Community Night Successful!

Community Citizen Surprised!

Com Citizen_15SMIn spite of a few last minute glitches (like him showing up early), we managed to keep Community Citizen Matthew Hackett in the dark until the last minute! Matt’s a great guy and some former students admitted to spending time in his office, but also thanked him for always being fair and respecting them. One of the comments that Matt made was that he was always glad when an angry parent showed up at his door because it meant they cared. When you think about it, that makes sense–and it is equally obvious that Matt cares. Special thanks to Roger Ricker for making a great wooden sign for the occasion and to Pat Engstrom for her efforts to get Matt and others to the meeting.

101 Raffle Report

While we don’t keep an exact count of who sells how many, our top ticket sellers this year include Janice and Pat Engstrom, Roger Ricker, Lois Prescott, and Linda Erwin. Our gross receipts were $658 (including a $50 donation of tickets from Bob Carroll and Linda Erwin) so after deducting the cost of the tickets we net $558. Janice likes to say “that’ll buy quite a few dictionaries.” The raffle winner was Craig Fellows, a farmer from Dexter—he was out cutting wood when we called to tell him of his good fortune. Hopefully he’ll scratch off enough winnings to buy some chain saw oil!

Long Timers…

Congratulations to long time members… Kevin Annis and Judy Ricker were present for their 25 year awards. Not present but no less honored were Carolyn and Richard Williams at 55 years and Dora Starbird at 75 years.You know there’s got to be some really good stuff about being a Granger–people stay with it!

Valley Grange Creates Opportunities!

Community Counts Flyer

Help a Hero

Troop SupportCommunity Service Director Mary Annis has been advised there is an acute shortage of disposable razors at Togus VA Center—so much so that our heroes are shaving every other day to conserve! (Is there a man among us who has not suffered the results of shaving with a dull razor? OW!) So, let’s see how many packages we can come up by our next meeting (February 20)! Bring ‘em to the meeting… or get them to someone who is coming. Janice is going to see if she can get the folks at the college to help out… what organizations are you involved in that would be willing to help? (I thought about linking this to Coups for Troops, but the idea of kids bringing razors to school doesn’t seem quite right!) If you aren’t coming to the meeting, give them to someone who is! There’s also a need for hairbrushes for the ladies… for some reason they have plenty of combs… This doesn’t seem to be something we need to create a program for… we just need to get it done! You can be a collection center… just get donations to the Grange Hall or Mary Annis… let’s see what we can do! Let’s get the word out and get collecting! Thanks!


Valley Grange and local schools team up for troops

Valley Grange, well known for their partnerships and support of local elementary schools and students, has asked students to join in an effort to support troops stationed overseas by supporting the “Coups for Troops” program.  The program was started in 2011 by Stephanie Almasy and several friends who were saving their families hundreds of dollars each month by clipping coupons.  Almasy learned that military families overseas could use coupons at commissaries and she and her friends time sent coupons to twenty-six families. Just a few months later, over four hundred military families from over ten countries signed up for coupons and the program began growing geometrically.

The Maine State Grange recently qualified as a satellite collection center where coupons are collected in bulk, then packaged and mailed directly to individual families overseas. Valley Grange Program Director Walter Boomsma says he was particularly impressed by the simplicity of the program. “This is what we might call a ‘no-brainer,’” Boomsma said. “The only requirement is an ability to use scissors!” Valley Grange members readily agreed and it wasn’t long before the idea of inviting the schools to help surfaced.

“All we’re asking people to do is clip the coupons—there’s no need to sort, and the kids can just bring them to school and drop them in the collection bins,” Boomsma explained. “Other than a little wear and tear on scissors, there’s absolutely no cost involved to those who want to help out! Keep the ones you can use and get the rest to us. We’re already cutting out Box Tops for Education and so this should be a good fit.”

