Joint senior events announced, along with pick-up deadlines for celebration materials

BIDDEFORD/SACO

Biddeford Superintendent Jeremy Ray and Thornton Academy Headmaster Rene Menard announced that there will be a United Senior Recognition Project along with a joint Senior Night honoring all Class of 2020 Seniors in Biddeford and Saco. The Candles UNITE for Seniors event will feature the lighting of candle-sized light bulbs in the school colors each night through what would have been graduation weekend and joining in on a Senior Night Celebration at 6:30 p.m. June 5.

Menard said, “The physical closure of our schools has been difficult for everyone – especially our seniors – who have been looking forward to end-of-the-year graduation events. We’re working hard to find creative ways to make those graduation events special despite the challenges we are all facing to keep our communities safe.”

The schools have each ordered 1,500 candle-sized bulbs in their school colors and will distribute them in the coming weeks for a suggested donation of $5 each and also have a limited quantity of electric window holders available for $4 each as the bulbs will not work in battery-operated holders. All funds raised will be split equally between the two towns to help feed families in their communities.

Ray said, “The youth in our two communities have gone to daycares together, attended arts and music events, Boy & Girl Scout events, athletic travel teams, etc. We believe strongly that a community is not defined by a river that separates our two towns and we should come together to honor our seniors as a whole. We encourage families to consider getting a bulb for seniors in both towns.”

For Senior Night, community members are invited to go outside in both towns and make as much noise as possible for 30 seconds – bang on pots and pans, clap, honk car horns, etc. to recognize all seniors. Following this recognition, Biddeford High School will hold their Candlelight Ceremony and Thornton Academy will hold their Bachelorette Awards Ceremony virtually at 7 p.m.

Pickup dates for the candle-sized light bulbs are from 9 to 11 a.m. today, 4 to 6 p.m., Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 19 and from 5 to 7 p.m. May 20 at Thornton Academy and Waterhouse Field. Cash, check and Venmo will be accepted.

For more details, email Karen Chasse at [email protected] or Haley Thompson at
[email protected]

Families are encouraged to share their photos on social media with the hashtag #SeniorsUnite2020

SCARBOROUGH

Town & Country Federal Credit Union celebrated National Nurses Week last week with a donation of more than 100 bottles of hand sanitizers to nurses at Maine Medical Center.

The credit union made the contribution through its ‘Local Helping Local’ initiative, created at the start of the pandemic as a way to highlight and support local needs and organizations, in addition to its ongoing assistance it is providing to its members. Since mid-March, the credit union has made significant contributions to help deliver thousands of meals to older Mainers, purchased meals for hundreds of frontline healthcare workers, assistance to families in crisis, and highlighted and supported locally-owned restaurants.

FAYETTE

Registration is now open for parents who plan to enroll their children in kindergarten or prekindergarten for the 2020/21 school year at Fayette Central School. Those signups can be done via phone or email with the actual screening to be scheduled for a later date. To be eligible to start school this fall, a child must be four years of age for pre-K, and five years of age for kindergarten, on or before Oct. 15.

For more details, call the school at 685-4770 or email Ms. Jenkins at [email protected] to register your child.

Maine Community College System honors seven as 2020 Students of the Year during online presentation

AUGUSTA

The Maine Community College System, last week, recognized seven community college students from across the state as 2020 Students of the Year during a special online presentation.

The honorees included Central Maine Community College – Kate McPherson, Computer Technology, of Litchfield; Eastern Maine Community College – Ethan Preble, Human Services, of Birch Harbor; Kennebec Valley Community College – Mason Peterson, Liberal Studies, of Waterville; Northern Maine Community College – Marcel Chalou, Water Treatment Technology, of Easton; Southern Maine Community College – Liam Woodworth-Cook, Liberal Studies/English Concentration, of South Portland; Washington County Community College – Clinton Dakin, Engine Specialist, of Stockton Springs; and York County Community College – Billy Susanto, Computer Science, of Berwick.

The students were selected by faculty and staff at their college for their academic success and their campus and community involvement. In addition to being named Student of the Year, each student received a John and Jana Lapoint Leadership Award in the amount of $1,000. The Lapoints both served as trustees of the Maine Community College System. After John’s death in 1995, Jana Lapoint helped establish the fund for the annual awards.

A recording of the presentation is available on the MCCS Vimeo and YouTube channels. (https://vimeo.com/410716701 and https://youtu.be/y7PU6Ahclmc)

Due to COVID-19, the nomination deadline for the 2020 Maine Adult and Youth Volunteer Rolls of Honor, organized by Volunteer Maine, has been extended to 5 p.m. May 22.

