Maine Comedian Bob Marley Draws Crowd To Nordica For “Operation Giveback” Performance

Maine Comedian Bob Marley Draws Crowd To Nordica For “Operation Giveback” Performance

By Harley Davis, Contributing Writer 

Comedian Bob Marley. (Photo Courtesy of The Daily Bulldog)

Comedian Bob Marley. (Photo Courtesy of The Daily Bulldog)

Comedian and UMF alum Bob Marley visited UMF, bringing laughter and cheer to the campus to raise money for Operation Giveback, a semester-long campaign to bring awareness to childhood poverty in Franklin County. After a long week filled with the snowy weather that spring brought to Maine, a little laughter was exactly what the community needed.

“Bob Marley was chosen since he attended UMF, and he would be a great person to help with this charity event since he’s so well known,” said Ceilya Cooley, executive director of the Association for Campus Entertainment (ACE). “We haven’t had him on campus as a performer in ages.”

UMF’s Student Maine Education Association (Student MEA) was happy to partner with ACE to bring Bob Marley to campus. “We were lucky enough to have ACE cover the cost of bringing Bob to campus so that we get to keep the ticket sales,” said Stephen Riitano, president of UMF’s Student MEA.

The goal for our fundraiser is to combat childhood poverty,” said Riitano. “All proceeds from ticket sales go to Student MEA’s Operation Giveback in which we are creating back to school backpack kits for students and teachers in the local schools.” These backpack kits will be given out during the beginning of the school year next fall.

According to Student MEA, the Bob Marley event was a success. About 135 people attended the show, generating over $1000 in ticket sales for the club to use to give back to children in the community.

“Operation Giveback is a semester long campaign designed to not only spread awareness to the greater Franklin County area about childhood poverty, but also doing something about it,” said Rittano.

Student MEA began Operation Giveback in January with a panel discussion on childhood poverty in Franklin County. The club will continue its semester-long campaign through April to give back to the community as much as possible.

“We are in preparation for designing a “Kids Day” in April free for all kids around the area to come and have a day full of activities to promote awareness and give back to the children of the community,” said Riitano. “We are also cosponsoring a workshop event on April 19 for education majors to come and learn about many different opportunities to get involved, childhood poverty, and other essential skills that educators need.”

Operation Giveback will end in April. “We are going to be wrapping up our campaign this semester at Symposium, come see our presentation,” said Riitano.  Symposium will take place on April 26.

ACE is also gearing up for a fun-filled spring semester. “We have Samuel Comroe who is a comedian, as well as a motivational speaker/hypnotist coming in April,” said Cooley continuing, “April should be a fun month!”

UMF Cheerleaders Prepare For Upcoming Competition

By Harley Davis, Contributing Writer 

The UMF Cheerleading Club is preparing to travel out of state for two competitions in March and working hard in the meantime on refining choreography and finding time for extra hours of practice despite recent snowstorms.  

Large amounts of snow during the beginning of the semester have affected the team’s practice schedule. According to the president and coach of the cheerleading team, Kristin Cobleigh, “The team has been trying to get extra practice time in, but it has been hard due to the snow.”

Despite the weather, UMF Cheerleading has been meeting three times a week for practice, with practices averaging three hours long. “Lately we have been cleaning up and changing some minor things in the routine to get little extra points in various judging categories,” said Cobleigh. “We’ve also been trying to get team bonding in so that everyone’s spirits are up as we go to competition”

Compared to previous cheerleading teams at UMF, this year’s team has areas of strength that have not been seen in a team in past years.  “A strength that this team has over teams in the past is their ability to learn and perform skills they have never done before college quickly and efficiently,” said Cobleigh. “This year many of our girls have a vast background of knowledge that helps the team work well together when presented with something that doesn’t work or look the best in the routine.”

According to Ashley Skinner, the only senior on this year’s cheerleading team, the team spirit with this group is better than that of previous years. Our dynamic is one of the best I’ve ever been apart of,” Skinner said. “We are able to come to practice, stay focused, and work really hard, but we are all close friends so there is never a dull moment; someone is always laughing or joking around.”

