Friday, November 16, 2018

Veterans Day celebration and special awards held last Sunday

Winners, Alexander Potter, Sam Williams with Willie Goodman
By Lorraine Glowczak

Community members and veteran came out to celebrate Veterans Day on Sunday, November 11 at 11 a.m. at the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Memorial Drive. The open house and ceremony not only included honoring our veterans but also included the official announcements of the student Patriot’s Pen essay as well as the Voice of Democracy themed audio essay awards along with a teacher of the year recognition.

Commander Willie Goodman of the Windham Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post began Sunday’s celebration by welcoming all present and providing a background history of Veterans Day.

Goodman stated that Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Additionally, congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.”

https://www.egcu.orgVFW Chaplain Roger Timmons gave the invocation. This was followed by Past Commander, Bob Akins who shared thought provoking insights on the Patriot’s Pen, Voice of Democracy and Teacher of the Year programs. Commander Goodman then announced the winners of the essay and teacher of the year contests.

The first to be announced was the second-place winner of the Patriot’s Pen essay competition that was open to middle school students including home schoolers, in grades sixth through eighth in the Windham area. Out of the 48 submissions, Sam Williams of Windham Christian Academy won $50 for his second-place win for his 300-400-word essay on this year’s theme, “Why I honor the American flag.” First place winner was Alexander Potter from Jordan-Small Middle School who won a $100 award. Both middle school frontrunners read their essay to Sunday’s attendees and will enter the Maine competition for a chance to win on a National level.

The Voice of Democracy audio essay competition was open to high school students, grades nine through 12, including those home schooled in the Windham area. Students were required to write and record a three to five-minute essay, on an audio CD, regarding this year’s theme “Why My Vote Matters.” The winner was Rose Hagerstrom of Windham Christian Academy (WCA). Because she was unable to attend the ceremony and read her winning essay, Principal Jackie Sands read the essay in her place. Hagerstrom will also be in the running for a win on the state level.

Teacher Emily Stokes with Willie Goodman
The first-place state winner of both competitions receives a four-day trip to Washington, DC. The first-place national winner receives $5,000 for the Patriot’s Pen winning essay and the first-place winning essay nationally for the Voice of Democracy receives a $30,000 college scholarship.

The final announcement was the Teacher of the Year Award. This year’s recipient was sixth grade Windham Middle School teacher, Emily Stokes, for her year-long study of veterans. Stokes incorporated all the mandatory curriculum mandates to include language arts, social studies and more as part of the year-long study. The students spent time interviewing veterans, writing biographical essays, visiting museums and cemeteries to name just a few of the projects included.

Special awards were also given to the Boy Scouts Troup 805 for their dedication to various veteran activities as well as a Blue-Star Banner to a mother who has two sons currently in the military.
The Veterans Day ceremony ended with placing a wreath on the Vietnam Memorial in the Memorial Garden


“The Little Mermaid” gives students a chance to shine onstage and off

The "Little Mermaid" cast

By Elizabeth Richards

Putting on a Disney show is an ambitious undertaking, and Windham High School pulls it off beautifully in their production of “The Little Mermaid”.

From the acting, singing and dancing, to costumes, lighting, special effects and sets, the show is magical from Ariel’s first moments on stage to the final scene. Windham has some amazingly talented students, and they shine in this familiar tale.

Countless hours must have been spent creating the sets and costumes that brought this story to life. Creating an underwater world on stage is tricky at best, but this cast and crew pulled it off beautifully.
This year, younger students filled some of the main roles, including freshman Emma Chasse as Sebastian and sophomore Denali Dieumegard as Ariel.

Chasse, who said she’s been acting since second grade, brought Sebastian to life with a quirky walk and delightful expression. Chasse said she was overwhelmed at first, but by a couple of weeks before the show opened, she was taking it all in stride and enjoying every minute. “It’s my first high school show, and I’ve waited for this for such a long time. It’s so crazy!” she said. 

https://www.egcu.org/cashDieumegard said she’s been acting since kindergarten, and has performed at Schoolhouse Arts Center, Breakwater School and Windham Middle School.  She said she has always loved the character of Ariel and wanted to play the role. “It was a really nice surprise, getting the role. It’s a dream, honestly.”

Listening to her sing, it’s easy to hear why she was cast. Her voice is strong and steady, and it’s easy to believe that it would capture the attention of a handsome prince. Her mannerisms portrayed Ariel’s innocence and longing for a different life nicely.

Dieumegard said the cast is like a family. “They’re all so kind and inviting. It really is a cool community,” she said.

Each role seemed perfectly cast. It can be difficult to bring such well known characters to life in a unique way, but each performer did just that. The ensemble moved in sync to clever choreography, their voices blending perfectly, to create dynamic numbers that were incredibly fun to watch. Some numbers were funny (Will Searway as Chef Louis in Les Poissons had the audience roaring with laughter) and some more touching and sweet. All were well executed and engaging.

