Karen Bombaro and Derek McDowell of Stoner & Co. volunteer at Williams Court Park for Biddeford’s Adopt a Park program. Dina Mendros photo

BIDDEFORD — For those living or working in Biddeford and looking for a way to exercise in the fresh air and help out their community at the same time, look no further than the city’s Adopt A Park program. The organization is looking for volunteers to help care for the parks the organization is responsible for.

For those working at Stoner & Co., who have adopted Williams Court Park, they say it’s a rewarding experience.

“It’s just a way to give back to the community that has given us so much,” the company’s human resources manager, Karen Bombaro said on July 14 at the park.

Stoner & Co., based in Biddeford, is one of Maine’s largest privately owned cannabis companies, she said. Despite COVID, she said, the company has grown from six employee to about 50 employees. Members of the Biddeford community who have been customers of the company had a role to play in that growth, she said.

Her coworker, Volunteer Coordinator Derek McDowell said he also felt it was important to give back to the community and that the Adopt a Park program has been a good way to do so.

Although company staff began volunteering at the park last year, Bombaro said, “this is the first year we’ve officially adopted it.”

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Three to 12 staff members volunteer at the park every other week for a few hours at a time, she said.

“It gets easier every week,” McDowell said.

The city takes care of mowing and any big projects, Bombaro said. Company volunteers do tasks like weeding, taking care of the plants and more.

Volunteering at the park aligns with a Stoner & Co. philosophy, she said. “The company believes that the only way to find yourself is to lose yourself is to give back to others.”

“When you do good, people notice,” McDowell added.

Joan Brooks, left, and Mirlea Saks, part of Biddeford’s Adopt a Park program, are pictured on July 14 at Williams Court Park. Dina Mendros photo

While not one of the official adopters, 8-year-old Noah is a frequent visitor to Williams Court Park. “I help garden,” he said. “I help plant and water the plants.”

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Mirlea Saks of the Adopt A Park program said that park in particular has been transformative for the neighborhood and its residents. She noted that there is a an elderly lady who visits the park most days. Since the woman started visiting the park “her whole facial completion changed,” Sax said. “She has a reason to live.”

Joan Brooks, also part of the Adopt A Park program, said volunteering a few hours of one’s time every week or every other week is a great way to get exercise, get fresh air and help the environment. “It’s healthy,” she said.

For those who live and/or work in Biddeford, Brooks urges people to volunteer at one of the city’s parks. “You’re part of Biddeford, why not make it more beautiful?” she said.

Below is a list of the parks that are part of the Adopt A Park program which includes a listing of those that need extra help and those that need to be adopted:

  • Shevenell Park – Adopter: Leah Schaffer [email protected] (downtown pocket park next to Engine) (Leah could use extra help.)
  • Mechanics Park – Adopters: UNECOM, contact Caroline Rizea [email protected], and Jesse Skowronski [email protected] and Sam McReynolds [email protected] of the Citizenship Office. (The park needs more help in the summer months from May 1 through end of July.)
  • Canopy Park – Adopter: BHS APC, contact Andrew Burnell [email protected] (Bacon Street between Sullivan Street and Pierson’s Lane) (Andrew could use extra help during the school year and when school is out for the summer)
  • 315 Main Street – Adopter: Karen Montano  [email protected] (Corner of Elm and Main streets)
  • Washington Street School Park – Adopters: Joan Brooks,Mirlea Saks, Holly Culloton (Corner of Jefferson and Washington streets)
  • Williams Court – Adopters: Stoner & Co. Contact Derek McDowell [email protected] (Corner of South and Green Streets)
  • Cannon Plaza – Adopter: Holly Culloton [email protected] (Would be great to have a separate adopter group for the triangle area in front of the cannon. Currently there are a few perennials in there, but it needs some major TLC.)
  • Clifford Park – (Currently not adopted, but until recently there has been a ‘Friends of Clifford Park’ group that monitors trails and does trail work. Could use new members. Could also use an adopter group to care for the perennial garden there at the trail head near the tennis courts.

 

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