Saturday, October 13, 2018

LearningWorks Seeks AmeriCorps team members to empower southern Maine students

LearningWorks has received a $497,646 AmeriCorps grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The grant will support 101 AmeriCorps members who will provide tutoring, mentoring, and extracurricular enrichment for students who are not yet meeting literacy and math benchmarks.  In the 2017-2018 school year, AIMS HIGH provided individual and small group support to 550 students. We championed even more learners through afterschool activities and whole-classroom support. Our members have provided over 20,000 hours of direct service.

This grant will fund LearningWorks' AIMS HIGH program to recruit, train, and support AmeriCorps members at five elementary schools with School Turnaround initiatives that include Windham Primary School, among others. Each school's team of AmeriCorps members will provide critical support to these school communities by working directly with students during the 2018-2019 school year.

"AmeriCorps members are an indispensable source of positive impact and energy in our communities and nation," said Heather Davis, executive director of LearningWorks and a former AmeriCorps Member. "We're thrilled that the Corporation for National and Community Service has recognized the value of AmeriCorps members serving with LearningWorks in Southern Maine schools for the sixth straight year." 

Our members also see the importance of the work as it plays a positive role in both their communities and their own lives. Paula Webster, third-year member at Windham Primary School said, “I have had a post-retirement dream to volunteer at a school for a very long time. Both of my daughters attended Windham Primary School, and AIMS HIGH allows me to give back to a school that offered so much to my family.” 

In addition to the grant funding, CNCS will make available $221,000 in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards for the LearningWorks AmeriCorps members to pay higher education costs or student loans. The grant will generate an additional $400,470 in local matching support and other outside resources from businesses, foundations, and other organizations.

AIMS HIGH is actively seeking AmeriCorps members both locally and nationally to join their team and empower Southern Maine students. Full-time members earn $13,732 annual living allowance, $6,095 education award, and health insurance. Half-time members serve 25 hours per week and earn a $5,500 living allowance and $3,047 education award. Minimum-time members serve 7 hours per week and receive a $1,290 education award. AmeriCorps members over the age of 55 can gift their education award to their children or grandchildren. To apply, email or call (207) 517-3137.

Saint Joseph’s College celebrates Campus Sustainability Month

Saint Joseph’s College joins campuses nationwide in celebrating Campus Sustainability Month throughout October 2018. This annual event, hosted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), highlights achievements and raises awareness of the value of higher education sustainability. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Saint Joseph’s College has earned a STARS Silver rating from AASHE for its efforts.

The College’s Center for Sustainable Communities will partner with several departments throughout October for inspirational and fun events. The Center’s overarching goals include: achieve carbon neutrality by 2036; promote a culture of sustainability among students, faculty, staff, administration, and surrounding communities; establish the campus as a living laboratory for sustainable solutions; inform effective and inclusive sustainability-focused decision making on campus and in the community; and lead through innovation.

Campus Sustainability Month events have begun. The events established for the rest of the month include the following: 

October 12, 12:15 p.m., Tour of ecomaine
October 13, 9 a.m.: Trip to Portland Farmers Market
October 15, SJC Gets Lit 2.0
October 19, 9 a.m., Heffernan Courtyard: Waste Audit
October 19, 1 p.m., Viola George Auditorium: ecomaine presentation
October 21, 1 p.m. to -3 p.m., “Fishbowl”: Student Clothing Exchange
October 22, 6 p.m., Heffernan Lounge: Make Your Own Journal
October 23, 3 p.m., Viola George Auditorium, Maine Standard Biofuels presentation
October 26, 2:15 p.m.: Garbage to Garden Tour
October 29, 1-3 p.m., 2nd Floor of Alfond: Adopt a Plant
October 31, 11 a.m.: The Grotto, Prayer for Earth: Our Common Home

Ongoing events include Meatless Mondays in which members of the college community are encouraged to be mindful of meat consumption and weekly walks on Thursdays to promote exercise.

The College will also participate in the nationwide EcoChallenge, statewide Way 2 Go Maine Commuter Challenge, and everyone is encouraged to sign the pledge for #PlasticFreeSJC by incorporating reusable containers into daily routines.

For more information about Sustainability Month activities, contact Energy Efficiency Coordinator Heather Craig at or 207-893-7783.

For more information about the Center for Sustainable Communities, contact CSC Engagement Coordinator Kimberly Post at or 207-893-7789.