It was clear from the quality of the production that the talent extends well beyond the stage.  Scene transitions went smoothly, and lighting cues and special effects were right on time. The costumes were amazing, and clearly the product of a lot of hard work.

Some older students had the opportunity to take on leadership roles that extended beyond their on-stage presence. Damara Stratis, who played a gull, was the dance captain and Travis Burt, who played Prince Eric, was the Assistant Director. 

Both have been involved in theater for many years, and as seniors were excited to take on these leadership roles. Their interest in getting involved beyond performing was sparked when they did “Kiss Me Kate” as sophomores, Stratis said. She said she has loved watching everyone grow as the show came together. “It’s teaching me more about responsibility and being a good role model,” she stated. 

Ariel (Denali Dieumegard) and Ursula (Corrine Ulmer)
Being that role model makes the production more about community instead of just the individual, Stratis added. “This really does give a good sense of community.

Stratis stated that after high school, she’s interested in going into occupational therapy. “That is very much about helping people and supporting people. This is kind of prepping me for that,” she said. “I think it’s really going to help me in my career.”

Burt was student director last year for the “Sound of Music” as well.  “Having my own thoughts and my own creativity being portrayed on stage was an amazing feeling to me,” he said. 

This year, Burt said he handled more scenes and was trusted to take control when Juergens was busy. “I have felt like I’ve grown more mature from it,” he said. “I feel like it’s really helped us become who we are.”

Burt said he wanted the other students to trust him, just as he trusted older students when he was younger.  Having the responsibility of assistant director has made him more responsible, he said, and he can carry that through to college and beyond. Burt is interested in studying acting, and direction, in college.  “I’ve enjoyed taking control and being able to create and invent my own show,” he continued. “You aren’t just focused on you yourself, you’re focused on the entire show as a whole; you’re not just inventing a character and making it grow, you’re making sure that the entire cast grows as a whole,” Burt said.

The performance I saw was evidence that the entire cast and crew worked cohesively, coming together to put on a production so good I had to remind myself it was a high school show. The show runs for one more weekend, on Friday November 16 at 7 p.m.; Saturday November 17 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, November 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for children, students, and seniors at the door. Reserved tickets are $14 and can be purchased at www.whsfallmusical.weebly.com.



Friday, November 9, 2018

Saying thank you and goodbye to the Windham Kiwanis: 1930 – 2018

By Walter Lunt

The Kiwanis Club of Windham, a highly regarded youth service organization has officially ended 88 years of local charitable and philanthropic work.

Left behind is a legacy of youth development and community improvement that included projects ranging from student scholarships and Key Club to the ambitious Windham High School home building program.

“I’m so, so sorry to think that it’s gone.” said long-time Kiwanian and former vice-president Glenn Libby. “It was a great and worthy organization that did a lot of good things; (I have) wonderful memories of what we did for young people in town.”
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In the sixties when Libby was heavily involved in Kiwanis, the club numbered over 30 members.
“(Despite recruitment efforts) we were down to 3 members.” said Jerry Black, “and we just couldn’t keep going.” Black, who joined Kiwanis in 1962, was the longest serving member, having assumed numerous roles over the years including president, treasurer, committee chairs and district Lieutenant Governor.

Past president Phillip Moody echoes Black’s assessment that dwindling membership would cripple the capability of Kiwanis’ effort to carry out its mission of support to local youth. He cited the club’s sponsorship of Presidential Classroom, Boys and Girls State and local scouting organizations as points of pride for Windham Kiwanis Club.

From its inception in Windham in 1930 and into the 1950s, Windham Kiwanis Club attracted business leaders, teachers and residents who worked tirelessly raising money to fund various youth and community projects. Among the most memorable were the Kiwanis Auction, an annual amateur golf classic and creative booths at Windham Old Home Day. Those projects helped to support scholarships for high school seniors and contributed to the establishment of a Windham High School Key Club.

In 1960, Windham Kiwanis embarked on its most unique and ambitious undertaking to date. It established the Windham Kiwanis Building Trades Corp. Under the supervision of Windham High School faculty member Fred Kelley and as part of the formal school curriculum, students enrolled in building trades courses applied classroom theory by actually building houses. The Windham Kiwanis Club financed the project by furnishing a house lot and by obtaining credit from local merchants, including L.C. Andrew (lumber), Don Rich Oil Co., Maurice Rogers (excavation), Northeast Foundations, Sherwin Williams (paint) and others. On sale of the house, creditors were paid, and the profits used to buy additional tools and machinery for the high school and to increase the size and number of scholarships. The project attracted the attention of Kiwanis International and became a model for other Kiwanis Clubs in Maine.

