Local youth waiting for Big Brothers and Big Sisters

Nine-year-old Briannah is patiently waiting for the news that she has a Big Sister. She’s anxious to talk with her new friend about her interest in geology, maybe find unique rocks together in the Skowhegan community where she lives, and is especially excited to share her love for animals. Her mom, a single parent, hopes a one-to-one relationship with a female role model will give her daughter self-confidence, raise her aspirations and set her on the path to success.

Briannah is among 25 youth facing adversity in Kennebec and Somerset counties currently waiting to be matched with positive, adult role models to serve as community-based mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine. According to Gwendolyn Hudson, BBBSMM executive director, about 60 percent of those waiting are young boys.

“It is not uncommon that women tend to volunteer to mentor more often than their male counterparts,” Hudson said, citing national BBBS of America statistics, but said the agency hopes to change that trend by finding caring, compassionate males in the community ready to share a little bit of their time to help change the life of a child.

BBBSMM recently started a “Waiting Wednesday” social media post on their Facebook and Instagram platforms, highlighting youth waiting to be match with community mentors.

Big Brother Richard Behr and his Little Brother, Jaxen, have been meeting every week for more than four years. Jaxen, now a teenager, was nine years old when they first met, and unsure what it would be like to have a Big Brother. His mother said he had intense anxiety in new situations and as a working parent with other young children at home, she recognized he wasn’t getting the one-on-one time with her that he used to. He was interested in outdoor activities, but didn’t have anyone to go with him. She said she hoped having a mentor would help Jaxen increase his confidence and give him the motivation to try new things.

Today, the match between Richard and Jaxen has brought them together to hike, snowshoe, fish and take on fun building projects together.

Adults interested in learning more about becoming a community-based mentor should contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine by calling 207-370-1674 or emailing reneeigo@bbbsmidmaine.org. For more information about how you can change the life of a child through volunteering or supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine, visit bbbsmidmaine.org.

National Fire Prevention week

Jordynn Mann and Micah Waldie learn about the personal protective gear that firefighters wear in a fire environment with call firefighter and president of the Winslow Fire Association Nathaniel White. Winslow Fire & Rescue held their annual open house on Sept. 29, in preparation for National Fire Prevention week, Oct. 8. (Photo by Tawni Lively, Central Maine Photography staff)

Lawrence boys soccer team shows support during National Breast Cancer Awareness month

(Photo by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff)

The Lawrence High School boys soccer team took to the fields this week wearing pink and black jerseys to show their support during Breast Cancer Awareness month in October.

Unity Rotary Club taking fruit orders as fundraiser

Jan, left, and Ron Cropley, are taking fruit orders for the Unity Rotary Club. The club will be offering 20-pound cases of oranges or grapefruit for $25 per case, and new this year, mixed packages of a variety of choices for $20. The deadline for ordering the fruit will be the week of November 5-9 for expected delivery to start the first week in December. (Contributed photo)

Ron and Jan Cropley, of the Unity Area Rotary Club, are working hard, along with the other members of the Unity Area Rotary Club, taking calls and messages for fruit orders.

Unity Area Rotary Club’s very first fund raiser was the sale of citrus fruit. The chairman then was Max Gillette (1992 – 2017) who continued as its chairman for 25 years. Ron Cropley, of Troy, currently serves as the fundraiser’s chairman and Jan as his secretary.

Unity’s Rotary club will be offering 20-pound cases of oranges or grapefruit for $25 per case, and new this year, mixed packages of a variety of choices for $20. The deadline for ordering the fruit will be the week of November 5-9 for expected delivery to start the first week in December.

For more information, contact Ron or Jan Cropley at (207)948-2524, message the club through their Facebook page (Unity Area Rotary Club) or any other member of the club.

Square dancers hold summer outing

Pictured above are Cindy Fairfield and Bob Brown, of Newport, in back are Larry and Kathleen Hillman, of Fairfield, and Margaret and Bruce Carter, of Ellsworth. Contributed photo

Pictured here are just a few of the Central Maine Square Dance Club members who attended this year’s club picnic. It was held on Sunday, July 29, at the summer cottage of Gary and Myra Chaloult, in Smithfield. The weather was very cooperative and the water was nice and cool, perfect for the day. The food was outstanding as was the opportunity to meet so many of friends off the dance floor. The Central Maine Square Dance Club meets every Tuesday night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Waterville Jr. High school on the West River Road (Rte. 104), in Watervillle. A brand new season has started with new beginners classes. Call Bob at 447-0094 or Cindy at 631-8816 for more details .

