A Big Certificate at Will’s!

Wedge BannerImagine Valley Grange’s Community Service Director Mary Annis’s surprise when she arrived at Will’s Shop ‘n Save in Dover-Foxcroft to see two large banners hanging from the ceiling! One proudly proclaims what Mary and other Grangers knew… Melissa and Will Wedge, owners of Will’s Shop’n Save, were named Valley Grange Community Citizens of the Year, 2017.  The second announces that Will’s Shop ‘n Save was the Small Business Administration’s Business of the Year in 2016.

The store and its owners are well-known throughout the area for their support of the community in part because they are truly part of the community. How many grocery stores do you know that actually have a small food cupboard run by two young kids?! (Check out the cover photo on their Facebook Page.) Melissa and Will are two very thoughtful people and great examples of the fact that pride and humility are not in opposition to each other. We’ll congratulate them again–and says “thanks” for acknowledging Valley Grange’s award!

Kids Say “Thanks!”

Mrs. Kennedy's PCES Third Graders included a thank you photo.

Mrs. Kennedy’s PCES Third Graders included a thank you photo.

Reading the thank you letters kids send for their dictionaries is almost as much fun as handing out the dictionaries! The kids usually have some fun things to say and will often add a colorful drawing to demonstrate their artistic flair. Here are a few of their comments selected randomly.

“Thank you to you and the Valley Grange members for the free dictionaries. I now know the capitols of mostly all of the states. Also I liked Captain Battick’s whistle and his sword. He also has a cool uniform and hat. My dictionary is awesome. It even shows sign language too. And thanks for the dictionaries again, Logan.”

“Thank you to you and Valley Grange members. I love this dictionary. I always wanted one of my own dictionary. You can look up anything in the world! Tell Captain Battick I said hi, Caline”

“Thanks for the dictionaries and telling us what the words mean. I had a great time. I hope I can come again. Where was the first Grange built? I hope I can come again, Gage.”

“Thank you for letting us come to your Grange. I loved the part when we did a dictionary race. I also loved the part when we got to the meet the Navy Captain. Can we come back again soon? The dictionarys are very helpful to us. Thank you! Kassyde”

“I liked the field trip a lot. And Captain Battick was cool so much a lot. And thanks for the dictionaries. I read it a lot. Jesse”

We should perhaps explain that Captain (Jack) Battick is a featured guest when the kids come to Valley Grange. He explains the role of Navy in the Civil War as part of the history of the Grange, formed shortly after the war was over.

So far this year we’ve visited Milo and Brownville Elementary School and we’ve been visited by Piscataquis Community Elementary School and SeDoMoCha Elementary. Our next trip is taking us to Ridgeview Elementary School in Dexter on November 13, and we wrap up 2014 Dictionary Days with a visit to Harmony Elementary. We will have given out over 200 dictionaries this year when we have finished. Parents of home schooled third graders are urged to contact their local school to arrange for a dictionary–our goal is to reach as many kids as we can!

PCES-PatSM

Mrs. Patten’s PCES Third Graders show off their dictionaries.

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 http://valleygrange.com. Coupons can also be brought to any Valley Grange meeting or given to a member of Valley Grange.

Health Beat – March 2014

Heart

Dr. Lesley Fernow writes a column called “Senior Matters” for the Piscataquis Observer in Dover Foxcroft. Valley Grange is privileged to have permission to use her past columns for our  “Health Beat” Feature and for the information to be reposted to the Maine State Grange website. Address your questions or comments  to lmf@fernowmedicalhousecalls.com, 207-992-6822. Please note that information is general in nature and specific questions should be addressed to your health care professional.


How can you enjoy working out, eating local produce, and enhancing your total wellbeing affordably all summer?  Garden!  Gardening builds and strengthens muscles, providing full body exercise for people of all ages.  An hour of steadily digging, weeding, and mulching is the equivalent of taking 10,000 steps!  Enjoying ripe tomatoes and other fresh produce will double your rewards.  Canning or freezing some of your crop will further extend the benefits of your labor well into the winter.

