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October 23, 2018

Boots2Roots will hold benefit auction

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Jen Fullmer, the volunteer executive director of Boots2Roots, meets with Caleb Fournier, left, a veteran transitioning out of the Army, to prepare for a job interview along with Boots2Roots volunteer Bruce MacMillan. On Thursday the nonprofit will hold a reception and a benefit auction that's intended to raise money for hiring a full-time paid director.

Boots2Roots, a Maine nonprofit that helps veterans make the transition to the civilian workforce, will hold a benefit auction and reception on Thursday.

In less than two years, Boots2Roots has provided services to 50 clients. Of those, 89% were hired within two months of arrival in Maine.

The nonprofit has no staff. Its executive director, Jen Fullmer, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, is a volunteer. Fullmer received a Next award from Mainebiz in 2017. With the fundraiser, she hopes to hire a full-time program director.

Fullmer is building the nonprofit's network of companies to hire vets. Among the companies Boots2Roots has worked with is Scarborough-based Dead River Co., which also pledged $15,000 for a matching grant program.

"When I first learned of Boots2Roots mission, I knew Dead River Co. needed to be involved. At times, we employ over 100 active and retired military members — most recently two from the Boots2Roots program," said Guy Langevin, vice president and chief administrative officer at Dead River. "We are honored to be able to extend a $15,000 matching grant to a program that's making connections steeped in community, integrity, sincerity and simplicity."

One of the recent hires at Dead River was Jason Grower, who retired from the U.S. Navy. He started working with Boots2Roots a year before retiring to Maine.

"Separating from the military can be a daunting challenge, especially when you are stationed 6,000 miles from Maine," Grower said. "Having Boots2Roots as a partner on the ground in Maine to guide me through the process and tie me into Maine networks was enormously valuable."

Fullmer said veterans are a key to solving Maine's labor shortage.

"As demographic profiles rapidly evolve in a labor market that is demonstrating historic low-levels of unemployment, Maine companies will benefit from innovative ways to secure new pipelines to capture the talent they need," Fullmer said. "Maine's economic future depends on a full-court press workforce development effort. We can't afford not to pull these teammates into Maine and help them hit the ground running."

To raise money, Boots2Roots will host its inaugural benefit auction and reception on Oct 25, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at DiMillo's Restaurant in Portland. The event will secure funding for a program director, Boots2Roots' first paid employee. Tickets are $75.

To register for the Oct. 25 benefit auction and reception: Boots2Roots.EJoinME.org/Events

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