It was one of those news items that doesn’t make the national news. The Kennebec Journal reported that a Dresden man was facing charges after hitting three parked vehicles—two of which were equipped to handle wheelchairs. A 2009 Subaru Impreza was totaled. A 2011 Toyota Sienna and a 2013 Toyota Sienna, owned by a father of son, also were heavily damaged. The vans are each outfitted to accommodate wheelchairs used by three members of the Brown family — father Gerald and his sons, Steve and Jeff — who have a type of genetic ataxia, which causes lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements and makes wheelchairs a necessity for them.
While the story didn’t make national news, it did catch the eye of Marilyn Stinson, secretary of Enterprise Grange located in Richmond Maine. “We wanted to do something to help, but we weren’t sure what or how. We were preparing our own fundraiser – Pancake Breakfast – during Richmond Days and knew we couldn’t use that money because we need it for fuel and electricity.”
Recognizing that Richmond Days offered a great opportunity to help these people, Enterprise Grangers went to work. Time was very limited so they began connecting immediately with phone calls and emails and Facebook messages. Members came up with ideas. Newest member Kathy Seigars suggested a fishing game the kids could play; CJ Roy offered a bean bag game. But the group also recognized they needed something to entice adults who would likely contribute larger amounts of money.
Grangers teamed up to seek donations by getting the word out—both about the need for donations and the fundraiser itself. Stinson explained “we told people would be having ‘mystery prizes’ because the prizes were still a mystery to us in the early stages.”
And the donations poured in, ranging from Grange pencils to gift certificates from local businesses. Stinson donated copies of the book “Growing Up Kennebec” knowing many residents and former residents were coming to the festivities. Local entrepreneur Harold Brown donated his Nature’s Poison Ivy Relief and Skeeter Skidaddler. Grangers even found time to make “Thank you” bookmarks for token prizes.
One important donation was time because there was only a little left. Grangers were already working on the breakfast at their hall to help with the expense of operating the building. Members are also involved in a number of other groups and causes during the annual festival: DRUM Bar-B-Q, two Senior Groups raising money for plowing assistance, Library, etc. But somehow it all came together—including some great publicity about the cause online and by the Kennebeck Journal, thanks in a large part to Suzzane Doiron—a former Junior Granger who has moved back to the area and is getting involved with Enterprise Grange.
When a reporter questioned her about why the Grange took on a project of this magnitude with such limited resources and time, Stinson replied, “Because that’s what Grange does.” Stinson adds, It really worked—the donations, the help, the publicity. One of Steve’s former classmates came to Richmond with her check and a $500.00 check from her co-worker who doesn’t even know the family.”
With the help of their community, this exciting Grange and these exciting Grangers raised over $2,000 to help this family–because that’s what Grange does.
Webmaster’s note: Individual contributions can still be made at http://www.gofundme.com/ash028.