About Sustainability at Saint Joseph’s College
Sustainability at Saint Joseph’s College encompasses human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for future generations. It is expressed as a deep and holistic respect for the earth through daily practices, decision-making, and stewardship in a healthy and equitable way so that communities now and in the future can thrive. Learn more.
About the Center for Sustainable Communities
The Center for Sustainable Communities fosters innovation and leadership through the intersection of social justice and sustainability by integrating principles of social, environmental, and economic sustainability into campus operations, academics, engagement, and policy and administration.
About Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
AASHE empowers higher education administrators, faculty, staff and students to be effective change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation. AASHE enables members to translate information into action by offering essential resources and professional development to a diverse, engaged community of sustainability leaders. They work with and for higher education to ensure that our world’s future leaders are motivated and equipped to solve sustainability challenges. For more information, visit

Self-care and healing highlighted at fall holistic fair in Windham

By Elizabeth Richards

Perfect fall weather accompanied the Fall Holistic Fair on Saturday, September 29th at the Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham. A wide range of booths inside and out offered up products and services all centered around healing, mindfulness, inner peace and spiritual health.

The Fall Holistic Fair in Windham
The force behind the fair was Jennifer Joy Klein of Tangible Tarot. Singlehandedly organizing the fair was an immense task that Klein felt led to do. She’d begun doing more communal events such as open houses and self-care days. “I’m all about that. Let’s not wait until all the bottom falls out, let’s take care of ourselves now,” Klein said. “We’re all learning slowly that to be productive in the world, to want to help other people to make this world a productive place, we have to start taking care of ourselves.”

As more people asked Klein about events, she began to work on organizing something small, with perhaps six practitioners.  After some issues with her original location, she found herself driving right by where it was supposed to be held and ending up in the parking lot of the Microtel. She decided to go in and find out what could be done there.  When she saw the space available, she was astounded.  Everything fell into place, and she gathered vendors for her first fair held last March.  “Within a week, I was full,” she said.

For the fall fair, vendors approached Klein asking to be involved. “People drove two hours to come to this event,” she said. And afterwards, “they were ecstatic.”

There was no admission to get into the holistic fair, and that was by design. People have told Klein she should charge, but she doesn’t want to do that. “I’m offering this to the community,” she said. “So many people were offering free things,” she said. “It was a true gift to have to have all these people together and to offer this.”

The atmosphere at the fair was peaceful and welcoming. The sun was shining as I browsed the outdoor booths, examining the wealth of self-care and healing items for sale. I happened upon a booth in the corner offering information and a trial of Sahaja Yoga. Windham resident Jerry Mayfield was operating this booth, along with his son. After offering up a brief history and information about the practice, Mayfield led another woman and me through a meditation.  He was quick to emphasize that the practice of Sahaja Yoga is always free, because “the energy is yours.” 

An informational brochure on the practice states, “there can be immediate benefits in stress relief and a feeling of peace and contentment.”  That perfectly describes the experience I had with that one trial session. Though there was noise and activity all around me, I was able to focus on Mayfield’s voice and find a quiet place within. For a busy mom with three different jobs and a number of volunteering responsibilities, that’s a rare and wonderful thing.

After my meditation experience, I ventured inside to discover additional vendors and healing opportunities. Again, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, with almost palpable positive energy. Some vendors were offering services for sale, others a free look at what they had to offer. As I walked by a sound and energy healing booth, and heard the tones from the crystal bowls, tears sprang to my eyes and I felt a sense of release. Since breaking down in public wasn’t of interest to me, I walked on by – but returned later to learn more. 

I wish there had been time for me to experience all the healing modalities present. The fair certainly reminded me how important self-care and healing are, and how many different practitioners and vendors exist nearby. “There’s huge things going on in Windham that people aren’t realizing we’ve started,” Klein said. “We’re really groundbreaking with what’s going on.”

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a group of practitioners is working on putting together a free “give to yourself” day at Ways to Wellness in Windham ( offering breathing, readings, stretching, yoga meditations, reiki and more.

Klein has a healing and reading practice for one on one readings, offers her services at a range of events, and has been a guest on radio broadcasts. She can be reached on Facebook at

A matter of historical record: History on the Hill tour to feature historic homes and storied tales of Windham’s past

By Walter Lunt

The latest in a series of Windham history tours conducted by the Windham Historical Society will be held on Saturday, October 13. Dubbed History on the Hill, it features several stops at addresses on historic Windham Hill, a neighborhood with a fascinating and storied past, at the corner of Pope and Ward Roads.

Included in each of four tours that day will be the Federal period style Moses Little House and the United Church of Christ, once featured in National Geographic magazine as one of the most picturesque old-style churches in New England.

The Edward Anderson House - first stop on the tour
The first stop on the tour will be the 2 ½ story Edward Anderson House, the oldest residence on Windham Hill, located across from the public works facility on Windham Center Road. Built of post and beam construction in the early 1790s, the mainly Georgian architectural style house retains many original features, including a slight mix of Federal period characteristics.

Edward Anderson built his first home on River Road, the beginnings of what would become the Anderson-Lord, or Maplewood Farm with its distinctive gothic appearance. The Windham Hill house would be his second dwelling and include many of the same features.

Windham historian Linda Griffin points out the importance of symmetry to early house builders. “Notice the center door with paired windows on each side…pleasing to the eye.”

