Busy Grangers and Grange Friends Visited by Grange Angel

In our last Valley Grange Gram, we noted that folks should “not clip their fingernails” before our October Meeting because we would be peeling and sticking labels into over two hundred dictionaries and sorting and preparing knitted hats and mittens for distributions to local schools. Well, an anonymous “Grange Angel” snuck into our hall and had everything finished for us! A handwritten note proclaimed, “glad to help in some small way.”

We do have our suspicions regarding the identity of our angel, but we’ll protect her identity and simply say, “Thank you!”

Anyway, as a result we were able to bag up hats and mittens and are now ready to begin scheduling “Dictionary Days” around the area. For those unfamiliar, on Dictionary Day Valley Grange provides third grade students with their own personal dictionary at Piscataquis Community Elementary School, in Guilford SeDoMoCha Elementary in Dover Foxcroft, Harmony Elementary, Brownville Elementary, and Ridgeview Elementary in Dexter. Thanks to our Blistered Finger Knitters we also provide a bag of mittens and hats–usually entrusted to the school nurse– for use with students in need.

Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange Program Director, noted that distribution “may be a little different this year.” Historically Grangers have made person visits to schools and, in some cases, third graders have made field trips to visit to the Grange Hall on Guilford Center Road. “We’re still working with the schools on some ideas,” he noted. “At a minimum, we’ll provide a prerecorded video explaining how we hope the kids will use their dictionaries. We’ll also explore the idea of a ‘virtual’ classroom visit.”

Folks in the area who might like to become an angel have a number of opportunities that don’t necessarily involve sneaking into the Grange Hall, according to Mary Annis, Community Service Director. “We definitely can use more knitters… this is not a one time need–we often get requests for more mittens and hats as the winter lingers on. Yarn donations are also helpful and we can often supply yarn to our knitters.”

Prospective Community Angels can get their wings by contacting any member of Valley Grange or attending a meeting. “COVID has changed some things but it is not going to stop us,” Boomsma noted. “We are always looking for opportunities to serve and strengthen our communities. And that means we are always looking for like-minded folks of all ages. Let’s fly together!

For information about future projects and meetings, visit the Valley Grange Website at http://valleygrange.com or their Facebook Page.

Lap Robe for a Vet

Photo by Janice Boomsma

Check out this beautiful afghan handcrafted by Grange Member Mary Annis and donated to our Lap Quilts and Afghans for Veterans Program. Thanks, Mary!

You don’t have to be a member to participate in this program… we are supporting the Community Health and Counseling Service’s Presentation honoring Veterans as part their hospice program. The program includes the formal presentation of a pin, certificate, and patriotic lap quilt or Afghan attended by Chaplain Char Chandler-Stevens, a representative of the military, and family and friends. Our support includes promoting the program and encouraging quilters and crocheters to help supply the lap quilts and Afghans.

We’re told that 50″ by 60″ is a good size. As for color and style, “Either red white, and blue, or even ones themed by the branch of the service are wonderful. We have had some in the past that were made with Army material or Marines etc. The red white and blue are universal and VERY well received. We save the Army or Marine-themed ones for someone who has either retired from that branch or has a big identity with that branch.”

See the page about the program for more information including drop-off locations. Contact Walter Boomsma or any member of Valley Grange for information and assistance.

Then and Now!

Come see us at the Piscataquis Valley Fair

We sweated through setting up a “then and new” display in the Grange Building demonstrating how some things are and how they used to be… The display also features information about some of the projects we do, including our recent “Quilts and Lap Robes for Veterans” in support of CHCS’s Hospice Program. Stop by while visiting the fair–it’s open today through Sunday. The photos don’t do it justice!

Special thanks go to Irene Thomas for giving us a hand… and to Alex and Lilly for helping us unload! Help will also be sought for take-down on Sunday… contact Mary Annis at 564-0820 if you can help!

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!