Friday, May 17, 2019

Riding To The Top Executive Director receives recognition

Sarah Bronson

Sarah Bronson, Executive Director of Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT) in Windham, Maine is the 2019 Region 1 PATH Intl. Credentialed Professional of the Year. PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) is an international voice of the Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) industry. The organization advocates for EAAT and provides standards for safe and ethical equine interaction through education, communication, standards and research.

Sarah, a physical therapist and life-long equestrian, co-founded RTT in 1993.  Nominators Lorena Coffin and Kate Jeton noted, “Riding To The Top has grown to be a leading center due to the unwavering dedication and leadership of Executive Director, Sarah Bronson.”  Sarah led RTT’s transformation from serving a handful of riders seasonally at a leased barn to owning and operating a beautiful year round center located on a 52-acre farm. Today, RTT is northern New England’s largest PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center having provided over 50,000 client visits in its 26-year history. 
According to former board member and current advisory member, Dr. Candace Platz, “RTT is a grass roots effort involving many people, a true community mosaic. The person who holds the mosaic together is Sarah Bronson.”

In addition to being RTT’s full-time Executive Director, Sarah is a PATH Intl. Registered Level instructor and PATH Intl Registered Therapist, providing both therapeutic riding instruction and hippotherapy services helping RTT’s clients to improve their health and wellness through equine assisted activities and therapies.

Bronson’s award automatically enters her to be considered for PATH Intl.’s larger international award where all regional and international winners compete. The winner will be announced at PATH Intl.’s annual conference in Denver, CO this November.

Coach Chris McDonald knows the importance of giving back

By Matt Pascarella

Chris McDonald loves sports. He passed this love of sports on to his son, who is a sports fanatic. When his son started playing little league, McDonald had a hard time just sitting on the sidelines and wanted to get involved, and thus began his coaching career.

Chris McDonald
McDonald has been a coach for six years over all the different sports his son has played. McDonald owns Windham Powersports and is head coach of the Windham Powersports team, part of the new AAA little league division this year.

It was his son’s love of sports that got McDonald interested in coaching. He was at every practice and every sporting event in which his son was involved. “I go to everything I can possibly be at, and just me and my personality...I want to be a part of it. I want to offer any help that I can to make all the kids better in what they do.” He started out assistant coaching and just moved into the head coach position.

“At the little league level, coaches have two very important functions,” he explained. “We want to develop the skills and ability to play the sport...being able to do all the different parts of the sport. 

Almost equally important, we want to train the kids to have good sportsmanship.” McDonald and his coaches have a giveaway after every game, win or lose, two players have an opportunity to win a Windham Powersports, custom-made sports shirt. One shirt is awarded to the VIP (Very Important Player); a player who exceeded expectations during that particular game or a player who had a shining point in a game that made them stand out.

The other shirt goes to the best sportsmanship of the game; this includes cheering for your team as well as supporting the other team. Examples include letting an opposing team player know if they’re pitching a hot streak or if a player has had a good at bat. Encouragement is important says McDonald. “Winning is great, but to get all these kids to the same successful point is extremely important in all of my coach’s opinions for our team and every other team.”

Giving the shirts away builds the player and builds the person. McDonald and his coaches sit down at the beginning of the season and discuss where they’d like to go for the year. They go over practices and games and ask, ‘what did we see and learn for the individual boys in various scenarios on the field?’

Their objective is to take the boys to another level. They want to take the players from their starting point at the beginning of the season and by the end of the season, they want those players to be multiple steps above where they were. To be better at the game, and better people inside.

“I love the sport,” he added. “For me to be involved in a coaching position is what I can offer, and it makes me feel young.”

Although McDonald is a guy from ‘away, having been born in Connecticut, but Maine is in his veins. He went to Lake Region High School and is married with two kids and a stepdaughter he considers one of his own. He moved to Windham in 2005 and opened Windham Powersports roughly six years ago where he turned his hobby of fixing four wheelers into a job he enjoys.

Grandparents celebrated by Windham Middle and Primary Schools

By Matt Pascarella

During the school year, students from the Windham Middle School eighth grade classrooms of Pam Mallard, Lisa Hodge, Erika DuPont and Tricia Sabine spend time mentoring students from the Windham Primary School second grade classrooms of Brianna Butts, Casey Dubay and Haley Saurman. The goal is for the eighth-grade students to provide a leadership role for the younger students.