Entering through the front door, the room on the right was a formal parlor used mainly for weddings, funerals or special visitors (children were often barred). Wide board wainscoting, wide pine floors and thin raised-panel doors with thumb latches and H and L hinges are original features. Ripples snaking across the flat surfaces of the woodwork and paneling reveal the craftsmanship of early hand planers.

In most Georgian homes of the time a sitting room, or informal parlor, would be located to the left of the entry-way. But in what Griffin describes as a “hall and parlor” layout, this is the kitchen. Twelve over eight pane windows (at least one original remains) admit the light of a southern exposure. Hand-hewn beams line the ceiling and an old brick lined fireplace with a side bake oven are preserved from a much earlier time. Three fireplaces on the first floor linked to a central chimney remind us that these wood burners were the sole source of heat and cooked food.

A back-room on the first floor, commonly referred to as a “borning room” was used to care for the sick, for storage and occasionally as office space, according to Griffin.

In addition to the acquisition of the property at Windham Hill, Edward Anderson also gained mill rights on the near-by Pleasant River. He built a saw mill. To increase water power to the mill, Anderson tapped the waters of Collin’s Pond, creating added water energy to the river via Smith Brook. In June of 1814, strained by the water pressure of spring rains, the mill dam gave way. The resulting flood took out mills and bridges from Windham Hill to Gambo and Mallison’s Falls in South Windham. Subsequent law suits and the loss of his lumber business apparently left him destitute.

Bette Davis and Gary Merrill 
Fast forward to 1947 – the house was purchased by the Sanborn family. According to daughter Ann (Sanborn) Clark, her father bought the place from a descendant of the Anderson family. For several months, the family used an ice box. “My dad had to buy ice every two days.” Ann’s brother, Lee, remembers his father installing the first plumbing and electricity.

The family moved to California around 1950; the house was put up for rent and was vacant for a while.

No one knows why Bette Davis’ eyes fell on Windham in the early 50s, but the legendary film actress and her movie star husband Gary Merrill rented the aged house. As far as anyone can remember, Davis and Merrill never lived there, but did move their furniture into the house for storage.

According to Lee Sanborn, “My father knew of Davis’ reputation as a (heavy) drinker and being concerned about the narrow stairway to the second floor with its treads worn dangerously thin by over 150 years of foot traffic, decided to purchase $20,000 additional liability insurance.” Family and friends told his father the move was unnecessary and tried to no avail to talk him out of it. Davis and Merrill ended up building an estate in Cape Elizabeth, having spent little time at the Windham house.
Later, in the 1960s, the Sanborn’s learned (although they cannot recall where the incident occurred) that Davis had indeed tumbled down a flight of stairs. And sued. “My dad said the (incident) proved he was clairvoyant,” recalled Lee.

The current owners of the Anderson House, Steve Woodward and Jenna Shank, will open their home and share its unique architectural features and its stories this Saturday, October, 13 for four tours beginning at 10 a.m.

Of their participation in the History on the Hill tours, Shank says, “Part of the responsibility of owning a piece of local history is to share it with your community.” 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

An evening picnic on the Songo River

By Briana Bizier

One of the many wonderful things about living in the Lakes Region is that you don’t need to go far to find a beautiful outdoor adventure.

However, last Sunday afternoon it looked like our family had completely missed the outdoor adventure boat. By the time we’d finished all our typical weekend chores, like cleaning the house until it was at least habitable again or going to the store because we’d run out of all the essentials (milk, eggs, and chocolate chips), it was almost two in the afternoon. When my husband suggested a canoeing picnic dinner on the Songo River, I was mildly skeptical. Could we really pull that off on a school night?

Well, there was only one way to find out!

We ordered dinners from a local sandwich shop, packed the car, and headed to one of our favorite easy canoeing sites: the Songo River.

The Songo River flows between Long Lake and Sebago Lake, with a very accessible put-in spot at the Songo Locks. As we rounded up the children and packed our dinners and paddles into the canoe, several kayakers launched their boats from the lovely Veteran’s Fishing Pier on the opposite side of the river. At least we weren’t the only paddlers heading out in the afternoon!

Downstream from the Locks, the Songo River follows a gentle, serpentine route through Sebago Lake State Park as it winds around small islands, laps against beaches, and swirls into bays. Just minutes after launching our canoe, we rounded a corner and saw a great blue heron standing majestically along the shore.
Look at the heron,” I told my little assistants.

So cool!” my eight-year-old agreed.

Where? I can’t see it,” our four-year-old cried.

At that, the heron spread its wings and flew directly ahead of our canoe, its wingtips almost touching the still water.

I SEE IT!” our four-year-old yelled, for all of Sebago Lake State Park to hear.

One of our favorite things about the Songo River, in addition to the herons, are the small beaches which line the river. Unlike many other canoe friendly rivers in the area, the Songo has gentle, sandy banks which are just perfect for beaching a canoe. These banks are also perfectly spaced for small children’s short attention spans. Once the four-year-old began to wiggle in the canoe, we were able to
pull onto one of the many sunlit beaches and let the children explore.

