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

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