At 7:30 on April 19, Brandon St. Germain, a sophomore majoring in Marine Engineering Operations, heads out the door from regimental muster to his first class with a bright yellow paper dot affixed to his chest. Similar yellow dots are on the shirts of other students, faculty and staff, and most buildings on campus. They are a reminder to “spot a reason to give” to the MMA Annual Fund on Giving Day.
St. Germain is one of those reasons. He not only works hard academically, but also puts in hours as a Resident Assistant, one of the most responsible student leadership positions on campus. He is aided by two scholarships. “Without financial aid, I wouldn’t be able to attend MMA,” he says.
Yet, in spite of the need to live frugally, he has made a modest contribution to the Annual Fund on Giving Day.
“I think it shows that even now as a student, you can make a difference by just participating— showing that you care for the future, for those who will be upcoming and taking your place here at the academy.”
Giving Day, a first-ever, one-day, on-campus giving campaign with the goal of achieving 10% participation among faculty, staff, and students,
concluded successfully with a participation rate of 19.83%, nearly doubling the goal and securing a $10,000 gift from an anonymous donor.
Upon hearing St. Germain’s statement, Capt. Richard Spear ’43-2, nods and agrees. Spear, a spry 95 years of age, has been a generous and consistent contributor to the Annual Fund since the late 1980s.
As part of the first full class at MMA, “I graduated on Saturday, and stepped aboard a ship on Monday,” he recalls. Such was the urgency of wartime.
But Spear went on to have a long career related to the sea, the last 30 years of which were spent as manager of the central Maine ferry service.
“I give to MMA because it did so much for me,” he says. “If I hadn’t graduated from there, who knows what I’d be doing. I appreciate the education I received. It helped me through life. And I want to help provide that opportunity for others.”
From the oldest to the future classes of graduates, alumni make MMA unique and strong in so many ways. Contributing to the Annual Fund is one of those fundamentals.
The fund provides discretionary dollars that enable MMA to respond to immediate needs, new opportunities and fresh ideas. Donations to the Annual Fund also support financial aid, academic innovation and student life initiatives for students.
Donations make a difference. They…
In 2016, $661,000 was raised for the Annual Fund. It would take nearly $13.2 million in endowed funding to generate that same level of giving for MMA programs in a single year. (Five percent of $13.2 million equals $661,000. Five percent is the target number used by MMA to withdraw money from the endowment to operate the college, although it varies from 3-6 percent.)
Tim Leach ’10, Director of Career Services for the past six years, is a well-known and respected professional on the MMA campus. He helped start the Tug and Barge Operations Program, teaching in it for 18 years, and then became the Waterfront Manager for 10 years before moving to Career Services. Leach began giving to the Annual Fund via payroll deduction at about the same time.
“The Annual Fund is an effort that covers expenses, over and above a normal budget,” says Leach. “Our program here is very expensive, and the Annual Fund allows the institution to offer addons like tug and barge operations.
“An institution like ours can’t afford to have important extras without this funding, can’t afford to be buying simulators, can’t afford to have the expensive lab pieces that go with a hands-on experience—unless you have people giving a little extra.
“I’ve heard some alumni refer to it as the Black Hole,” says Leach. “However, I’ve always said, ‘No. It really covers those parts of the menu that would not be served if it wasn’t for the added dollars that were contributed through the Annual Fund.’
“I give a little bit every week, and it adds up to a gift amount for the year,” he says. “I don’t even think about it. While the dollar amount is not
significant, I’ve become part of that percentage that gives internally.”
Outside charitable funding organizations, such as the Harold Alfond Foundation (which invests significantly in education, healthcare and other causes in Maine) is an example of a large funding source that, Leach says, wants to know, “What is the internal giving rate?”
It comes down to the fact that it’s not always how much you give, but that MMA has a significant participation level from its community of leadership, students, staff and alumni.
“That’s one of the main reasons why I contribute,” says Leach. “I want to be part of that percentage that makes it possible so MMA can reach out to other organizations and compound my gift with gifts from outside.
“Here’s why I urge other alumni to give: You get a tax deduction. You support an institution that helped train you for the job you have. You drive the percentages up so other organizations will give. And you know that your money is going towards add-on programs that are xpensive, that wouldn’t otherwise be offered.”
While my contribution is a drop in the bucket comparatively, together we are strong.
Many alumni who contribute to the Annual Fund make their gifts go further by taking advantage of corporate matching gift programs provided by their employers. Bob and Patti Pfeiff have a son, Robert attending MMA, and their contributions are matched by Bob’s employer, Microsoft.
“Taking advantage of matching funds helps us maximize our contributions on an annual basis,” Bob says.
The Pfeiffs target their contributions as “restricted gifts” to support extra-curricular programs, such as the rugby club and student financial assistance. Restricted gifts, also known as donor-designated gifts, are an option for any contributor to the Annual Fund.
Other examples are specific academic departments, facilities, financial aid, or a favorite athletic program.
Frank Famulari ’67 is the longest consecutive MMA annual donor on record.
