LOWELL, VT - This Saturday, Sept. 15, participating motorcyclists will leave from Cajun's snack bar in Lowell at 11 AM for a 60-mile tour of the Lowell, Montgomery area of Northern Vermont. The motorcycle ride-in is to raise funds for two non-profit organizations, Project Cuddle and the Rocking Horse Program, for the betterment of families. Road Captains Dana Lesperance, Rich Lawrence and Benoit Guay will get us safely through our travels.
Project Cuddle is a national organization that began in the home of Debbe Magnusen in California. Being a foster parent frustrated with the lack of options for young, pregnant women who felt no alternative but to abandon their babies, Magnusen took it upon herself to reach out to these women, who felt they had no place to turn and no alternative for their unborn children.
She applied for an 800 phone number (888-628-3353 crisis line), posted it in the local newspaper, and within the first day received a call from a young woman who was in need of this service. This was the beginning of the nationwide program, Project Cuddle, which provides a safe and legal alternative to baby abandonment.
That was 16 years ago. Today, over 700 babies have been saved through this endeavor. The majority of these babies were adopted by supportive, loving families; a few of these young mothers received the assistance and counseling they needed to keep and raise their babies.
Project Cuddle was the first recipient of Oprah's "Cheers to You Award" in 2006.
This past weekend, the spokesperson for Project Cuddle, John Stamos, hosted an event at the Broadway play he is starring in, "The Best Man."
The tickets that were sold exclusively as a special event included a question and answer session with the actors, including John Stamos, James Earl Jones, and Kristin Davis. This was followed by a reception including photo opportunities. This was only one of many national events in support of this program.
This Saturday's ride is a local fund raiser being hosted by Karlene Guay and her daughter Mariah, who were united because of Project Cuddle and who are strong supporters of this venture; and by Irene Delabruere and supporting participants of the Rocking Horse Program.
If you wish to make a donation to Project Cuddle, you may do so this weekend; for a donation of $20, you may join the ride and enjoy a special meal. Or just stop by to show your support and learn more about these programs. Have your children, for free, participate in the activities. You can also do an online donation at www.projectcuddle.org  or call 714-432-9681 (non-crisis line).
The second program is called The Rocking Horse Circle of Support for Women, which was started by Trudi Ettlinger, PhD in nursing research, who saw a need for women and children.
This Vermont program started in Richford, VT. In 1999, the program went statewide. The Essex/Orleans counties program began on Sept. 11, 2001. This program is now beginning it's 11th year.
There are two sessions offered each year. These community-based educational support groups are designed for pregnant and parenting women who face a host of real or potential risk factors. The goals are to increase capacity to manage stressors and family life more effectively and to develop rewarding social, peer and family relationships, and also to reduce substance use by the use of healthy coping skills.
Trudi worked with many rural Vermont mothers who had little access to services and education that would help in stabilizing their families.
The first money was funded by the CDC for fetal alcohol syndrome prevention. Then money came from ADAP, a federal program, which now helps to fund the program in all 14 counties. Over 200 women and their families have received services in Orleans County.
Newport now holds bi-monthly meetings for extra support. Irene Delabruere is our local leader and can be reached at 802-673-8290 or at the Cajun this Saturday.
See you Saturday!