As Mom and Dad cast a fly rod into the calm waters of the Songo on the off chance a hungry salmon may have been patrolling the river (no luck, I’m sorry to report), our little assistants identified deer and squirrel tracks, climbed on logs, and played in the weathered roots of an old tree. At one point, just before the two assistants started fighting over a particularly irresistible stick, the fallen log was both a submarine and a fighter jet with minnows stuck in the engine who needed to be rescued.
However, fighting over a stick was a sure sign that it was almost dinner time.

Do you kids want to eat here, or keep exploring?” I asked.

Explore!” the kids shouted in unison.

We climbed back in the canoe, pushed off from the shore, and continued our slow paddle down the river. Because the twists, bends, and bays of this section of the Songo River are all part of Sebago Lake State Park, paddlers are free to beach their canoes anywhere without fear of trespassing. We chose a quiet, grassy spot beneath towering white pines for our picnic dinner. It may have been the cool evening air, the effects of climbing over a fallen log, or just the excellent sandwiches, but the assistants ate their dinners with gusto and nary a word of complaint.

Is that all it takes to get them to eat dinner?” my husband asked. “Just an hour and a half of canoeing beforehand?”

By the time we finished our dinner, the sun was sinking behind the trees and their long shadows had already reached across the glassy Songo River. We gave our assistants a five-minute warning, then put on our life jackets one last time and began our paddle back up the river. Luckily, because this stretch of river is so calm, there wasn’t much current to fight.

If you’re quiet,” I tried to tell my assistants, “you might see some wildlife.”

Quiet, however, is a difficult concept for the Bizier children. Despite constant running commentary from both little canoeists, however, we did manage to spot several groups of mallard ducks and a red squirrel. We didn’t quite reach the Songo’s outlet in Sebago Lake, but we did have a wonderful adventure for a Sunday afternoon.

And yes, we even made it home by bedtime!

If you’d like to explore the Songo River on your own, follow State Park Road off of Route 302 until your reach the unmistakable Songo Locks. Both the Veteran’s Fishing Pier and the locks themselves offer smooth put-ins for canoes and kayaks. The river itself is quite windy, and it’s also very clearly labeled with arrows. Please note there is a “no wake” regulation for motor boats.

Calling all directors

Schoolhouse Arts Center is very excited to announce their 2019 Season which also marks the 30th Anniversary of the performing arts in the Greater Sebago Lakes Region. They have so many wonderful opportunities coming in the next year and they hope that you will be a part of it! Schoolhouse is currently accepting directors’ proposals for the following shows:

“Singin’ In The Rain”
July 11- 28, 2019

“Catch Me If You Can”
September 26 - October 6, 2019

“A Christmas Carol”
December 6 - 15, 2019

If you are interested in directing any of these shows- they would love to hear about your vision and your plans with each production. Proposals should include the following:

1. Cover Letter
2. Director Resume (If you have one)
3. Your Vision for the Show
4. Estimated Budget (costumes, set, props, etc.)
5. Other Notes/Requests

Proposals must be submitted by November 1, 2018 to be considered and can be sent to or you may hand deliver a copy of your proposal during their regular office hours which can be found on our website.
They look forward to reading these proposals and seeing what kind of magic can be created on the Schoolhouse stage. For the last 30 years audiences have found a home here at Schoolhouse Arts Center and as they continue on the great tradition of theatre and the arts, they hope to welcome new directors to our family and welcome back some familiar faces.
Do note that Schoolhouse Arts Center’s Artistic Director, Zachariah Stearn will be acting as the role of the Producer for each of the shows on the MainStage to support the creative team in any way that he can and also be the liaison between the team and the Board of Directors. If you have any questions, please feel free to email or call them!

DHHS reminds Mainers of dangers of accidental marijuana ingestion

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is reminding Mainers
of the importance of taking the necessary steps to ensure marijuana stays out of reach of children to avoid the risk of accidental ingestion.

Accidental marijuana ingestion often occurs when marijuana has been combined with food to become an “edible” form of the drug. Edibles can be presented in a variety of different ways, including in the forms of candy, brownies, and other baked goods or sweets, which may entice children to eat them without knowing they contain the drug.

Accidental ingestion of marijuana or marijuana products can cause serious health consequences, and young children are at an exceptionally higher risk because of their size and weight. In 2017, there were 16 calls for accidental marijuana ingestion by a child 0-5 years old made to the Northern New England Poison Center— an increase from only two in 2016. 

Adults and pets are also at risk of accidental marijuana ingestion by unintentionally consuming food that contained marijuana. Edibles often have high amounts of THC but the effects may not be felt until four hours after consumption. This delay of marijuana’s psychoactive effect in edibles has commonly led people to accidentally use more marijuana than intended. Signs and symptoms of marijuana ingestion can include lethargy, dizziness, lack of coordination, and difficulty breathing.

