At Joe’s Flatiron Cafe, from left to right, are Patrisha McLean, president/founder of Finding Our Voices; Deb Burnham, Mary Lou Smith, GFCW Skowhegan Woman’s Club President Bonnie Chamberlain and Skowhegan Town Clerk/Treasurer Gail Pelotte. Photo by Patrisha McLean

The GFCW Skowhegan Woman’s Club painted the town yellow on Oct. 6 for Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, getting Finding Our Voices posters up in 20 business windows and having many conversations along the way.

Billie Sherman holds the Finding Our Voices poster of Amy Burns, whose state trooper ex held a loaded gun to her head with no repercussions from his superiors when she reported this to them. Photo by Patrisha McLean

The posters feature the faces and voices of 45 Maine survivors including Gov. Janet Mills, and are the most visible way the grassroots nonprofit Finding Our Voices is breaking the silence of domestic abuse one conversation and community at a time across the state, according to a news release from Patrisha McLean, nonprofit president and founder.

Finding Our Voices has brought the posters to 90-plus Maine downtowns, and multiple times to some towns, since launching the awareness and education campaign at the onset of COVID.

Five members of the club were joined on Friday by Town Clerk/Treasurer Gail Pelotte and two survivors on the posters, Mary Lou Smith, 83, who drove from Scarborough, and McLean from Camden. McLean started Finding Our Voices following the domestic violence arrest in 2016 of her then-husband of 29 years, Don McLean.

Deb Burnham puts the poster up in the window of Kid’s Trading Co. Photo by Patrisha McLean

At Joe’s Flatiron Cafe, where the group convened before heading out with the posters, the club shared with McLean and Smith that the daughter and adult grandson of one of their members were killed in nearby Madison by the daughter’s partner in 2017. The gunman also killed a neighbor in the rampage that ended with him being shot dead by deputies in a confrontation in his driveway.

Club President Bonnie Chamberlain spearheaded Friday’s domestic abuse-awareness activity after attending a Finding Our Voices program at the Maine Film Center in Waterville in February. She said, “I’m very concerned about domestic violence, especially in this rural part of Maine, and I don’t think people see that it is going on around them. I want people to talk about it more, I want people to reach out for help for themselves, and also to people they think might be in need of help.”


The Skowhegan group is one of 14 branches of the Maine Federation of Women’s Clubs. According to Chamberlain, they “unite for common purposes of friendship, socialization, education and service to the community” and previously sponsored a six-part Channel 11 TV series on domestic violence called “Behind Closed Doors.”

Chamberlain said that in the four hours of walking into local businesses with the three sizes of posters on Friday, “I was amazed that not one of the merchants refused us.” She said she was also moved by the personal experiences with domestic violence shared by store owners and employees.

Finding Our Voices is in the middle of a fall “Talking About It” statewide tour of public libraries, with next stops on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 17 and 18 in York and Kennebunk. For more information, visit


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