Eighth graders Ted Becker and Elise Schultz
welcome everyone to the celebration
On Friday, May 10 the classrooms had their Grandparents Celebration, held at Windham High School. This celebration allows students to connect with individuals of different generations and celebrate the mentoring program, as well as display the work they’ve done throughout the year.

The mentoring program, or ‘buddy program’ started roughly ten years ago. The educators and teachers wanted to add more of a connection piece with the students. They decided to include grandparents because they tend to get left out as students enter middle school and it allows the students to share a piece of their family with the schools and it makes the grandparents feel special.

Lucas Spencer, an eighth grader in Erika Dupont’s class, said the goal was for eighth graders to teach the second graders, and get together and just hang out.

Caleb Spencer, a second grader in Haley Saurman’s class, liked being paired with his older brother. They both had fun; the activities were fun and Caleb said his brother did a good job.

“During the school year we get together once a month to do a learning adventure and to share some time with our second-grade buddies,” explained eighth graders Ted Becker and Elise Schultz at the opening of the celebration to an audience of students and grandparents.

“One of our coolest adventures is this grandparent celebration. This allows us to bring many generations together to share this special program designed to show how much we care about you,” they added.

“We do a variety of events such as a share your favorite book, learning about bats, exploring the concept of thankfulness, and making Valentines for the nursing home.  This year the eighth graders made a sled for a science unit and went sledding with their buddies,” explained Pam Mallard.

The celebration began with Middle School principal Drew Patton speaking ‘words of wisdom’ about the importance of relationships. He emphasized working to keep those relationships along with making memories and sharing traditions with your grandparents. Relationships are essential because they guide us, not only through the happy times, but also through the difficult ones.

Second graders led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. Students then sang songs and performed skits to honor and show appreciation for their grandparents. There was a video presentation about why grandparents are special to the students. Another video presentation followed about the community service done during the mentoring program; students did a Thanksgiving Day food drive with the Salvation Army, made pinecone bird feeders and started a fundraiser to get animal beds for the Animal Refuge League.

“It was very special to see my grandsons and their activities,” observed grandmother Sylvia Marin, who was very proud of her grandsons, Caleb and Lucas Spencer.

“It was really nice being here and seeing the makes us feel good as grandparents,” replied Paul Marin, grandfather to Caleb and Lucas.

Before the memory fades: The history, mystery and controversy of Windham’s Old Quaker Burial Ground

By Walter Lunt

This is the final in a series of three articles on Old Quaker Burial Ground.

Cemeteries cannot talk. But they do tell stories. This old adage may not apply fully to Quaker, or Friends, burial grounds.

As we learned in parts I and II of this series, the burying ground of Windham’s earliest Quakers had grown over and virtually disappeared by the mid twentieth century. Only when a local builder began clearing the property in the early 1970s did some “old-timers” speak up and save the site. Thus, the Old Quaker Burial Ground, located on the corner of Pope Road and Route 202 – which dated from 1780 – was preserved, cleaned up and rededicated.

Unmarked field stone grave markers
In part II, we asked, “How could a cemetery simply disappear?” The answer lies principally with the unusual customs and beliefs of this religious society, formed in England in the 1650s as a protest to the puritanical Church of England. Some believed the Church to be a false doctrine driven by personal pride. They would become the Society of Friends, and they held a deep belief in human equality, in life and in death. To that end, Quakers felt that grandiose tombstones were meant to elevate a person’s importance or dominance. To counter what they termed this “puffed-up vanity,” members of the Friends persuasion were interred in unbroken expanses of ground marked only by fieldstones.  By the 1800s, simple, unadorned headstones limited in height and width, and marked only with the deceased name and dates of birth and death were allowed. Both types, buried under decades of tree growth and earth, were evident in the Quaker burying ground at Windham Center.

By the early twentieth century, and with the advent of the automobile, many locals were complaining about the layout of the Pope Road/Route 202 intersection. Vehicles traveling through on Pope Road could not proceed directly across 202. Instead, it was necessary to turn on to 202, drive a short distance, and turn again in order to stay on Pope. The reason: one end of the cemetery extended tens of feet farther to the south than it does today.

