Unsung Hero: Michelle Doiron of Scarborough, crafted to serve

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SCARBOROUGH — Michelle Doiron’s life path led to her current volunteer work: teaching sewing and other crafts to adults with developmental disabilities at the Morrison Center.

As a young girl living in upstate New York, Doiron’s best friend had a brother with a mental disability.

“That experience gave me an understanding of disabilities,” Doiron said.

After graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology, she worked as a financial analyst for General Electric. While there, Doiron volunteered for Junior Achievement, a nationwide nonprofit organization that uses experiential learning to inspire students to reach their potential. She was also active in the Kiwanis Club.

Doiron moved to Scarborough in 1996 with her husband Mark, a native Mainer. Since that time, she has spent many hours volunteering in activities at the schools of their three children.

“Volunteering has always been important to me,” Doiron said.

Along the way, she applied her artistic talent to running a custom window treatment business, and she continues to make cushions for a Scarborough furniture builder.

About a year and a half ago, Doiron approached the Morrison Center about doing some volunteer work. “They interviewed me, and when they found out that I sewed, that was it,” she said, laughing.

The Morrison Center, according to its website, “provides comprehensive, individualized support services for people of all ages with disabilities.” The ultimate goal is to “empower its consumers to achieve maximum personal growth and independence.”

Doiron volunteers for the Seedling Program, one of five programs run by the center. The program is described as an “innovative day habilitation program for individuals with developmental disabilities over the age of 20.”

The Seedling Program’s facilities feature two state-of-the-art greenhouses in addition to studio space. The Program’s four components are greenhouse plant production and sale; community integration; arts and crafts studio, and life enrichment.

Doiron spends three hours each week helping consumers create crafts, such as sashays and catnip bags. She also helps them with other endeavors in other media, such as painting and drawing. The consumers later sell what they have created on consignment, which is a boon to building confidence and a sense of independence.

“I love doing this work,” said Doiron, who works closely with one or two adults at a time. “I enjoy being creative, and it’s great to see their satisfaction at what they’ve accomplished.

Kevin Kearns, director of the Seedling Program, said “We couldn’t do what we do without the help of terrific volunteers such as Michelle Doiron.”

Sidebar Elements

Michelle Doiron teaches sewing and other crafts to adults with developmental disabilities at the Morrison Center in Scarborough.

Unsung Heroes

One in a series of profiles by Brunswick writer David Treadwell about people who quietly contribute to the quality of life in greater Portland. Do you know an Unsung Hero? Tell us: heroes@theforecaster.net.