Marijuana should be stored in a locked area and out of sight and reach of children and pets. How you store marijuana should change as your children get older. What works to protect a toddler from accidental ingestion may not work to protect a teenager.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has introduced a campaign called Good to Know Maine, aimed at providing the public with information related to marijuana. The campaign outlines tips on safe storage, as well as educational information on Maine’s marijuana laws, youth-use prevention, and marijuana’s potential health consequences. Please visit:

If you are worried that you, your child or a loved one may have accidentally ingested marijuana, call the poison control hotline (1-800-222-1222). If the reaction seems dangerous, call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately. If you believe your pet may have ingested marijuana, call a veterinarian. Signs that an animal has ingested marijuana include loss of balance, vomiting, loss of interest or low body temperature.

Music with a Mission features Reverend Betty Stookey and Noel Paul Stookey in a multi-faith presentation

On Saturday, October 13th at 7 p.m., the Reverend Betty Stookey and Noel Paul Stookey will appear at the North Windham Union Church. 'One Light, Many Candles' is a multi-faith program in word and song reflecting the diversity and integrity of individual faith seeking a global spiritual community. Elizabeth and Noel Paul Stookey have been working together for over 50 years, as husband and wife, as parents, as business partners and activists, and as two people constantly questioning how the spiritual informs the day-to-day realities of life-in both a small personal way and a larger global way.

Noel is a singer-songwriter and the “Paul” of Peter, Paul and Mary. He has been writing songs that reflect on the political, cultural, sociopolitical and spiritual dynamics of all our collected stories for decades. Betty is an ordained minister who has ministered and counseled many, including, as chaplain of a school, over a thousand students of many faiths ranging from Buddhist and Christian, to Muslim and Jewish.

Betty’s work as minister/chaplain and Noel’s talent as a singer-songwriter come together now in a mutual multi-faith vision. Believing that no one religion can ‘own’ God, that God has many names, and that each person’s path is a valid one, Betty and Noel bring to their performance the belief that religious faith which is based on love assumes unity and that when we expand our spiritual comfort zones, we are opening a path to understanding and peace.

“We are very proud to welcome Betty and Noel Paul Stookey as our headliner to close out our sixth season for Music with a Mission,” said Dr. Richard Nickerson, Minister of Music for NWUC. “Noel Paul Stookey is a true national treasure.  For over 40 years he and Betty have made their home in Blue Hill, Maine and delighted audiences across the country. Their message of tolerance, diversity and respect for fellow humans is more relevant now than ever.” Please note - this is a multi-faith presentation. It is NOT a Noel Paul Stookey concert.

The Music with a Mission concert series is sponsored by the North Windham Union Church, which donates a portion of the proceeds to area non-profits.  After six years of hosting concerts, MWAM has provided almost $60,000 for mission support to the church and other community organizations. The community proceeds from this show will go to support the Maine Council of Churches. Representing seven denominations, the Council works with partner organizations, volunteers and parishioners in 550 churches throughout the state. Rooted in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, their mission is to inspire congregations and persons of faith to unite in good works that build a culture of justice, compassion and peace.

Tickets will be sold at the door and are $20 for all seats.  Tickets are also available in advance on-line at and through the church office from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday.  The box office opens at 6 p.m. and the doors will open at 6:30. The North Windham Union Church is located at 723 Roosevelt Trail in Windham.  For more information please call 892-6142 or email

Public Service Announcement demonstrate benefits of residential sprinkler systems

By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Fire and Rescue Department provided a public service announcement in front of the Town Hall on Tuesday, October 2nd at 6:30 p.m. to educate the public on the importance of installing a residential sprinkler system. The event took place prior to the regularly scheduled Town Council Meeting and many of the Town Councilors were present.

Putting out a fire in the "room" without a sprinkler
The risk of fire is a serious matter in any structure but especially the home where love ones live and sleep. Every year, the majority of fire deaths happen at home. To show the benefits of installing a sprinkler system, the fire department provided a demonstration using two staged living rooms in a large trailer. The purpose was to illustrate how fast a fire can spread and how quickly it can be contained with proper sprinkler system installation.

A controlled fire was lit to the first “room” that did not contain a sprinkler. Within thirty minutes of the furniture catching fire, the flames had escalated to the point of being uncontrollable and was then put out by the Fire Department.

“On a typical call, once dispatched, it takes an average of seven minutes to respond to and arrive at the emergency location,” explained Fire Chief Brent Libby.

The second staged fire, the “room” with the sprinkler system, faired much better. The water from the system put out the fire without the help of fire department, demonstrating one of the best methods of home fire extermination.

National Fire Prevention week begins on October 7 and ends on October 13, 2018. Other safety measures you can take include having a home escape plan, ensuring smoke alarms are in working order by using the test button at least once a month and install one in every sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on every level of the home including the basement.

