Apr 112017
 

This past Saturday, April 8, a benefit spaghetti supper was held at Somerset Grange #18 in Norridgewock. We had a great turnout, people from many towns around came. Was so good to see the dining hall full and folks milling all about visiting. this was a benefit for a long time Norridgewock resident who is now living in Madison. The apartment she had was totally destroyed in a fire a few weeks ago. Somerset Grange was happy to be of some help.

Sallie Wilder Master, Somerset Grange #18

Mar 252017
 

We shook it and it’s changing to butter!

In something of a perfect storm, Valley Grangers are experiencing a bit of March Madness with two major community service projects involving local students and community volunteers. First up was their annual GrowME Collaboration–a joint effort with Piscataquis County UMaine Extension and Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District. By pooling resources and volunteers, the three organizations are visiting with nearly 750 students from Kindergarten through Third Grade in Piscataquis County. With a mission of “increasing agricultural literacy and making it fun,” volunteers help kindergartners build an animal graph, first graders taste and sort apples, second graders make their own butter, and third graders construct their very own “dirt babies.”

Walter Boomsma, program director for Valley Grange is especially proud of the fact that “we have no budget and not much structure–just a bunch of people who love working with kids and providing positive experiences around agriculture.” His specialty is making butter with second graders. “We have fun and the kids almost don’t realize they are learning–some have even asked for instructions and then made butter at home as a family activity.” He notes that teachers are often integrating the activities into their regular curriculum by using the experience as a writing prompt or a math lesson. But he maintains that the best part is everyone has fun. “Every year there are new stories to tell,” he notes.

Third graders make dirt babies that grow sprout and grow “hair” (grass). The babies include a birth certificate that tracks important events such as “first haircut.” In one classroom this year, as the babies were being collected and placed on a windowsill, one new “parent” exclaimed, “Uh oh! My Dirt Baby had an accident! She pooped and peed on my desk!” (There was some water and soil on the desk after the assembly was completed.) Perhaps in addition to “agricultural literacy” the GrowME program is teaching the joys of parenthood!

Boomsma notes that one school has requested an activity for their Pre-Kindergarten classes this year. “Finding activities that are grade level appropriate can be a challenge because we also have to make certain our volunteers are comfortable with it. This year I’ve agreed to be the guinea pig volunteer for this new activity and we’re trying a project involving sprouting bean seeds so the kids not only help with the planting, they get to watch the sprouting take place.”

Another initiative Valley Grange has supported long enough that it’s a school tradition is a contest among third and fourth graders to design two advertisements for the Grange in the Piscataquis Observer’s Annual Newspapers in Education Supplement. The program is a favorite of Piscataquis Community Elementary School Art Teacher Jane Daniels because it “gives the kids a practical side of art.” Valley Grange Master Jim Annis notes that “We have strong ties to kids…” with Grange members involved regularly at the local schools. “We’ve actually built a series of programs that range from Bookworming and Words for Thirds to our blistered finger knitters making hats and mittens for the kids who need them. The kids know us and we know them.”

Valley Grange Community Service Chair Mary Annis is quick to note that this is not a one-way street. “In addition to the fun we have, the kids help us. We collect  ‘Coups for Troops’ most of which came from collection boxes placed in local schools. We like the feeling that we are redefining community and good ways of working together.”

Additional information about all of the Valley Grange Programs can be found on their website, http://valleygrange.com. The GrowME Collaboration maintains a basic information and resource site at http://growmehelp.wordpress.com. If any other Granges are interested in starting similar programs, Valley Grange will be happy to help!

Ad created by Fourth Grader Kaelyn Bussell

Mar 022017
 

by Walter Boomsma, 
Communications Director

What an exciting Granger and Grange! Barbara Bailey of Victor Grange in Fairfield called me recently to share her enthusiasm for a program her Grange and Community does and asked if I “could put something on the website.”

She admitted she was a bit skeptical when she first learned about the program, but you only have to talk with her for a few minutes to discover that she’s now more than sold, she’s a passionate advocate of the program. And she thinks it’s a perfect program for Granges to consider because everybody wins!

The program is briefly described on the Window Dressers website: “WindowDressers is a volunteer-driven non-profit organization dedicated to helping Maine residents reduce heating costs, fossil fuel consumption, and CO-2 emissions by lowering the amount of heat loss through windows.