At the behest of the Town, local resident Nathan Allen moved some of the marked headstones to the newer Friends Cemetery nearer the Friends Meeting House (church) a few hundred feet away on 202. He then proceeded to dig up the south portion of the old cemetery down to below frost level for the road we drive over today.

Interviewed by a reporter for the Portland Evening Express in 1972, Allen’s daughter, Natalie, confirmed the move, and added that her father told her, “…he never would do anything like (that) again.”

In an eerie side-note, the late Windham history buff Phil Kennard once wrote that “a family who lived a short way up the street from (the Old Quaker Burial Ground) said sometimes in the dead of night they heard voices, but upon investigation could find no one in the vicinity.” He was presumably referring to a time following the cemetery dig.

Clipping off portions of burial grounds to build thoroughfares was rare, but not unusual in earlier times.

In his 2017 book “Portland’s Historic Eastern Cemetery – A Field of Ancient Graves”, historian Ron Romano recounts the fate of the southern end of the city’s oldest burial ground near the foot of Munjoy Hill. Following the Great Fire of 1866, “…the city decided to clear the land and extend Federal Street from downtown to Munjoy Hill. In the process, some of the original hillside of the old Burying Ground was carved away….”

Romano says the debate among historians continues regarding the possible removal of human remains, but adds, “I do believe (given the great amount of earth removed) that some decomposed remains of early settlers were taken away…”

Given Nathan Allen’s earnest vow to never repeat such a removal project again, it would seem plausible the same thing might have occurred at the Windham site.

And given that Windham has over two dozen other cemeteries and numerous private burial sites, it also seems reasonable to assume that while they do not talk, many stories still remain.  <

Friday, May 10, 2019

Student of the Week: Mackenzie Gervais

Mackenzie Gervais, a seventh-grade student at Jordan-Small Middle School, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Gervais states that she enjoys playing softball, dancing and volleyball.

“Mackenzie Gervais is a young lady with a soft, gentle kindness who shows on a daily basis her appreciation, gratitude, and awareness of others,” stated her teacher. “ She willingly offers help to all of those who are around her.  Her wonderful attributes contribute to her being an outstanding student and an exceptional role model for her peers.”

Gervais believes that special projects where she gets to be creative is what makes learning fun. Her favorite music is country music. In her free time, Gervais loves playing outside with her dog, Nellie.
Gervais has one brother and one sister.

Students participate in Honors Music Festival

Here you will find photos of students who participated in the MMEA (Maine Music Educators’ Association) District II Honors Music Festivals this past winter and spring.  All seventh and eighth graders auditioned for judges and had to have a high enough score to be accepted.  They were competing with students from schools from Portland to Lewiston to Fryeburg. We're SO proud of our Windham Middle School, Manchester, and Jordan-Small Middle School musicians!

5th/6th Grade Elementary District II Festival (not in any particular order) From JSMS, WMS, Windham Christian Academy & Manchester:
Najala Boatman
Emily Talbot
Juliana Gagne
Ethan Fletcher
Nathan Hemond
Erik Dupont
Lillian Bouchard
Riley Yates
Addison Profenno
McKenzie Keeney
Fiona Harmon
Fletcher Vopal
Katelyn Cotter
Ashten Goblieski
Braedyn Elwell
Joshua Plummer
Ellie Duncan
Kaitlyn Dickson
Nicholas Davenport
Olivia Hamilton
Elizabeth Baker
Ellieana Davis-Archibald
Kirsten Mains
Leila Loszok
Lydia Marden
Rowan Cummings
Willow Washburn

7th/8th Grade Orchestra & Band (from WMS)
Kailey Chalmers
Greta Paulding
AnnMarie Andrews
Ellie Szostalo
Adrianna Wood
Sophia Vopal
Rylee Prescott
Gwen Kim
Alex Pooler
Lilian Nguyen
Sydney Brackett
Odessa Files
Noelle Denslow
Roman Thomas
Baxter Engelman

7th/8th Grade Chorus (from WMS)
Olivia Saucier
Noelle Denslow
Madelyn Hancock
Greta Paulding
Rachelle Cloutier
Sasha Funk
AnnMarie Andrews
Lila Schrock
Allona Popov
Morgan Policano
Dallin Duncan

Fourth annual PowerServe widens its reach

By Elizabeth Richards

PowerServe, originally planned as a one-time event to honor the life of Shane Donnelly, is now in its fourth year and has become a much-anticipated annual event. This year, PowerServe, which will be held on Monday, May 27th (Memorial Day), is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever. 

