Pancakes with Santa!

Thanks to a collaboration between Valley Grange and Penquis Journey House families from the area have an affordable opportunity for a pancake breakfast, visit with Santa, and a homemade ornament for the family tree!  All this for only $3 per person (except under two years old–they are free!) at the Valley Grange Hall on Saturday, December 3rd from 8 AM until 10 AM.

Donations of baby and personal care items will be welcome… proceeds and donations will benefit the Penquis Journey House–a maternity group home for pregnant and parenting you women and children experiencing homelessness. For more information about the Journey House call 924-0151.

Bookworm Schedule November 2011

Reading is fun!The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.

Abraham Lincoln

Welcome back, Mrs. Erwin! Thanks to a change in her work schedule Mrs. Erwin will begin bookworming in November… expect some changes to this month’s scheduled readers.

Thursday, November 3 – Mr. Boomsma

Friday, November 4 — Dictionary Day for SeDoMoCha Third Graders… be at the Grange Hall by 9 AM for a fun time!

 Tuesday, November 8 – Mr. Boomsma

 Thursday, November 10 – Mrs. Boomsma

Note that S.A.D. 4 will conduct their annual assembly honoring Veterans today at 1 PM. This is an event you don’t want to miss. The kids always present a great program with lots of meaning.

Tuesday, November 15 – Mr. Boomsma

Thursday, November 17 – Mr. Boomsma

Friday, November 18 is Dictionary Day in S.A.D. 41. Contact Mr. Boomsma if you are interested in joining the team that travels to Lagrange, Milo, and Brownville with Dictionaries!

School Vacation November 21 through November 25–bookworms get vacation too!

Tuesday, November 29 – Mr. Boomsma

Valley Grange and Penquis Celebrate Collaboration

How I love ya, my dear hammy!

Volunteers are ready to “serve up the goods.”

Over 100 people came from surrounding communities to enjoy the Fall Harvest Supper sponsored by Penquis and Valley Grange on October 22. In addition to enjoying good food and fellowship, volunteers and supporters raised over $700 to help Piscataquis Santa “make his rounds” this Christmas.

The Piscataquis Santa Project serves needy children, 16 years old or younger who reside within the communities of Abbot, Cambridge, Guilford, Parkman, Sangerville, Wellington, Willimantic, Exeter, Garland, Harmony, Ripley, Bowerbank, Charleston, Dover-Foxcroft, Monson, Sebec, Beaver Cove, Greenville, Kingsbury Plantation, Shirley, or any other community served by MSAD #4, MSAD #46*, or MSAD #68.

Chief planner and cook Sheree Brown enjoyed the community’s support, noting that donations came from as far away as Hermon, Saint Albans, and Bingham. “We called on farmers and gardeners to help with local produce and we weren’t disappointed.” Donations of food and supplies were made by Fred and Karen Cookson, Denise Trafton, Debbie Somers, Norman Clough, Penquis, Avalon Acres, and Rollins Orchards. Valley Grange and other community cooks provided an abundance of home-baked pies and, as one diner said, “If you go home hungry from this meal, it’s your own fault.”

This was the second collaboration between Penquis and Valley Grange. An August Dinner benefited the Smart Starts for Students Program. “We’re really having fun with these,” noted grange program director Walter Boomsma. “And we feel like we’re modeling the sort of cooperation and collaboration between organizations that makes big accomplishments possible.”

Boomsma also noted that “energy creates energy” and even more collaborative events are being added to the Valley Grange schedule. “Next up we’ll be hosting a Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, December 3rd to benefit the Penquis Journey House in Dexter. (The Journey House is a transitional housing program available to pregnant young women ages 16-21 who are experiencing homelessness or have an unsafe living situation… providing nurturing support toward self sufficiency.)


“Folks can check the Valley Grange website for more information on all our events,” he added. “And if you’ve got an idea or some energy and a few minutes, we’re always looking for help. One of the things that made this dinner so successful was the amount of support that came from far and wide. Maybe we are redefining community. It sure is rewarding to see people reaching out to help others.”

Information regarding Penquis Programs can be found at Valley Grange information and events are listed at

We’re Number One — Again!

Guilford—For the second year in a row, Valley Grange members ranked first in community service among all granges in the state of Maine. Local members Jim and Mary Annis learned of the award while serving as delegates to the recent State Conference held in Skowhegan and were more than proud to bring home the award. Valley Grange Master Jim Annis described Community Service Chair Mary’s reaction, “We knew we were getting something. By the time they got to second place and we hadn’t been called, the tears came.”

The couple brought home a certificate, a check for $350 and the news that “our entry is on its way to the National Grange Convention in Tulsa Oklahoma to be judged at that level.” Last year Valley Grange placed first in both the state and nation. Annis says he is extremely proud of the organizations members and accomplishments. “We are setting the standard and leading the way among granges. Of course we’d be doing everything even if there wasn’t a contest. But the recognition is nice and the cash helps.”

The local grange is probably best known for programs geared at children including the Words for Thirds project that puts a dictionary in the hands of every third grader in three local school districts each year. Members also volunteer as “bookworms” and visit Piscataquis Community Elementary School to listen to second and third graders read. All of the grange’s activities are documented throughout the year in a large notebook which serves as a report and the basis for judging.

