Thumbs up to Jimmy Hunt Barker and Kenneth White Douglas, owners of the Wedding Cake House in Kennebunk, who have graciously opened the doors to their home as a charity fundraiser for the last month. Although the tours end today, organizers ”“ members of First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Kennebunk ”“ said in a recent interview that the tours of the 1815 Federal-style home were going well, and for the first few weeks, they were raising about $1,000 each day for hunger relief in the county.

Admission was $10 per person, but many people gave more, they said. Not only did they get a chance to see the inside of this notable home, but quenching their curiosity about it also helped the hungry.

Thumbs up to the working group charged with finding ways to reduce the state’s contribution to general assistance. While we may not all agree with their charge, this group is taking a hard look at ways to cut funds while lessening the impact on the state’s vulnerable populations. Sometimes cuts to state departments are made without being tied to specific cost areas, then department heads have to figure out where those funds will be slashed. Looking at policy, however, is important when cutting general assistance funds to ensure that the elderly, disabled and children are not unduly harmed by changes. We’re pleased to see this group is taking an in-depth look at how to cut the $500,000 they’ve been asked to find, before making those cuts.

Thumbs up to the Biddeford School Department for seeking a grant to help more of its graduates attend college. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jeff Porter made the pitch to the school committee last week, citing statistics that show about 65-70 percent of Biddeford High School seniors said they intended to enroll in a post-secondary school between 2009-12, but only 60 percent of 12th-graders actually enrolled in such a program after graduation. He also pointed out that navigating the federal financial aid system can be difficult for students ”“ especially if they are the first generation of their family to attend college. The grant funds will help the school department put a plan in place to assist students and then implement that plan. The end result would hopefully be more Biddeford High School graduates earning an advanced degree.

Thumbs up to the Massabesic High School students whose artwork is being included in a Portland Museum of Art exhibit this fall, along with the work of Winslow Homer. The students visited Prout’s Neck last fall to experience Homer’s Maine residence. They also got the chance to paint at the location. Of the student’s works created on the trip, six will appear in the exhibit in addition to work from students at four other high schools who took part in this artistic endeavor.

Thumbs up to another group of students ”“ those from Sanford Junior High School ”“ who spent a rainy day last week planting chestnut trees with the Sanford-Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust. About 40 seventh-grade students joined land trust members in planting 36 American chestnut trees. The trust is trying to help reintroduce the species to the area, after a blight wiped out the trees approximately 100 years ago. In addition to the important work of planting trees, the students and adults working together gave the young people a glimpse of what kind of associations they may want to join later in life, while affording the adults a chance to work with and get to know some of today’s youth.


Thumbnails is a Monday feature of the Journal Tribune’s opinion pages. If you want to respond, feel free to write to the Readers’ Forum via email at [email protected] or by dropping your letter off at our Biddeford office.