Valley Granger Receives National Award

Abbot Resident Walter Boomsma was recognized at the 156th Annual National Grange Convention in Reno, Nevada as a Cultivator of the Year by the National Grange Membership and Leadership Development Department. Boomsma is a member of Valley Grange of Guilford and serves as program director. He also serves as the Maine State Grange Communications Director. He was one of four individuals recognized from North Carolina, Connecticut, Montana, and Maine.

According to Amanda Brozana Rios, National Grange Leadership/Membership Director, the Cultivator of the Year award sets out to honor individuals or groups that “put in the work” to grow the Grange through innovative and positive messaging and programming or that found ways to improve not just their local Grange, but to provide “a guiding light for Granges around the nation.” “Each of these individuals helped the Grange in their respective communities and states, but they went far beyond that. Every one of them was responsive to inquiries and provided insight into what individuals coming to Grange are looking for as well as the tools they need to truly engage as Grange members. They give selflessly and promote fearlessly and for that, they are truly deserving of this recognition.”

In making the award, Brozana Rios said as the former National Communications Director, she has worked with Walter for more than a decade. “Over the time I’ve been with National Grange, I’ve come to truly appreciate how much Walter does to connect the outside world with the Grange, be it answering questions of the press or people interested in joining or reviving a Grange, connecting members with resources and benefits they’re entitled to and so much more. He’s a fantastic asset for the Maine State Grange and the Grange as a whole who often points out where we can improve and be more efficient even with our limited resources,” Brozana Rios said.

Boomsma first learned of the award when someone congratulated him on social media. “What did I do?” he asked. Upon learning the specifics, he noted, “For me, the work is the reward, but recognition is still nice!” he admitted. “I enjoy being part of the Grange because of our shared values, including the importance of community, especially in rural areas. The Grange has a lot to offer, including multiple opportunities to strengthen our communities and the individuals in them.” One of his favorite examples is the Valley Grange “Words for Thirds” Dictionary Project. “Valley Grange just completed our twentieth year of giving a dictionary to every third grader in four school districts in our area. In that twenty-year period, we’ve distributed over 3,600 dictionaries to that many kids. That’s a lot of cultivating!”

As the State Communications Director, Boomsma is responsible for maintaining the State Grange Website (http://mainestategrange.org) and producing a monthly printed Bulletin. “The Grange is truly a grassroots organization and the emphasis on local programs is our biggest strength and a significant challenge. That challenge includes making sure we are all connected and working collaboratively. Those were the things that made the Grange successful over 150 years ago. We have amazing technology today and we should be even better at it!”

Valley Grange Receives Award

At the 149th Maine State Convention, Valley Grange was recognized as the fourth-place winner in the 2022 Community Service Program. In presenting the award, Past State Master Vicki Huff noted that Valley Grangers “should not be disappointed with fourth place–the competition was really fierce! The top six entries were separated by a total of four points.

Dictionaries and Words Are Coming!

We’re scheduling Dictionary Days… so far we have

  • P.C.E.S. on Thursday, November 17, 2022
  • SeDoMoCha on Wednesday, November 30, 2022
  • Ridgeview Elementary on Monday, November 21, 2022 (drop off only)
  • Brownville Elementary on Friday, November 18, 2022
  • Harmony Elementary on Friday, December 2, 2022

As a reminder, these days are not public events. If you are interested in attending, please contact Walter Boomsma by email or at 207 343-1842.

Kids who receive dictionaries and their families are invited to our Breakfast for Supper on Friday, December 2, 2022. You can come in your jammies!

Saco Grange Supports Operation Gratitude

Saco Grange recently dropped off thirteen quilts at Community Health Services for their Veterans in Hospice Lap quilt program. All quilts are headed to Bangor for in-home hospice care. Our wonderful Saco Grange Quilt Club made most of the quilts. Project Linus and some from the community were also received. We strive to donate patriotic quilts for our veterans in Hospice. Always accepting quilts. For more information about the quilt club or Saco Grange visit the Saco Grange Facebook Page.

Dictionary Day Planning Underway

Yes, it’s that time of year! Valley Grange will again be conducting our “Words for Thirds” Dictionary Project. At this point, we are gathering approximate census/counts of third graders so we can order the dictionaries. The purchase of those dictionaries was approved at our September meeting.

We’ll probably be planning the actual dictionary day distributions in early to mid-November. We hope we can offer the same options as we did before COVID:

  1. A field trip to the Grange Hall
  2. A personal visit to the school/classrooms
  3. A “drop off” with a support video for teacher use.

Obviously, that choice will be made by each district. We distribute to Piscataquis Community Elementary School (Guilford), Brownville Elementary School (Brownville), Ridgeview Community School (Dexter), SeDoMoCha Elementary School (Dover Foxcroft), and Harmony Elementary School (Harmony). Home-schooled students are of course included. Parents should contact their school or the Grange.

We’re proud of our program and know the kids look forward to it! We’ve been distributing dictionaries since 2004 and are approaching the 3,000 mark! Some of our students report using their dictionaries in high school. These dictionaries empower the kids and encourage them to “look it up!”

Stay tuned! There’s more to come!

Bring on the PB and J!

Did you know that since 2012, the Bangor Savings Bank Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive has collected more than 83,000 jars that have been donated to local food insecurity programs? That’s a lot of sandwiches!

While it’s not an official Grange Program, it’s an easy one to support.

Stay tuned! Valley Grange will be making it easy for you to participate… with a semi-official approach. We’ll be collecting jars and delivering them–you can bring your donation to our September 16th meeting or give them to someone who is coming… leave your donation in the tote on the front porch of the Grange Hall… and you’re not limited to one jar of each! We’ll post some additional details soon!

Jars of peanut butter or jelly can be dropped off at any Maine or New Hampshire Bangor Savings branch during operating hours from Thursday, September 1, 2022, through Friday, September 30, 2022. For each donation received, Bangor Savings Bank will donate one additional jar of peanut butter or jelly to local food insecurity programs.

Peanut butter, a protein-rich food item, is too often in short supply and high demand at local food insecurity programs. And what’s a more classic pair than peanut butter and jelly? Something as simple as donating a jar can make a big difference to a neighbor in need. And with school back in session, we can support our local schools and backpack programs by donating a jar of peanut butter or jelly!

Hot ‘Nuff for Ya?

It’s cool to cool off–at least some! We’re particularly interested in the forecast for Saturday, July 30, 2022, because that’s the day of Riverfest!

The current NOAA forecast is “sunny and in the low 80’s.” I’m not sure we can ask for anything much better than that! Valley Grangers will be there, talking about Grange Membership, handing out pins, and selling raffle tickets! See the complete schedule of events on the Riverfest Facebook Page. The parade starts at 9:30 am and vendor tents open at 11:00 am. Stop by and say “Hi!”

Alumni of the Valley Grange Bookworm Program and Dictionary Recipients are especially welcome!

If, for some reason, you can’t make it and would like to buy a raffle ticket, contact any Valley Grange member. It’s your chance to win up to $100 and support the many Valley Grange Programs, including:

  • Words for Thirds–Third graders in four area school districts receive a dictionary that is theirs to keep! Nearly 4,000 have been distributed to date.
  • Bookworming–Volunteers visit school and listen to second and third graders at PCES read.
  • GrowME–An annual program of hands-on activities in local schools, promoting agricultural literacy.
  • Veterans Honor Program–In conjunction with the Community Health and Counseling Hospice program, we collect lap quilts and afghans as part of a celebration for individual vets.
  • Blistered Finger Knitters–Knitters create lap robes for seniors and hats and mittens for local school children.
  • Sock It to Us!–We collect socks and distribute them to six local elementary schools.
  • Project Linus–We host an annual “blanketeers” day to make blankets for kids and members participate in Project Linus Day.
  • Hall Use for non-profits–Past use has included 4-H, Guilford Historical Society, D.A.R, Spirit of America Foundation…
  • Newspapers in Education–Contest encouraging fourth graders to explore commercial art and advertising.
  • Garry Owen House–We support this transitional shelter where homeless veterans can find hope for the future.
  • Bikes for Books–We support this Mason’s Program that encourages literacy both financially and through our Bookworm Program.
  • Community Citizen Award–An annual celebration of community and recognition of “boots on the ground” service to our communities.
  • Kiddy Ditty Bags–We provide the local courts with these activity bags designed to entertain children who must sit in courtrooms.
  • Teddy Bear Parade–We provide teddy bears to local law enforcement agencies as requested.
  • Special Programs–“If you have the passion, Valley Grange is the place.” We are always willing to consider addressing community needs and opportunities… and we have annual programs including an annual fellowship breakfast, balloons and baked stuff at Piscataquis River Festival, an annual picnic fun and fundraiser…

Some programs have been temporarily suspended due to COVID mandates and restrictions—we can’t wait to get them going again!

Benefit Supper for Roger Ricker

Judy and Roger Ricke are valued members of Valley Grange. Roger is also a long-time member of the Wellington Fire Department but has recently been suffering some serious health issues. The Wellington Fire Department has scheduled a benefit meal on Sunday, July 31, 2022, at 1 pm. Please support this effort and Roger and Judy!

If you cannot attend but would like to donate, please send a check payable to Valley Grange to Mary Annis, 28 Orchard Road, Dover Foxcroft ME 04426 with “Roger Benefit” written on the memo line. We will forward all donations!

And help spread the word!

Community Celebration–You’re Invited!

For many years, May has been the month we recognize and celebrate at least one Community Citizen of the Year. Last year we set a new record by giving the award to the many school employees throughout the area. Well, we’re going to break that record this year. We’re considering everyone a Community Citizen of the Year in honor of the spirit that held our communities together for the past two years!

While it won’t be practical to award individual certificates, we will recognize friends and neighbors with a free community supper. And we’re relying on the great Grange tradition by serving up a Grange Bean Supper!

Supper will be served from 5:30 — 7:00 or until the food runs out, so come early. Our upstairs hall will be turned into a social center and game room so you can visit with your neighbors, play a game, build a puzzle… have some good old-fashioned fun! This is a celebration of community–a gathering of friends, neighbors and strangers., (You won’t be a stranger for long!) All are welcome! We have a Busy Box and Book Bin for kids! If you have a favorite board game, bring that along and challenge others.

If you’d like to help with the supper, call Mary at 564-0820 or Janice at 343-1842. If you’d like to help us spread the word, download and print this flyer/invitation. Give it friends, post it where you can!

Blanketeers Needed!

Valley Grange of Guilford is sponsoring a blanket-making event on Saturday, May 14, 2022,  from 9:00 a.m. until noon and volunteers are needed! Organizer Pat Engstrom notes “no sewing skills are needed. If you can measure, cut a straight line with scissors and tie a simple knot you can become a ‘blanketeer’ and help support Project Linus.”

Project Linus, a non-profit organization, provides homemade blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. Similar events in the past have resulted in dozens of blankets being made by a diverse group of volunteers. Engstrom hopes to see the number of blankets made increase.

“We have a great time doing this and truly just about anyone can help. We created quite a production line and it sometimes gets competitive! It’s exciting to realize we’re providing love in the form of ‘blankies’ representing love, security, warmth, and comfort to kids.”

Light refreshments will be served.