Friday, October 18, 2019

Student of the Week: Jacob "Jake" Goslant

Jake Goslant, an eighth-grade student at Jordan-Small Middle School, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Goslant states that he enjoys playing football, basketball, wrestling and baseball.

“Jacob is perseverant,” stated one of Goslant’s teachers. “He tries his best, asks questions, and works to understand the material covered in class. He often helps his classmates and reminds them of important procedures and values.  Jake is kind and compassionate, he is respectful to the school staff and his classmates.”

Goslant’s favorite subject is social studies and his favorite movie is “Star Wars.” In his free time, Goslant likes to watch Netflix and Youtube or play with his dogs.

Goslant lives at home with his mom, dad, a brother who is in high school and two dogs.






Mentoring program between Windham High School and Windham Middle School is in its second year

A group of 20 Windham High School students congregated in the entrance of Windham Middle School a few weeks ago on their way to meet the students they will be mentoring this school year.

“We found the first few mentoring sessions were pretty uncomfortable for everyone last year,” said Lanet Hane, Director Community Connections for RSU14, “So we designed an initial full-group interaction to help change that and make everyone more comfortable from the start.”

Akillian Muhiddin on Windham Middle School’s high ropes course. The course was a part of the activities to help students get to know one another.

This big gathering included a variety of games and activities, including high ropes, designed to help everyone get excited for their first one-on-one interactions. By the end of the afternoon, people knew each other’s names, fun facts about each other and were comfortable simply hanging out together having a good time.

This familiarity is essential for the mentoring program to function successfully.

Mentoring is a weekly event and includes one high schooler and one middle schooler who get together to talk, play games, do homework and just spend time together. These pairs stay together for a full school year, and over time develop strong relationships that are of mutual benefit.

Molly McAllister stated, “Last year we were very individual. This year, instead of having just our mentee, we are talking with multiple middle school students. I think that’s a great chance for students to get multiple perspectives.”

Last year’s pilot program included eight pairs, but the program was such a success that it has more than doubled in size.






The importance of volunteerism to small-town community success

By Elizabeth Richards

Volunteers are at the heart of strong communities, especially small ones with fewer resources than large urban areas.  Volunteers keep children’s sports leagues, local theatre groups, town government, scout troops, and small nonprofit organizations operating smoothly. And yet, it seems to be getting more and more difficult to find qualified volunteers who are committed to giving their time back to the community.

Rolf Olsen, a town selectman in Raymond, said that people have so many commitments that it’s hard
for them to find the time to volunteer.  “People say it will only take a little time, but it usually ends up bigger than what you thought it was,” he said. 

In addition, Olsen added, increased requirements, such as background checks, and the costs associated with those requirements, can be daunting.  Windham Town Councilor Tim Nangle agreed, saying he has seen a drop in volunteering for EMS and Fire due to additional training requirements.

Other factors in a decrease in volunteerism, according to Olsen, include the fact that people are working, and are not in their communities during the day, or they have young families and can’t spare the time.
 
Sheila Borque, an active volunteer in many initiatives in Raymond, says that one of the big challenges she sees is that whatever she’s involved in, she runs into the same people. “If you look around, what are you seeing? The aging of that volunteer population. A lot of people are retired and getting older, so a lot of the initiatives that were started a long time ago are hurting,” she said.

Olsen also said that the way that volunteers are sometimes treated can dissuade people from wanting to volunteer. In the past, he said, people recognized that volunteers were giving up their time and appreciated that. Now, it seems, they often jump all over the volunteers if things don’t turn out the way they wanted it to. “People volunteer because they get something out of it – if all they get is grief, then what has that done for them?” he asked. 

Still, the need for volunteers is great, particularly in small communities. In Raymond, for instance, there is no recreation department, no social services, no community center, and even the library is an independent nonprofit.  “If we want certain things, volunteers are going to have to step up and provide them,” Borque said. 

Windham is fortunate, Nangle said, with good responsiveness to public committees, and people with a lot of expertise willing to be involved. “We could never afford to do all this work that these committees do,” he said.  “All of the town’s needs can’t be met by just staff alone. That’s why I think we’re very lucky.” 