“What Maine Maritime Academy means to me,” says Famulari, “I could not possibly put a dollar value on.
“MMA provides you the tools to do your job and do it honestly and ethically.”
As for his career, Famulari says, “When we got out of school, it was at the height of the Vietnam War. We were fortunate that we were able tofulfill our military obligation by serving in the merchant service.
MMA has helped me through life. And I want to help provide that opportunity for others.
After shipping out, Famulari became a quality control engineer at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts, eventually becoming the Manager of the Quality Assurance Department. He retired in 2014 after 41 years of working in the nuclear power industry. His gifts to MMA were also matched by his employer, like the Pfeiffs, which had a multiplying affect.
Famulari says part of the proof of the importance of Annual Fund giving is to simply compare the campus to years ago when he attended: “If you look now, and compare it to photographs from the 60s, you wouldn’t recognize the place.
“I had the realization that without alumni contributions, the school goes nowhere,” he says. “There is only so much money they’re going to get from the state and tuition. So it’s up to the alumni to be one of the foundations of the growth of the school. As the school grows, the eputation grows and we’re all proud of that.”
And he paraphrases an observation he overheard: “We have enough benches, enough shrines and statues. What we need is more pass-through scholarship money because the state of Maine has not kept pace with the increase in tuition.
“It’s one reason we should contribute,” he says, “to reduce the tuition burden on students, to give them the opportunities we have enjoyed.”
Take a look at the young men and women who graduate from MMA… And you will feel good paying forward for these fine students.
Giving Tradition Upheld Ryan Armstrong ’14, is a third assistant engineer for Crowley Maritime and was a student member of the MMA Board of Trustees. He has a great start on his career, which is no coincidence because of his hard work and connections to MMA that run deep within his family. His father, Rich ’86 and uncle, Mark ’85 are alumni. His grandfather, Ed, was president of the Parent’s Association while they were students.
The family also has a charitable tradition with MMA that Armstrong has joined as an Annual Fund contributor.
“I give to the Annual Fund to assist the academy as others before me have,” he says. “If not for alumni support, I wouldn’t have had the excellent experience and education I obtained.”
Only three years out of school, Armstrong says his means of giving back are limited financially, but he also serves as Vice President of the Bangor Seadogs alumni chapter and hopes to broaden his giving in the future. “So, while my contribution is a drop in the bucket comparatively,” he says, “together we are strong.”
“When you combine the contributions of my classmates and I,” he says, “now you’ve got something.
“Every year, I hope to see our class contribution percentage grow. We understand the challenges the academy faces and how we can help. So far we’re doing great!”
Ken and Susan Gordon have a son, Ross ’01, who graduated from the IBL program. They make consistent contributions to the Annual Fund and are members of the Mariner’s Society, which recognizes planned gifts from estates.
“The annual gift is an easy way to contribute on a regular basis,” says Ken. “And our estate plan fulfills a desire to use some of our remaining investments for a civic purpose.
“Our contribution mixed in with that of many others provides a level of stability for MMA. It is important to keep the cost of attending MMA at a level that does not exclude young persons that may have limited means.
Ken challenges all who care about MMA: “Take a look at the young men and women who graduate from MMA.
“See what they can contribute to society. See the pride related to their school. And, you will feel good paying forward for these fine students.”█
John Paulsen and Wayne Norton are close friends, both successful graduates of the class of ’86. Last year they started a scholarship via their Annual Fund contributions, named the Dirigo Scholarship.
“I contribute to the academy in several ways because I want to see MMA continue to grow and thrive as a great provider of higher education in an extremely competitive marketplace,” says Paulsen, the owner of Valve Solutions, Inc.
The scholarship was created with few stipulations: he or she must be from Maine, in the regiment, and in need of financial aid.
Paulsen and Norton plan to bring several additional alumni into partnership to ensure the continuation of the scholarship.
“I also donate to MMA to ensure the academy thrives,” says Norton, “and to demonstrate my appreciation for those who donated when I was enrolled and in need of financial support by way of grants and scholarships.”
Norton works part-time as the senior executive for Maine Yankee, Connecticut Yankee and Yankee Rowe Nuclear Facilities, and is CEO-Owner of Norton Consulting Services.
“My wife, Kelley and I also contribute to MMA in other ways, including the General Fund, as well as targeted fundraisers. But for us, the Dirigo Scholarship is a way to provide specific support to a student in need.
“Even though the general fund and targeted donations that focus on the ‘bricks and mortar’ are important, the scholarship is a designated contribution we make with the hope of having a positive impact on a young student’s life with a demonstrated need that might otherwise go unresolved.”
Craig Dagan, MMA Head Women’s Basketball Coach and Advancement Associate has seen first-hand the results of the generosity
of the Paulsen and Norton families.
“They have been very generous to us over the years,” he says. “They’re involved in giving to their class (1986), to Athletics, and now have jumped on board in another way by establishing the Dirigo Scholarship.
“They have a passion for MMA that helps us move forward in such a positive way.”