Windham Eagle Choice Awards

Friday, August 23, 2019

Monthly Speak Out by Patrick Corey highlights Windham Age Friendly Community Survey

By Lorraine Glowczak

On Thursday, August 15, Rep. Patrick Corey’s Speak Out topic for the evening consisted of age
friendly awareness. He interviewed both Jane Margesson, the Communications Director for AARP-Maine and Deb McAfee, Chair of the Human Advisory Committee for the Windham Town Council.

The first half of the hour, Corey spoke to Margesson about the many scams that inundate us, and ways one can prevent from being taken advantage of. (To learn more and keep aware, go to or contact Margesson at with any questions or concerns. Also, be sure to read the AARP Scam Alerts that are printed weekly in The Windham Eagle.)

The second half of Speak Out focused on the work that McAfee, the advisory committee and other interested Windham residents who are addressing the topic of an Age Friendly Community initiative.

“The Human Advisory Committee is appointed by the Town Council,” McAfee explained. “The purpose of this committee is to determine the level and type of human service needs experienced by the residents of the town and then, once determined, provide recommendations to the Council of appropriate actions to meet identified needs.”

McAfee explained that a survey was completed in 2015 to help establish what needs were important to the community. “On that survey, the fourth important subject was senior community gathering space and assistance.”

Following the success of Raymond’s Age Friendly Community initiative, which is now officially in place, the committee decided to begin the process to officially make Windham a part of the AARP network of age friendly communities.

Briefly and according to AARP, becoming age friendly “advances efforts to help people live easily and comfortably in their homes and communities as they age. AARP’s presence encourages older adults to take a more active role in their communities and have their voices heard. Initiatives focus on areas such as housing, caregiving, community engagement, volunteering, social inclusion and combating isolation among older citizens.”

Windham’s aging population is increasing. “In the 2010 census, the number of people who were 50 and older was at 32.5 percent,” McAfee said. “In 2015, the percentage increased to 34 percent. It is expected that by 2020, Windham’s population of individuals, 50 and older will increase to 39 percent.”

To gain information about the current needs and wishes of the community, a survey will be distributed in a number of ways to Windham residents. The survey can be found in the center of in today’s print edition of The Windham Eagle, can be found online at: and will also be distributed (with drop off boxes) at the following locations:

Town Hall of Windham   
Windham Public Library            
Windham/Raymond Adult Education   
United State Post Office (north and south locations)
Mercy at the rotary     
Avesta Housing- Unity Gardens, Lower Falls and New Marblehead

Deadline for the survey will be September 13, 2019. Once the results are in and tabulated, there will be a public forum to discuss the outcome and to receive further feedback on October 21 at  Windham High School at 7 p.m. 

McAfee expressed the many benefits for becoming an official AARP Age Friendly Community and some of those benefits include:

Access to a global network of participating communities, as well as aging and civic society experts.
Access to key information about the program, such as the latest news and information about best practices, events, results, challenges and new initiatives.
Opportunities for partnerships with other cities, both domestic and international.
Mentoring and peer-review evaluation by member cities.
Public recognition of the community’s commitment to become more age-friendly.
Speaking engagements at conferences and events hosted by AARP and promotion through AARP’s media channels.

At the present time, there are approximately 11 people on the taskforce working to make this become a reality. If you wish to participate and actively work toward making Windham a livable place for people of all ages, or you would like further information, contact McAfee at

But more importantly, let you voice be heard and fill out the survey today.

Former Town Clerk Rita Bernier retires at the age of 81 after a total 44 years of service to Windham

By Lorraine Glowczak

The two friendly rottweilers, Apollo and Rugar, greeted me on the steps as I knock on the door. The aroma of freshly canned zucchini relish stopped me in my tracks. “I’ll be right there – I’m coming,” Rita Bernier said from the other side of the door.

As a five-year resident of Windham, I had not yet met Bernier, a well-known and respected contributing member of the greater Windham community who recently retired after 44 years of service to the Windham community. Although I knew I was interviewing a former town clerk, all I really grasped, as I placed my feet at her doorstep, was that I was in for a treat and an adventure at meeting her.