While there aren’t a lot of vacancies on Windham’s committees, that doesn’t mean people can’t express interest, he said. Applications are kept for when a vacancy does open up. Vacancies are announced in the newspaper and on the town website (www.windhammaine.us/376/Committee-Vacancies). Each committee is different, Nangle added, and not all of them take a lot of time.
Pat Moody, a Windham resident who currently volunteers as the president of Windham Youth Basketball, Chair of the Recreation Advisory Committee and a member of the Community Center Planning committee, said he’s been volunteering all his life.

“I see areas for opportunity in the community, and instead of just telling people how to fix things and make them better, I’ll step in and provide some time to see what I can do to improve upon things,” Moody said.

Moody said he found inspiration in a book, “For the Love of Cities”. “The author talks about the emotional connection that some communities have and the relationship to the well-being of the citizens and the well-being of the local economy,” he said.

“When we love something it thrives, whether you are talking about children, a garden, or an object like a car...the more you love it the more success it has. I think about volunteering as a way to love Windham and help it grow and succeed,” Moody said.

As far as declining volunteerism, Moody said he thinks that how well organized a group is makes a difference. With Windham Youth Basketball, for instance, they don’t have a hard time finding board members or coaches. “It comes down to making sure everybody understands that the support structure is there and it’s about having a good experience for our community, and the more people who step up and help out, the better it’s going to be.”

Sometimes people may not realize that what they have to offer is important. For instance, Moody said, the committee working on the community center needs people with financial expertise to help them define the financial structure of the center. This may mean more analytical people who are less extroverted than those who typically volunteer. 

“Everybody’s got something to offer,” Moody said.  “In a Town like Windham there are so many different opportunities that you can get involved in, and help improve, and it’s going to add quality of life not only for yourself but other people as well.”

Bourque said that it’s also important to realize that one person can make a difference, especially in Maine. In large metropolitan areas, you can work really hard and barely make a dent because the government controls so much, but here, individuals can have an impact, she said.

“I have a basic philosophy of why are we here? If we’re not here to make it better, what’s the point? That’s kind of how I look at the world and I honestly feel that volunteers who get involved – you get more out of it than what you are giving. It’s an amazing feeling that you can actually see a difference,” Borque said.

It’s important to recognize that things don’t happen overnight, Borque added.  “It takes patience. When you are addressing things that are part of the fabric and the way things have always been done in your community, that takes time,” she said.

What can be done about declining volunteerism?  Borque believes collaboration is the only way forward.  “We have to work together. Maybe existing groups have existed in their own little silo, and they’re suffering. One of the things I do all the time is pull people together,” she said.

Opportunities for collaboration are everywhere, Borque said. “You just have to keep your mind and your ears open for those opportunities. They’re really everywhere. You just have to look at the world a certain way. It’s just phenomenal when you get all these groups working together, what we can accomplish.”

Before the memory fades: A haunting tale from Windham’s Parson Smith House

By Walter Lunt

Roger Barto bolted upright in his bed. Sleep had almost taken him, but something, a noise in the hallway outside his upstairs bedroom, brought him back to full wakefulness. Now his senses were on full alert as he stared across the darkened room at his bedroom door. On the other side, in the hallway, came the sound again: a thump – then another – and another, becoming more pronounced as it seemingly approached his bedroom door.

“It was like the sound of a (heavy) shoe or boot. But just one. It was like (whatever it was) only had a sock on the other foot.” recalled Roger.

Former caretakers of the Parson Smith House recall
a haunting night in the early 1960s that may involve
this boot
The sounds continued: thump – pause – thump – pause…

“(I remember) it grew louder until I knew it was just outside my door. I grabbed my bee-bee gun and sat wide-eyed and unblinking for over an hour.”

But the hallway, and the whole house, became quiet for the rest of the night. Eventually, Roger slept.

This incident, we’ll call the haunted hallway, took place in 1961. Roger and his brother and sister, all in their teens had moved into the historic Parson Smith House on River Road in Windham with their parents, Malcom and Betty Barto. They would be caretakers of the nearly 200-year old mansion, which was owned by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, based in Boston.