Additionally, be aware that cooking is one of the leading causes of home fires due to leaving the kitchen unattended while using the stove.  Another leading cause is heating equipment. Please remember that all heaters need space so keep anything that can burn at least 3-feet away from heating equipment.
For more info., contact the Windham Fire and Rescue officeat 207-892-1911 or visit <

First Vice Commander of American Legion hopes to build bridges and maintain traditions

By Lorraine Glowczak

Windham resident and veteran, Rebecca Cummings was recently elected as the First Vice Commander for American Legion Post 148. She is also the President of the Windham Veteran’s Association, the fiscal and property care taking agent of the Windham Veterans Center.

Cummings is a paid-up-for-life Legion member and she states she wanted to be a part of an important
First Vice Commander, Rebecca Cummings
organization. But in addition to that, it is her goal to get more veterans involved in their local posts and associations. “We are losing members and I want to help more veterans become involved,” Cummings stated. “Traditions and values are going away as we lose our older veterans and I would like to see younger veterans step up and help continue the traditions that we cherish and are so important. I would especially like to see more women veterans join us.”

To accomplish that, Cummings shares American Legion Posts events, fundraisers and meetings on various social media platforms such as Facebook, in an effort to connect with the younger population. “It’s an attempt to bridge the new and old ways – to connect the generations.”

One of the main purposes for veteran associations and posts is coming together to share stories and to be there for one another.

Cummings, much like every veteran in the American Legion Post, has a story to share. Hers is a tale of how a woman chose to fight for her Country.

“I was in Middle School during Desert Storm,” began Cummings, who lived in Portland at the time. “I became very interested in learning about our involvement and I immersed myself in the daily political events. With the encouragement of my teachers, I began writing to soldiers deployed to the Gulf. They wrote back, and we continued the correspondence for a while.”

Her keen interest in the Gulf War led her to study history while in high school, which fanned the flame for patriotism. However, entering the service was not her initial choice.
“I wanted to be in the medical profession,” she explained. “I was considering either becoming a doctor or a nurse.”

But realizing the cost was above what she could afford, she decided to combine her passion for medicine with patriotism and talked to a recruiting officer in Portland. “When I walked in, I explained what I wanted to do and asked what my options were,” Cummings said. “I don’t think they knew how to respond to me. This was the mid-1990’s. They seldom had a young high school student who was a girl who walked in off the streets and asked to join.”

Because she was under the age of 18, she needed her parents’ approval. However, her mother was not pleased with her decision. “My mother told me that she had prayed and prayed she would give birth to daughters, so she wouldn’t have to send her child off to war – and then I had to go and do something like this,” Cummings smiled.

At first, her mother refused to sign the approval. However, after realizing how determined her daughter was and that she would join the armed forces anyway when she turned 18, both her mother and her father reluctantly signed the required forms. Within two weeks, Cummings was on a plane and away from her family for the first time, heading to Fort Leonard Wood, MO for basic training.

Cummings spent four years in Germany at the Mainz-Finthen Airfield Base and was a Medic at the battalion aid station. It is there where she met her husband who was in the same unit. The story goes that he faked an injury to see the cute, blonde medic. “We met over Motrin,” Cummings laughed.

After they married, and her service contract was completed, they had two sons. She stayed at home to raise their family, while her husband remained active. They were relocated to Fort Riley, Kansas and then to Fort Bliss, Texas.

It was during this time she took online courses that were paid for by the GI Bill and eventually obtained her bachelor’s in nursing.  Accomplishing what she had set out to become, she chose school nursing as her career. “I chose to be a school nurse because my husband was deployed, and I needed to have a job that would allow the same schedule as my sons,” she explained.

Once her husband retired from the service, they moved to Windham where her parents currently reside. She quickly joined in the community efforts that not only included her membership with the American Legion Post but her campaign and election to the Windham Town Council.

Among all her many activities, you will find Cummings taking the time commiserating with fellow veterans every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Veterans Coffee Hour located at the Windham Veterans Center.

She hopes other women and younger people will take the time to join her – to share stories, to connect and to support one another as they keep traditions and values alive.

For more detailed information on events, activities or how to become a member, contact Rebecca Cummings at 207-893-8020.

Friday, September 28, 2018

A little time spent in the garden this fall makes for an easy spring by Gayle Plummer

Have you tucked your gardens in for the winter yet? It doesn’t have to be a complex process and there is still plenty of time during October and the first couple of weeks in November to get some of the basic things done, so the gardens will be healthy and attractive in the spring. This can be an enjoyable experience in the fall - particularly if you simply grab an hour or two at a time to do it. A few hours spent here and there on beautiful fall days will guarantee that you will enjoy your garden sooner in the spring; with less (or none) of the messy work to do then.

Cut everything back: Trim back all your perennials; only about two or three inches of most plants need to remain in place. Then pull out and toss any annuals that you haven’t brought into the house. Trimming the perennials back will help keep the garden free of fungus and bacteria from plant stalks that will begin to rot in place over winter. It also helps for a great looking garden area in spring. 