The Maine Volunteer Rolls of Honor are a statewide effort to show appreciation to citizens who go above and beyond in the time they devote to serving their communities. There is no cost to the nominator or person honored thanks to civic-minded supporters.

Adult nominees must be 19 years of age or older and have volunteered at least 500 documented hours in the prior calendar year. Youth nominees must be 18 or younger and volunteered at least 50 hours in the prior year. All volunteers certified as qualifying by the nominating program will be recognized. This is not a competitive recognition program.

Individuals added to the Adult and Youth Maine Volunteer Rolls of Honor are recognized with a Governor’s Awards for Service and Volunteerism certificate and their names published in the Bangor Daily News. This form of recognition is intended to generate more local congratulations from neighbors and friends of the volunteer.

The in-person recognition ceremony has been canceled this year due to the pandemic. The ceremony was scheduled to be held prior to the Portland Sea Dogs’ annual Volunteer Appreciation Night game at Hadlock Field in Portland.

All nominations must be sent electronically. For information on how to submit a nomination, go to volunteermaine.org/governors-service-awards.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), Maine Forest Service (MFS), and 211 Maine remind the public to take precautions now that browntail moth caterpillars are emerging from their webs in trees. The caterpillars are covered with tiny hairs, which are shed and can become airborne, potentially causing a skin reaction like poison ivy and trouble breathing if inhaled.

Many Mainers are spending increased time outdoors for recreation and yard maintenance during the COVID-19 pandemic. This may put them at increased risk of contact with these toxic hairs. All counties in southern, midcoast, Down East and south-central Maine are at some risk of browntail moth exposure.

The greatest risk for exposure to the toxic hairs is from now through July when the moths are active. The hairs can land anywhere, including on trees, gardens, lawns, and decks. The hairs remain toxic in the environment for one to three years, and can be stirred up by activities like mowing, raking and sweeping.

Most affected individuals develop a localized rash that lasts from a few hours to several days. In more sensitive individuals, the rash can be severe and last for weeks. Respiratory distress from inhaling the hairs can be serious. The rash and difficulty breathing result from both a chemical reaction to a toxin in the hairs and a physical irritation as the barbed hairs become embedded in the skin and airways.

There is no specific treatment for the rash or breathing problems caused by exposure to browntail moth hairs. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and eliminating ongoing exposure.

Browntail moth caterpillars are easy to identify. They are dark brown with white stripes along the sides and two red-orange dots on the back. Younger caterpillars may lack the white stripes.

For more details, including tips, call 874-2211 or go to maine.gov/dhhs/browntailmoth.

PORTLAND

Two Local Students Awarded $1,500 Scholarships

Portland Water District’s Board of Trustees recently awarded 2020 Joseph A. DiPietro Memorial Scholarships to Priscilla Arsenault and Daniel Quinho, both of Portland. The two also plan to attend Southern Maine Community College this fall.

The scholarship was established in 2003 to commemorate longtime trustee Joe DiPietro’s dedication to advancing youth education, and the Portland Water District Board of Trustees is proud to continue to support local students entering water, wastewater, science and environmental fields.

U.S. Presidential Scholar Semifinalist

Deering High School Student isGlynis O’Meara is one of just six Maine seniors named national semifinalists in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Glynis O'Meara of Deering High School named semi-finalist for U.S. Preidential Scholar status

Glynis O’Meara of Deering High School named semifinalist for U.S. Presidential Scholar Program.

Deering High School student Glynis O’Meara is one of just six Maine seniors to be named national semifinalists in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

The semifinalist scholars are chosen on the basis of their accomplishments in many areas, including academic and artistic success, career and technical fields, leadership and involvement in school and the community. They represent excellence in education and are among the most accomplished youth in the nation.

Deering school counselor Libby Heselton and calculus teacher Brian Dodge, who also is O’Meara’s debate team coach, said that she is “a top student, who has demonstrated an exceptional work ethic, persistent curiosity, and exceptional leadership. She has competed on the national level twice for debate, won first place in state competitions, and sportsmanship awards with her team. Her ability to process and build highly complex argumentation and make that argument accessible is unparalleled and impactful. She motivates us to think and consider our opinions.”

O’Meara also is considered a standout as an active volunteer on the front line of political change, human rights and environmental activism. She is considered kind, open-minded, thoughtful, inspiring one who makes a profound impression the people she meets.