The family loved the big old house. Spacious and homey, Roger and his sister, Sue, recalls how great it was to finally have their own rooms. Outside, there were open spaces - fields and woods, and across the road swimming and fishing in the Presumpscot River. Their mom, Betty, was attracted to the house’s architecture and history. It was the home of Windham’s (New Marblehead’s) first settled minister, Parson Peter Thatcher Smith. Initial construction began after the Indian wars in 1764 but was not finished until the early 1800s. As a result, the ancient structure exhibit features of Georgian, Federal and Greek Revival architectural styles.

There were no incidents of paranormal activity right after the family’s move into the house. But within the first couple of years, both Betty and Roger became aware of an unseen presence.
There were times, especially when alone in the evening, Betty would later recall, when one would experience an omnipresence; more than once she would be startled by unexplainable sounds coming from various parts of the house. One time, footsteps, another the rattling of chains.

It was Roger who found an old boot tucked away in a basement crevice. Obviously not modern footwear, it was a man’s large-sized black leather galosh with wooden pegs in the sole, well-worn and very old.

Speculation at the time was that it may have belonged to either Parson Smith or to Edward Anderson who later lived in the house. The boot soon became a conversation piece. Displayed prominently on a shelf in the original colonial kitchen, it fit in well with the historic ambience of the old house.

Fast forward to the 1970s or ‘80s and an altered version of Roger’s haunted hallway story emerged. This one incorporated the old boot and a search for deceased children.

As told to legions of Windham school children and to visitors on a tour of the Parson Smith House, it went something like this: One June night a young boy in his upstairs bedroom awoke to the sound of a footstep descending the stairs. Knowing that his family was all tucked into their beds, the frightened young lad took refuge under his covers for the rest of the night. The next morning the boot was found at the top of the stairway, ostensibly having moved by itself from its display perch in the downstairs kitchen.

Research later revealed that one or more of Edward Anderson’s children had died very young in the month of June. And so, as the story goes, the long-dead father wearing the single boot walks in search of his young offspring every June.

Asked recently about the veracity of the updated version of his haunted hallway experience, Roger Barto responded firmly, “Never happened!” The earlier hallway story did happen, he insists, and retells it like it happened to him only yesterday.

Like the old parlor game ‘whisper circle,’ a group of players can change or embellish a word or phrase with each new telling around the circle. So, before the memory fades, it’s often worthwhile to return to the source of a story. In this case, Roger Barto. Perhaps his haunted hallway story will start around the whisper circle again. And perhaps that’s okay because when it comes back, it tends to be more fun and entertaining. At the very least, such stories tend to generate an interest in history.

Asked if they believe the unusual events at the Parson Smith House were the result of a haunting,  or if they feel there is a reasonable explanation behind them, most of the people who have actually lived in the house agree that spirits, though benign, do reside there. Elaine Dickinson, who has lived in the Parson Smith House with her late husband, Don, for over a quarter century has a more pragmatic take on the question:

“Once, I had to move a lot of heavy boxes from one end of the attic to the other. I asked that boot spirit to help me. And you know what? Those boxes never moved!” 



Friday, October 11, 2019

It’s almost heating season: Let's keep our community warm

By Bill Diamond

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing; the air is getting cooler and the nights are getting longer. Fall is here and with it comes the start of heating season, that is, the time of year when you have to heat your house.

Heating a home can be a significant burden for many people in our community. Most people use oil to heat their homes, the price of which can rise and fall based on a number of different factors, and it often doesn’t take much for heating costs to get out of hand unexpectedly. This issue is especially bad for seniors on fixed incomes, because while their costs might go up, their income doesn’t change.

This is a tough spot to be in. I have heard stories of folks wearing extra layers to stretch a tank of oil to its limits, buying small quantities of fuel at a time, or cutting back on other necessities just to keep their house warm.

There are a few options available to help people who are having trouble paying their heating bills. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal program that provides money to low-income homeowners and renters to help pay heating costs. It generally doesn’t cover all heating costs, but it does provide temporary assistance to those most in need. In Cumberland County, the Opportunity Alliance in Portland administers this program. Applications are taken by appointment (phone or in person) from September through March.  For more information or to make an appointment, call (207) 553-5900, or email heatingassistance@opportunityalliance.org.

