Valley Grange Receives Honor

by Walter Boomsma

At our June meeting, I noted that while we recently haven’t had a lot of publicity, our credibility and reputation seems to be intact. Fifth Grader Olivia Goodwin offered proof that I am right! On June 16, 2021, Piscataquis Community Elementary School students held an assembly to formally express appreciation to those organizations and individuals who support them. Olivia spoke at some length about the many ways Valley Grange supports P.C.E.S. She truly thought of everything—not just this year but throughout our long relationship with the school—things like Bookworming, Words for Thirds, GrowME, Newspapers in Education… for a while it sounded she’d never finish! It was a proud moment for Valley Grange. We were presented with a copy of the book written by the students, “Behind the Mask – our COVID Memories ’20-21.” It was my honor to be invited to accept a copy on behalf of Valley Grange. (Due to COVID restrictions the assembly was not open to the public.)

I have always been proud of our kids but never more than on this day. Not only have they made it through an extremely tough year, they wrote a book about it and conducted an assembly to introduce it and thank the many people who make P.C.E.S. “a great place to learn.” Speakers included some first graders—they all did an amazing job!

And the 136-page book is amazing too! It includes essays, interviews, poems, artwork… all created by students. In describing it, P.C.E.S Principal Mrs. Wright said, ”Epitomized by their energy and their resilience, our students are our beacons. All too often, however, their voices are lost. This book is the exhibition of those voices. Listen as the students share their voyage and give meaning to our collective to our collective experience. Impactful in its simplicity, this book will tug at your heart.”

The book will be available for review at upcoming Valley Grange events. Copies are also being distributed to local libraries and town offices within the district.

June Meeting Notes

We had our annual election of officers… the site has been updated but there weren’t many changes! Amy Larrabee was elected Ceres, Kevin Annis was elected Steward, and Janice Boomsma was elected to the Executive Committee. Kevin Annis was appointed Membership Director. You can check out a list of leadership positions and responsibilities here!

Pat Engstrom reported that she delivered 21 Linus Blankets–work resulting from our “Blanketeering” event back in April and several individuals who’ve been working on them sense. Thanks to Pat’s “blistered fingers” we are also delivering three lap robes to the CHCS Hospice Program. Walter admits he’s become a big advocate of the program, particularly the service they are providing veterans. Lap robes (afghans) and quilts are needed! If you’d like to help, contact Pat or Walter!

As a reminder, we substitute the Piscataquis Pomona Picnic Fun and Fundraiser for our July meeting. It is scheduled for July 13, 2021 at the Boomsma Abode! For more information, contact Janice or Walter.

We also voted our annual donation to House in the Woods and Home for Little Wanderers from the CWA Fund.

While it presents some challenges, we also agreed that we will create a fair display this year–both for Valley Grange and for Piscataquis Pomona. We need ideas for the Valley Grange display—and willing workers for setting up (August 25, 2021) and tearing down (August 29, 2021). Mary and Janice will be organizing, please let them know you are willing to help!

Help is one thing we always can use more of! And members! For various reasons, we recently lost several and we truly need to consider a “membership drive” of some sort. Joining Valley Grange is not difficult or expensive. Just ask any member!

As things return to “normal,” we are looking forward to gearing up more of our traditional programming such as Bookworming, GrowME… our community celebrations… and we hope you’ll want to be part of it!

Valley Grange Honors Hundreds

For those who cannot be with us tonight (we’d hope to livestream our meeting, but that just wasn’t feasible), here’s an announcement and explanation of who and why we chose as “Community Citizen of the Year.”

Community Night…

We’ve always loved filling the Grange Hall in May and making the rafters ring when we all sing together! That usually happens after a huge community potluck supper with all sorts of dining delights! We missed last year because we were at the height of the pandemic. We’d hoped… but we’re not too disappointed that we won’t be doing exactly that this year. We’re not sure this will be better, but it will be different!

