Two different parties, one common cause

Pop For Change throws official launch party Feb. 27

Pop For Change is volunteer arm of the Pop The Cause annual bash
Fri, 02/21/2014 - 2:30pm

Organizers behind a new model of volunteerism are throwing a “meet and mingle” launch party at the Waterfront Feb. 27. Turns out, you’ve known about them all along.

Since 2008, Cellardoor Winery and Megunticook Market have thrown an annual summer buzzworthy bash originally named Pop the Cork to benefit local charities. This year, however, they’ve retooled the concept, streamlining some parts and expanding others to become Pop the Cause, reflecting a more efficient way to give back to the community.

Instead of catering to 800 guests, the event this year will be scaled down to 400 guests, the size of the original event.

All of the ticket proceeds, as well as private contributions, will be pooled into a guaranteed contribution of $160,000 to four local nonprofits — UMCC (United Mid-Coast Charities), MCH Meals on Wheels, Hospitality House, and Coastal Opportunities. Everyone in the community (not just ticket holders) will be given the chance to vote and in the end, three of the nonprofits will receive $20,000 each, while the fourth will receive $100,000.

Whatever you want to call it, this event is definitely poppin’. Earlier this year, starting at midnight when ticket sales went live, Pop the Cause sold out all 400 tickets in an hour and a 45 minutes. Boom. That’s 400 people whose contributions will help the community while getting to experience great food and wine as well as terrific entertainment by the Sultans and the Pointer Sisters on Thursday, June 26, in Rockport Harbor.

“We really did not want to make this event any bigger, because we really wanted to put the focus more on the nonprofits, rather than hiring an even bigger and badder band than the year before,” said Bettina Doulton, owner/operator of Cellardoor Winery.

Now, here’s where the complexity is layered in. Doulton, together with Lani Stiles, Chef and owner of Megunticook Market, knew that there were more than 400 people in the Midcoast who a) wanted to go to this bash and b) wanted to contribute to the community and c) may not have been able to necessarily swing $125 a ticket. Around this same time, Doulton met with all of the organizational heads of the four nonprofits and asked them: Besides money, what can you really use from our community?

“Each of those four organizations was looking to grow and prosper as well as grow their own communities of volunteers and donors,” said Doulton. So, she and her Cellardoor Winery team brainstormed another idea: Why not give everybody in the Midcoast a chance to put their hearts and hands to work as volunteers for the four nonprofits this winter and throw all of the volunteers a second bash on the following Saturday, June 28? Sounds crazy?  The tent will still be there; all they have to do is flip things inside around and redecorate.

That became the concept of Pop the Change. It will be a separate event benefiting the same four nonprofits. The only way to get a ticket for this event is to volunteer four hours anytime between February and May 2014 for one of the four nonprofits, coordinated by Cellardoor Winery staff member Devon Salisbury. “We valued those hours on a per hour basis and found it to be the equivalent of buying a ticket,” said Doulton. ”We’ll all celebrate on that following Saturday. That party will be completely different from Pop The Cause with different entertainment and a different theme.”

Currently Doulton and Salisbury count 198 individuals who’ve offered to volunteer, along with companies such as Frost & Bryant Construction, Horch Roofing, Allen Agency, Loyal Biscuit, Bangor Savings Bank, among others.

“This is really meant to be a celebration of the people who are behind the volunteerism that we’re trying to encourage in the first half of this year,” said Doulton. “You wouldn’t believe how many volunteers we’ve already gotten, or the stories we’ve read. Devon and I have become walking Hallmark cards in the last two months,” she joked.

“If you have any particular skills or interests or talents, please let us know and Devon will match you up with the nonprofit that needs you most,” she said.

Doultin gives several examples, such as Mount Battie Car Wash whose employees are volunteering to detail the Coastal Opportunities vans.

“I got another email from a gentleman who said he cleans windows professionally and he’s really good at sharpening knives. Guess what? All of these properties have windows and kitchens and Devon is matching him up with the organizations who can truly use his skills. At the end of the day, there’s too many good stories to tell.”

The launch party will begin at the Waterfront on Bay View Street from 4:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. The public is invited to learn more about how Pop the Change works, how to vote for your favorite nonprofit and how your own particular skills or talents will work in their new volunteer model. RSVP or call 207-763-4478.

To learn more, visit where you can sign up to volunteer for a particular organization as well as vote.

Kay Stephens can be reached at