This group also traveled to Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, for this year’s 10th anniversary festival which took place from Friday, August 24 – 26. That weekend saw almost 400 dancers attending to dance various levels of squares and also included round dancing. Those attending came from 17 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces of Canada. It’s always nice to see friends whom we haven’t seen in quite a while and also meet many newer friends.

Author Mark Allen Leslie to speak about new book at Winslow Library

Winslow area families put their lives and fortunes on the line connecting to the Underground Railroad

Maine’s connection to the famous Underground Railroad that helped free runaway slaves in the mid-1800s does not begin and end with Harriet Beecher Stowe. Indeed, people from Kittery to Ft. Fairfield, including Waterville-Winslow, Augusta, China and Vassalboro, conspired to break the law — the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 — forming a network of “safe houses,” hiding slaves from slave hunters and scurrying them to Canada. If caught, these Underground Railroad “conductors” faced fines and jail.

At the Winslow Public Library at 6 p.m. on Oct. 18, author Mark Alan Leslie will weave the tale of the brave families who housed and fed slaves in hidden rooms, attics and elsewhere en route to the next secret “way station” on the “railroad.”

Former Morning Sentinel reporter Mark Allen Leslie

“Some called slavery ‘the absolute power of one person over another — the vilest human behavior and institution,’” said Leslie. “Others called it ‘essential to our economy and prosperity’ and even ‘a humane institution which provided food, shelter and family’ to the African race.”

“Slavery was the one issue that has been able to tear America apart, and that included Mainers,” he added.

And slavery remains in the news. The Treasury Department plans to add Harriet Tubman, a heroine of the Under­ground Railroad, to the $20 bill. Also, the Brunswick home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, a National Historic Landmark since 1962, was placed on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The former parlor room, where it is believed she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is open to the public as “Harriet’s Writing Room.”

Publisher’s Weekly hailed Leslie’s novel, True North: Tice’s Story, about a slave’s escape over the Underground Railroad through Maine, naming it a Featured Book for 2016. The Midwest Book Review cited Leslie’s “genuine flair for compelling, entertaining, and deftly crafted storytelling.”

And AFA Journal called Leslie “a seasoned wordsmith” whose contemporary novels are “in the class with John Grisham.”

A longtime journalist whose career started as a reporter for the then-Waterville Sentinel, Leslie first burst on the literary scene in 2008 with his novel Midnight Rider for the Morning Star, based on the life of Francis Asbury, America’s first circuit-riding preacher.

Since then, in addition to True North he has written The Crossing about the Ku Klux Klan in Maine in the 1920s and three contemporary thrillers: Chasing the Music about the hunt for King David’s music of the Psalms, The Three Sixes about Islamic terror cells in America, and the just-released The Last Aliyah about the Jewish escape from America when the United Nations bans Jewish emigration to Israel.

A book signing will follow Leslie’s presentation.

Winslow holds public safety open house


Winslow Fire Department’s Open House builds community spirit.

by Jeani Marquis

On Saturday, September 29, the Winslow Fire Department hosted their second annual open house showcasing the equipment and the people behind the scenes who keep their community safer. The day included representation from Winslow Fire Department, Winslow Police Department, Maine Forest Rangers, Delta Ambulance, Winslow Firefighters Association, Winslow Public Library and Miss Teen Winslow International 2018.

Winslow Firefighter Nathaniel White demonstrates how quickly a firefighter can get into their protective gear. White said it is important to show children that professional firefighters are not to be feared. They see that a person is beneath all the equipment.

Spokesman Firefighter Scott Waldie explained, “Generally the public meets us in the worst possible circumstances. This event is a chance to see us in a good environment.”

The atmosphere was indeed positive with young children interacting with safety professionals and families enjoying the bake goods purchased from the Firefighters Association bake sale to fund scholarships. Booths were set up to promote local services and organizations to the public including the Winslow Public Library, Winslow’s Miss Teen International and the advocacy group for foster children Project Sparrow.

This community outreach event was an opportunity for the public, especially young children, to learn about fire prevention and how to escape from a fire. Children and their parents were shown a demonstration of how fast a firefighter can get into their protective gear. When asked why they give this demonstration, Firefighter Nathaniel White said, “It’s important to show kids that professional firefighters are not to be feared. They see I am a person beneath all this gear.”

