Charity & Grassroots in Portland

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For more than 150 years, Maine Audubon has championed Maine's wildest inhabitants with educational, engaging programs and wildlife and wildlife habitat advocacy. Members join the statewide nonprofit?s fight to maintain the population of native plant and animal life while interacting with furred and feathered planet mates through discounted access to activities that include moonlit storytelling outings and forest survival walks. Maine Audubon visitors can explore centers and sanctuaries such as the Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary and the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, whose kayak rentals allow paddlers to view off-duty ice sculptures and snowmen taking summer holidays. Maine Audubon's headquarters, Gilsland Farm, also unite members with 65 acres of trails, community gardens, and discounted wildlife-friendly gifts in the nature store.

20 Gilsland Farm Rd
Falmouth,
ME
US

Westbrook Community Center’s activities mirror the diversity of the people they serve. Adult-enrichment classes bring together crafty and inquisitive minds, teaching participants to knit mittens, take digital photographs, or understand veteran burial benefits. Youth programs center around hands-on exploration and movement. In Rock Star Cooking for Kids, locally renowned chef Josh Gelston teaches elementary-aged pupils how to cook a meal that doesn’t involve yarn and Skittles. Yoga, belly dancing, and swimming round out a long list of sports and fitness classes that serve participants of all ages. The calendar keeps track of the seasonally changing athletic, artistic, and educational opportunities.

426 Bridge St
Westbrook,
ME
US

The kitchen crew at Sahara Mediterranean Bar & Grill shaves tender layers of their popular chicken shawarma from the spit of a traditional vertical broiler, helping them earn the title of Detroit?s Best Middle Eastern restaurant from Local 4 viewers in summer 2011. Vegetarian options range from a falafel sandwich to the smoothly textured adas lentil soup, with beans that chefs carefully crush with an announcement that none of them made their high school?s baseball team. The menu also includes house specialties such as the potato chop?seasoned beef stuffed inside a golden-brown, deep-fried potato shell.

Sips from specialty drinks and smoky hookahs add a sweeter dimension to meals as diners perch on dark hardwood seating. The furnishings contrast visually with butter-yellow walls on which murals appear to emerge from behind crumbling stone.

10 South St
Freeport,
ME
US

For more than 30 years, The Lighthouse Preservation Society has worked to save and maintain the endangered lighthouses of the United States. The organization has spawned Congressional hearings and legislation, sponsored National Lighthouse Day, and aided in the creation of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act and the National Lighthouse Museum. The organization has also raised lighthouse awareness in the national consciousness, placing hundreds of lighthouses on the National Register of Historic Places and landing the most scenic ones on popular U.S. Postage stamps. This is all in addition to the ongoing preservation efforts; to date, the organization has raised nearly $6 million for more than 160 lighthouse-restoration projects. It's little wonder that the nonprofit was chosen as a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Achievement Award for its efforts to maintain America's coastal heritage. Day to day, members lead lighthouse tours and present lighthouse-related presentations, gather historic documents and artifacts, and manufacture replica replacement parts.

Even when a lighthouse guides its last ship, the organization keeps its spirit alive through creative adaptive reuse projects. They take special pride in their private dining program, headquartered in the Newburyport Lighthouse on Massachusetts' North Shore. Recommended by Boston's Phantom Gourmet and lauded by Yankee Magazine as a "glass-enclosed love nest," the intimate multicourse meals pair dishes from sea and land with views of the historic town harbor and picturesque beaches. The cozy circular room nestled at the top of the lighthouse retains its functional panoramic views, but also features comforts including padded benches, a dining table, a music system, and a climate control system. There's even an outdoor balcony, giving diners the chance to feel the ocean breezes from 60 feet in the air.

11 Seaborne Dr
Dover,
NH
US

Dr. Sylvester Gardiner became the unwitting founder of a city in 1754, when he decided to use a 130-foot waterfall on the Cobbosseecontee Stream to provide energy for two saw mills, a felting mill, a potash factory, and a grist mill. Nearly 100 years later, in 1849, his plantation became the city of Gardiner. Today, the historical New England mill town is a home to artists, merchants, and students, and also hosts an array of seasonal events, such as an Easter parade, the Ride Into Summer festival, the Swine and Stein Oktoberfest celebration, and a Christmas tree lighting.

The town's brick sidewalks, Victorian and early 20th-century architecture, and long-running farmer's market have earned it a designation as a Main Street Maine and Preserve America community. Its downtown is recognized as a National Historic District, and some of its buildings have been included in both the National Register of Historic Places and the Empire State Building's list of secret crushes. Self-guided walking tours of the town take visitors past the homes of Pulitzer Prize–winning writers, such as poet Edwin Arlington Robinson and author Laura E. Richards.

287 Water St.
Gardiner,
ME
US

The 4-year-old lion Mufasa roams his cage, purring between bites of raw meat, as his sister, Tawana, roars behind him. Mufasa, dubbed ?Maine?s Little Lion King? by DEW Animal Kingdom and Sanctuary?s caretakers Bob and Julie Miner, may be the nonprofit sanctuary?s most visible inhabitant, but he?s far from its only attraction. Across 42 acres of land, the roars and deep purrs of big cats mix with the quacks of ducks and the snorts of pigs. Owners tend to gibbons, spider monkeys, and lemurs as they swing from trees inside a primate enclosure. Meanwhile, orphaned and injured native-Maine animals such as owls are sequestered for rehabilitation before being released back into the wild or signed for exclusive Tootsie Pops endorsements.

918 Pond Rd
Mount Vernon,
ME
US