There was a standing ovation and few dry eyes after Kaila Gagnon took the stage at our Leadership Luncheon three weeks ago. Eighteen-year-old Kaila recounted the struggles and criticism she endured in the public school system and her determination to finish high school while raising an infant daughter.
"I informed my principal I was pregnant and he was far from impressed. He then let me know that my condition was not acceptable in his school and that I needed to leave. Even after he suggested I wasn't welcome, I still tried my hardest to stay. The school and teachers refused to work with me, so I finally consented to leave. I then applied to the Passages Program."
Last spring, a Maine Women's Fund grant supported the expansion of the Passages Program of the Community Schools at Opportunity Farm and Camden, which serves pregnant and parenting young women through a home-based high school diploma program. Passages served 50 students in the 2012/2013 school year. We're delighted to report that Kaila will be receiving her high school diploma next week and has plans to attend nursing school.
This is just one of the eight success stories from exemplary Maine women that we heard at the Leadership Luncheon. The Fund staff, board and volunteers are still enjoying the effect of seeing so many of you at the event. We are grateful to the Fund community for coming together to network, listen to inspiring stories and support the work of the Fund. To our sponsors, advertisers, volunteers, grantees, awardees, our emcee, Suzanne Nance, all 650 individuals who purchased tickets, and the more than 300 individuals who made pledges or gifts at the event, thank you.
The event will live on in a video highlights production due out later this summer. If you weren't able to attend, or did attend and would like to help us share the event with your friends as a host or organizer of a viewing, please let us know by clicking here and we'll be in touch as we plan those gatherings between now and next year's event. In the meantime, you'll find pictures on our Facebook page, you can watch the Anne Taintor video that screened at the event and check out the event recap on our website.
And now, drum roll please..... we are thrilled to announce that donations made at the luncheon doubled the amount raised at last year's luncheon and significantly exceeded the $25,000 goal we set. Over $38,000 in gifts and pledges were made to help support women and girls in Maine. That's a huge increase! We also increased our sponsorship and advertising revenue by 42% over 2012.