Rita Bernier with her husband, Dick.
The door opened and I was greeted by a friendly woman who didn’t shame me for being ten minutes late to our interview. In fact, she offered me her first warm batch of zucchini relish fresh off the stove as well as a cloth hand-made coin purse – which gave me a clue about the amazing Rita Bernier and her dedication to her life’s work.

She invites me to sit down at the kitchen table after giving me a taste of the relish. Then, with much ease, the interview began. “I was born on what is known as the Sawyer Farm located in Gorham – right next to the covered bridge [located in Windham],” Rita began. “I lived there the first 17 years of my life. We didn’t have running water or electricity. I was a part of a family of eight children during the depression. We had no money, but we ate the most wonderfully fresh foods from the garden, and we were a fun, close knit family. I had no clue we were poor.”

Fast forward to adulthood. She eventually married her husband, Dick. Together, they had four children – all girls. The Bernier family has grown and now includes 27 grandchildren and 42 great grandchildren. The richness of her life continues as it has for the past 81 years life (soon to be 82).

For fourteen years, many will remember that she was a bus driver for the Windham school district, beginning in the early 1970s - the first woman bus driver ever hired. Her role as a bus driver provided a sense of passion and purpose in her life. “I never left a child at a home if the family wasn’t there and the house was empty,” she began. “I would bring those children home with me and they’d stay until their parents came home from work. The parents would come by – one by one – to pick up their son or daughter. I loved and cared for those children as if they were my own.”

Bernier had a passion for all of life, and she put it forth in action. Whether her role was that of a cook/creator at home, a mother, a bus driver – or eventually that of a town clerk, Rita has lived her life with intention and purpose.

So exactly how did this small-town woman become Windham’s Town Clerk? “I worked for an oil company as an office manager,” Rita said. “It was a fun job that I loved with no plans to leave any time soon.”
One day, the Windham Town Clerk at the time, Barbara Strout, had decided to run for state legislature and asked Rita if she’d be interested in being the next elected official for the town clerk. Rita accepted Barbara’s proposal.

I was elected immediately,” Bernier began. “I was elected on a Friday and went to the town office the following Monday. I must admit. It was a difficult learning experience.”

It was 1987 and Rita said she had the best help available to assist in her transition to her new role. “At that time, there were no computers. Everything - the ledgers, statistics, etc. was done by hand. I was blessed with the help of those in the town office and I don’t know how many times Gary Plummer [Windham Town Council, Cumberland County Commissioner and State Senator] provided guidance for me. I’m so grateful”

During her time in office, she attended a three-year educational program at the Municipal Clerks Institute at Salve Regina in Rhode Island, offering training and instruction as a Town Clerk. Prior to that, at the age of 42, she graduated from Adult Education where she received her GED.

Eventually, when she was ready to retire as the full-time town clerk, she thought her part time assistant would do a great job. “You want to trade places with me,” she asked Linda Morrell. Morrell was elected soon after that – and – well - the rest is history. So, for the past 25 years, she has acted as the assistant to Morrell, only recently retiring a month ago in early July.

Rita admits that the townspeople are what made her job. “I’m telling you – I fell in love with the people. If there is anything I miss the most after my retirement - it is the people I came in contact with on a daily basis.”

She is still grieving her time away from the town office, but she states that her daughter reminds her, “Mom, you haven’t given yourself enough time to be away.”

Today, you can find Bernier keeping herself busy with the domestic arts – whether it is the preservation of foods or creating by hand, rag rugs. Whatever you will find her doing, you will never see her sitting still. She even teaches the art of rag rug making during the fall and winter months. 

“I’ve had students who have been with me for 16 years,” she said. And she is always up for new students. “It’s a dying art, you know.”