Kiwanian Jerry Black with the official Kiwanis bell and gavel that will no longer open and close meetings
In all, the corporation built 10 homes between 1961 and 1971 in what became the Brookhaven development in North Windham.

Windham resident Walter Lamb participated in the first two years of the program. “It was a great experience and a hell of an idea,” he recalled. “Old Fred was a no-nonsense guy and he’d tell you, ‘this is a screwdriver for driving screws, not a chisel.’ We used hand saws and hammers. No power tools. We built the forms for the concrete, framed up the house, closed it in, put in the floors, hung the doors and installed the windows. I remember Fred and a couple of masons built a chimney and we had a wood stove for winter work. But it was still cold.”

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Asked about transportation to the work site every day, Lamb went on, “We had an old yellow Chevy van. We’d all pile in and go – it was the days before seat belts.” Regarding mischief and practical jokes, Lamb said the student crews were never destructive but still managed to have some fun. “I remember we’d stop at Herb Thomes store at Foster’s Corner (the rotary) and pick up soda and snacks. One time we were shingling the roof and I laid down with my back to the roof to have my snack. My buddies were hammering away next to me. When I went to get up, I discovered they’d nailed the shoulders of my coveralls to the roof.”

“A lot of kids took that program and learned a lot. One of my classmates became a builder and I built my own house.”

Glenn Libby said he joined Kiwanis (“It was an honor to be recommended”) because of the home-building project.

“That hands-on program meant a lot to me. It made sense. If those kids were going to do anything productive, they’d do it with their hands.”

Lamb agreed. “We weren’t academics. If it weren’t for that program, (many of the kids) wouldn’t have stayed in school.”

And, interestingly, the motto of Kiwanis International is “We build.”
The demise of the home building project came, according to Libby, when Fred Kelley was unable to carry it on, and when the formal vocational education programs expanded, particularly the program in Westbrook.

zachary.j.conley@mwarep.orgIn more recent times, Windham Kiwanis has continued vigorous fund-raising projects, including the sale of Christmas trees in North Windham. It has sponsored youth horse shows, spurred support for the Windham Food Pantry and conducted bicycle helmet fitting and child safety seat inspections.

Disbanding meant the resources of the club had to be dispersed. Jerry Black said some materials will be given to neighboring Kiwanis organizations. And after bills are paid, all money will go to the Kiwanis Scholarship Fund, which will continue to award scholarships to deserving seniors. He said the high school Key Club will also continue under the supervision of Standish Kiwanis.    

Libby concluded that the motivation behind Windham Kiwanis Club was this: “What you’re doing for young people you’re doing for your community.”  

New Raymond fire truck named to honor the late Captain David Mains

Fire truck dedication ceremony
By Briana Bizier

On October 28, the town of Raymond welcomed a new fire truck into its fleet. Tank 2 has been dedicated to Captain David Mains, a beloved member of the Raymond Fire Department who passed away in June of this year. The dedication of Tank 2 assures his memory lives on.



The truck named in honor of Captain Mains was built by METAFAB Fire Trucks. It has a 3,000-gallon tank and is designed to carry water to fire scenes in rural areas without access to fire hydrants. Those familiar with the town of Raymond will note fire hydrants are a rarity and will be relieved to know Tank 2 is standing by in case of emergency.

Ninety percent of the funds used to purchase the vehicle came from a FEMA grant written by Deputy Chief Cathy Gosselin, and the remaining ten percent of the funds were contributed by the town of Raymond.

The ceremony of pushing a truck into service comes from old fire traditions,” Deputy Chief Gosselin explains. “The horse-drawn fire wagons had to be pushed into the stations as the horses didn't like backing up. The christening of the truck was taking water from the old tank truck and placing it into the new truck. Everyone was invited to help dry the truck after it was washed and then to push it into service.”

markbryantwindham@gmail.comTank 2 was welcomed into service during a ceremony attended by 75 people. Chief Bruce Tupper offered a welcome and explained the tradition of putting a new truck into service. After a ceremonial transfer of water by firefighters Chris Nassa and Doug Kerr, the truck was christened by firefighter Brandon Cunningham and Lieutenant Andrew Jordan. The truck was then officially “pushed” by Captain Scott Mildrum, who was assisted by the speaker Alice Mains, Dave’s aunt; Jen Mains, Dave’s wife; firefighter Charissa Kerr, who spoke about Dave’s history with the Raymond Fire Department; Noah Mains, who unveiled the plaque; and Deputy Chief Cathy Gosselin, who offered the closing.

 “David's name is David Alexander Mains,” Gosselin explains. “As a kid he couldn't pronounce Alexander, so said his middle name is alligator!” Hence, the logo being put on Raymond’s newest fire truck is a fire-fighting alligator complete with a water bucket, axe and helmet.