Young Life Sebago organizes the event, which was founded four years ago to bring students, family members and community residents together to serve people in need throughout the community. A wide range of projects is planned, from painting and cleaning to building and maintenance. 

Kristine Delano said this year the committee has expanded its requests for sponsorship to be able to do some more extensive projects. “Sometimes, there’s a limitation to what we can do at a house because of not having the funding to do some of those things,” she said. 

Gorham Savings Bank has been the gold sponsor since the first year of PowerServe.  Other sponsors include Lowe’s in Windham, Sherwin Williams in Windham, Shaw Earthworks, Island Cove Building and Development, Benson Farm, and Windham Rental. “That makes a difference in our ability to provide people with more than just yard clean up,” said Delano.  

The committee is also expanding the number of projects this year. Last year, teams completed 22 projects. This year, Delano said, they’re on track to do thirty. “That’s really a blessing, to be able to do so many things and be so many places,” she said.

Being in their fourth year of PowerServe has helped them build credibility, Delano added. When people see how hard the teams work, she said, they want to be a part of it. Their growth helps them share the message that by serving together, they strengthen the sense of community, she said.
The move to holding PowerServe on Memorial Day also helped the program grow, she said.  

Previously they had struggled with fitting in a day for service amongst family and sports obligations. Having a full committee to share the work has also made a big difference. 

While in the first year, approximately 60% of volunteers were students, this year it seems more evenly divided into thirds, Delano said: one-third students, one-third family members of students, and one-third members of the community that have learned of the project in other ways.

Delano said it’s been nice to see the growth, and to watch cross generational teams work together.  Participants can sign up to work with their family and friends, but Delano said they also try to encourage people to meet new people and develop new friendships as they work.

Anne Daigle, another member of the committee, said one of her favorite moments of the event is at the barbeque, when she sees people choose to eat with the group they worked with instead of who they came with.  “I love to see that they got to know each other a little bit, and they want to sit down and eat with them instead of the people that they already know. I think that’s really cool.”

Morgan Colangelo and Rachel Frost are student members of the committee. They are working at the high school to get sports teams, clubs, and other students involved. 

“For me, it’s important to be involved in it because it brings everyone together in the community in a serving way, and you’re with people that you’re not typically working with. To be able to see people working towards a common goal together just to help one thing is a pretty amazing feeling,” Colangelo said.

“It’s a really impactful day,” said Frost, adding that her family has been participating in PowerServe since the first year. They travel on Memorial Day weekend, she said, but make a point to get back in time to participate.  “It means so much to our family seeing the whole community come together like that. It’s not just every day that you get to see that type of teamwork.”

Young Life Leader Cole Milazzo said that often people are reluctant to open themselves up and try new opportunities. “There are many opportunities to engage in community, but [PowerServe] is the only one I’ve been a witness to, in this area, where you have hundreds of people from Windham willing to take that step out and engage in the community that they live  in, hear stories and have conversations they wouldn’t have with people any other time,” he said.

Alex Thuotte, another Young Life Leader, added that people may be hesitant, wondering what the hidden agenda is. “I love being on this committee, being with PowerServe, because there’s no hidden agenda. The end goal is just to serve.”

There are both repeat projects and new projects each year.  The committee reaches out to the community to help identify those in need.  They strive to serve anyone in need, whether it’s the first time or the fourth they’ve needed help.

Delano said that there’s now a lot of history and recognition of what PowerServe is.  Colangelo said PowerServe is becoming a topic of conversation in the hallways at the high school.  It’s nice, she said, to hear others giving good feedback about the event and encouraging others to participate.
Volunteers are still needed, and anyone interested in participating is welcome.  Registration begins at 1 pm and projects take place from 1:30 to 5 pm.  After the event, all participants are invited to a barbeque put on by the Donnelly family. For more information or to sign up, visit

Mock crime scene allows students to apply classroom expertise

By Matt Pascarella

There is a common thought; especially in math and science classes: “when am I ever going to use this material?” For the second year in a row, Windham High School (WHS) along with help from the Windham Police Department, held a mock crime scene on Wednesday, May 1 and Thursday, May 2 on the WHS campus. This involved several classes, along with members of the media and witnesses.