While the competitions this year are out of state, the team is looking forward to their friends and family being able to watch them perform. “One of the best things about competitions is our families, friends and supporters,” said Cobleigh. ‘It’s a really cool thing to look out while on stage and see just a cluster of people all wearing UMF cheerleading T-shirts.

UMF Cheerleading will be participating in two competitions coming up in the month of March. “March 11th we are going to Syracuse, New York for the Salt City Beach Classic, and March 18th we are going to Warwick, Rhode Island for the Ocean State Beach Masters,” said Kaitlyn Polk, treasurer for the cheerleading team.

According to the ACDA website, the Salt City Beach Classic will open its doors at 10 a.m. and the competition will begin at 11a.m. Similarly, the Ocean State Beach Masters competition opens its doors at 12 p.m. and competition will begin at 1 p.m. Both events require an entry fee for spectators which must be paid in cash. For further information, see their respective websites.

“We want to represent UMF in the best way we can, so we have had no choice but to push ourselves at every single practice,” Skinner said. “We are ready for whatever this competition season is going to bring us.”

Operation Give Back Kicks Off Semester Long Campaign For Poverty Awareness

By Harley Davis, Contributing Writer 

UMF’s Student Maine Education Association (MEA) kicked off a semester long campaign to bring awareness to poverty in Franklin County with Operation Give Back, a food and clothing drive aimed at providing local students and families with warm clothing and food for winter. Operation Give Back featured six guest speakers from Franklin County who have experienced poverty in their own lives or through their work.

The discussion of Operation Give Back focused on poverty that is prevalent in the local community and resources within Farmington and Western Maine that are available to individuals and families who need support. Speakers at the event included Dr. Tom Ward, RSU #9 Superintendent, Steven Johndroe with Western Maine Community Action, Lisa Laflin with United Way, Kirsten Swan with the Partnership for Civic Advancement, Professor Beth Evans, a Secondary Education Professor at UMF, and Jan Collins, a high school science teacher who has been teaching for 25 years.

Dr. Ward began the talk with his history. As a child who grew up in poverty, Ward devoted his life to positively impacting children and families experiencing similar situations with poverty. “I firmly believe in giving back to your community,” Ward said.

The need to treat all people with care and compassion no matter their economic status was a reoccurring theme among the six speakers. “To be a human being to another human being means to be kind and understand them and listen to them,” Evans said. “It’s always wonderful when we can actually call on each other and get help from one another.”

President of the Student MEA Stephen Riitano was inspired to give back to the UMF community after reading “See Poverty, Be the Differenceby Donna Beegle and seeing the effects of poverty on children first-hand during his practicum experience. “You can read about something and say that’s an issue. But until it actually personally affects you, that’s when you have a call to action,” Riitano said. “UMF is such a community based school, but we’re in a bubble here too. We’re directly in the center of the community but we’re also in our own little world sometimes.”

Operation Give Back drew a large crowd of students from all majors and the local community members. “We had to turn people away because of the fire code,” Riitano said.

Melissa Eelman, a junior with a major in Elementary Education attended Operation Give Back. “It was very insightful,” Eelman said. “Dr. Tom’s talk was inspirational.”

   Throughout the semester UMF’s Student MEA will be hosting other events on campus to bring awareness to poverty in the area. Currently there is a clothing and food drive to collect mittens, scarves, snow pants, clothing items and any perishable food items. Boxes for the clothing and food drive are located in the residence halls, the Fitness and Recreation Center, and Mantor Library until Feb 17.

Later in the semester #operationkeepwarm will begin. During this event the Student MEA will be collecting socks to give to students in local schools. The aim of the campaign is for people to give back what they can. “We know that not everybody has a dollar, two dollars, or three dollars to give,” Laflin said.

“There’s a lot we can do. It doesn’t mean just giving money. It means spreading the word and being a liaison between you and a student or you and a family and knowing the resources and pointing them in the right direction,’ Riitano said. To donate, contact the Student MEA at