David Mains is deeply missed in this community. Through the dedication of this new fire truck, Captain Mains is still protecting the homes and businesses of Raymond, Maine.

Friday, November 2, 2018

D.A.R.E. to Adventure students raise funds and help community through “Labor for Donations”

D.A.R.E to Adventure members hard at work
By Elizabeth Richards

Leadership skills, communication skills, community building, bridging social groups and outdoor adventure training are just a few of the benefits for students who participate in D.A.R.E. to Adventure at Windham Middle School. 

The program goes well beyond the traditional Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) curriculums. Led by Community Service Officer Matt Cyr of the Windham Police Department, the program incorporates elements similar to programs like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Outward Bound to teach students leadership skills. 

The group is made up of 20 students – ten seventh and ten eighth graders - from all different social groups who have shown leadership qualities or potential. “Our goal is for them to come out and learn leadership and team building, then go back to their peers and help their peers make good decisions. That’s the big idea,” Cyr said.

https://www.facebook.com/Tom-Tyler-for-Maine-House-374831959591528/“The reason we keep it so small is because of the mentoring piece that happens. I get pretty close to all of them,” Cyr said.

The group meets after school on Mondays and Wednesdays, participating in both team building and skill building activities. In the spring, Cyr begins teaching students how to roll a kayak. “It’s not so much about the kayaking as what they gain from doing it,” he said. Not everyone is successful with the roll, but they gain confidence, a sense of accomplishment for the things they can do and learn about taking positive risks.

The year culminates with an outdoor adventure trip. They begin with a ropes course then alternate between two days of whitewater rafting one year and a day of rock climbing and one of rafting the next. Cyr also teaches the students First Aid and CPR, and all are required to complete this training before going on the year end trip.

While there has always been some fundraising for the D.A.R.E. to Adventure program, it didn’t come close to paying for that year end trip. Student Josh Noyes said that he and his mother didn’t think it was right for Cyr to have to fund a large portion of the trip. They set a goal of raising $5000 this year to fully fund the trip for all the students. 

The whole goal is that he doesn’t have to pay for it, and we get a part in it,” Noyes said of their fundraising program called “Labor for Donations.”  D.A.R.E. to Adventure students go door to door asking people if they have any work they need completed. They have shoveled loam, moved brush and have other jobs, including fall clean up, coming. Parents of students in the program have also stepped up, donating their time to the efforts.

Kimberly Noyes, Josh’s mother, said that Officer Cyr is passionate about the D.A.R.E. to Adventure program and truly cares for kids in Windham. He makes the students – and their parents – passionate about the program as well, she said.

Morgan Hammond, a student participant, said that Labor for Donations helps the community as well. “Before, we didn’t do as much for other people,” she said. 

Haley Atherton added, “It helps other people learn about what Dare to Adventure is all about and how we’re helping the community. Not a lot of adults really know about this great program and how it really affects everyone else in the school district, and how we’re helping our community in different ways.”

https://www.egcu.org/autoUpcoming fundraisers include possibly shoveling in the winter, a fundraiser dance, participating in a craft fair at the high school on November 10 and 11, and activities at summer fest.

The program creates close bonds among participants. Atherton said she has learned leadership skills and made friends she wouldn’t have otherwise known. “The kids that are in the group now wouldn’t have really met each other or talked to each other if we hadn’t been in this program. It helps us become really good friends,” she said. 

Atherton thinks the program will help them later as well. “In high school when we go back into these social groups that we’re in, it will help us help our friends, but also help us when we get into those tough situations. It helps us build a better thought process,” she said.

Levi McDonald agreed.  “It helps me get more social with other people and learn leadership and how to have fun and make the right choices, positive choices,” he said. 

D.A.R.E. to Adventure also helps build bridges between social groups the students said. “If there’s any drama between social groups, there’s always people that know each other,” said Hammond.  “It’s exactly like a team with any sport. You all get along with everyone and learn stuff as a group. You get to see beyond your friends,” she said. 
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Finn Smith said, “I feel like DARE is a good place to make lifelong friends.”

Students who participate in D.A.R.E. to Adventure often maintain contact with Cyr and come back to mentor younger students. Their reasons for doing so vary, but all emphasize the positive impact of the program.  

Tenth grader Ezra Smith said he returns because he wants younger kids to know they have someone to support them when they go to high school.  “It’s good to be somewhere you feel accepted,” he said.

Kyle McLeese, a ninth grader, said, “I definitely gained a lot of friends from the program, and people who accept me for who I am, so I keep coming back for that.”

Community celebrates new building for horse rehabilitation at MSSPA

By Jennifer Davis

What began with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, October 26 led to a weekend long celebration at the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA), welcoming guests to the farm to tour their new facility. With lots of hard work and donations throughout the past year, MSSPA was able to construct their new building. Despite the frigid temperatures, visitors flocked to MSSPA to take a look.