Students inspect and gather evidence from the vehicle
found on school grounds 
Students from various classes will work together at two separate crime scenes for the next three weeks. One group will focus upon the victim while the other will analyze the vehicle involved in the crime. The mock hit and run case will culminate in a law class holding a mock trial to figure out who is the criminal. Real district attorneys will be present and will try to poke holes in their case, making it more realistic.

“The purpose is to have the students learn about forensic investigation and give them a real-life application for the skills that they’re learning in school,” explained math teacher John Ziegler. “Here, we’re giving them a great example of when they’re going to have to use math in real life...with a real career-based application to it.”

There are several roles that different classes are fulfilling. The math and science class are going to be evidence technicians; doing forensic analysis at the scene. The English classes are going to be the detectives, interviewing suspects and witnesses and trying to get information about the case and piece everything together. A journalism class will gather information from various sources and publish new developments in the case as they emerge in ‘Eagle Eyes’, the school's online newspaper.

Students will be part of a Google Classroom. It’s set up with different folders, where they can store evidence, have discussions and work together in order to solve the crime.

Evidence technician and junior Kathryn Lucas collected samples from the scene of the crime. “He was hit on the left side of his body. On the bottom of his shoe there is a scuff and you can see there is a scuff down where the hat and the shoe are, further down the road. There are scratches on his legs and his knuckles; he had a broken femur sticking out of his skin and has an injury to his head as well,” she observed. There was also a vehicle found at another location on school grounds.

“I think it’s good for a lot of these students as we’re connecting so many different classes, they get a chance in their classrooms to learn English, math, science, but now they’re in an environment where they have to connect all those dots,” commented School Resource Officer, Seth Fournier. “A secondary consequence of this is they get to learn about my job, police work. How that stuff all shakes out when you get a big scheme like this and how complicated it can be, which is important for me.”

This is a very engaging and exciting opportunity for students. They’re processing evidence and speaking with witnesses. There is a lot involved in this crash; a lot of high-level math. There are many variables in what the students are learning with the case, it makes it hard to not participate. Students are really getting into this case.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for students to make real life application to what they’re learning,” said assistant principal Phil Rosetti.

Officer Fournier added “I think it’s super cool. All my guys are really excited about it. I feel like next year it’s going to build because we’re excited about it now.”

Friday, May 3, 2019

College and career fair guides students toward post high school planning

By Matt Pascarella

Career planning at any point during high school is important and the earlier you start, the better. JMG/MELMAC* and Windham High School sponsored a college and career fair held at Windham High on Thursday, April 25.

The fair featured 87 colleges and businesses to help sophomores and juniors discover what is out there and what they might like to pursue post high school.

 “There is data that shows the earlier students start planning and prepping for life after high school, the easier the transition is with higher retention in school and jobs,” explained Kerry Kowalczyk, the College and Career Specialist at Windham High.
The goal is to have students start thinking about their post-secondary plans earlier rather than later. It is important they see both the college side and career side. Once a student has figured out what path they want and what interests them, there are resources at the high school that can help them learn more and guide them in the right direction.

Windham High runs a variety of trips to various colleges and businesses during a student’s four years to give them a sense of what’s out there and get them thinking about plans after high school.
The colleges at Thursday’s fair had information on hand regarding tours and visitations. This is a perfect time for students to start thinking about options for their senior capstone too; a final project based on a student’s interests and post high school direction.

Students found the fair helpful and a good opportunity to learn about colleges and businesses. “When I come to the fair, I’m able to see the kind of diversity that Maine has for colleges,” began Chole Wilcox, WHS junior. “Seeing the diversity of education levels and what I’m able to choose from is really cool.”

“I get to see my options for my future and see all the local colleges and what they have to offer,” commented sophomore Ezra Smith.

Colleges and businesses were also aware of the importance of being at the fair.

“It is super important for me to be here today to get out and meet some of the students from Windham High School that we currently partner with to take tuition free classes at USM and also recruit new students,” said Jamie Austin, Early College and Program Coordinator for the University of Southern Maine.

