SOUTH PORTLAND — The Cromwell Center for Disabilities Awareness held the annual dinner and auction on May 16 at the Marriott Sable Oaks. The banquet raised $125,000 to support the mission of promoting safe, respectful and inclusive schools and communities.

In addition to the celebration of the center’s 16th anniversary, the nonprofit honored the winners of their Caring Classrooms Contest and their Community Partner Award.

Pictured at left is Susan Greenwood, executive director of the Cromwell Center, presenting the Caring Classrooms Contest winner, Louisa Strong of Lewiston, with her award. (Photo by Claire Houston)

This year’s winner of the Caring Classrooms Contest is Louisa Strong, a fifth-grader at Raymond A. Geiger Elementary School in Lewiston. The Caring Classrooms Contest encourages the students that are served in the grades one to six program to write submissions focused on how the Cromwell Center’s disabilities awareness programs impacted them and their views on respect, empathy and inclusion.

“I want to thank the Cromwell Center for realizing something it’s taken most of humankind to realize — that everyone has a story, and we should hear it,” said Strong. “Everyone is a person and not just a person — they all have unique thoughts.”

The Cromwell Center also awarded SAD 35 with their Community Partner Award for ongoing loyalty and support of the center’s school-based programming. Over the past five years, SAD 35 has hosted over 200 of the center’s disabilities awareness programs in their schools. “We are very honored to be the first school district to be honored for the Community Partner Award,” said Dr. Mary Nash, superintendent of SAD 35.

The two winners also received letters of congratulations from Gov. Janet Mills and Sen. Susan Collins.

The Cromwell Center is on track to set a record this year, in which they’ll service approximately 16,000-plus students at 894 schools alone by the time programs are completed in June. Thanks in part to a donation, the center was able to suspend their wait list for their school-based programs and will be able to service an additional 12 schools before the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

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