The new building, the Lawrence J. Keddy and Marilyn L. Goodreau Equine Rehabilitation Facility, is a $2 million expansion project, that was entitled “Help, Hope, Home”. It features a full-size indoor equine training arena together with a humane education classroom, administrative offices and infrastructure upgrades. “This is a big change for MSSPA as this is the first time the administrative offices are on campus and can be hands on to what is going on day to day,” said Meris Bickford, CEO of MSSPA. “We are all really excited.” The old administrative offices were previously held off campus on Gambo Road.

https://www.facebook.com/Bill-Diamond-Maine-State-Senate-District-26-535326616567615/The building was named after Keddy and Goodreau, who dedicated their lives to MSSPA, beginning in 1972 when the organization was simply an office on Exchange Street in Portland. At that time, there were no shelters or rehabilitation centers for horses in the state, so Goodreau and Keddy set out to find the perfect location. Through their efforts and dedication, MSSPA’s current location eventually became that safe haven.

The open house offered light refreshments and giveaways as well as items for purchase to support the organization. The refreshments were held in the new building overlooking the indoor arena in the viewing room.  As people mingled, they could watch as the staff took the horses around the arena for their first time. “This is the first time the horses have visited the arena,” said Jeff Greenleaf, Barn Manager.  “The horses may be a little nervous, but this is a great spot to train the horses and prepare them for adoption.”

MSSPA is a non-profit organization that offers refuge and rehabilitation for abused or neglected horses in Maine. The hope is that the horses that arrive on the farm are adopted but some of the horses live out the remainder of the lives at the farm. The horses are cared for by a compassionate staff and a large group of volunteers. As a result, MSSPA are always accepting volunteers. 

“Volunteering at MSSPA is wonderful, said Ev Lennon, volunteer at MSSPA since January 2018.  “It is great way to help out, get exercise and be around beautiful creatures that need our help.”

Visitors this past weekend had the honor of touring the new facility as well as other areas of the property. They also got to visit with the horses currently residing at MSSPA. But if you were unable to make it to the grand opening celebration, do not despair. MSSPA is open daily for tours from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  For those interested in volunteering, visit msspa.org and complete a volunteer registration form. 
  

Friday, October 26, 2018

Windham High graduate reaches for the moon and lands beyond the stars

Cassidy Mullins
By Lorraine Glowczak

Who, among us, can say they not only accomplished a dream in less than a year after high school graduation but soared way beyond it? Cassidy Mullins of Windham, that’s who.

Mullins, a 2017 graduate of Windham High School, began an interest in body building during her junior year. “I have always enjoyed exercise,” explained Mullins. “So, I started watching various videos of body building on YouTube and knew that it was something I wanted to try, at least once in my life.”

After graduation, she took a few courses in exercise science, working on receiving her certificate in personal training and now works full-time at Planet Fitness in Windham. She knew where she needed to be and didn’t hesitate to do what she needed to do to work towards her dream. But it was a vacation in Florida during spring break that propelled her to land beyond the moon and accomplish what she set out to do her junior year.

“I went on vacation in April,” Mullins began. “When I looked at pictures of myself in a bikini, I wasn’t as fit as I hoped I would be. It was at that moment of looking at those pictures that I knew the time was now to act on my dream of body building.”

She immediately approached a local body building expert, Rose Beth Wilson, to get the ball rolling. “Rose Beth was on board with me and helped me to prepare for a body building competition.”
Immediately, Mullins began working on an exercise program and a strict diet to prepare her body for the annual Maine Event Body Building competition in Biddeford on September 22.
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At this event, she won first place in novice category as well as first place in open category which allowed her to receive her “pro card”, giving her the ability to compete on a professional level at the next match on October 6 in Cape Cod where she was awarded first place as a professional on the body building level, at age 19!

As a result of winning this competition, Mullins is now in the running on a national level, competing against those who have many years of body building experience this Saturday, October 27 in Washington D.C.

However, as many who accomplish their dreams and goals, it doesn’t come without hard work. “I have many people approach me and want to know how they can make their bodies look like mine today,” Mullins began. “What I do – the seven days a week exercise program and the weekly diet to be a body building competitor – is not a liveable or healthy lifestyle. You must have a healthy mindset and consider the time involved in exercising and watching your eating habits. It is exhausting.”

Mullins explained that she works out every day, building specific muscle groups on certain days of the week. “I work a variety of specific muscles in a four to six-week program before switching up the plan,” she explained. “I also eat 85 grams of greens with each meal.”

Mullins will not continue this diet or exercise program after her competition in Washington D.C. this Saturday. “I will take a 6 month break to let my body repair itself and gain some of my healthy fat back. It is not only imperative to my future goals and success as a body builder – but the success of a long, healthy lifestyle.”