Inviting a friend or young child to work with you may enrich your experience and socially engage your mind in ways that are known to protect against cognitive decline.  While you’re in your garden, take care to plant some pumpkins.  You’ll have homegrown jack-o-lanterns in the fall, and you can harvest the seeds.  Pumpkin seeds are a “super food” containing high levels of fiber and protein.  They may also contribute to prostate health, bone strength, and help to prevent arthritis.  Blueberries are full of antioxidants that boost your immune system.  Other foods you may want to grow in your garden that have crucial nutrients to prevent disease include garlic, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and onions.

For tips on planting a successful garden, call the Piscataquis Cooperative Extension office at 564-3301, or check out their website at  http://umaine.edu/gardening/

You may also qualify for Senior FarmShare, a program that provides fresh seasonal foods for eligible seniors.  You can learn more about this program by calling Eastern Area Agency on Aging at 1.877.353.3771, or by visiting www.getrealmaine.com

Aren’t you the person who…?

newspapersStu Hedstrom, reporter from the Piscataquis Observer, jokes that he has attended so many Valley Grange Dictionary Presentations he could probably fill in for me if for some reason I couldn’t make it. Well, it seems the kids agree with him. Stu emailed this morning to tell me that he was waiting for Santa to arrive in Dover Foxcroft last night and a young boy also waiting approached him with the question, “Aren’t you one of those guys who gives out the dictionaries?” Stu  says he explained his role and notes that he was pretty impressed with the young fellow’s memory and the fact he
got it “almost right.”

There’s a lot to learn from this little incident. One, even the little things we do with and for kids are appreciated and remembered by them. We may not arrive in a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer, but the kids do remember the “gift of words.”

Two, we might learn how fortunate we all are to have “community” — including a “hometown newspaper” with an interest and commitment to our communities. I think Stu is one of the guys who gives out the dictionaries, because he–along with untold others who help in some way–are part of the program and make it possible. As the kids might say, that’s pretty awesome.

Santa gets the credit for a lot what happens at this time of year, but let’s not forget our communities are filled with good people who are not just nameless faces going through the motions of life. They are people who give of their time and energy to help others and make so many of the things we have and enjoy possible.

This morning I find myself thinking that third grader really had it right. He recognized Mr. Hedstrom, but he didn’t just smile and say “Hello.” He saw that Mr. Hedstrom fit into something that happened and had meaning in his young life. That he saw it is important.

Maybe we should follow his example–start looking for those people who fit into our lives in some way. While Stu was being greeted by his friend in Dover, I was standing by the bonfire in Guilford waiting for Santa as well, enjoying the warmth not only of the fire but of the friendship. I now realize I could have walked up to more people at the tree lighting and asked some questions like:

  • Aren’t you one of those people who helped put up the town’s tree?
  • Aren’t you one of those people who baked the cookies to go with the hot chocolate?
  • Aren’t you one of those guys who kept the bonfire going?
  • Aren’t you one of the kids who came to sing Christmas songs?

The list gets longer once you get started, doesn’t it? I think one of the things we love about Christmas is watching people’s — especially kids’ — faces light up when they receive a gift or hear that Santa’s coming. And yet there are thousands of “gifts” being given in our communities every day–gifts of time, energy, compassion and friendship. We need to discover them. We need to give them. And we need to let our faces light up when we do.


At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

Albert Schweitzer

Blue Ribbon Valley Grange!

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Bob Carroll’s eye for precision gets applied to the staves during set up

Valley Grange walked away (well, some of us shuffled… it was a lot of work taking the booth apart) with the first place ribbon for our booth display at this year’s Piscataquis Valley Fair! We’d already agreed it was our best booth in recent years and are glad the judges agreed! The booth followed the theme of “Field to Feast” and included step by step instructions and materials for preserving the harvest.  Our judging guidelines also call for us to tell as much of the “Grange Story” as possible, including information and samples of our Community Service, Family Health and Hearing, and CWA work. Community Service Chair Mary Annis turned out an incredible poster with colorful pictures and descriptions of some of our projects.