For those unfamiliar, every year in May we celebrate out communities and that includes honoring a “Community Citizen of the Year.” Well, we’re not doing the usual this year in more ways than one. This year we are honoring, literally, hundreds of community citizens–people who have had their boots on the ground and deserve recognition for service to our citizens and our communities. We may regret that we can’t come together and do this in person, but we’re thrilled to recognize these deserving folks and even more thrilled to report some of their many accomplishments.

Another annual tradition is the recognition of our long term members and we will be doing that as well, so keep an eye on our website and Facebook Page. If you have any questions, please let us know!

You’re Welcome, Ridgeview Elementary!

Maine State Granger of the Year

Mary Annis, Valley Grange Secretary, read the following letter to members at the January Meeting.

Dear Valley Grange Members,

Three years ago the Maine State Grange Community Service Committee added a new contest of “Community Granger of the Year.”

This Granger needed to display an attitude worthy of a Granger and take pride and joy in Community Service.

It was with great honor that this year’s winner came from Valley Grange and it was also very pleasing to me personally.

This gentleman has gone above and beyond for the Grange and he proves it everyday between Valley Community Service and state website obligations. At this point you all know who won the award but let me tell you with this was such a joy for me.

Walter has personally helped me for the last 6 years with my Community Service Book packets, columns, announcements, and downright support. He has been there to just give me an encouraging should to rely on when needed.

Walter has helped this committee and myself move forward and keep going even when we have been at our wit’s end.

Failure, quitting, or just stopping is something this man has never done no matter how discouraged I have been, he has helped me to get back on my game.

I truly wish there had been a State Session this year because I truly wanted more pomp and circumstance with this win. That was not an option this year, so I personally wanted Valley Grange to know my feelings on this award.

Walter, thank you from the bottom of my feet to the tip of my head. Just always know you are making a difference one word (key stoke or message) at a time.

Fraternally and with much love!

Christine Corliss, Director
Maine State Grange Community Service &
Family Health and Hearing

Original Letter is available here.

Help Wanted! Knitters Kneeded!

We are looking for a few more folks to join our Blistered Finger Knitters! Thanks to these folks, we are able to provide local schools with knitted hats and mittens for kids who need them for recess and beyond.

During our recent dictionary deliveries to area schools, we included shopping bags with mittens and hats produced by our B.F.K. These hats and mittens are always appreciated but this year several schools almost literally leaped for joy as the need is great and the supply is critically low.

Since we’re constantly being reminded to stay home… and can only bake so many cookies or clean the house so many times… if you’d like to knit a few pairs of mittens or a couple of hats, we’ll make sure they get put to good use! In fact, we’ll even arrange for “contact free” pick up or drop off. Email or call Community Service Chair Mary Annis (564-0820) or Program Director Walter Boomsma (343-1842).

Our focus tends to be on children’s sizes but we can make use of adult sizes too! They don’t have to be fancy, certainly. And you don’t really have to knit until you get blisters!

We are having some spring-like weather right now and the kids are on school break, but cold weather is coming! Let’s keep our kids warm!

Introducing the Backwards Bookworm!

Find out what’s cool about introducing the Backwards Bookworm on December 23!

We Love Our Dictionaries!

Third-graders at Brownville Elementary School show off their dictionaries. Teacher Mrs. Mills writes, “My students were thrilled to receive their dictionaries. They couldn’t wait to look up information in the back. Almost all wanted to try to say the longest word…. They even used them on an indoor recess day to look up words to use when playing Hangman. I would say they were a hit.”

And here are a few kids from Mrs. Higgins Class… photos are a real challenge with physical distancing requirements but it’s great to see so many “smiling eyes.”

We’re told the kids really enjoyed the video… if you missed it, check it out here.

Dictionary Day 2020

This video was created for teachers of third grade students receiving dictionaries as part of the Valley Grange Words for Thirds Program. All are certainly welcome to watch and listen! Teachers, not that additional resources are available by clicking on the “About the Dictionary Project” tab in the upper left hand corner of the site!