“This couldn’t be much easier,” added Valley Grange Community Service Chairperson Mary Annis. “We don’t even need to worry about expiration dates—commissaries will accept coupons that have expired up to six months ago, so we have plenty of time to get them overseas.” The only coupons that can’t be accepted are those specific to stores. “We can take manufacturers coupons and ‘catalinas’ (coupons printed on the back of register tapes),” Annis explained.

SeDoMoCha in Dover Foxcroft and Piscataquis Community Elementary School in Guilford were quick to agree to serve as collection sites. PCES Principal Julie Orton believes the program is a good fit for the school’s mission. “The Coups for Troops Program is an opportunity for our students to ‘give back.’  It’s all part of a bigger picture, which is helping students to become responsible and involved citizens, an important focus of the Guiding Principles of Maine’s Learning Results.Our students and their families have always shown generosity toward others in need and I fully expect that this project will be another success.”

Additional information about the program is available at Coupons can also be brought to any Valley Grange meeting or given to a member of Valley Grange.

Bookworm Recruiting, Second Grade Style

by Mr. Boomsma

It’s no secret that I firmly believe that kids are great problem solvers!

I wish I were a bookwormAs many of you know, we’ve been struggling a bit to increase our bank of bookworms this year. Here’s a story that demonstrates maybe we should have just asked the kids for some help!

This past Tuesday, Mike Lange from the Observer shadowed me as I bookwormed so he could write a story about our program… we picked up our first kid and went to the couch where he listened for a while and took lots of photos. Since it was business as usual as far as the amount of time per kid, Mr. Lange decided to wander back to Mrs. Stearns’ room and poke around a bit—talk to some of the kids, maybe take another photo or two.

When “B” and I returned to the classroom I saw Mr. Lange sitting on a small chair at a desk next to a young lady. They were engrossed in a book about dinosaurs. Mr. Lange looked up and offered an explanation. “She told me it was her turn next and made me sit down and listen to her!” I chuckled at the sales ability of “A” and waited for them to finish. Mr. Lange asked her what she’d learned from the story… and after hearing her answer looked at me and said, “You know… I can do this! You just listen, help, and then ask some questions, right?”

Oh yeah, he’s hooked.  So give a wiggly welcome to our newest Bookworm, Mr. Lange from Saint Albans and the Piscataquis Observer! And a big thanks to “A” from Mrs. Stearns Second Grade for her recruiting efforts!

Mr. Boomsma is having trouble keeping up with all of this, but hopes to have the classroom posters with photos done soon… Bookworms, if you owe me a photo, please send it ASAP. Mrs. Annis has already sent out the schedule request for November—let’s start filling those slots! I’d like to have everyone’s badge at school and the classroom posters in place before we start November!

Valley Grange Celebrates Community and Honors Two

Valley Grange celebrated community with a potluck supper and program on Friday night that seemed to be all about time. The program included some thoughts on the value of five minutes of community service every day. Noting that if every citizen in Piscataquis County between the ages of 20 and 80 gave 5 minutes per day to his or her community, Lecturer Walter Boomsma pointed out ”this would equate to 188 people working full time in our communities–an average of ten per town. Using the median income from 2011, the value of those five minutes would be the equivalent of an annual payroll of over six and a half million dollars per year.” Boomsma also noted “but there’s more than just dollar value, explaining how his association with Valley Grange has allowed him to discover his passion for working with kids–a passion that sees him now substitute teaching at the elementary school level and having his book Small People –Big Brains published recently. “Were it not for my association with Valley Grange, I might not be where I am today,” he admitted.

Mark Putnam, editor of the Observer, “a successful and effective community newspaper is a direct reflection of its community.”

The Grange recognized two news organizations for their community service: local newspaper The Piscataquis Observer, and Bangor-based WABI – TV 5. Both organizations were praised for their “boots on the ground” involvement in local communities and their willingness to work with local organizations such as the Grange. Dover Foxcroft Historical Society President Mary Annis offered testimony and an additional award in acknowledgement of both organizations’ contributions. Representatives from UMaine Extension, Kiwanis, Center Theatre, and other Granges in the area added accolades for both organizations’ local emphasis and their responsiveness to individuals and organizations. Piscataquis Community Elementary School Principal Julie Orton noted that the school genuinely appreciates the recognition students receive for their accomplishments and the kids value that recognition and find it rewarding and motivating.

