CFL Celebrates 6 Years! – 2015

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 full photo gallery, click hereAnnual Celebration photos courtesy of E’nkul Kanakan.

5th Annual Celebration – 2014

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Keynote Speaker, Portland Mayor Michael F. Brennan, spoke on CFL’s crucial role in helping Portland’s immigrants integrate into Maine’s  workforce and said that now more than ever, we need to welcome them into Maine’s communities. He told his personal story on his frustrations being abroad and the difference lending a hand can make to new Mainers and the success of our local economy.
Mayor Brennan also commented on the issue of Maine’s aging population by stating that Maine is one of only two states that have lost population over the last 10 years, that Portland has fewer people now than it did in 1951 and 1959, and that we need to look to Maine’s immigrants and refugees to fill the workforce gap. He said there is a significant number of families and children struggling with economic circumstances and we need to create jobs to boost the income of those families.

CFL student Jerome Muhirwa inspired the crowd with a testimony of his personal success story. Jerome escaped dangerous conditions in Burundi and fled to the US three years ago. He was granted asylum and found work, but came from a country where credit cards and savings accounts were unheard of. He enrolled in CFL classes and learned how to ‘pay yourself first’ by saving steadily, and how to use credit cards responsibly to build his credit score. “CFL is like a flashlight in a dark room when you are looking for something” said Jerome, who thanked all CFL supporters for helping provide this valuable service. Jerome recommends CFL classes to both immigrant and American friends. 

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4th Annual Celebration – 2013

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On June 10th, we held our 4th Annual Celebration at the Portland Public Library.  The event was a chance to reflect on the success of the past year and thank all of our supporters. Attendees heard one of Maine’s top economists,  Dr. Charles Colgan, deliver an informative talk on demographic trends in Maine and the role of refugees and immigrants in building Maine’s economy.  Dr. Colgan’s speech stressed the importance of immigrants to the growth of Maine’s economy.  For example, he explained that new younger refugees and immigrants can counteract the negative effects of an increasing older native population.  Dr. Colgan said of CFL, “If the organization did not exist, now would be a good time for its creation.” To see Dr. Colgan’s speech in its entirety click here.

A CFL course graduate, Levy Furere, spoke about his experiences as an immigrant, and how CFL has helped him achieve his goals.  Levy, from Burundi, explained that many immigrants are completely unfamiliar with the American financial system.  After taking CFL’s financial literacy courses and learning about money management, Levy has opened a checking and saving account, keeps an emergency fund, and has opened an IRA. CFL also presented three awards to recognize those who have supported the organization in the past year.  IDEXX Laboratories and L.L. Bean received the Outstanding Community Partner Award. Greg Hansel received the Commitment to Service Award, and Orkhan Nadirli was recognized as Volunteer of the Year.
Celebration 2013