“We really want to be a career choice for those high school kids who aren’t ready for college or may not have the opportunity to get into college,” explained Vickie McMullen, Vice President and Banking Center Manager for Mechanic Savings Bank. They brought a wheel with the various bank positions and had been interacting with students all day about what might work for an individual student at Mechanic Savings Bank.

“Students should start thinking about what excited them or interested them and use this opportunity to find what they may enjoy and be good at. Students can then make a plan for their life after high school and be more confident in their choice of direction,” added Kowalcyzk.

Students can and should utilize their high school counselors who can help make a detailed plan recommending ways they can learn more during school (job shadowing, vocational classes or other specific courses they could take) The College and Career Center is a drop in office that can help with anything regarding life after high school.

*JMG/Melmac foundation provides support to students on a school-wide basis to identify their after high school aspirations. The JMG/MELMAC partnership is offered at Old Town High School, Brewer High School, Winslow High School and Windham High School.

Project Grad 2019 is down to the wire with final and unique fundraiser

RSU 14 (Windham and Raymond) seniors and adult education students are nearing graduation.  It’s an exciting time of year, as students celebrate achievements and look to the future.

Unfortunately, if these celebrations include drinking and driving, festivities meant for fun can easily turn to tragedy. That’s where Project Graduation comes in. 

Project Graduation which is planned and funded through the efforts of parents of current seniors includes organized, adult-supervised and drug and alcohol-free activities as part of a post-graduation party. 

This year’s RSU 14 Project Grad event is planned and is a secret to the students. The committee of dedicated parents have raised $29,000 of the $30,000 needed to pull off this year’s event. The final fundraiser of the year is “Senior Balloon Messages”. This is something the town of Scarborough has done for years (seniors there get as many as 20 messages each from family, friends and teachers) delivered directly to their homes the week before graduation. 

Messages are attached to balloons, making for a festive way to recognize graduates.  The WHS Project Grad committee has decided to attach the balloons to lawn signs recognizing the senior (or graduating adult education student) as an RSU 14 graduate.

Messages cost $6 each. Each student who has at least one message bought for them will get two balloons and a lawn sign delivered to their home. According to WHS Project Grad Chair, Robin Mullins, “We hoped all seniors would have at least one message ordered. We discussed paying for those students who did not get one, but the cost was significant.”

Therefore, the committee asked local businesses for help.  In true Windham fashion three businesses stepped up to sponsor, covering the $1,250 needed for two balloons and one sign for each senior.  A huge “thank you” to Evergreen Credit Union, Milliken, Perkins & Brunelle and major contributor Cumberland Title. 

“Think about how cool it will be to drive through Windham and Raymond the week before graduation and see all of the balloons and lawn signs recognizing our graduates,” Mullins added. Anyone wishing to order a message for a graduating student can do so at the WHS Project Grad website, 

All the best to all graduating RSU 14 students.

“Grit, Grace and Gratitude” are the ingredients for this year’s Women’s Forum Chamber event

Ann Jordan will be Keynote Speaker
By Lorraine Glowczak

There is no denying that mental toughness, also known as grit, is an imperative and handy trait to carry in your back pocket when obstacles come tumbling your way in both business and life. 

Although women have come a long way in their journey as professionals and entrepreneurs, they still face many barriers to success. But if one adds a dash of discipline and drive along with a cup of grace, powerful relationships and connections can form and thus happiness and achievement in the workplace can be developed.

Join the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce as they host their ninth annual Women’s Forum on Friday, May 17 from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Spring Meadows Golf Club, 59 Lewiston Road in Gray.

“It will be an insightful evening that will include both laughter and connection along with food and a cash bar,” began Lynn Mansfield, director of the Sebago Lakes Chamber of Commerce. “We will also have an amazing speaker to encourage us and a comedian to lift our spirits.”

Ann Jordan of Windham will be the key note presenter for the evening. She is an international speaker who has motived women to excel, exceed and become exceptional in whatever endeavor she may choose. Maine comedian, Abi Morgan will also be featured along with over 15 vendors who will showcase a variety of women-owned businesses.

“The evening will include a special announcement for an exceptional ‘woman of the year’,” stated Mel Oldakowski, Chamber Board member.  “We are also partnering with a local non-profit in Bridgton called ‘Through These Doors’ which works with women in domestic violence situations. We are asking attendees to bring items to donate to their shelter such as gift cards, clothing, toiletries, etc.”