In his response thanking Valley Grange for the honor, Observer Editor Mark Putnam spoke about how the digital age is changing media, but also noted that “our paper truly belongs to the community” adding “there’s no way we’d be celebrating our 175th Anniversary if that were not true… Much like the Grange, our newspaper wants to be relevant and essential in what will be known as the Digital Age.”

WABI News Anchor Terry Stackhouse noted that there was a certain irony to the fact that he is a “six month employee accepting the award on behalf of a sixty year station.” In reporting the story later, he noted that “everyone was very kind and even sent me home with leftover food.” (You can see his report on the WABI Website. )

As part of the celebration of community, Valley Grange also honored members Herb Dunham for 55 years of Grange Membership and Carolyn Campbell for 65 years of membership.

Observer Staff Mark Putnam, Stu Hedstrom, Jeanette Hughes, Linda Kain, and Keri Foster

We’re Ready for Community Night!

Party 3 (640x464)Well, almost! While this photo doesn’t show it (you’ll have to come see), the stage is painted and looking great! Members are reminded we still have some “primping” to do… and those who can are asked to stop by Friday (17th) afternoon and find a project–sweeping, dusting, setting tables, etc. Our celebration of community begins at 6 PM with a potluck supper… and continues with a 7 PM program that’s sure to please as we honor the Piscataquis Observer and WABI-TV 5 for their service to our communities.

Remember, this is a family friendly event and the price is right–all it “costs” is a few hours of your time! (If you can, bring a dish to share for potluck.) In exchange, you’ll get a great meal, a warm sense of community, some laughs and a chance to see friends old and new.

An audio-visual presentation will surprise you when you discover the value of “Just Five Minutes.” Look for a traffic jam at the corner of Butter Street and Guilford Center Road on Friday-because that’s where Valley Grange is located!

Valley Grange to Honor Observer & WABI-TV5

Ad by Nyla Larrabee

Ad by Nyla Larrabee produced for the Observer’s Newspapers in Education Section.

For over a decade, Valley Grange has honored a local citizen each year with their “Community Citizen of the Year” award. This year the Guilford-based organization is breaking tradition by presenting two awards. One will go to the Dover Foxcroft based Piscataquis Observer and another to Bangor based WABI-TV Five at the Grange’s Community Celebration on May 17th. “This is not the first time we’ve presented the award to an organization,” noted Mary Annis, Valley Grange Community Service Chair. “But it is the first time (more…)

Hats Headed to Kyrgyzstan!

Dear Members of the Guilford Valley Grange,

The students in the Penquis Valley Life Skills Program would like to thank you for contributing to their project to collect winter hats and caps for the children in Kyrgyzstan. We managed to reach our goal of 200 caps thanks to your help. This was a meaningful project for the students and we thank you for your generosity.

Students and Staff

Penquis Valley Life Skills Program

Milo Maine

Note… special thanks to Blistered Finger Knitter Pat Engstrom for helping us help the kids!

Student Asks, We Answer!

One student’s thank you note deserves an answer. “J” wrote:

Dear Valley Grange,

Thank you for paying for the dictionary because we use them. I was happy that you showed us things. How did you pay for the bus ride and the dictionary?

Dear J,

Thank you for writing and asking a question because that’s how you learn! We are very lucky to have some Valley Grange members who work very hard every year to raise money so we can give dictionaries to so many students like you. You met some of them during your visit. But the money really comes from a lot of people from all around the area who make donations and support our programs because they want to help you succeed as a student. They also believe that we can all work together to accomplish good things as communities. You can even thank your teacher and  your school because they are an important part the program.

We are glad you are using your dictionary and hope you’ll keep it for many years. We are happy you are learning!

Your friends,

Mr. Boomsma and the Valley Grange