WATERVILLE — Mayor Karen Heck donned a bit of fancy at her inaugural ball Saturday night — a shimmering top and a black skirt, and a touch of flannel — her Crocs sported black-and-red flannel lining.

She had announced that fancy to flannel, “like the real Maine,” would be the attire for the three-hour event, which served to benefit two local nonprofit organizations and to showcase local talent.

“It’s a time to celebrate new beginnings and to raise some money and do some good by having fun,” said Heck, 59.

Bruce Olson, Heck’s partner, also supported the theme, wearing a dark suit, a leopard tie that matched Heck’s scarf, and colorful bowling shoes.

When one attendee asked about Olson’s official title, Heck smiled and quipped, “the first lady’s man.”

Stringed white lights, purple and clear balloons, and decorative snowflakes added a touch of elegance to the banquet room at Champions Fitness Center. Food ranged from popcorn to chicken wings to chocolate and marshmallow treats on a stick. A large purple-and-white banner reading “Heck Yes” hung on a mirror.

Funds raised from the sale of the $25 tickets, as well as money garnered during the silent auction, will benefit the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville and Hardy Girls Healthy Women, a group that Heck helped found.

In addition to filling an immediate need by providing homeless people, many of whom are women and children, with a place to sleep, the staff at the homeless shelter aims to rebuild lives by helping clients work toward self-sufficiency and find permanent housing.

The mission of Hardy Girls Healthy Women, Heck said, is to help girls develop and “understand how powerful they can be” beyond “shopping and searching for boys.”

When more and more girls grow up to become independent, empowered female leaders, Heck said, fewer women and children might end up in need of shelters.

Heck said she hoped the inaugural ball also focused a spotlight on local fare, from musicians to restaurants. A sampling of areas businesses and professionals contributing to the event included Joseph’s Fireside Steakhouse, Acadia Cakes, Amici’s Cucina, Barrels Community Market, the Last Unicorn, Lebanese Cuisine, Selah Tea Cafe, Starbucks, DJ Cory King, and Colby College jazz professor Eric Thomas.

“There is so much talent in the area,” Heck said, thanking them and the event sponsors, Champions, MaineGeneral Health, Colby College, Central Maine Motors Auto Group, Joel D. Davis and Associates and Nicholson, Michaud and Co.

“People really stepped up,” Heck said, adding that no city funds were used for the ball. “It’s gratifying really.”

Heck said those who wish to remain connected should click the “like” button on the Karen Heck – Official Facebook page. The city’s 52nd mayor said she would routinely post comments and that she welcomed thoughts and suggestions.

In addition to being mayor, Heck will continue working 30 hours a week as senior program officer for the Bingham Program.

“I like to be busy,” she said, “and when you can make a difference, it’s fun. I haven’t seen any downside yet.”

Heck, who is not enrolled in a political party, was elected mayor in November. She tallied 2,021 votes to Democrat Dana Sennett’s 1,344 and Republican Andrew Roy’s 360.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]


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