Valley Grange celebrated community with a potluck supper and program on Friday night that seemed to be all about time. The program included some thoughts on the value of five minutes of community service every day. Noting that if every citizen in Piscataquis County between the ages of 20 and 80 gave 5 minutes per day to his or her community, Lecturer Walter Boomsma pointed out ”this would equate to 188 people working full time in our communities–an average of ten per town. Using the median income from 2011, the value of those five minutes would be the equivalent of an annual payroll of over six and a half million dollars per year.” Boomsma also noted “but there’s more than just dollar value, explaining how his association with Valley Grange has allowed him to discover his passion for working with kids–a passion that sees him now substitute teaching at the elementary school level and having his book Small People –Big Brains published recently. “Were it not for my association with Valley Grange, I might not be where I am today,” he admitted.
The Grange recognized two news organizations for their community service: local newspaper The Piscataquis Observer, and Bangor-based WABI - TV 5. Both organizations were praised for their “boots on the ground” involvement in local communities and their willingness to work with local organizations such as the Grange. Dover Foxcroft Historical Society President Mary Annis offered testimony and an additional award in acknowledgement of both organizations’ contributions. Representatives from UMaine Extension, Kiwanis, Center Theatre, and other Granges in the area added accolades for both organizations’ local emphasis and their responsiveness to individuals and organizations. Piscataquis Community Elementary School Principal Julie Orton noted that the school genuinely appreciates the recognition students receive for their accomplishments and the kids value that recognition and find it rewarding and motivating.
In his response thanking Valley Grange for the honor, Observer Editor Mark Putnam spoke about how the digital age is changing media, but also noted that “our paper truly belongs to the community” adding “there’s no way we’d be celebrating our 175th Anniversary if that were not true… Much like the Grange, our newspaper wants to be relevant and essential in what will be known as the Digital Age.”
WABI News Anchor Terry Stackhouse noted that there was a certain irony to the fact that he is a “six month employee accepting the award on behalf of a sixty year station.” In reporting the story later, he noted that “everyone was very kind and even sent me home with leftover food.” (You can see his report on the WABI Website. )
As part of the celebration of community, Valley Grange also honored members Herb Dunham for 55 years of Grange Membership and Carolyn Campbell for 65 years of membership.
Valley Grange is currently conducting a membership drive with the theme, If you’ve got some passion, we’ve got a place…. Membership Chair Janice Boomsma notes “We’re trying to give opportunities for people who want to build community and experience the rewards that come with doing so. We’ll take those five minutes if that’s all someone can spare, but we also have the structure and facilities to assist anyone who want to somehow improve our communities in some way.”