We wish you the best in Washington D.C. this weekend, Cassidy Mullins!

New project coordinator connects with area youth through personal experience

By Lorraine Glowczak

Nicole-Raye Ellis
It is one thing for an adult to encourage youth to make wise choices in terms of alcohol and drug use, but the message has much more impact when it comes from an adult who made choices as a teenager that led her into a life filled with hardships and the death of loved ones – not one, not two, not three – but many loved ones.

Nicole Ellis was hired on Wednesday, October 3 as the new Project Coordinator for Be The Influence Coalition – an organization with the mission to promote community collaboration and positive choices in reducing youth substance use in Windham and Raymond.

Although Ellis holds associate degrees in both liberal studies and education from Southern Maine Community College, graduating in the top ten percent of her class and was a member and Vice President of Service with Phi Theta Kappa, the real contributing factor to her new role as Project Coordinator is her personal experiences that Be The Influence relies upon to encourage local youth to make wise decisions.

http://betheinfluencewrw.org/index.htmlEllis, a 2006 graduate from Gorham High School, knows all too well about how life’s adversities make choosing the path of mind-altering substances a way to escape and deal with the many harsh realities that come our way. “Although it is true that I was experimenting with various drugs and alcohol in my early teens, it was the result of being prescribed pain medication after a serious car accident that began my downward spiral at the age of 15,” Ellis explained. “It’s where my addiction began. Because I was feeling the regular teenage emotions combined with my family history of alcohol and drug abuse, I became addicted. I look back now and wonder why the medical professionals didn’t take a closer look at my family’s history with addiction before prescribing them to me.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Opioid painkillers are highly addictive. After just five days of prescription opioid use, the likelihood that you'll develop long-term dependence on these drugs rises steeply — increasing your risk of eventual addiction and overdose.”

Ellis explained that she was born into a family of substance abuse and alcoholism. Having the genetic make up and being prescribed a highly addictive painkiller, Ellis eventually fell into a crowd of friends who used and abused drugs which lead to both overdose and death of those she loved dearly.

She explained about her teenage experiences, “I witnessed many of my friends die from addiction. I saw my friend who was much like a brother to me, die of an overdose. I also had a few friends who died while drinking and driving,” she stated. This story does not include her step-dad who also died while he was drinking and driving. “And this is only the beginning and a snapshot of my young life,” Ellis reiterated.

Ellis eventually left Maine for two years, spending a year in Florida and a year in California before returning to her home state. Having some time away from her friends plus the announcement her brother made that he was going to have a daughter, Ellis made a conscious decision to move in a different direction. “I wanted to be a part of my nieces’ life, but my brother disowned me due to my life choices with drugs and alcohol, which I never blamed him for” Ellis stated. “Having a niece was the motivation for me to become healthy.”

In 2010, Ellis checked herself into Mercy Rehab. “The year 2010 is a special year for me. It is the year I became clean and the year my niece was born.”

As with any change one makes in life, it was not an easy journey. “I was lonely for the first four years after I became sober,” Ellis said. “I purposely chose not to be with all the contacts I had before who might pull me back into that lifestyle as well as any events that would remind me or had any association with drug and alcohol use. The thing is, I still loved my friends and I missed them a lot.”

She sought out new friends who had no experience with drugs to not only help her remain healthy but to see what life was like for those who didn’t participate or had very little experiences with mind-altering substances. “I was curious,” she said. “My experiences thus far had been so involved with nothing but drugs and alcohol, I had to see for myself what the other side was like.”

By choosing to take this path, she got to meet her daughter’s father who helped her on the road to sobriety and continues to do so. Together, they gave life to their daughter, Annabella, who was born in 2013. They continue to work jointly to provide a wholesome and productive life for their daughter.
In addition to the births of her niece and Annabella, another contributing factor that turned Ellis’ life around was the decision to be of service to others. “I began volunteering for organizations who help others such as Habitat for Humanity and the Ronald McDonald House. Serving others was a real-life changer for me and helped ease the pain of loneliness.”

https://www.facebook.com/Bill-Diamond-Maine-State-Senate-District-26-535326616567615/Now, Ellis’ focus is to help area youth learn from her life experiences and is one of the reasons why the Director of Be The Influence, Laura Morris, chose Ellis to fill the Project Coordinator position. “I chose Nicole because of her passion from personal experience and understanding of addiction and how it can ruin your life,” Morris began. “She saw this position as an opportunity to share her story in hopes of helping others to make healthy decisions. She is also the ying to my yang and able to help with some efforts behind the scenes with accuracy and structure. This relates directly to our mission and will definitely have a positive impact of the youth we serve.”

Together, Ellis and Morris are working on a variety of innovative, fun and creative efforts to adhere to the BTI mission and to invite local youth involvement. One of those endeavors include creating a video.  