Depending on your garden space and what you have planted, you may actually be able to use a weed-eater to accomplish this. Of course some garden designs may not allow it but it is often an option. Just check things out ahead of time and be sure you won’t be wiping out something that doesn’t need to be cut back.

Weeding: This of course keeps the weeds from running rampant in the spring before you can get out there to control them. I do like to do the weeding after I trim back the perennials. I just find it easier and cleaner to work that way.

Compost:  After the weeding is completed is a great time to add compost or manure to your garden bed. The nutrients will be at work in the garden long before you can get out there in the spring.
Mulching: After the ground freezes add mulch. Adding a good strong layer of mulch too soon may delay the ground from freezing and killing disease-causing bacteria.

Transplanting: You can still transplant that plant or shrub you wanted to move, or add a new one. There is still a little time for them to get settled and send out new roots to absorb nutrients before the ground freezes. I personally don’t like to wait past the first week or two in October. Also I like to be sure that I water a newly transplanted plant or shrub heavily for the first week or so to help the roots acclimate as soon as possible. However, watering too late will not be healthy for the plant/shrub of course, due to freezing. As with all things in Maine, it depends on the type of weather we are having; so we need to factor that in.

Other garden duties:  Don’t forget to get your watering hoses inside as soon as you’re done watering any newly planted plants/shrubs. Your garden d├ęcor should be taken inside as the winter may break many outside garden decorations; at the very least most will be weakened by winter exposure.
There. You are now ready to look out of your window in late winter/early spring and see a clean, newly emerging garden . . . ready for you to enjoy!

Racking our brains on solutions to Emerald ash Borer by Robert Fogg

As you may or may not know, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an ash-tree-killing-insect, is slowly working its way in our direction with a hunger for our ash trees. It no longer appears to be a question of if EAB will get here, but when. 

When that time comes, which may be within the next few years, our ash trees with be under attack and many, if not most, will die. Yes, it is possible to inject individual trees with insecticide to prolong, or maybe even save their lives, but it is not practical or economically feasible to protect even a small fraction of our ash trees, especially those in the forest.

Knowing the problem is imminent has gotten my brain in gear, thinking of ways to avoid the devastation. I recently sent an email up to the Maine Department of Conservation, partly in jest and partly serious, listing off some possible solutions. Here is a sample of the wording in that email:

“Regarding the impending invasion of EAB, I have to wonder if it might be possible to spray or inject the ash trees with something that would mask their ash scent or make them unattractive to EAB. 
How about injecting them with maple syrup to make them smell like a maple tree? Another possibility, is to unleash some insect or bird that would eat EAB before they lay eggs? Maybe we protect individual trees by spraying sticky goop or grease on them or armor plating them in some way? 

We need to keep the bugs from mating (and thus reproducing). Maybe opera music would give them a headache or keep them from getting in the mood for love. Since they are attracted to purple traps, maybe we need a LOT more purple traps. If they like purple, maybe there are colors they dislike. We could paint the ash tree trunks yellow or white.  How about electrical current or some special frequency sound, vibration, nets…..or?  ..or vibration? The possibilities are endless.” 

As I said, much of the letter was in jest, but the answer just might come from some seemingly stupid idea. If you’ve got an idea, stupid or not, feel free to share it with me. Maybe, just maybe it will be the answer we need. Let’s not give up without a fight.

This article was brought to you by Robert Fogg, Licensed Arborist and General Manager of Q-Team Tree Service. See their ad on page 14.

Free film screening: “Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul”

The public is invited to a free film screening of “Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul” on Monday, October 1 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Viola George Auditorium in the Harold Alfond Hall at Saint Joseph’s College and presented by the Cultural Affairs Council.

Made over the course of 13 years, “Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul” tells the story of Thoreau in his time and the story of the impact Thoreau’s writings and lifestyle have in our time.
The film features scholars, writers, activists, climate scientists, Penobscots, students in the Walden Project high school program in Vermont, and everyday visitors to Walden Pond discussing their passion for Thoreau, his legacy, and the impact his writings have on their work and lives.

These interviews were filmed on location in all four seasons at the original site of Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond where he was inspired to write his book “Walden”. As well as at other places where Thoreau traveled: the Maine woods and Katahdin, Cape Cod and Minnesota, where Thoreau made his last and longest excursion from his beloved Concord, MA.

“Surveyor of the Soul” also includes a section on Thoreau’s excursions to the Maine Woods with footage of Katahdin, Chesuncook Lake, and the 150th Thoreau-Wabanaki Tour in 2014 that retraced Thoreau’s canoe trips in Maine.