O’Meara has maintained high honors all four years at Deering and has also taken three math classes at the University of Southern Maine. She has taken a number of AP classes and achieved the highest score in the test for each class. She has been inducted into the National Honor Society, where she was given the Brown University Book Award. She also is a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. She plans to attend Columbia University, where she intends to study political science and economics.

Governor Janet Mills and Commissioner of Education Pender Makin congratulated the six seniors semifinalists, who include Abigail Aleshire, Waynflete School; Ethan Eickmann, Kennebunk High School; Jay Philbrick, Maine School of Science & Mathematics; Neily Raymond, Hermon High School; and John Wahlig III, Falmouth High School.

Do you have a story to tell about Maine? Have you recently uncovered photographs of an ancestor? Would you like to tell future generations about what it is like living during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Maine Historical Society believes that the experience of every person with a Maine connection matters. To that end, they are seeking stories about how community members are experiencing the pandemic, as well as stories about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, polio epidemic, AIDS crisis, or other instances when the community responded to challenge.

People can submit their stories using My Maine Stories’ tool on the Maine Memory Network, Maine’s digital museum managed by MHS, that features historical items and online exhibits, contributed by 270 institutional partners around Maine.

People can add stories using text, photos and text, video, or audio that are then sent to Maine Historical Society curator Tilly Laskey, who catalogs the information and prepares it to go online, where it is added to tens of thousands of items on Maine Memory Network.

Laskey noted that the pandemic has created space where families are filling time together with stories and memories. Those stories, whether historic or contemporary, will be permanently preserved, widely accessible and help document this profound moment in Maine history. It will help create a sense of connection and community and become a valuable resource and source of perspective about Mainers 10, 50 or 100 years from now.

Laskey added, “These stories show how welcoming individual contributions on Maine Memory Network has democratized the process of history, widening ideas of authority, diversifying content, and providing a contemporary perspective on Maine history.”

To add your story, go to www.mainememory.net/mymainestories.

The Maine Immigrant & Refugee Funders Collaborative announced the gift of $150,000 in grants from the Immigrant-Led Organizations Fund, a grant-making fund at Maine Initiatives, established in 2017 to support immigrant-led and immigrant-serving organizations in Maine.

These grants will provide critical general operating support to 28 immigrant-led organizations in Maine that are led by and serve Maine’s immigrants, refugees, asylees, migrant farm workers and those who are undocumented. Their invaluable work is all the more important in this moment of navigating the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shima Kabirigi, Immigrant & Refugee Funders Collaborative coordinator and program officer at Maine Initiatives, that administers the fund, said “These organizations are going to extraordinary lengths to adapt and respond to the needs of their constituents, often without knowing where the funds to back such efforts will come from. We see it as philanthropy’s responsibility to step up, bring resources to the table supporting the organizations that are doing this critical work.”

Grants will fund much-needed direct services and advocacy, including food and resource distribution, the sharing of essential public health information and coordination of the immigrant community’s response to this pandemic with local and state officials.

Recipients of grants from the Immigrant-Led Organizations Fund include: the Angolan Community Association, Cambodian Community Association of Maine, Capital Area New Mainers Project, Choose Yourself, Congolese Community of Maine, Djiboutian American Empowerment Project, Gateway Community Services, Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, Immigrant Resource Center, In Her Presence, Intercultural Community Center, Ladder to the Moon Network (Amjambo Africa), Maine Access Immigrant Network, Maine Community Integration, Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services, Maine Immigrants Rights’ Coalition, Mano en Mano, New England Arab American Organization, New Mainers Public Health Initiative, New Roots Cooperative Farm, Presente! Maine, Prosperity ME, Rwandese Community Association, Somali Bantu Community Association, Somali Community Center of Maine, South Sudanese Community Association of Maine, Sustainable Livelihoods Relief Organization, and United Youth Empowerment Services.

To learn more, go to maineinitiatives.org/immigrant-led-organizations-fund-grantees.

Bob Dunfey, the Volunteer Race Director for the Maine Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay, has announced that Spurwink is one of seven beneficiaries of this year’s event, to be held on Oct. 4. Spurwink will receive a $2,500 donation from the event.

“We are thrilled to have been chosen as a beneficiary this year,” said Eric Meyer, President and CEO of Spurwink. “Maine Marathon’s charitable giving has impacted many communities in Maine through the years, and we are thrilled to be able to share this with our clients and communities that we serve. Health and wellness are at the core of what Spurwink does in providing behavioral health services across Maine, and we are grateful to the Maine Marathon for going the distance with us.”

