|13 years experience in all areas of event management and planning.||Raised 2 children who are responsible, productive and honorable members of society.|
2002: Started Aquaholics Surf Shop after writing a business plan for a college class. Grew the shop from a small seasonal operation to a full time business employing up to 32 employees in the summer months.
2003: Created and offered the first Surf Programs through Parks and Rec Departments in Kennebunk, Biddeford, Saco, Scarborough, South Portland, Gorham, Freeport & Wells. We also have accommodated private camps and adventure tours such as Waterville Valley, Camp Manitou, Camp Matoaka and Mud City Adventures, and many others. Lesson and camp programs offered through Aquaholics Surf Shop are the most extensive and well attended on the NorthEast Coast. All instructors were required to be CPR certified.
2003: Created and offered Aquaholics Special Surfers, a free program for children on the Autism/Aspergers Spectrum , the East Coasts first program for children on the spectrum. In year one, we had 3 children in the program. In 2014, our first year as a non-profit organization, we had 862 "appointments". This number includes children with special needs and the volunteers who love to share the stoke and feel the joy.
2003: Aquaholics created and offered Mom's Morning, a free community outreach program for women (and men willing to accommodate our agenda) to welcome women into the male dominated surf community. The program was highlighted in many publications and blogs. Kennebunk Beach's surf lineup now often has as many women as men, a rarity in the surf community.
As general manager (owner) I hired and managed employees, scheduled store, camp and lesson hours. I was the buyer for equipment and soft goods, attending trade shows along the East Coast, Florida and California.
Managed rental equipment and forecasting for reservations and lessons during seasonally brisk schedules.
Managed accounting and budgeting, forecasting.
Wrote Standard Operating Procedure Manuals for employees for each aspect of operation in and out of the store as well as lesson plans and water emergency plans.
Communicated with city and town administrators for permitting and licenses.
Negotiated insurance coverage, compliance and submitted "EAP" (emergency action plan) for insurance requirements.
Carried out building and grounds maintenance.
2015: Sold business to manager Eric Belanger (holding the lien).
The Special Surfer program originally started in 2003, but has evolved to become a non-profit entity of it's own. In 2016, we scheduled 797 appointments, down from 2015 due to a restriction on equipment availability. After I sold Aquaholics Surf Shop, I no longer had access to all of the equipment in the fleet, requiring me to scale back the slots offered on the roster for children and adults with special needs.
In my history with Special Surfers, I began the program as a favor to a friend who works with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In 2003, we took 3 kids out surfing. The program has grown to include any child or adult with special needs (we focus on children, but we do not turn anyone away). We have children and adults with diagnoses including (but not limited to) Autism Spectrum Disorder, Tourettes Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Dubowicz Syndrome, Deafness, CP & MS.
As director of this program (and before I had the "title"), I have coordinated appointments (manually at first, but now we have online registration, which I had to outline and design), equipment, logistics, volunteers, permits, police, parking, EMT presence, lifeguards, photographers, dog monitors (some participants are fearful of dogs) as well as keeping the neighborhood residents and visitors aware and supportive. I am also responsible for press releases, social media and email responses and notices. I send mail blasts and blogs. I answer questions via Facebook, Messenger, email and phone. Everywhere I go, I am always handing out "business cards" and I notice people with Special Needs everywhere!
We have several volunteer leaders, teams for many of the programs growing needs. We have team leaders for registration of volunteers, participants, logistics & transport of equipment, setup of event, equipment disbursement and recovery and cleaning. We have volunteers for many tasks that are required in the weeks and months leading up to the event.
I have been responsible to attend "Bake Sale" type events, recruiting volunteers and participants (sometimes we even get donations!) I have spoken at Pecha Kucha Night, Rotary Clubs, The Kiwanis Club,
I coordinate events, fundraisers, pickups snd deliveries of various supplies, tee shirts and marketing materials.
With establishment of our non-profit status, I created a website with help from our son, a graphic designer.
Nominated and received the Points of Light award by Barbara Bush, September, 2012
YMCA Volunteerism award, September 2011
MEDIA: Our favorites are asterisked. *
September 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharon-kitchens/special-surfer-nights-in-_b_5562397.html
July 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/points-of-light-awards_b_3600717.html
98.9 WCLZ Radio,
Portland Press Herald,
August 2016, http://mainetoday.com/photos/special-surfers-goochs-beach/
August 2015, http://www.pressherald.com/media/gallery/special-surfer-night/
August 2014, http://mainetoday.com/photos/special-surfers-night-goochs-beach/
July 2012, http://www.pressherald.com/2012/07/18/waves-of-joy_2012-07-18/
June 2011, http://mainetoday.com/tag/special-surfer-night/
So many blogs from various walks of life...
*New Hampshire Chronicles, 2011
*WCSH Maine News, 2015
*A favorite, filmed by a local surfer who is in film school, Alex Kozikowski. 2013
*Posted by Camp Manitou, whose Counselors in Training volunteered as a community service, 2012
We are a favorite program of Barbara Bush and we often see her watching from the beach. The Secret Service sends their Special Forces Swimmers to provide "Special Safety".
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