorite part of her job is that she "also gets to continue providing direct support to the participants, and engaging directly gives me the best perspective on how she and the team can best support everyone." 

Thank you for all you do, Conner - we are so lucky to have you!
General Announcements

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! We will be posting fundraising and event information soon! 

Community Members Wanted! 

Did you know that STRIVE hosts a monthly, free, networking group for those in our local community? The STRIVE Business to Business Networking Group is just one way that we try to be a mutually beneficial partner, with the hope of expanding the networks of our partners and local businesses. 

We are looking to grow! The group meets at noon on the last Wednesday of each month (right now we are meeting virtually). Are you or someone you know interested in joining? Contact Pete ( or Whitney ( for more information about the group  and your link to join!

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! 


Virtual Tweens: Every Friday from 3:30-5:30pm
Virtual STRIVE Night: Every Friday from 6-9pm
Virtual STRIVE 25: Thursday, March 4th and 18th from 6-8pm
STRIVE Rocks 2021: May 7th- 8th (8pm to 8am) 

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!