Another teaching opportunity happens in the Winslow Fire Department Smoke Trailer, which travels to local schools on a regular basis for fire prevention presentations. The interior of the trailer is set up as an average house with a kitchen and living space. Visitors to the trailer are challenged to identify fire hazards which could be found in any home, even theirs. The trailer can also be filled with smoke to simulate the lack of visibility and demonstrate how to safely escape the situation. Firefighters with infrared glasses coach the children safely through the smoke-filled trailer.

The intent of the event was to heighten the public awareness of the public safety services in the Winslow area. That mission was accomplished. To get involved the rest of the year, the Winslow Fire Department offers the Raider Brigade for youth aged 14 through 17. Local adults are encouraged to inquire about employment opportunities in the public safety services.

The Winslow Fire Department smoke trailer where demonstrations are held on how to evacuate a burning building.

Fundraiser planned for Serenity “Blueberry” Bunn

Serenity “Blueberry” Bunn


On Saturday, October 13, a fundraiser will be held to help with the care of a little girl named Serenity Bunn, affectionately known as “Blueberry,” from Windsor. At age two, Blueberry was diagnosed with stage 4 Refractory Neuroblastoma. Two years later, after multiple rounds of chemotherapy, tumor removals, and immunotherapy, her family has been informed by doctors that the cancer has stopped responding to treatment. They are now looking to try and spend as much time with her as possible. They have been given a year but told not to count on it.

The event will take place at the American Legion Post, 79 Legion Memorial Drive, in South China, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a BBQ (brisket as long as it lasts), hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, a beverage, and many more goodies. The cost is $10 per plate with a discount for younger children.

You should know that for someone so young and having been through so much, Blueberry is still full of sass and love. She is sweet and funny and definitely runs the roost. Blueberry loves to watch all the Disney movies her Nana has provided her and dress up like a princess. She gives the best hugs and has the sweetest smile. She loves her twin sisters, Faith and Hope, and playing with her uncles. Blueberry has a love for animals, but cows are definitely her favorite. She’s full of life and she brings so much joy to everyone that knows her!

A link has been provided to an article regarding Serenity done in Montana before she moved to Maine for the experimental treatments: http://www.mtpr.org/post/you-dont-take-things-granted-ever.

Submitted by Heidi Badger, family friend of Blueberry.
10/07/2018: Updated to include the time and place of the fundraiser.

Winslow teen presents check to Project Sparrow


Amy Moody, left, accepts a check on behalf of Project Sparrow from Winslow’s Miss Teen International, Mikayla Gurney. (Photo by Jeani Marquis)

by Jeani Marquis

The board president of Project Sparrow, Amy Moody received a $265 donation check from Mikayla Gurney, Winslow’s Miss Teen International 2018, as part of the activities at Winslow’s Public Safety Open House.

Helping children is Mikayla Gurney’s platform as her reign as Miss Teen. She feels Project Spar­row will put her donation to good use making foster children who are going into an unfamiliar situation more comfortable. Project Sparrow advocates for and supports at risk children being raised in Maine’s foster care systems.

Nearly 2,000 pinwheels were set up to represent the many children currently in Maine foster care. (Photo by Jeani Marquis)

Project Sparrow’s mission is to raise awareness of the needs of foster children and to fill in any gaps not filled by the agencies. There are nearly 2,000 children now in Maine’s foster homes. Many of these children had to leave unsuitable situations suddenly without extra clothing, diapers, toiletries and toys. With the help of donations, Project Sparrow provides these essentials.

“Maine’s children are in crisis. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of infants entering foster care due to the opiate crisis in our state,” explains Amy Moody. “Not everyone may feel they are called to be a foster parent, but there is always some way for everyone to help.”

The need is growing. To illustrate the number of foster children currently in Maine, Project Sparrow enlisted the JMG group from Winslow High School to set up the traveling display of nearly 2,000 blue pinwheels. Amy Moody said that it made a strong impression on the high schoolers that each one of pinwheels they inserted into the ground represented a foster child.

Project Sparrow’s next major project is their Christmas toy drive beginning mid-October. To get involved, look for information on the organization’s website project-sparrow.org or the Project Sparrow facebook page. What’s next for Miss Teen Mikayla Gurney? She’ll be working on the Project Sparrow Christmas toy drive as well because 2,000 foster children deserve a happy holiday.

Gordon graduates at the University of Minnesota Crookston

The Office of the Registrar at the University of Minnesota Crookston, in Crookston, Minnesota, recently announced its list of spring semester 2018 graduates. Summer session graduates include Cailyn Marie Gordon, of Rome, graduating with a bachelor of science in animal science.