Although Bernier has retired in the traditional sense, she has not slowed down. “She is the energizer bunny,” Morrill said of her former co-worker and close friend. For anyone who may be interested in learning how to make rag rugs, Bernier would love to share her skill with you. For more information, call Bernier at 894-8114.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Little Sebago Lake Association promotes water safety in significant but fun and hands-on ways

Roger LeBlanc on the Water Safety Patrol Boat
By Lorraine Glowczak

According to the American Red Cross, water competency is a way of improving water safety for yourself and those around you through avoiding common dangers, developing fundamental water safety skills to make you safer in and around the water, and knowing how to prevent and respond to emergencies. The Red Cross also points out that by working together to improve water competency – which includes swimming skills, water smarts and helping others – water activities can be safer… and just as much fun. Working together to improve water safety is one of the missions of the Little Sebago Lake Association (LSLA) boards, whose motto is “Safety is no accident”.

In fact, the association has created a Water Safety Program directed by Sharon Lamontagne, a long time LSLA board member. It also includes a Patrol boat, captained and managed by Roger LeBlanc. The patrol boat motors around the 1,900 acres of crystal-clear water every Friday, Saturday and Sunday offering a friendly reminder to both residents and visitors alike, the importance of water safety.

The patrol team, which consists LeBlanc, John Bernier, Kate Martin and Cedric Harkin, cruises the lake educating and encouraging swimmers, kayakers, canoers, jet skiers, and motor boaters to adhere to safety guidelines. “We are about having fun and enjoying the water with the intent of avoiding accidents….and that we care about your safety as well as the safety of others,” stated Lamontagne, who leads  the lake association Water Safety program.
Little Sebago Lake, as most lakes in Maine, is becoming a popular spot for water activities. “Over the years it has become more and more crowded and congested,” Lamontagne said. “Many people, especially new members or renters who are not seasoned boat drivers and not are aware of the boating laws with the State of Maine - we wanted to serve as a gentle reminder to know the laws and to stay safe.”

The association’s safety patrol program began 15 years ago, by “accident”, when a member donated an old pontoon boat. “I wondered what we should do with the boat but realized we could fix it up and outfit it to serve in the manner of promoting water safety education and awareness,” Lamontagne stated.

It was from that point the LSLA developed the program. “We fixed up the boat, added signage on the side and began by volunteers patrolling on Saturdays and Sundays – increasing our presence as time went on. People loved to see the patrol boat on the lake and would slow down or show us they had their life jackets. Boaters and kayakers would even stop to talk to us.

According to the 2019 LSLA’s yearly newsletter, accidents occur on Maine lakes every year. In that newsletter, it stated that the State of Maine had a total of four boat crashes that involved more than $2,000 in damages and 10 personal injury crashes that involved the Warden Service. Little Sebago Lake was one of the lakes to be included in those statistics.

Over the years, as the lake became more popular and therefore  more crowded, the committee realized it needed actual law enforcement as well as what the patrol boat was doing to educate. For a number of years, LSLA hired the Cumberland County Sherriff’s Department to patrol the lake throughout the summer . It grew into a very successful program – but eventually the sheriff’s department became short staffed. Presently, LSLA contracts with the Maine State Warden Service to patrol the lake most weekend days.

“We are about having fun on the water – not about chastising people who may not know the  boating laws of the State of Maine,” reminded Lamontagne. “We reward people for good behavior. If they have the required number of life jackets or are driving with no wake near shoreline – we will give out gift certificates for pizza, Subway sandwiches and ice cream. This is especially good for children to see that observing the law has positive consequences. In addition, it educates them regarding water safety in a fun and engaging way.”

“Captain” LeBlanc stated that meeting people is what he loves best about his role on the Water Safety Pontoon. “I have met so many people on the lake, it’s been such a fun experience, “LeBlanc began. “I enjoy talking with them and sharing some safety techniques while I’m at it. If people don’t have life jackets, we have some available on the pontoon and will loan them what they need while in the water. We also carry gas cans on the boat for those who are running low on fuel. What’s so amazing to me is that people always return the life jackets and the gas cans, putting them right back in the Safety Patrol boat as it sits at the dock.”

In his fifth season as Captain, one may find LeBlanc available for children and their families for a tour around the lake. “While we are on the tour, we talk about various subjects such as the proper fitting of a life jacket and how to throw a safety ring into the water to help someone in need,” he stated. “The kids love it, but just as important – the parents learn a little bit more about water safety, too.”
Another service the Water Safety Patrol has added this year is, upon request, the Patrol boat will go to Association members’ homes to educate and inform all family members the importance of water safety awareness.