“We have developed a community-based volunteer model that taps into individual and collective interest in saving on fuel costs, helping fellow citizens and sparing the environment from unnecessary CO2 pollution. We call this the Community Build program.  We’ve augmented that effort with specialized equipment and computerization to insure the efforts of our volunteers are boosted to the highest degree possible.

“Our target is leaky windows in Maine’s housing stock, the oldest in the nation.  Inserts offer an inexpensive alternative to window replacement.  Our customers save, on average, ten to twenty percent on their fuel consumption which translates in most cases to payback within the first heating season. We donate twenty-five percent of our inserts to low-income families whose only cost is a $10 service charge for insert installation…”

Barbara was particularly impressed by the training and support WindowDressers provides. (The program for next fall is already gearing up with Training Sessions.) “WindowDressers needs space to make the inserts,” she said, “and Grange Halls often have it! This is a perfect program for Granges because it’s engaging and hands on. We ended up with a lot of folks in our Grange Hall for the first time in their lives.”

Maine State Grange Community Service Director Chris Corliss plans to talk with Barbara soon and learn more, but Barbara said she’d be happy if folks call her (207 453-9476)—she loves talking about the program and the benefits of it. She’s a pretty busy Granger, so leave a message if she’s not there–she’ll call you back. You can also visit the WindowDressers website.

In addition to her passion for WindowDressers, Barbara is the lecturer for Victor Grange and a big fan and promoter of the Maine State Grange website. She is constantly encouraging people to subscribe because she says, “they’ll love the little bits of information that are always interesting, entertaining, and helpful”–one reason she wanted us to post information about WindowDressers. Thanks, Barbara, for your energy and support of your community, your Grange, and our website!


The contact at WindowDressers is:

Laura Seaton
Director of Community Builds and Business Development
WindowDressers.org
207-230-9902 (direct line)

directoratwindowdressersdotorg  (directoratwindowdressersdotorg)  

Feb 252017
 

Communication Bullets are short but important news!

Ag Day at the legislature is Wednesday, April 5, 2017.  Once again, the Grange will have a booth at the State House and fudge is needed–our legislators look forward to this every year. Please consider making some fudge and getting it delivered to Maine State Grange Headquarters before 8:00 a.m. April 5, 2017. If you’d like to drop it off before that day, call to make sure someone will be at the office. Thanks!


We’ve recently added some important documents to the “Program Books and Information Page.” Among many other resources you’ll now find:


Don’t forget the clock is ticking down to Grange Month! There are many promotional resources available on the website… you should have your celebration fairly well planned and be starting a publicity program that includes press releases, posters in local businesses, churches, etc., and personal invitations to local dignitaries. You could have a Grange Birthday Party–just be careful lighting 150 candles!

Feb 142017
 

Members of Danville Junction Grange recently prepared over 175 valentines for Veterans, thanking them for their service to our country.  These were distributed to Veterans at Togas VA Hospital and at nursing homes in the area.

Feb 082017
 

Communication Bullets are short but important news!

We’ve been asked to announce:

Because of the expected nor’easter, Enterprise Grange #48, 15 Alexander Reed Road, Richmond, ME is postponing our February meeting which is scheduled for 2/9/17. According to our by-laws, if we have to cancel, then we meet the following Thursday, same time. We will meet Feb. 16, 2017, with supper at 6:00 p.m. and meeting at 7:00 p.m. We’ve had a change of officers and will have an Installation of our new officers. Guests are welcome!! FMI – Marilyn Stinson 737-2611 or beedlehill@roadrunner or check us out on Facebook!


Note that we’ve added a new In Search of… regarding Pittston Grange #214… see if you can help


Thanks to Rolf Staples for noticing we had the wrong name for one Grange Hall for sale! It’s fixed!


We’ve also uploaded the VA Wish List for February 2017 to the Community Service Section of the Program Books and Information Page.


Congratulations to Fairview Grange #342–for partnering with local volunteers resulted in raising just about $4,000 on behalf of a deserving young family. That’s what “doers” are all about!