For those who wish to donate directly to Through These Doors, the organization has a much needed wish list that can be viewed on their website at
Tickets are $25 per person. For more information or to register for the event, call (207) 892-8265 or email

Join the Lakes Region Chamber women for an evening of fun, laughter, connection, networking and perhaps most of all….grit, grace and gratitude. You will leave feeling inspired to move forward toward success – both in life and in business.

Mom encourages community to "Go Gray" in May

By Julie Brown

May is the month for celebrating moms on Mother’s Day and on Memorial Day we honor those who died in active military service.  It is my hope to bring more awareness to a cause I am passionate about; brain cancer.

My daughter, Jessica Heath, passed away in January at the age of 34. She battled brain cancer twice and was an advocate for the National Brain Tumor Society. Jessica went to Washington D.C. to further support funding for more research and treatment options, but it is too late for her to benefit from either of these.  Jessica did make it past the five-year survival rate estimated for 36% of women diagnosed, however, it was just after the five-year mark when her tumor returned, losing her life at such a young age.

It is estimated that over 16,000 people will die from brain cancer in 2019.  The most common brain tumors in adults are:

*Meningiomas, a tumor that forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord just inside the skull makes up about 37% of primary brain tumors.
*Gliomas, a type of tumor that starts in the glial cells of the brain or the spine and makes up 81% of malignant brain tumors that include both astrocytomas and glioblastomas (two forms of brain cancer.)

There has been little change in treatment options in the past 30 years and there still is no cure. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the most common treatments for brain tumors depending on their type and grade (severity measured by 1, 2, 3 or 4). Not all brain tumors are malignant (deadly). Much depends on the location within the brain. Some non-malignant brain tumors do affect long term quality of life if they produce deficits in the patient’s ability to care for themselves but often can cause death, leaving behind loved ones including children who grow up without a parent.

May is Brain Tumor/Cancer Awareness month.  Like October’s Breast Cancer pink ribbon, I hope that more people will share information about the Gray ribbon and ultimately find a cure for brain cancer.

If one is interested in donating to brain cancer awareness or to help find a cure, one can participate or donate to the Bob Burns Memorial 5K run/walk that will take place in Augusta on Sunday, July 29 from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information: 


Julie Brown is a local writer and author of “Building a Life.” She blogs about her journey as a mother who is trying to live fully without her daughter.  Find her blog at

Friday, April 26, 2019

Keeping Lakes Region’s most precious resource in tip-top condition can be successful through volunteer efforts

By Lorraine Glowczak

A new Windham Town committee has recently been established to keep much needed attention on the greatest natural resource in the Sebago Lakes region – water. The Town of Windham’s Natural Resource Committee (WNRC) is spearheaded by Windham Councilor, Donna Chapman and is chaired by Dennis Brown, who is also an active volunteer for the Highland Lake Leadership Team and has been instrumental in targeting the many environmental concerns facing the lake.

As mandated by the state from each municipality, Councilor Chapman explained the importance of
the newly launched WNRC. “We have never had such a committee before and seeing that we have five watersheds on the impaired list, it seems necessary to have a committee working on these issues,” explained Chapman. “The committee will look at all of our open spaces and determine how our natural resources are used, discovering things we can be doing to prevent further [environmental damage] – combining that with the action of community volunteers.”

Brown reiterated Chapman’s response adding that those in the Windham, Raymond and other lake region communities can give in ways with very little time commitment. “The more volunteers we have, the less obligation it will take on an individual level.”
There are several ways to be active, offering a few hours of your time in an effort to clean up the
natural spaces surrounding the region’s streams and lakes. One is by being a member of the Natural Resource Committee for those who are Windham residents. To be considered as a member, playing an active role in making decisions, one need only apply via the Town of Windham’s website at

Another opportunity is through the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT) which has established their own citizen science volunteer program.

“We run a 20-week water quality monitoring program that goes from May through September and involves collecting water samples every other Saturday morning from somewhere in our five-town region,” stated Toby Jacobs, PRLT Stewardship and Outreach Manager. “Most volunteers work in pairs or groups of three and sample three sites per group. Samples are tested for dissolved oxygen (high amounts of which is crucial for aquatic life) and bacteria (high levels of which can make water dangerous for drinking or swimming).” [from a previous interview published in the March 1, 2019 edition of the Windham Eagle.]

