Ten Mainers to be thankful for: 2012
    • 10 Mainers to be thankful for
      As Mainers gather to give thanks today, the blessings extend beyond the bounty tabled before them or even the reaffirmation of family bonds as relatives reunite. Thankfully, there are people who look beyond their own table, their own family, to that broader community of humanity that, without them, would be diminished. Here are 10 people for whom we are thankful as they work diligently, often without recognition, to comfort, protect, nurture and inspire, and so make our world a better place.
    • Don Simoneau

      Donald Simoneau, of Fayette, said he is grateful that the World War II memorial in Livermore Falls will be dedicated in December that he's devoted 20 years of work to erect. Over 700 names will be inscribed in the monument. Andy Molloy/Staff Photographer


      Veterans advocate


      on Simoneau is an Army veteran who doesn’t consider himself a hero. Simoneau has been confined to a wheelchair for more than 30 years, the result of injuries after an accident. He also suffers from a chronic blood disorder that possibly stemmed from exposure to Agent Orange while he was stationed at Fort Gordon, Ga., a test site for the defoliant. But Simoneau continues to soldier on, making sure the men and women whom he does consider heroes receive the honors and benefits he thinks they deserve. As the legislative chairman of the Maine Department of the American Legion, Simoneau has testified in both Washington, D.C., and in Augusta in support of legislation benefiting veterans. Most recently, he helped raise funds to support the family of Army Sgt. Helaina Lake, a military police officer from Livermore Falls who was severely wounded last June while serving in Afghanistan. In 2006, Simoneau spearheaded an effort to purchase flags for graves in veterans cemeteries in Springvale, Augusta and Caribou for Memorial Day. Last May, nearly 400 volunteers placed more than 15,000 American flags. Simoneau also worked to upgrade the World War II monument in Livermore Falls, his hometown. On Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, two brass plaques listing the 726 men and women from Livermore and Livermore Falls who served in World War II will be dedicated. “I was brought up to believe if somebody needed their driveway cleared, you shovelled snow,” Simoneau said. “If they needed their lawn mowed, you mowed it.”
    • Nancy Oden

      Nancy Oden harvests medicinal herbs, tansy and goldenrod, in her Jonesboro organic garden. Photo by Peter Aldridge


      Environmental activist


      ince moving to Washington County in 1979, much of Nancy Oden’s environmental activism has focused on curbing or eliminating the use and proliferation of pesticides and other toxic chemicals. An organic grower, she was the leader of successful campaigns over three decades to bar waste incineration and disposal that would have allowed millions of tons of out-of-state garbage to be dumped in townships 30 and 14 in Washington County. She helped halt a proposed jetport in Jonesboro that threatened wetlands, and organized a citizen’s referendum to stop virtually all aerial spraying of pesticides in Downeast Maine. “These issues flow into one another,” says Oden, who acknowledges that more than 35 years of activism, virtually all of it without pay, has required constant vigilance and struggle. She has attended countless public meetings, cajoled people to care about issues that often seem too big to tackle, and given up private time to make a difference in the future of the state and the planet. Oden is a conscientious troublemaker, a characterization she sees as a vindication of her work, not a condemnation. She has agitated against special interests and corporate greed in her unrelenting effort to protect Maine’s natural resources, farms, fisheries and families from harm. Oden’s dedication to the effort to preserve a clean earth for future generations has been a spark of hope for other environmental activists in Maine.
    • Victoria Pabst

      Victoria "Tori" Pabst, photographed in her home Tuesday, November 20, 2012, is a Westbrook senior who took a stand against bullying last year and has since gone public with the story. Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer


      Standing up against bullying


      ictoria Pabst is glad she took a stand. Last school year, Pabst found herself the target of intense bullying. She spend much of her junior year at Westbrook High School getting pushed into lockers, taunted by classmates and deluged with hateful Facebook posts, text messages and tweets. Finally, she had enough. Pabst, who goes by “Tori,” wrote a 1,045-word letter about her ordeal and went on WLOB radio to tell her story. Morning host Ray Richardson posted her missive on his website, where it got tens of thousands of hits. Some of the bullying intensified immediately afterwards, but then stopped altogether. Teachers and her “real friends” came out in support. Some of the kids apologized. “I don’t think they realized themselves how bad it was, but they definitely understood afterward,” said Pabst, now a high school senior. Six months later, Pabst says she no longer dreads going to school. She’s getting good grades and preparing to go to college, where she plans to study psychology. She’s glad that her experience may have helped others. People contacted her mother, and classmates told her she was being called a role model on Twitter. Richardson organized a community forum on bullying. Pabst said she didn’t know that going public would be such a big deal. “Not first off, but after, I realized, this is getting really big,” she said. “I didn’t expect that much attention, but it was something that needed to be touched on.”