While we all mutter and complain, we really do enjoy working together to build the booth every year on what usually turns out to be the hottest day we have in August. This year the crew included Mary and Jim Annis, Judy and Roger Ricker, Linda Erwin and Bob Carroll and Janice and Walter Boomsma. We can always count on Roger for some bad jokes and Judy is constantly sweeping… Mary and Janice do most of the preliminary work… and just about everybody gets a turn being sidewalk superintendent.

Congratulations to our closest (and only!) competitor, South Sangerville Grange for a well-deserved second place ribbon. Walter set up the Pomona Membership Booth again this year in an effort to assure fair-goers that the Grange is alive and thriving in the area. Unfortunately, Garland Grange was unable to compete this year, but we hope they’ll be back next year! Space in the Grange Exhibit Hall is always filled. This year we were joined by 4-Hers with their project work–they were great neighbors and added a lot of fun to the hall.

That blue ribbon looks great!

That blue ribbon looks great!

Dover Foxcroft Granges To Be Honored

Valley Grange of Guilford is undertaking a project members hope will preserve an awareness of the historical role of Granges in the area. Funds are being raised to purchase commemorative bricks for the future Central Hall sidewalk. These bricks will honor Granges that used to operate in the Dover Foxcroft area.

Grange Secretary Mary Annis notes that many of Valley’s older members actually joined as a result of consolidation of local Granges as transportation improved and the need for neighborhood Granges diminished. “During the Grange’s expansive growth period, there were actually three Granges located in what is now Dover Foxcroft,” Annis reports. Central  Grange was organized in 1875 (the same year as Valley Grange started in a school-house near Lowe’s Bridge) in what was then Foxcroft. Additional Granges were formed in East Dover in 1879 and South Dover in 1883.

Central Hall actually played a role in the Grange’s development in Maine by hosting the organization’s state-wide conference in the mid-1880’s.

The members of Valley Grange voted to support the restoration of Central Hall from the beginning. Program Director Walter Boomsma expressed that support during early efforts by writing, “As an organization steeped in tradition, we certainly value the preservation of history and we believe tradition is necessary to maintain a strong community identity. Buildings such as Grange halls and community centers like Central Hall (as the very name implies) have served and can continue to serve as a beacon and rallying point.”

Fund-raising for Valley Grange’s project has already been boosted by several donations, including other community Granges in the area. While additional financial support would be welcome, Annis notes that another need is information. “We’d like to list the years each Grange operated,” Annis explained. “While getting the beginning dates has been relatively easy, discovering their entire history has been more of a challenge. We’re hoping anyone who may remember these important community organizations will contact us.” (Thanks to State Grange Historian Stan Howe for his help with this!)

On Friday, January 18th, Valley Grange will host a community potluck supper at 6 PM and meeting at 7 PM which will feature some historical information about local Granges past and present. The public is invited to come and share memories and learn more about the Grange’s role in today’s communities. The Valley Grange Hall is located at the corner of Guilford Center Road and Butter Streets in Guilford.

Those who wish to help with the project can contact Mary Annis at 564-0820. Donations should be sent to Valley Grange, 28 Orchard Road, Dover Foxcroft ME 04426.

Christmas Offering…

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I Really Like My Dictionary!

Third graders from SeDoMoCha Elementary write…

SeDo drw

Dictionaries are cool!

I liked how you people had been so nice. I especially liked it when we did the race. Thank you for giving us those dictionarys. I really like my dictionary. I use it for a lot of stuff and I keep it in a very safe place. Thanks for everything.

Thank you for the small dictionarys. On the cover it looks like Californa is over flowing with lava. I’ve been trying to read the biggest word in Amarican history. It takes me twenty minutes to read every line. I think that word is in the language, gibrish. I also looked up the word dragon. It said that a dragon is a mythical creatur that breathes fire. The floor was realy cold when we sat down. The stairs felt like they were going to fall, and the Grange felt like it was haunted by ghosts. I at least had fun holding the farmers tool that Mr. Mowry had. I at least had fun standing in front of all the other classes. Have a great day.

Thank you for the dictionary. My favorite part was learning about the farmer’s tools. I learned a new word. It is patron. That means someone who supports to a cause. I really appreciated it. Thanks.

Thank you for the dictionary and for telling us about how the Grange was started. My favorite part was when you told us all the garden tools that the farmers used. I learned a new word. It is Patron. That means someone who provides financial support to a cause. I really appreciated it. Thank you.

Thank you for the dictionary. I will be keeping my book in a extra safe place. You are a very nice group. I will be using my dictionary a lot. I am so proud that I have my own dictionary. Thank you again.

Thank you for the dictionary. I plan to keep it on my bed, take VERY good care of it, and give it to my children and tell them what I did. I also plan to find a word, ask my sister Elisabeth what it means and if she gets each word right she gets a dollar, but if she misses one word she gets a nickel. Thanks again.

Thank you for the generous gift. I even looked generous up in the dictionary. I’m very thankful for the dictionary. I’m going to keep my dictionary at school so I can use it. I liked the tools. One is the spud, the other one is the pruning hook and the owl. I forget the other one. At least I remember three of the tools. I liked the tools. And I really wanted to read the longest word in the English language.

Thank you for the dictionary. I will always use it if I need to. And when I get home I’ll try to get my mom to read the 1909 word in the back. And at my house I like to write storys so I can use it all the time. I’ll make sure to keep it extra safe. And every night I’ll try to read the really long word.

Bookworm Schedule November 2012

Reading is fun!“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

There have been a few changes to this month’s schedule… and to the sixth grader at PCES who stopped me in the hall today and asked, “Do we have something going on at Valley Grange this month?” I replied: “There’s always something going on at Valley Grange!”

Here are some Valley Grange and school activities coming up:

Thursday, November 1 – Mrs. Erwin will be at school at 9 AM to read.

Thursday, November 1 – We host the Piscataquis Pomona Meeting–potluck supper at 6 PM, Meeting at 7 PM.

Friday, November 2 – Valley Grange Business Meeting, 7 PM at the Hall.

Tuesday, November 6 – Mrs. Erwin will be at school at 9 AM to read.

Thursday, November 8 – Mrs. Bosworth will be at school at 9 AM to read.

Friday, November 9 – Some Bookworms and Grangers will be at PCSS to attend the 9th Annual Veterans’ Day Tribute at 1 PM–looking forward to seeing students and staff perform readings, patriotic music and a possible video conference with PFC Jake Bailey in the Middle East!

Monday, November 12 – Honor a Veteran on this important holiday!

Tuesday, November 13 – Mrs. Erwin will be at school at 9 AM to read.

Thursday, November 15 – Mrs. Bosworth will be at school at 9 AM to read.

Friday, November 16 – SAD 41 Dictionary Day! Grange members will visit Marion Cook Elementary, Milo Elementary, and Brownville Elementary to deliver dictionaries. Grange members who’d like to attend–contact Mr. Boomsma! We start at 8:30 AM in Lagrange.

Friday, November 16 – Allagash Tails and Tales will be presented by former waterway supervisor Tim Caverly… This is a free family friendly event! Join us for a community potluck supper at 6 PM followed by the multi media presentation at 7 PM. Books will be available for purchase and signing!

Thursday, November 22 is Thanksgiving! Have a happy one–there are lots of things to be thankful for! How many can you name?

Monday, November 26 – SAD 68 (SeDoMoCha) Dictionary Day! Third graders will arrive at the Grange Hall at 9 AM for some history lessons, learn a bit about the Grange, and receive their dictionaries!

Tuesday, November 27 – Mr. Boomsma will be at school to read starting at 9 AM.

Thursday, November 29 – Mr. Boomsma will be at school to read starting at 9 AM.