Darren Ranco, chair of Native American Programs at University of Maine and a descendent of Joe Polis, Thoreau’s Penobscot guide on his 1857 trip to Maine, is the lead commentator in this section along with Thoreau scholar, Ron Hoag. Others interviewed in this section are James Francis, director of Cultural and Historic Preservation, Penobscot Nation, Chris Sockalexis, Penobscot drummer and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Penobscot Nation, and Chris “Charlie Brown” Francis, Penobscot guide who carries on the tradition of Joe Polis and Joe Attean. Penobscot knowledge and culture make for a fitting and original contribution to the film as they did to Thoreau’s understanding of the wild and wildness.

For 40 years Huey Coleman, a renown Maine filmmaker who was interested in Henry David Thoreau's connection with Maine and, in particular, the Maine woods, has been making films on artists, education, the environment, and Maine. His films have been shown at film festivals throughout the US, on PBS, and on television in Europe. Coleman’s seventh feature-length documentary film, “Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul”, had its world premiere at the Maine International Film Festival on July 15, 2017. His film, “In Good Time: The Piano Jazz of Marian McPartland”, was selected as a “Must have jazz DVD of 2011” by DownBeat Magazine and won the Manny Berlingo Award, Best Feature Documentary, Garden State Film Festival. Coleman’s 2002 film “Wilderness and Spirit: A Mountain Called Katahdin” was selected for screening at the Environmental Film Festival, National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

Coleman is a founder and director of the Maine Student Film and Video Festival now in its 41st year. He has been an artist-in-residence in animation and video production in over 150 schools in New England and is an adjunct instructor in Communications and New Media, Southern Maine Community College, South Portland, ME.

Monday’s film is his interpretation of the impression that Maine's solitude made on the famous American thinker and philosopher. Coleman will be in attendance for a questions and answers following the screening.

For more information about the Cultural Affairs Council series, contact Michael Connolly at or 207-893-7939. To see the film trailer:

Community efforts and initiatives to improve lives through energy efficiency initiative by Lorraine Glowczak

Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship (MPES), an AmeriCorps program coordinated by Maine Campus Compact, is organizing new community initiatives around the state in an effort to increase energy efficiency and cost savings through weatherization services and education. MPES works in partnership with college campuses and the communities in which they serve. The efforts of the initiative are for all individuals but are especially geared towards those facing low income status or financial difficulties.

Heather Craig measures for a window insert
For the communities of Windham and Raymond, Saint Joseph’s College is the host site for this AmeriCorps program and individuals in the area are encouraged to participate in the energy efficiency initiative by obtaining window inserts and attending energy education events. Raymond Village Community Church is one of the community organizations that are working in conjunction with MPES and Saint Joseph’s College.

“Window inserts provide an energy efficient way to help keep your home warm as well as lowering energy costs,” explained Heather Craig, Energy Efficiency Coordinator with MPES, who will be coordinating the efforts between the college and the community. “A person can save up to one gallon of fuel per every square foot of insert, so if you have 20 square feet of inserts you will save 20 gallons of fuel.”

A window insert is a wood frame that is wrapped in durable plastic on both sides and is sealed with foam around the edges. Each frame is custom measured to the specific window in order for the insert to fit properly.

According to MPES, Maine has one of the oldest housing stocks in the country and much of the carbon dioxide emissions are from residential heating sources. It is their intention to be a leader in energy efficiency and providing window inserts as an option will contribute to lowering not only energy costs but keeping Maine homes warm while contributing to environmental health. To assist those who may not be able to afford ways to cut cost, MPES offers a limited amount of window inserts for free for qualifying individuals.

Those who qualify for any sort of government assistance such as Liheap (Maine Low Income Energy Assistance Program), disability, or veterans’ benefits, etc. will qualify for five free window inserts,” stated Craig. “Individuals can contact me to see if they are eligible.”
The making of an energy efficient window insert

Craig stated that they are looking for 20 low income families who may be interested in participating in the initiative. As of the time of this printing, four families have applied and been accepted. “It is our goal to have all 20 families signed up and accepted by October 20th,” Craig said.

Families can also purchase the window inserts at a cost of roughly $25 per window.

Craig also mentioned that one does not need to own their home, nor do they need a landlord’s permission to install a window insert.

It is important to note that not only does the MPES program support energy efficiency through weatherization and education, but it also encourages community efforts by working together.

Those who receive window inserts will be asked to help build them on one of the community build days set for December 3rd through 7th” explained Craig. “Raymond Village Community Church is collaborating with us and is offering their space to build the inserts. The event is always lots of fun, with a potluck meal and music. There are a range of tasks for people to do and no experience is necessary.

Craig will be also providing educational opportunities to learn more about weatherization and energy efficiency through classes at the Windham and Raymond Adult Education. To learn more about these classes or about the window inserts, contact Craig at or by phone at 314-520-5447.

About Maine Campus Compact (MCC)
MCC is a statewide coalition of colleges and universities whose purpose is to further the public purposes and civic mission of higher education. They seek to transform campuses in a way that develops better informed, active citizen problem-solvers, stronger communities and a more just democratic society. MCC manages the MPES program.

About AmeriCorps
It is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS, the grantor, is an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering.