We Came, We Saw…

Our February Meeting included a number of guests, some great food, good conversation and a good time! We were especially pleased to “obligate” our newest members, Sarah Mahan and Nick Jackson. Some of us got to try lamb for the first time, thanks to their potluck contribution and most of us went home with some eggs! For those of you who didn’t come and haven’t seen it, you must watch this video. Not only will you get to meet the family, but you’ll also find their regeneration techniques fascinating.

In other news, we approved the new Hall Use Agreement. A copy will be uploaded to the website soon. We also began discussing Grange Month (we celebrate in May) and Community Citizen of the Year. If you now someone in the area who deserves recognition for their service to our communities, contact Mary Annis or Walter Boomsma. We’re looking for an unsung hero.

We received socks and have more on the way. Thanks to Helping Hearts Ministry in West Virginia for their generous donation! We’ll likely be making our final delivery for this year next week… if you intend to “Sock it to us,” please do so soon!

Thanks also to Phyllis Lyford from the Dover Foxcroft Historical Society for her donation of two patriotic lap afghans for the Operation Gratitude Hospice Project for Veterans.

We started to get writer’s cramp signing thank-you cards and notes. We’ve been so fortunate this winter to members of our communities who have helped us keep our hall open. I’m afraid I’ll forget someone, but thanks to Brian and Cindy Woodworth, Jimmy French, John McKusick… the anonymous donor who left socks in the tote on the porch… with all this help, we were able to come to the February meeting, see the fruits of our labor and have a certain sense that we conquered winter.

Our new Busy Box was put to good use! As a reminder, we are still looking for puzzles, games, etc. suitable for kids. I recently was able to replenish our Book Bin after a visit to the Abbot Liberry. Now that we have kids attending, we welcome any contributions to both! If you can’t come to a meeting, you can leave them in the tote on the front porch.

I stopped at the hardware store on the way to the hall to start the furnace. One of the clerks asked if he could ask a question. “Are you the guy who does that bookworm club thing?” I was able to explain that COVID has our Bookworm Program on hold, but yes, Valley Grange has bookworms who listen to the kids read at school. He complimented the program and said how great it was. (Little does he know that he’s on my list of potential volunteers when we get started again!)

These questions and the support we receive help us remain committed “…to labor for the good of our Order, our country, and mankind.” Thank you!

And if you want to experience the warmth and welcome of the Grange, our next meeting is Friday, March 18, 2022. Potluck is at 6 pm–bring a dish to share if you can. Our meeting and program start at 7 pm and we are usually finished by 8:30 pm. Come as you are and bring a friend! Remember, we are kid-friendly!

Check Us Out on WABI-TV5!

Valley Grange Delivers!

And we had company! Reporters from WABI TV 5 and WVII Fox Bangor asked if they could “tag along” when we delivered dictionaries to Brownville Elementary School and we were happy to have the company!

Valley Grange Master/President Jim Annis and Program Director Walter Boomsma had the back of his car filled with “words”–cases of dictionaries to deliver to several area schools. Annis admitted, “Sometimes we’re not sure who gets more excited, us or the kids.”

Boomsma noted that he misses the contact with the kids. “In the past we’ve had several schools make field trips to the Grange Hall and we’ve visited classrooms to hand out the dictionaries personally while explaining a little about the Grange and trying to get the kids really excited about having their own dictionary. Since safety is a priority as a result of COVID, we’ve had to get a little creative.”

The Guilford Grange produced a short video and some resources for teachers who are now doing the actual presentations. But the curious kids in Brownville were watching out the window at, what for Brownville was a “media extravaganza.” It wasn’t long before a window was opened and some chatting took place “long distance.”

Boomsma noted that the day’s delivery included a bag of knitted hats and mittens, compliments of Valley Grange’s Blistered Finger Knitters. “We have one woman in New Jersey who knits for us throughout the year and brings her work when she visits in the summer.”

A relatively new program started by the Grange asks people to “Sock It to Me.” Boomsma warned Principal Carol Smith “We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a bag of socks. We want add feet to our efforts to keep our kids warm this winter, so we’re asking people to help us out with donations of socks we can provide to area schools.”

The stockings were piled at the Grange Hall with care
In hopes children’s feet would be saved from cold air!

If you’re interested in a Dictionary Project in your area or at your school, contact Mr. Boomsma or visit the Dictionary Project Website. To learn more about the Valley Grange Program, visit the Valley Grange Website.

Somebody Socked It to Us!

Why is FedEx bringing a package? We aren’t expecting anything… Once it arrived, we discovered we have another anonymous Grange Angel. (We have our suspicions!) As the photo shows, inside the box from Target were a number of packs of socks—a generous and nice start to our “Sock It to Me” Collection.

If our math is correct, we have an 80 pair start! We haven’t set a goal but are now starting to wonder how many pairs we might end up with.

We plan to continue collecting through December. There’s a plastic tote on the porch of the Grange Hall where you can “sock it to us.” Better yet bring them to our Breakfast for Supper on December 3, 2021. (Don’t forget to RSVP.) If you want to “drop ship, ship to Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange, 17 River Road, Abbot ME 04406.

We need kids’ sizes and adults’ sizes. Boys, girls, unisex… warm socks are best, obviously but we’re not going to be choosey. We’ll be distributing the socks collected to school nurses where there is a need, either in late December or early January. Thanks for helping us help the kids!

The stockings were piled at the Grange Hall with care
In hopes children’s feet would be saved from cold air!

Sock It to Me! Sock It to Me!

At the November Valley Grange Meeting–at every meeting–we always discuss emerging and existing needs in our communities. One brought to our attention was that several schools in our area have expressed a need for socks! There are too many kids coming to school “sockless” and it’s not a fashion statement. So we’re starting a “sock drive” with the socks collected being distributed to school nurses where there is a need.

We need kids’ sizes and adults’ sizes. Boys, girls, unisex… warm socks are best, obviously but we’re not going to be choosey.

Grange members voted unanimously to make our Breakfast for Supper Program a key sock collection point and date. “We usually collect food cupboard donations at this meeting,” Community Service Chair Mary Annis noted,” so this year we’re adding socks. We’ll have a tote on the front porch of the Grange Hall. For those who can’t come to breakfast, swing by the Grange Hall and sock it to us by leaving some socks in the tote.”

“Since this is sorta last minute,” Program Director Walter Boomsma noted, “We’ll probably continue to collect throughout the month of December. Any and all help will be appreciated! We may try to set up some collection points around the area… if a business or organization is interested in helping with that, call me at 207 343-1842.”

The stockings were piled at the Grange Hall with care
In hopes children's feet would be saved from cold air!
Photo by Pixabay

Dictionary Day 2021 Has Arrived!

A team of Valley Granger members led by Walter Boomsma is delivering over 200 dictionaries to local area schools during the next two weeks. “We have a lot to celebrate,” he noted, “in spite of COVID restrictions, third graders in the area will have a Dictionary Day that focuses on tools, words, and the importance of learning.”

The Grange began its “Words for Thirds” Program in 2004 by giving a dictionary to every third-grader at the then Guilford Primary School. Over the years, the program has expanded to include Piscataquis Community, SeDoMoCha, Brownville, Harmony, and Ridgeview Elementary Schools. Boomsma estimates the Grange has distributed nearly 3,000 dictionaries since. “But it’s really not about the numbers. One kid, one dictionary. The stories are many but each one is personal. A dictionary can make a big difference in a child’s life.”

Since in-person visits are not possible due to safety concerns, the Grange has produced a short video for teachers to use while passing out the dictionaries. In the past, some schools have made field trips to the Grange Hall and Grangers have visited schools to make the gift personal and emphasize the importance of people helping each other. Jim Annis, president of the local Grange, rarely misses a presentation. “I love how excited the kids get. These dictionaries are truly empowering and the program has become a rite of passage. It takes some creativity, but we’re glad we can continue the tradition.”

Boomsma noted that these sorts of links and cooperation within the community are exactly what the Grange hopes to facilitate.  “We’re all about Community Service,” he said. “We’re also looking for people who share that passion whether it’s working with the schools and children or seniors or other community organizations.” He cites the Grange’s Blistered Finger Knitters as an example. “As a result of their efforts, we’ll be distributing some knitted hats and mittens along with the dictionaries. These are usually given to the school nurse for kids who need a little help staying warm.”

Our goal as a Grange is to support building strong communities. We offer a number of opportunities for folks to join us. Financial support is always needed and welcomed. Contributions can be sent to Valley Grange Secretary and Community Service Director at 28 Orchard Road, Dover Foxcroft ME 04426. We also need hands! In addition to mittens and hats for kids, we support the CHCS Hospice Program for veterans by providing lap quilts and afghans. There are always little jobs to be done around the hall. We are updating our project and program list but can say with confidence, we have a way that you can help based on your interest and time.

Come to a meeting or contact a Granger! Share our American values and help feed our hometown roots!

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.

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.”

It’s Teacher Appreciation Day!