Additionally, the LSLA pays for members to take water safety classes provided by the State of Maine. “We sponsor a class every year at the Raymond Public Safety Building,” stated Lamontagne.
The Water Safety Program includes a working relationship with the Cumberland County Dispatch service center and have created six entry points onto the lake so medical personnel can easily respond to any emergency. As LeBlanc pointed out, the Water Safety Patrol Pontoon is not a first responder.

Perhaps what is just as important to the water safety component of the LSLA members and residents of the lake, is that of unity and kinship. “The Safety Patrol Program has even increased our membership and has provided a sense of community among us,” stated Lamontagne.

“We are just good Samaritans who are having fun while educating the public on ways to have fun, and yet safe experience, on the lake.”

“A pound at a time”: Local man brings awareness to the value of clean water

Michael Fitzgibbons at the 4Ocean promotion
By Lorraine Glowczak

Through the efforts of many individuals, positive changes happen in the world. Most often, the projects or endeavors are completed in small scale ways when time permits between work, school, social and family activities. This service to community and beyond is admirable – and is needed.

But occasionally, an individual comes along whose passion to create positive change is so intense, it
becomes their life’s mission – making other everyday activities secondary. One such person who is making an impact on the waters of Sebago Lake and beyond is Michael Fitzgibbons. His mission?

“I am proposing a water resource initiative to call attention to the ocean plastic situation and the value of water to the State of Maine,” stated Fitzgibbons. “And, we must start right here, in the Sebago Lakes Region. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful clean water source, but if we aren’t paying enough attention and ignore the trash in the ocean – it will eventually affect us and our water.”

Inspired by two Florida surfers, Andrew Cooper and Alex Shulz, who are co-founders of 4Ocean, Fitzgibbon is taking their mission and spreading it to Maine. Briefly, and according to“Alex and Andrew [who is also a fisherman] take a surf trip to Bali Indonesia that would inevitably change their lives and the fate of the ocean. Devastated by the amount of plastic in the ocean, they set out to find out why no one was doing anything about it. One afternoon they came across an old fishing village where fishermen were literally pushing their boat through piles of plastic that had washed up on shore. The two surfers realized that the proliferation of plastic threatened both the ocean environment and the fishermen's livelihood. Could the fishermen use their nets, they wondered, to pull the plastic from the ocean? This idea stuck with the two surfers and they knew it was time to hit the drawing board. After realizing that the demand for seafood was driving the fishermen to focus on fish instead of plastic, they knew they had to create something that could fund the desired cleanup

Their efforts have also inspired others to act. In addition to the 4Ocean U.S.A. organization, there is now a 4Ocean Bali and 4Ocean Haiti. “My goal is to create a 4Ocean Maine with the hope that it will spread to other states and countries,” Fitzgibbons said of his personal mission.

The acronym for O.C.E.A.N. stands for the following:

Optimizing Technology – with the goal to utilize the latest technology to prevent, intercept, and remove trash from the ocean and coastlines.
Creating Jobs – Currently, there are full-time captains and crews that are cleaning the ocean and coastlines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Education and Awareness – The goal is to educate individuals, corporations, and governments on the impact that plastic has on the ocean. Hosting cleanups all over the world, both above and below the water, to raise awareness and change behavior.
New Global Economies -By giving ocean plastic a value, we are creating a new economy for the removal of trash.

“This is a lofty project,” Fitzgibbons began. “The opportunity represents a chance for the State of Maine to shine like a bright lighthouse to the world by bringing business and people together for the purpose of saying: ‘Enough, we need to clean up our plastic in the ocean’.”

Flying the 4Ocean banner in their amphibicar
Fitzgibbons is bringing about this awareness through a variety of efforts that he refers to as, “guerrilla marketing” - an unconventional form of inbound marketing, that raises brand awareness among large audiences, without interrupting them. This includes a variety of waterway adventures while spreading the word via social media production with video.  “As the journey progresses on the lakes and waterways, we will be delving into conversation with people everywhere and heightening the efforts of all the groups interested in protecting the water at home in the state of Maine.”

