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!

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!

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!

February Meeting Rescheduled!

snow-shovel-2001776_640Our February meeting has been postponed by one week from this Friday until Friday, February 22, 2019. We’ll have the usual potluck at 6 pm, meeting at 7 pm. The weather forecast is part of the reason but several other factors have come into play.

Please help us get the word out… this will be posted on the Valley Grange Facebook Page and a Grange Gram will be sent today.

By way of a hint, we are expecting some special guests… and don’t forget we will be discussing who will be our 2019 Community Citizen of the Year along with some updates regarding Newspapers in Education and our GrowME program.

Sorry for any inconvenience! I wonder if the Secret Shoveler will arrive now that there’s more time to get the steps cleared…

Secret Shoveler Strikes!

snow-shovel-2001776_640I headed to the Grange Hall yesterday with a deep sense of foreboding, trying not to imagine how much snow would be piled up on the steps and porch. There’d been at least three significant storms since someone was last there. I’d even loaded several types of shovels in case I encountered layers of ice and hard crust.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived to find only a little light snow to remove. It seems a secret shoveler had arrived at some point during recent weeks and removed the major accumulations. If you happened to drive by at the moment I discovered that you’d have seen me leaping for joy at the base of the steps!

The identity of the secret shoveler at this point is, well, a secret! The only evidence remaining was a pink snow shovel left on the porch. Since the shoveler was probably wearing gloves, it will not be dusted for fingerprints. It will, however, remain on the porch either to be reclaimed by its rightful owner or to be used by those who might be inclined to stop at the hall after a snowstorm and clear off the steps.

To our secret shoveler, we say, “Thanks!” It’s great to live in a community where folks help each other and the community. While we’re being grateful, we owe a big thanks to Jim French of French Construction for keeping our parking lot plowed during the winter!

Valley Grange does our best to remain “open for business” throughout the winter and knowing that it’s a community effort strengthens our resolve. This Thursday (February 7) we are hosting the Piscataquis Pomona Grange meeting with a potluck supper at 6 pm and meeting at 7 pm. On Friday (February 15) we’ll get together for our regular monthly meeting which also includes a potluck supper at 6 pm and meeting at 7 pm. We’ll be discussing our annual Community Night in May and selection of Community Citizen of the Year 2019. You’re invited to join us and help!

Remember this. Hold on to this. This is the only perfection there is, the perfection of helping others. This is the only thing we can do that has any lasting meaning. This is why we’re here. To make each other feel safe.

Andre Agassi

Community Supper Canceled–Sorry!

Based on the weather forecast for Friday, and with great regret, we are canceling our Community Supper scheduled for tomorrow night, November 16, 2018. It was not an easy decision… we were really looking forward to seeing everyone and celebrating our community heroes.

We will be rescheduling… but with the upcoming holidays and weather uncertainties haven’t yet settled on a date. We’ll let you know!

Blanketeering on Saturday is still on at this point!

Bookworm Schedule for October/November 2018

Tuesday, October 16 — Mr. Boomsma will be at school for a program kickoff at 8:00 a.m.

Tuesday, October 23 — Mrs. Kimball will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, October 25  — Mrs. Lander will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Monday, October 29 — Dictionary Day! Third graders will be visiting Valley Grange for some fun and a dictionary!

Tuesday, October 30 — Ms. Erwin will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, November 1 — Mr. Boomsma and Mrs. Katz will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Tuesday, November 6 — Mrs. Kimball will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, November 8 — Mr. Boomsma will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Friday, November 9 — SAD 4 Veteran’s Celebration at PCSS… 8:15 am!

Tuesday, November 13 — Ms. Erwin will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, November 15 — Mrs. Orton will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Friday, November 16Community Night at Valley Grange! Join us for a free supper at 6:00 p.m. and say “Hi” to your neighbors and friends. We’ll be featuring the famous beans and mac ‘n cheese by Bill Bemis of Garland Grange! Stick around for our regular meeting 7:00 p.m. Kids are welcome!

Tuesday, November 20 — Mrs. Boomsma will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, November 22 — No school — Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 27 — Mrs. Orton will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, November 30 — Mrs. Lander will be at school for reading starting at 10:00 a.m.

Spirit of America!

SOA Winners

It was “standing room only” as Valley Grange hosted the Piscataquis County Spirit of America Awards Ceremony with nearly 100 in attendance. Seventeen individuals and groups were honored for their volunteerism and community contributions. (The complete list is available on the Valley Grange Website.) The program was emceed by Walter Boomsma, program director for Valley Grange with awards presented by Senator Paul Davis and Representatives Paul Stearns and Norm Higgins.