PRLT will host a training led by the Maine DEP on Saturday, May 4. The training will include how to collect water samples and data every other Saturday morning from mid-May through mid-September. Water stewards are placed in teams of two to three, so you don’t need to be available for every sampling day. Please contact for more information.

townmanager@fryeislandtown.orgIf you are interested in participating with the PRLT in other environmental events, they have a variety of volunteer opportunities, “We are always taking volunteers to help us with trails to our new wildlife initiative to create habitat for key species in the region,” stated Jacobs. “People can sign-up and”
obtain information at

In regard to becoming a volunteer and water steward, Chapman captured the current situation the best “….the more, the merrier.” And as for the active work in cleaning up our most precious resource, collectively doing our best to keep the Lake Region waters clean, “…let’s get this show on the road.”

Portland Altrusa Club brings books to Kindergarteners at Windham Primary School

By Elizabeth Richards

Altrusa International, Inc. might not have the same name recognition as other service organizations, but members have been serving the area through the Portland club for ninety years.  In Windham, the club has been putting books in the hands of all kindergarten students for three years now.

Altrusa of Portland is one of 17 clubs in District One, which includes New England, Eastern Canada and Bermuda.  In Maine, there are four Altrusa clubs.  Altrusa of Portland has 39 members, including several from the Lakes Region. 

For twenty-five years, the Portland Altrusa club has participated in the ABC Literacy Program.  Members read a book to a kindergarten class and then give each child a book to take home, as well as giving the teacher a book for the classroom.

Club treasurer Wanda Pettersen joined the club after she retired. She learned about The ABC Literacy Program, which was happening in every Portland, South Portland and Westbrook kindergarten classroom at the time, and wanted to bring it to Windham, where she lives.  After making sure there were members from the area willing to do the reading, she contacted the principal at Windham Primary School to get the program started. 

This is the third year that Altrusa of Portland has brought the ABC Literacy Program to all 11 kindergarten classes at Windham Primary School. “It’s so much fun. The kids love it,” Pettersen said.
“The children’s faces, when they learn they’re going to get to keep a book – it’s priceless,” added Club Director Debbie Lemieux. are given a choice of several books to choose from, so they can select something that matches their interests.  Pettersen said she was surprised at how many children told her they didn’t have any books at home.  “They are just delighted to think that they have a book of their own that they can bring home. It is amazing how many families don’t have books,” she said.

Books A Million is Altrusa’s main partner for acquiring books, Pettersen said.  The store conducts book drives at the cash registers, and then donates those books to Altrusa.

Lemieux said the club has given away an average of 100,000 books per year both through the ABC program and other avenues.  In December, they wrapped books and gave them to area organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, she said.

They give board books to Head Start programs, and members donate books that are then given to Long Creek Youth Development Center, The Cumberland County Jail and the Windham Correctional Center. 

Literacy is something the club focuses on, but they also participate in other service activities.  Last year, they started sponsoring a high school club, called ASTRA, at Lakes Region High School.  This is the first ASTRA club in Maine and one of just two in New England. The students have weekly meetings and participate in fundraisers and service projects – including going into Sebago schools to do the ABC literacy program. The ASTRA club has about 25 student members. “We’re very proud of our Astrans,” Lemieux said.

Other club activities include maintaining a memory garden at the Barron Center in Portland, serving meals at the Ronald McDonald House and for Wayside Community Programs, giving scholarships, and holding a fundraising event for Project FEED.

One of their biggest fundraisers each year is a show by comedian Bob Marley.  Marley, whose mother is an Altrusan, donates his time to the cause.  This year, the show is on Wednesday, May 8 at Keeley’s Banquet Center in Portland.  Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at Eventbrite, on Keeley’s Facebook page, or through an Altrusan.

Altrusa of Portland is always looking for new members with fresh ideas, Lemieux said.  Meetings are held on the first and third Wednesday of each month. The first meeting is a business meeting held at the Clarion Hotel, and the second is a dinner and program held at the Fireside Inn. For more information, contact the club at or visit their Facebook page, Altrusa International – Portland,  Maine Club.