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.

Check Us Out on WABI-TV5!

Valley Grange Socks It to ’em!

“We stopped counting,” Community Service Chair Mary Annis said. “Thanks to members and friends, we were able to fill five bags with socks for our local kids. We used almost half of the dining hall to spread things out to sort!

Those bags are now being delivered to local schools (Piscataquis Community, SeDoMoCha, Brownville, Ridgeview, and Harmony Elementary) for distribution to kids who need them during what is undoubtedly some of the most bitterly cold weather. Windchill factors are taking local temperatures to as much as forty below zero. “Our volunteer deliverers are bundling up and wearing their own warm socks,” commented Walter Boomsma, Program Director, who is being assisted by Janice Boomsma and Pat Engstrom.

“We could call this ‘Operation Warm Toes,'” quipped Boomsma. “From the reception we’re getting while delivering, it’s safe to assume that this cannot be limited to a one-time effort. We’ve still got plenty of winter weather left and lots of little toes, so we’ll be asking for community support again.”

There are several ways to donate. Online shoppers can have an order drop-shipped to Walter Boomsma, 17 River Road, Abbot ME 04406. If you know a member of Valley Grange, contact them and arrange for a drop-off or pick-up. Valley Grange will be meeting on Friday, January 21, 2022–join us for potluck supper at 6 pm and “sock it to us.” There’s also a collection tote on the porch of the Grange Hall located at 172 Guilford Center Road in Guilford. “Just be careful,” Boomsma warns. “this time of year the steps aren’t always cleared off between meetings and events.”

Kids’ sizes and adults’ sizes are needed. Boys, girls, unisex… warm socks are best, obviously. The socks collected will be distributed to school nurses where there is a need. Thanks for helping us help the kids!

If your business or organization wants to serve as a collection point, contact Walter Boomsma at 207 343-1842 or Mary Annis at 207 564-0820. “We’d like to make our next delivery soon, probably early in February,” Annis said. We need to act fast! Thanks for helping us help the kids!”

Valley Grange Gram–keeping things busy!

Breakfast for supper was yummy! Since this was a combined meeting with Piscataquis Pomona, we didn’t do much business, but we learned a great deal from Pomona Lecturer Dave Pearson’s program. I became so entranced I failed to take good notes, but I do recall that his questionable research was based in part on cave paintings that tell us the first socks were invented in 1851 BC by a Mr. Zok (rhymes with “sock”), who wore the pelts of saber tooth rabbits (fur side out) on his feet…

One might say that Dave “socked it to us” in an enjoyable and informative way.

Who is checking out some of the socks we’ve received?

But it all fits. We sorted through an estimated three hundred pairs of socks we’ve received so far, starting bags for each of the five schools we’ll be supplying. We continue to collect! If you’d like to sock it to us:

  1. Drop them off at the Grange Hall—there’s a tote on the front porch that gets emptied regularly.
  2. Order online and have them shipped to Walter Boomsma @ 17 River Road, Abbot ME 04406
  3. Contact Walter or Community Service Chair Mary to arrange a meet-up.

Our goal is to make a delivery to the schools around December 16th, but we’ll continue to collect in anticipation of further deliveries in January or February. We’re also rebuilding our hat and mitten inventory, so keep those kneedles knitting!

We could, of course, come full circle by noting that in addition to sorting socks, our yarn, hats, and mittens bins were sorted… it sorta fits with the yarn that Dave spun regarding socks.

We’ve sorta learned that Valley Grange placed fourth in the Maine State Grange Community Service Contest. (It’s a long story.) Thanks to Mary Annis for her work, especially in putting together our entry notebook. We “earned” $50!

FYI, (bookworms, especially) PCES is planning to hold two Holiday Concerts—outside! The first will feature K-3 on Wednesday, December 8th at 5:30 pm. Park at the high school and walk up to the area in front of the school. Dress warm! The second concert will feature grades 4 -6 on Thursday, December 14th, also at 5:30 pm. Follow the same procedure! Support our kids!

Pat and Janice had a successful Kris Kringle Kraft Fair… we appreciate their time and efforts, and willingness to share the proceeds with Valley Grange! Pat has also succeeded in getting a donation of fleece to be used in our next “Blanketeering” day for Project Linus. Thanks also to Linda Kain of Abbot for her recent donation of blankets and “lovies” for the Linus Project.

CWA co-chairs Judy and Pat conducted a drawing and increased the CWA fund to (ka-ching!) $22.00. A special thanks to Pat for contributing the two quarters to make it an even amount!

Thanks also to McKusick Petroleum… our downstairs thermostat was replaced at no charge and the furnace is working without complication. If you are a “Grange Bee” during the winter, please make certain you shut things down correctly and add some antifreeze. Instructions with photos are on the side of the furnace.

Dues are due! You should have received a bill from Mary… did you get a check to her?! Unpaid dues, by Grange Rule, result in us issuing a “demit,” which effectively changes your status to inactive. In addition to following the rules, we cannot afford to carry you as an unpaid member. Thanks for taking care of this!

It’s also time to update your contact information… do we have your correct address, phone number(s), email address(es)? If you’re not sure, you can reply to this email with the information or contact Mary Annis.

You certainly don’t want to miss anything that’s going on in, near, around Valley Grange!

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!