Sen. Vitelli receives 2023 Merle Nelson Women Making A Difference Award from New Ventures Maine

Posted: November 20, 2023 | Senator Vitelli
Sen. Eloise Vitelli gives remarks upon receiving the 2023 Merle Nelson Women Making a Difference Award.

AUGUSTA – On Wednesday, Nov. 15, Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, was presented with the 2023 Merle Nelson Women Making a Difference Award on behalf of New Ventures Maine (NVME). The award was presented at a celebration of NVME’s 45th Anniversary at the University of Maine at Augusta.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Sen. Vitelli, who served as NVME’s director of programs and policy for nearly four decades. “When people first come to New Ventures for help, they may be nervous. They might not know how to get to where they want to be. But they have taken the first step: They have a goal, and the courage to believe they can achieve it. For decades, New Ventures has helped women grow, learn, and take control of their own destinies.”

Merle Nelson, the first recipient of the award, was recognized for her enduring gift to this state and especially to the women of Maine through her work as a Legislator. Merle was the champion of what was then known as the Displaced Homemakers bill, passed in 1977, which would give women “a hand up not a hand out,” as she put it then. The Displaced Homemakers program operated as Women, Work, and Community for many years, and in 2015 changed its name to New Ventures Maine.

The award, which was established in 2004, recognizes an individual who has had a positive impact on the lives of Maine women and their families. That is central to the core mission of New Ventures Maine: Helping Maine people to succeed in the changing economy and to achieve economic security for themselves and their families.