CFL held its annual event on Wednesday, May 6th, at the U.S. Custom House on Fore St.  We were pleased to see a high turnout, a mix of funders, donors, supporters and student beneficiaries of the program. One of the many highlights of the evening was the recognition of 18 recent graduates.  Congratulations!

Mike Wood, the current CFL Board Chair, started the event by recognizing the outgoing Chair, CEO of cPort Credit Union, Gene Ardito, who led CFL for two successful years.

Marie Francine Ndayishimiye, a CFL alumnus, shared her experience as a New Mainer and the ways she was able to benefit from CFL’s financial literacy courses and the IDA program.  Equipped with her knowledge of budgeting and saving, Marie Francine was able to purchase a vehicle for the needs of her growing family.

It was an opportunity to acknowledge funders, donors, CFL staff and all the volunteers who continue to support CFL’s mission.

We were honored to have guest speaker, Charlie Eshbach of the Portland Sea Dogs, extend an invitation to refugees and immigrants to attend a game with complementary tickets, food and drink.

Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, was our keynote speaker; he spoke to guests about the importance of immigrants to our state and local economy.  Our economic success in the next 20 years depends on the quality and quantity of the workforce, and with an aging demographic, we are facing a workforce challenge.  It is essential to prepare workers for our technology and innovation-driven society in order to meet this challenge.  “Making Maine Work”, a joint project of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Development Foundation, brings together business and education leaders to address this issue.  Dana invited Claude Rwaganje, and board member, Quincy Hentzel, to join this effort.

The evening concluded with the presentation of awards.  CFL’s Volunteer of the Year was Daniella Makuraza.  Daniella has volunteered with CFL on a weekly basis for over a year, including coordinating the annual event.  The Commitment to Service Award recognized two local businesses, Portland Financial Planning Group and Cartridge World.  Year after year, PFPG and Cartridge World have supported CFL’s mission to provide financial literacy education and improve the lives of the immigrant and refugee community.  Lastly, CFL honored Gabby Marketing with its Community Partner Award.  Gabby Marketing donated over $8,000 worth of marketing services in 2014, including the redesign of CFL’s website.   Congratulations to these wonderful award recipients!

To view the photo gallery, click here.

Annual Celebration photos courtesy of E’nkul Kanakan