Jan 112017
 

Maine State Grange Historian Stan Howe of Bethel was recently named to the Distinguished Members List of the Organization of American Historians, the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American History in the United States. Founded in 1907, the mission of this organization is” to promote excellence in the scholarship. teaching and the presentation of American history, and to encourage wide discussion of historical questions and the equitable treatment of all practitioners of history.” The OAH includes more than 7800 historians working in the United States and abroad as university professors, teachers, archivists, museum curators, public historians, students and other practitioners of history. Howe was encouraged to join the OAH as a graduate student at the University of Connecticut in 1966 by his advisor Professor A. William Hogulund.

In addition to possessing a wealth of knowledge about the Grange in Maine, Stan is a frequent contributor to our “In search of…” Page and responds promptly to requests for help with research. We congratulate him on this accomplishment and thank him for his contributions!

Dec 212016
 

by Rick Watson, Master, Fairview Grange #342

In this season of giving, I’d like to share some of what our little “Grange that Could” has been up to, starting with a fundraiser dinner on 10/30 for a local Smithfield resident who is fighting cancer. We heard of her plight and decided to see if we could ease some of the burden. Whether or not her family had insurance to help with her illness, there is still the matter of gas for the numerous treatment trips, a lunch for whoever is taking her, maybe a hot meal for the family while she is sidelined and so on. We decided on a donations-accepted dinner on her behalf. To our delight, and to the surprise of her family, we raised over $2500 in a couple hours. Our Grange purchased most of the food and our members rounded out the dinner, bread, dessert and so on. As an aside, we have been looking for some menu alternatives to round out our summer supper selection and took the opportunity to try a lasagna, salad, roll, dessert, beverage dinner. It was a “hit” and will likely become one of our offerings next summer. Easy to serve to a lot of people in short fashion and in line with the food cost for our other dinners. A win-win for all.

In planning for our Grange Christmas Party, we decided to bring food and paper goods for our local food cupboard. By the end of the night, we had a mountain (OK, a small mountain, but still a lot) of donations from our Grangers. Truly in the Christmas spirit, we also made goodie bags, 50 of them, for the veterans at the VA in Augusta. One of our members works there and she was the one who brought us the opportunity to make the veterans there feel comforted in the fact that someone cares about them. We brought snacks and sugar-free candy and made a big pile on a table and some sat and stuffed the bags while others in the hall that night sang Christmas carols. Truly a night to be cherished by all in attendance. As Master, I had sent out individual invites to all paid members detailing the plans for the night, with a suggestion to bring a guest, one who might be inspired by our citizenship, (and maybe somewhat selfishly,) as a membership drive. We always need (and TRULY welcome) new faces and ideas. I was delighted with the turnout. Our largest Christmas party in years.

Next for Fairview Grange is an opportunity to help a young family who is expecting baby Emma in February. Emma will need a LOT of medical help going forward. She is being born with a heart defect. There is a lot of positive energy behind this event and we feel confident in our ability to make a difference. A spaghetti supper will be held on January 28 from 4:00  p.m. until  7:00 pm in Smithfield at the Fairview Grange. For more info please contact “Faith” (Hmmn…how fitting is THAT?) at 441-6929 to donate, lend a hand etc. or Mindy at 248-2066. There will be Mary Kay and Tupperware sales and any sales will send a portion of the proceeds to baby Emma and family. YOU CAN HELP! (This event is listed on the MSG Website event calendar and you can download a flyer with details.) Please plan on attending if you can or contact one of the gals to donate if you can’t make it on the 28th.

Thanks for listening. Good luck with YOUR Grange. Brainstorm. Take responsible risks. You will probably be delighted with the results.

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Dec 062016
 
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

The Department of Veterans Affairs has just released an updated “wish list” containing a number of volunteer opportunities around the state. I’ve posted it on the Program Books and Information Page under Community Service, but you can also access it directly (printer friendly copy): Veterans Affairs Wish List, December 2016.

veteran-day-2016

 

Dec 032016
 

Thanks to David Gowen for photos of a Christmas tree decorated and displayed by Cumberland Pomona Grange 15 at the Festival of Trees at Westbrook-Warren Church. It is one of over forty trees. Festival runs from December 3 to 10. For more information visit www.westbrookfestivaloftrees.com. The Festival of Trees fundraising concept has caught on like wildfire… it’s a great way to raise funds and for participants to “show off their stuff!”