With the help of video production expert, Scott Shaffer, Fitzgibbons will trace his many journeys and awareness trips by traveling down the Lakes Region watersheds and beyond in a jet ski, paddle board, or boat while meeting people and sharing the mission and ideals of 4Ocean. On August 27, he will travel the heads of the Sebago to the Sea Trail. It water adventure will trace the Presumpscot River to the river's mouth in Falmouth.  “I will be in the hands of The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust for this trek. Weather permitting, the goal is to travel and do some filming along the trail – with the intention of bringing about awareness about the clean water we have now and ways to prevent it from being impotable.”

Another event is to be scheduled for Saturday August 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This will be a land event held at Hayes True Value Hardware Store in Bridgton. “Come learn how two guys are cleaning the ocean one pound at a time.”

The revenue for this 4Ocean effort is fueled with the sale of $20-dollar bracelets made of recycled plastic. The purchase of one bracelet results in hauling out a pound of plastic from the ocean. 
If you are interested in supporting 4Ocean and helping Fitzgibbons’ mission to keep our waterways and oceans clean, you can purchase a bracelet by contacting him at thank you to the following volunteers and donors:

Dingley’s Wharf/ watersport team under Wayne, Brother Flecker’s, Patti, Sam, Jake, Sue, Scott  rang it out on the mic.
Schaeffer (Audio Therapy), Sue Santoro/Seasonal Resident, Virginia Fitzgibbons, Michael Fitzgibbons (Locations Real Estate Group) The 4Ocean Pop Up Event held last weekend at the Mountainview Wood Boat and Car show was ideal. Dingley’s Wharf and Brother Flecker’s provided spaces. Jon the MC

Friday, August 9, 2019

Notes from the “Trash Girls”: Interns share results from Windham’s recycling pilot program

Fans, plastic fencing, plastic bags, water hoses,
lawn chairs are NOT recyclable items 
By Meddy Smith and Abby Constantine

For the past 10 weeks, we have been part of a pilot internship program to reduce recycling contamination. For the first two weeks of the internship, the two of us, as well as eight other interns from Scarborough, South Portland and Falmouth, had an extensive training at Ecomaine, the facility in Portland that processes most of Southern Maine’s recycling and trash.  

Every week, we attended meetings and workshops with our fellow interns and discussed ideas to reduce contamination in our communities and improve the recycling stream. Monday afternoons we went to the Silver Bullets in Windham and physically removed contamination from them. We were disappointed to find so much trash and inappropriate materials in these containers that are only for recycling. We often found items like kites, toys and books that could have been donated for someone else to use. 

During our eight weeks of curbside data collection and education, we reached over 900 households throughout the town. At each house, we evaluated the bin, indicated the contamination on the paper tag, attached the tag on the bin, and marked the tag color and type of contaminates on a spreadsheet.

This way, we could observe improvement and see the most frequent contaminates. The items we saw most often in bins were plastic bags (shopping bags, pet food bags etc), thin plastic film (like food wrap packaging) and Styrofoam. these long mornings driving “The Leaf” – Windham’s leased electric car- we received a lot of positive feedback and had great conversations with Windham residents. Many people had questions for us and were very interested in what we were doing.

A lot of people wondered why contamination in recycling is such a big deal. So, here’s what we learned.

The Problem: 
Many items that people put in their bins cannot be efficiently processed at Ecomaine. These materials, such as Styrofoam, thin plastic film and trash (clothes or toys etc.), are what make up the contamination that the facility sorts out and what is causing such turmoil in the global recycling market.

 The more contamination in the recycling, the less desirable it is to buyers and the less they will pay for it. As the contamination rate rose exponentially around the globe, the countries that used to accept our recycling closed their borders because it was so inefficient to process. This means that ecomaine struggles to find buyers and they must pay to get rid of some materials. As a nonprofit who pays dividends to the member-owner communities, towns are now having to pay high prices to continue to recycle. This has been a burden on Maine towns and some smaller towns discontinued recycling altogether. This is a tragic blow to the progress of environmental policy and action in Maine and as towns and residents we should do what we can to change this unfortunate pattern.

