Betty Ann Weeman helps Jehanne Foster to a table at the Buxton Centre Baptist Church on Christmas Day. Weeman, who helped organize a free Christmas dinner at the church, brought Foster to the meal from a warming station at St. Joseph College. Foster had been without power since Friday but on their way to the meal, the two passed by Foster’s home and discovered her power had come back on. “That’s quite the Christmas present,” Foster said. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

STANDISH — Christmas Day was the third day Jehanne Foster, 88,  was having to spend at a warming shelter, but when she entered a room at St. Joseph’s College and saw volunteers from the Red Cross, she offered them a cheerful smile.

A power outage had left her unable to spend the holiday at home, but she seemed to be taking it in her stride.

Everyone can learn from a challenge, she said.

“Nobody goes through life by yourself,” said the retired teacher and social worker. “You have to work together. During the hardest time, nobody has to walk alone. If you look to your left and right, there’s always people who will be there for you. And you have to be there for them.”

There was plenty of that spirit to be found on a Christmas Day that for many, still suffering the consequences of Friday’s big storm, wasn’t at all what they had planned.

Betty Ann Weeman, Foster’s health care worker, when she visited Foster on Friday, found her with no electricity and no heat. Weeman brought her to the warming shelter and stayed right with her there, by her side.


“I’m with Jan whenever she needs me,” Weeman said. “I’m not leaving her.”

Bob and Ann Cibelli spent their Christmas staffing the St. Joseph’s College warming center as Red Cross volunteers. Despite many people without power in Standish, the turnout was light at the center, as it was at other centers that already have closed.   A lot of people are staying with family members over the Christmas weekend, Ann Cibelli said.

The college center planned to close at 4 p.m. Sunday because so few people were using it, she said. Those without power would be offered places to stay, and anyone in need of help was urged to call 211.

Earlier, Ann Cibelli said, people had popped in to get warm, take a shower and eat food that had been cooked. “One family showed up here at 1:30 a.m. It was too cold to wrap their presents,” she said.

She said firefighters and rescue workers had been calling the center to check what was needed there.  “Everyone’s there to take care of people,” she said.

Sixth grader Ivy Daggett, 12, of Gorham, found herself with her parents at the warming center on Christmas Day. The family lost power on Friday. At first, they stayed home, but it just kept getting colder and colder,” Daggett said. “We were absolutely freezing.” Wrapped up in blankets to try to stay warm, “we couldn’t move,” she said. “We couldn’t decorate for Christmas.”


Spending Christmas at the warming shelter was fine, Daggett said. It was warm and the sleeping arrangements were comfortable. She said her family planned to exchange gifts when the power’s back on, but added “we’re able to celebrate Christmas anywhere, as long as we’re together.”

Eddie Hamilton, in the bucket, and Justin Cogswell of Lucas Tree Experts work at removing a tree from wires on Route 22 in Buxton on Sunday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

A few miles away, on Route 22 in Buxton, a Lucas Tree Experts crew worked on Sunday to free power lines entangled in a fallen tree. Justin Cogswell stood watching the truck and oncoming traffic. His foreman, Eddie Hamilton, was high up in the truck’s bucket, cutting branches.

They were helping clear trees from power lines so CMP could restore electricity, Cogswell said. Hamilton worked with a stick saw, allowing him to reach branches. It wasn’t clear if the power lines were live, Cogswell said,  but Hamilton’s equipment was insulated to keep him safe from electrocution if they were.

Like hundreds of other emergency workers, Cogswell said he and Hamilton had been logging 17-hour days in freezing temperatures, often in the dark and wind.

He said he was fine working outside in the cold while others were at home opening presents.

“For me, and for all the linemen, the crews, all the crews from out of state working, yes it’s Christmas. But we’re helping people get power back on. That’s probably the best thing for me,” he said.


Diane Longley puts food into a container at Buxton Centre Baptist Church on Sunday. The church hosted a free Christmas dinner but also delivered meals to elderly shut-ins and first responders who had to work on Christmas Day. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Down the road, a team of volunteers at Buxton Centre Baptist Church got ready to serve a free Christmas dinner to anyone who showed up.

“I don’t have any idea how many we’re going to feed,” said volunteer Claudia Treadwell.

A long table held enticing pies – cheesecake, apple, pumpkin, and pecan. An even longer table held a huge pot of mashed potatoes, squash, turkey and stuffing, mixed vegetables, gravy, and rolls.

Treadwell said her Christmas Day chores at the church included washing dishes. Gerry, her husband of 56 years, mashed potatoes.

“She made me do this,” he joked.

But he spoke of their commitment to volunteering to be of “service to humanity.” Helping “keeps us off the streets and off the couch,” said his wife.


Volunteers were busy packing up Christmas dinners to go to be picked up by local police officers, rescue workers, and firefighters.

Ron Weeman greets a person coming in the door at the Buxton Centre Baptist Church on Sunday as he fills up a container with food that would be delivered to an elderly shut-in near the church. Weeman and his wife Betty Ann helped organize the meal at the church, which almost didn’t happen because the church lost power in the storm. They got their power back late on Christmas Eve. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

At one table, Jane Breede of Limerick sat waiting for dinner across from Leo Belanger of Westbrook.

Breede called the congregation’s annual effort “fabulous.”

“I have no family. I just have no other outlet to go to on Christmas,” she said. “It’s nice to have a place to greet people.”

That’s why the Christmas dinner is held, said Ron Weeman, the feast’s head chef, who is married to Betty Ann Weeman, the health care worker helping Jehanne Foster.

He has volunteered at the church’s Christmas meal for 17 years. It’s offered, he said, “because people need it. We’ve had people come who would have been alone at Christmas.” And, he added, “it feels nice.”


As the dinner was about to start, Betty Ann Weeman and Jehanne Foster arrived from the warming shelter.

Weeman suggested they share a prayer before the meal. She prayed for the food to be blessed, as well as all the lineworkers and tree crews working on Christmas.

As Foster settled in at a table and chair, she learned that power had been restored to her home.

She beamed.

“Those guys work so hard, and it’s freezing cold out there – we thank them so much,” Foster said. “They’re our heroes.”

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