“Right now, we have a Public Service Announcement video contest established,” explained Ellis. “We are inviting all students ages 13 to 18 in the Windham and Raymond community to submit a one to two-minute video on why it is important to be a positive influence in living a drug-free life.” Ellis also explained that there will be chances to win first, second and third place prizes that will be donated by local business. The prizes will be announced soon.

For more information regarding other activities, projects and the organization, explore the Be The Influence website at www.betheinfluencewrw.org or contact Laura Morris at director@betheinfluencewrw.org. Donations for the video contest can be directed to nicolerayeellis1227@gmail.com.

As for Morris’ belief in Ellis’ contribution and fulfilling Be The Influence’s mission, Morris had this to say, “She is going to rock this – and blow it out of the water.”

Friday, October 19, 2018

A tea workshop at Windham Public Library introduces the history of an ancient beverage

Ray Marcotte on a tea sourcing trip in India
By Lorraine Glowczak

For those who were able to attend the workshop, “Tea: History, Types and Tasting” at the Windham Public Library on Friday October 5th got to experience a real treat. Not only did the participants get the opportunity to explore the beverage’s history, but they were also introduced to varieties of tea leaves and the processes to which the leaf is transformed from tea bush to cup.

The workshop was led by Windham Library’s Ray Marcotte, a Reference and Technology Assistant, who is also a tea connoisseur. Marcotte and his wife are co-owners of an Asian-style teashop in Portland’s Old Port and they have studied the history and art of tea for over seven years. Marcotte travels annually to various Asian countries such as India, China, Korea and Taiwan on tea sourcing trips to learn the details of tea production.

http://betheinfluencewrw.org/index.html“Despite popular perception, tea does not come from England,” Marcotte said. “The small leaf variety tea bush (Camellia sinensis sinensis) was discovered 5,000 years ago in China, and has been transplanted all over Asia, the Middle East, and even the United States.”

Marcotte stated in the workshop that Chinese legend has it that the mythical emperor Shennong, the “father of Chinese agriculture”, was sitting under a camellia bush when a leaf dropped into his cup of boiled water, thus discovering tea and its restorative and healing powers.

Workshop participants learned that there are two main varieties of tea: Camellia sinensis sinensis (small leaf variety from China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Vietnam) and Camellia sinensis assamica (large leaf variety from India, Ceylon, Sri Lanka and Kenya, Africa).

“From those two main varieties, there are six classes of tea,” Marcotte explained. “These include green, black, white, yellow, oolong, and Pu-er teas. Each tea class is produced and processed differently.”

Tea is a highly managed product and the method from plant to cup of boiling water is a long and sometimes arduous one. “There are very specific methods of picking tea leaves and the process to which each class of tea is produced.”

Marcotte further explained the details of picking tea leaves by expert hand pluckers as well as the process that occurs after the leaves are picked. “Most green tea comes from the bud, first and second leaves only. The top shoots provide the best quality tea, and therefore produce the most pleasant and refreshing taste. Once the leaves and bud have been picked by hand, then the processing of the leaf begins. For Chinese green tea, that includes withering, heating (pan-firing), shaping and drying (unoxidized).”

Tea productions and processes for other classes of tea include a variation of the following: pan-firing, shaping and drying, sun baking, rolling, tumbling, roasting, withering, fermenting and smothering.        
   
Marcotte also shared with workshop participants how the misconception that tea comes from England came to be. The story states that the popularity of a mid-afternoon English tea began only 200 years ago by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. Supposedly, she is the one who coined the phrase “sinking feeling”, referring to her energy as it began to wane in the middle of the afternoon after breakfast had worn off. At that time in England, dinner for the upper classes wasn’t served until approximately 8pm, so Anna started having afternoon tea with desserts to relieve her hunger. She enjoyed her new daily routine and as a result, began to invite friends. By the 1840s, the afternoon tea became a high society social event among the wealthy. The tea that was most often served and consumed was Darjeeling (from India.)

The transformation of loose-leaf tea into tea bags happened quite by accident. “A New York tea merchant by the name of Thomas Sullivan sent samples of tea to his customers in small silk bags as an easier way to send the tea leaves,” Marcotte stated. “His customers assumed that they were supposed to put the entire bag into the pot of boiled water, rather than emptying out the contents, and thus – the teabag was born.”

Marcotte stated that the teabag grew in popularity in the 1950s. “It is important to note that the contents in a teabag are not leaves but are actually the ‘dust’ from the leaves which is what’s left over from the sifting process.”

The hour-long workshop participants, after discovering the many interesting facts about the ancient beverage, got to enjoy and sample a variety of high-quality teas. No teabags were used, of course.

https://www.egcu.org/autoFor more information about how tea became popular in the West, Marcotte recommends reading the book, “For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History “by Sarah Rose. It is available to check out at The Windham Library. Marcotte is also available to answer any questions.