LIHEAP helps a lot of people, but it is somewhat limited, and every year there are people who don’t end up getting the help they need. In that case, there’s Windham Neighbor Helping Neighbors. 

Neighbors Helping Neighbors is an organization I, along with Windham Reps. Mark Bryant and Gary Plummer, founded in 2007. That year, heating fuel prices hit record highs, and folks were calling our State House offices looking for help heating their homes. In our first year of operation, we served 17 families. Now we serve up to 100 families a year.

The organization is completely volunteer-run and funded by generous donations from individuals,
local businesses and other organizations. Our annual gala each year is a big part of our fundraising efforts, and this year's event, held on Sept. 27 at the Stone Barn at St. Joseph’s College, was our largest turnout ever. I am so grateful for the continuing support of community members, who help us serve neighbors in need. To donate, volunteer or find out how you or someone you know can get help, visit windhamneighbors.com or call me at (207) 892-8941.

Finally, for folks who are looking for a long-term solution to high heating costs, Efficiency Maine has several programs and incentives that can help you increase your home’s insulation or buy a more energy efficient heating system, such as a heat pump. In fact, this year the Legislature passed and the Governor signed a new law to increase incentives for heat pumps, so that hopefully, we will have fewer people who need help paying their heating bills in the winter.

As always, please feel free to contact me or my office with any questions, comments or concerns. You can call (207) 287-1515 or email me at diamondhollyd@aol.com. It’s a pleasure to serve as your state senator.

http://www.moodyscollision.com



Kirtan coming to Raymond's Clyde Bailey Drop-In Center

A special Kirtan (call and response chant) will take place on Friday, October 18 at 7 p.m.
This event is for the recovery community and sponsored by the Call and Response Foundation. It is open to anyone in recovery, their families, friends, or allies. It will be hosted by the Clyde Bailey Drop-in Center at 1311 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond.

Leading this kirtan will be Susannah and Francesco Sanfilippo. Susannah, who provides harmonium and vocals, and Francesco, who performs with percussion and vocals, have been leading kirtan in the Portland area for over 10 years. They love vocalizing with others and sharing this sacred peace practice with all willing souls.

Kirtan is a call and response singing meditation, which helps quiet the mind and cultivate peace. The roots of kirtan are in the Hindu tradition, but the practice does not require belief in any religion or tradition. The spiritual experience and benefits of singing meditation are available to all who participate! This is a family friendly event. No previous experiences in this practice are necessary.

This event is family friendly and offered by donation to all who feel called to attend! Donations in support of bringing kirtan to recovery and other communities will be accepted with gratitude.

The Clyde Bailey Drop-In Center provides a place where persons recovering from alcohol or drug-related problems may participate in activities in an alcohol and drug free environment through a safe and effective support system. Our membership is made up of people in recovery from alcoholism and other addictions, plus affected others. We are self-supporting through membership dues, contributions and fundraisers. We are not affiliated with any 12 step recovery programs although we do accommodate AA, Al-anon NA and other related meetings.

Senators Collins, King announce more than $1.2 million to prevent domestic violence and protect survivors

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Safe Voices of Auburn have been awarded a total of $1,249,486 to support domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs and protect survivors throughout Maine.

“As we continue to work to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault, we must also ensure that all survivors receive the resources they need to ensure their safety and wellbeing,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement.  “This funding will help strengthen our state’s response to these crimes and allow the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Safe Voices of Auburn to continue to protect victims in their communities.” 

The funding is allocated as follows: 

The Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault received $624,545 to increase accessibility, awareness, and effective responses and referrals to sexual assault services in northern and eastern Maine.  The Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault works in collaboration with Aroostook Mental Health Center, Rape Response Services, and Sexual Assault Support of Midcoast Maine.

Safe Voices of Auburn received $624,941 to improve safety and the criminal justice response for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking in Oxford County.  Safe Voices works in collaboration with Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services and Maine Prosecutorial District Three.

This funding was awarded through the Office on Violence Against Women’s (OVW) Rural Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Program, an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice.