China for a Lifetime kicks off volunteer initiative

More than two dozen residents turned out to hear about volunteering in China. (Photos by Eric Austin)

by Eric W. Austin

The China for a Lifetime Committee held a public meeting on Saturday, November 17, at the China Lake Camp and Conference Center to launch a volunteer initiative as part of their mission to improve the lives of residents through community activism.

The committee had identified 18 areas where volunteers can help to make the community better and support our most vulnerable citizens. Those areas included: drivers, home repair, shopping, shut-in check-ins, snow shoveling and firewood help for disabled and elderly residents, volunteers for litter clean-up, tutoring/mentoring, substance abuse support, help with the “free” building at the transfer station, a welcome wagon team to greet new residents, a fire department maintenance team, volunteers for the China and South China libraries, a phone tree for getting the word out about important announcements, and help with the China School Forest.

The committee is also looking for volunteer coordinators to help organize tasks and volunteers. Sign-up sheets for each category were available at the meeting on Saturday for people to express their interest in working on one of these initiatives.

Twenty-nine people from China attended the event and spoke about the needs and opportunities for volunteering in the China area.

Christopher Hahn, chairman of China for a Lifetime Committee, addresses residents who attended the meeting.

Christopher Hahn, chairman for the China for a Lifetime Committee, spoke about the mission of the committee to promote community activism, and encouraged everyone to join the “Friends of China, Maine” Facebook group, which has been setup by the committee to facilitate communication between residents.

Lois Rogers and Jodi Blackinton, representing the China Food Pantry, spoke about the need for volunteers to help at the pantry, particularly between the hours of 9:30-10:30 a.m., on Fridays and Saturdays, when boxes of food are carried in. The China Food Pantry serves around 75 families a week, and gave out nearly 60 turkeys to needy families this Thanksgiving.

Anita Smith, representing the China School Forest, spoke about the need for help maintaining the forest trails and emphasized that, despite its name, the China School Forest is owned by the town, not the school district. After storms they often have fallen trees that need to be cleared.

Jenny Claire spoke up about the need for a local support group for parents of disabled children. This is a particular need for parents of older children who no longer benefit from the support they receive as part of the public school system.

China Town Manager Dennis Heath spoke about the improvements made recently to the town office website, including a new calendar feature, listing town committee meetings, and a new service they’ve implemented which provides live video streaming for active meetings. It is his intention that all meetings in the central conference room will be recorded and stored for future reference. An archive of recorded meetings can be found by going to the town website and clicking on “Live Stream” in the menu on the left-hand side of the homepage.

Heath also mentioned that he sees a need in the community for free financial management counseling for some residents. The CFAL committee will add that to their list of volunteer opportunities.

Finally, Rick Hansen, Camp Director for the China Conference Center, spoke about the role he hopes the conference center can play in the community. Currently, the center hosts a Healthy Heart Walking program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7-10 a.m. in the gymnasium.

The China for a Lifetime Committee meets the third Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the town office. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 20, at 6:30 p.m. Residents of China are welcome to attend.

The committee is still looking for volunteers and if you would like to help, please email your contact information (name & phone number), along with the volunteer category you are interested in, to the committee at


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