Welcome aboard! Local Chamber of Commerce votes in Maine’s youngest president

Zack Conley
By Lorraine Glowczak

It is true that small and local businesses have an edge today with social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Webinars and Facebook Live. There is little doubt that the internet has given some boost to individuals looking to grow their business in today’s society. But nothing can compare to the personal and face-to-face interactions that help a business and individual grow more profoundly to reach goals and to expand career options and aspirations.


That’s exactly the purpose and mission of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. And what better way to incorporate both social media and face-to-face interactions than having one of the youngest Chamber Presidents in Maine.

 Zachary “Zack” Conley, age 22, a Financial Representative with Modern Woodmen in Windham, was voted in by Chamber Board members to replace former President, Michelle Libby, on Thursday, October 4.

“My first goal is to discover all of our individual strengths,” stated Conley about all the board members. “From there, we can gather from our individual knowledge, experiences, expertise and talents to achieve the mission of the chamber, which is to help businesses grow and reach their goals through networking and educational events.”

Conley also stated that his chief focus is to invite more members to become actively involved with the intention to help them succeed in both business and in life, as he believes they go hand in hand. His second main goal is to introduce the chamber, whether it is the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce or beyond, to young professionals in the area seeking to become the best they can be.

To achieve this goal, Conley has spoken to classes at Windham High School about personal finance and is incorporating the importance of joining the local chamber, no matter where you live. “Now that I’m the President of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber, I will be reaching out to speak to other
https://www.facebook.com/Tom-Tyler-for-Maine-House-374831959591528/
high schools in the Lakes Region area, too.”

Conley believes that joining and being active in the Chamber is one of the best ways to meet successful business people. “The chamber is one way to meet all the shakers and movers in your community,” Conley stated from experience. “It was just a little over a year ago when I became a Financial Representative at Modern Woodman and I was advised to become a part of the chamber as a way to succeed in my business. I joined the Chamber, met many successful movers and shakers and not only has my business taken off, but so has my networking with others and meeting so many amazing people who have contributed to my success.”

And, now here he is, in one year’s time frame his business has blossomed and he is the youngest chamber president in Maine. But his path to success was not without a few bumps. “I was attending college in New Hampshire, but I had no clue where I was heading and was spending money on something that I felt like was not leading me anywhere,” Conley began. “So, when I dropped out of college and returned home, many people were disappointed in me and I was told I was going nowhere. When I accepted the position as Financial Representative, there were naysayers who stated I would fail. Instead of fulfilling their prophecy, I used their words of discouragement as a source of motivation.”


Lynn Mansfield, Executive Director of the Sebago Lakes Chamber of Commerce states that Conley’s strong network of peers and his business success makes him the perfect fit for his new role in the chamber. “His success attracts a new face to the Chamber—the young professional. My vision is to establish a young professionals network that will focus on career, community and connections--a vision that Zack also shares.  Together, we met with the Greater Portland Chamber about the success of their program, PROPEL. We are fortunate to have a rich resource in Saint Joseph’s College, so we’d like to strengthen that relationship in hopes that more young people will put down roots in the business community.  Zack already works to educate high school students on the importance of financial stability, so it will be a natural extension of his connection to the community.  He’s humble and looks forward to leading the Chamber in a positive new direction.  I knew we had the right man for the job when he shared that he read an extra chapter of “Robert’s Rules of Order” because he found parliamentary procedure to be interesting!”

http://www.hallimplementco.com/No matter what industry you’re in, networking is always a good idea to build your business and lead it into a successful endeavor that helps others. The chamber is one way to make that happen. Conley promises to help businesses succeed. “I believe in giving 110% in whatever endeavor you choose to do – and I will give that in my role as President,” Conley stated. “Also, I want people to know that I’m always open to suggestions on ways to improve the organization and that my door is always open if anyone wants to learn more about the Chamber or has questions.”

A few of the following networking opportunities are available:

*Weekly Connecting For Growth referral group meetings that gather every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Windham Baptist Church, 973 River Road.

*Monthly evening Business Breaks that offer an opportunity to meet other business members in the surrounding area. The Breaks come with free food and fun networking. You do not have to be a member to attend.

*Quarterly Morning Momentums that provide an educational opportunity to improve business goals. It comes with breakfast and an opportunity to meet others. You do not have to be a member to attend, although there is a discounted cost to members.

*Ribbon Cutting Events to celebrate, welcome and highlight the new businesses in the Lakes Region. All are welcome to attend.

For more information about the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, call or text Conley at 207-838-0464 call or email at Zachary.J.Conley@mwarep.org or contact the Chamber office at 207-892-8265.