As community service chair, Mary Annis spends a lot of her time planning, coordinating, and clipping news articles for the notebook that usually ends up being six inches thick. She noted an interesting irony in this year’s award. “Twenty percent of the judging is about cooperation with other organizations and, while we’ve always been cooperative, it’s only recently that we’ve been making collaboration a top priority. Our involvement with the Penquis Smart Starts for Students and Piscataquis Santa has created some great energy and support. We’re also proud that the founders of the JD Foundation are members of our Grange and enjoy supporting them. ”

Members aren’t sitting back and basking in the glory of the honor. Third graders from SeDoMoCha will be visiting the Valley Grange Hall on November 4th to receive their dictionaries and a team will travel to Lagrange, Milo and Brownville later in the month to deliver dictionaries to SAD 41 scholars. Boomsma also noted that the grange has recently joined hands with the Penquis Journey House to plan a “Breakfast with Santa” to benefit their program of transitional housing for pregnant and parenting young women ages 16 -21 who are experiencing homelessness or an unsafe living situation.

Program Director Walter Boomsma believes that collaboration works when “we get and stay focused on our objective” and adds, “We’re pretty busy, but we’d love to hear from organizations and individuals who have some passion and maybe a little time to help.”

Master Jim Annis makes formal presentation to Mary while Floyd and Nathalee Marsh look on

Come Taste A Little of the Summer!

Sure it’s getting chilly… but Saturday Night (October 22) you can taste a little of the summer at the Penquis/Valley Grange Fall Harvest Supper! Great food at a great price… a lot of it locally grown! Come at 5 PM while the selection is best! Adults eat for $6, kids 5-12 for $3, and under 5 are free! Even better… the proceeds all go to benefit the Piscataquis Santa Project this year! You can also check out the details on WABI-TV5 News.

Check out the menu… and bring a couple extra bucks with you to buy a Valley Grange “Meat or Heat” Raffle ticket. The winner gets $100 to help with this years heating or food bill… and the proceeds help Valley Grange continue to operate and support programs like this and our Dictionary Project.

While you’re making your plans, enjoy this song about canned goods!

Thanks to the Penobscot/Piscataquis Extension Gardening Newsletter for the link to this song!

Valley Grange Featured on Dictionary Project Website

Effective Wednesday morning, October 19th Valley Grange’s presentation of our 1000th Dictionary will be featured on the Dictionary Project’s Homepage.  How cool is that?!

After I finished listening to a story read by a second grader today, she wondered when she might get to read with another Grange Bookworm and asked, “How many helpers do you have?”

When it comes to projects like this, the most nearly correct answer is “thousands!” We do appreciate the encouragement and financial support we get from our communities! Thank you!

One Thousand and Counting!

I found the word!

Piscataquis Community Elementary School Third Graders were the audience for Valley Grange’s first Dictionary Day this year and their visit to the grange hall in Guilford included several special moments. One that grangers were particularly proud of and pleased with happened when Kyle Bagley received dictionary number 1000 – representing eight years of the Grange’s support to the Dictionary Project.

Hearing the sounds of children’s laughter and enthusiasm ringing through the hall gives members a lot of pleasure. “This is absolutely the best program…” said Nathalee Marsh while straightening up after the kids boarded the bus to return to school with their shiney new dictionaries. “It’s so satisfying to know we are contributing to these kid’s futures.”

This year’s presentation featured Eric Boothroyd as a Union Sergeant from the Civil War Era. Students learned that had they lived in those times, they might have been inducted as musicians even at their young age. When the sergeant played “Yankee Doodle” on his fife, one student exclaimed, “Hey, that sounds just like Barney!”

Sixth graders Billy Griffith, Alexandra Huff, and Adam Bagley came with their well-worn dictionaries from three years ago to explain how their dictionaries have helped them. “I’ll be doing homework at my kitchen table and then be like, ‘Oh, I don’t know how to spell this,’ so I’ll run over to the shelf and it’s right there,” said Billy Griffith.

Project Coordinator Walter Boomsma notes that the first third graders to receive dictionaries are now juniors in high school. “I recently bumped into a parent who reminded me of that,” he said. “And she told me that dictionary occupies a prominent spot on the bookshelf in her daughter’s bedroom. This is a project with long lasting results.”

"A steward makes wise use of resources."

Valley Grange provides the dictionaries to three school districts each year. On November 4 students from SeDoMoCha Elementary school will visit the grange hall for their dictionaries and on November 18 a team of members will travel through S. A. D. 41 to visit elementary schools in Lagrange, Milo, and Brownville. Parents of homeschooled third graders are encouraged to contact their local elementary school so all area students are included.

Community Service Chairperson Mary Annis notes that Valley Grange enjoys a number of projects that involve children. “Just several days ago these same students were introduced to this year’s Bookworm Program,” Annis said. “On October 22 we are collaborating with Penquis to host a Harvest Supper to benefit the Piscataquis Santa Fund… which also is a great opportunity to purchase tickets for our “meat or heat” raffle–a major fundraiser for our dictionary purchases.”

Boomsma agrees. “When we arrived at the Guilford Elementary School to start the bookworm program, one of the teachers greeted me with ‘Heads up! Arts Alive is June 8th this year!’ The schools love having us involved with their programs and the kids. And we love being there!”

Thanks to WABI–TV5 for their coverage… which you can watch right here!

Watch Us Wiggle!

Well, not literally! But we did kick off our fourth year as “bookworms” at Piscataquis Community Elementary School this past Tuesday… amid a comedy of errors that included Mr. Boomsma showing up five hours early and WABI-TV 5’s reporter showing up nearly an hour late!

Of course the kids didn’t mind… they just wanted to know when we are going to start. See the WABI-TV 5 story here!

Second Grader Dominic and Third Grader Nyla get ready to read to Mrs. Marsh. Dominic says the horror stories Nyla like give him goosebumps. He preferes "action stories."