The Maine Marathon, organized by the Maine Track Club, is a volunteer-driven, nonprofit event, with proceeds going to local Maine charities. Since 1997, the organization has donated over $5.2 million to charity. Over 50 volunteer race coordinators plan the event during the year and about 900 volunteers deliver the event on race weekend.

FALMOUTH

Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield, the Highlands in Topsham, Preble Street in Portland, the Maine Correctional Center in Windham and Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset are among the more than 20 hospitals, jails, residences, shelters and other organizations that have received fabric surgical masks thanks to a sewing group from the Parish of the Holy Eucharist in Falmouth.

Cheri Lozoraitis, who helped to organize the effort, said the Corporal Works of Mercy, that are tenants of her faith, include caring for the sick, the homeless and the imprisoned. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she wanted to do something to help.

Lozoraitis’ sister-in-law is a nurse at a major hospital in Boston she knew about the reported shortages of personal protective equipment for health-care workers.

“She had started posting on Facebook a grave concern for the safety of the nurses and other medical personnel where she was working,” said Lozoraitis. “She wasn’t saying a lot about it, but it was obvious she was concerned. She’s not easily shaken, and it was obvious she was shaken.”

Lozoraitis recalled seeing Facebook posts about people making fabric surgical masks. She reached out to a parish sewing group that has long made and donated clothing to organizations such as “Little Dresses for Africa,” a Michigan-based nonprofit that provides dresses for girls and young ladies in Africa to build their self-esteem. Lozoraitis connected with Yvette Knight, who heads up the group, and before she knew it, the members had taken on this new cause.

“Her response was just amazing,” Lozoraitis said. “I had sent her a couple of good patterns that I had found that the medical fraternity were supporting, and she said, ‘OK, I’ve got the pattern. We’re inventorying our supplies. We’re going to meet up.’ This was shortly before the lockdown.”

Initially, the group made fabric masks with elastic loops that go around people’s ears, but Lozoraitis said she then learned that elastic ties could be an issue, so they switched to sewing masks with ties made out of bias tape.

By the end of March, the group had completed enough to donate. Lozoraitis began contacting organizations to see if any needed them. One of the first responses she received was from the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. Since that time, there have been many more, especially with CDC guidelines now recommending masks whenever social distancing isn’t possible.

“I received an email yesterday from the Piscataquis County Jail. They heard of our group through the grapevine and hoped we could help them with masks,” said Lozoraitis, who just completed 20 special headbands with buttons to donate to frontline workers at Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland. “You hook the surgical mask around the buttons instead of your ears. Apparently, all these days and hours of wearing masks are causing some discomfort.”

The Parish of the Holy Eucharist group has since made more than 1,000 masks including 380 in the last week. To date, they have provided masks or are providing masks for: Amistad in Portland, Crossroads for Women in Scarborough, Falmouth Police Department, Gary’s House in Portland, The Highlands in Topsham, Lincoln County Police & Emergency Services, Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, Maine Correctional Center in Windham, Maine Veterans’ Homes in Scarborough, McAuley Residence in Portland, Milestone Recovery in Portland, Northern Light Home Care & Hospice, Northern Light Mayo Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft, Northern Light CA Dean Hospital in Greenville, Northern Light Sebasticook Valley in Pittsfield, Northern Light Continuing Care – Lakewood in Waterville, Northern Light Inland Hospital in Waterville, Oxford Street Shelter in Portland, Preble Street in Portland, Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, and Wayside Food Programs, based in Portland.

Requests for masks continue to pour in from around Maine and the group, of course, is happy to assist.

“We’re still very busy,” said Lozoraitis. “I’m incredibly grateful for all the hard work the volunteers have been doing. It has allowed my hope to become a reality.”

CAMDEN

Camden National Bank has donated $10,000 to Area Interfaith Outreach (AIO Food and Energy Assistance) for its “More Food, More Often” capital campaign to renovate and expand into a new facility in Rockland, adjacent to its current building.

A key community resource for Midcoast Maine, AIO Food and Energy Assistance supports more than 4,265 households (11,000 individuals) with food, and it works with local utilities to provide energy assistance support to over 600 households in 18 municipalities in the county. According to Good Shepherd Food Bank, food insecurity in Maine could increase by as much 39 percent in 2020 due to COVID-19, depending on the sustained growth in rates of unemployment and poverty.

AIO’s new 3,800 square-foot facility is on track to open this summer, assuming the remaining necessary funds are raised, which will allow for a more efficient system of handling food, a safe and secure environment for clients and the opportunity to better integrate and partner with other social service providers.

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