The Solution:
Ecomaine’s goal is to get the contamination under control and to be able to sell the recycling and pay
Interns Abby Constantine and Meddy Smith (aka The Trash Girls)
share their findings about Windham recycling
 with the Windham Town Council 
dividends back to the member communities, including Windham. The good news is that we have all the power to eliminate the contamination and make this goal happen. Windham residents can reduce their contamination and lower the financial burden on the town, keep recycling out of the landfill, and contribute to a greener system.

Recycling is a very important process for us as residents to take part in because it encourages manufacturers to use materials more than once, saves materials from the landfills and protects our finite resources.

In just the first month of the pilot project we lowered Windham’s curbside contamination rate 4%. We consistently gave out more and more green tags and less yellow tags over time, meaning that we observed less curbside contamination. We hope that our education efforts reduced the total contamination even further and that residents will continue to stay informed on local recycling and keep trying to reduce their contamination.

To learn more about what you can recycle, go to or download the ‘recyclopedia’ app where you can search to see if something can be recycled at our facility.

Celebrating 20 years of Food and Fellowship at Dundee Park this coming Monday

Olley Klein (left) from Gray has been coming to the
Monday Meal program since its inception and finds
that fellowship is just as important as the food.
By Lorraine Glowczak

The idea of a free Monday meal officially began from members of the Windham Hill United Church of Christ in 1998. The intent was to provide nutritious meals once a month for those who experienced food insecurity. Hoping to receive help from other area churches, Ellen Hooper of Windham Hill UCC reached out to other area churches to see if they would be interested in joining with them on a needed service to the community.

“I was working as an office assistant at Windham Assembly of God (WAG) when I received the phone call from Ellen,” stated Marie Seder, a long-time member of WAG and the Food and Fellowship program (also known as the Monday Meals). “I knew immediately that we should join in.”

Soon, with other area churches on board, Food and Fellowship, Inc. a non-profit ecumenical organization, was established and has sponsored the Monday Meal program in the Lakes Region since 1999.

“Although we began as a monthly program, we realized that what we provided was more than food for those who participated,” Seder explained. “We realized that people were also longing to connect with others – they were feeling isolated and alone. We had people come up to us, saying that this gathering was the first time they got to talk to others that day – or even in over a week. It’s at that point we understood that we were not only feeding people nutritious meals, but we were serving individuals who longed for connection and conversation. We decided at that point to provide Monday Meals on a weekly basis.”

Seder stated that the mission of Food and Fellowship’s Monday Meal program is to provide food and fellowship for people in the Lakes Region area, seeking to serve those living with poverty, hunger, and social isolation. They also strive to work collaboratively with community partners.

“What amazes me the most is how we, the various organizations of faith and other volunteers, all get along so well,” Seder said. “Various churches with different faith backgrounds are able to serve together with the same purpose. The average small non-profit like this is lucky to last five years. But here we are, 20 years later and still serving together in unity, meeting the needs of the Lakes Region community.”

Stephan Palmer of Faith Lutheran Church, currently the Vice President of the Food and Fellowship/Monday Meal Board has been a member of the organization for the past five years. “We all have so much fun,” Palmer began. “We serve food to the people who come every week, then we sit and eat with them, developing long lasting friendships in the process.”

Indeed, it seems friendships have been established by those who have attended over the years. One such person is Olley Klein from Gray. “My wife died in 1991 and I have been coming here almost since the beginning,” he said. “Not so much for the food -which I enjoy – but more for the social aspect of it. In fact, I think I spend more time in the churches of the Windham area than I do at home in Gray,” he laughed.
Patty and Carol from St. Ann's Episcopal Church
and Stephen from Faith Lutheran serve up a free meal
last Monday

Turning serious, Klein mentioned that he met a friend at Monday Meals. “Tony and I did everything together,” he said. “Tony lost his wife too. I’d pick him up and we’d go everywhere together – doing errands, etc. And I’d bring him with me to Monday Meals.” Tony died a year ago.

But Klein keeps coming and still connects with others who has enjoy the social aspect of the Monday Meals program.

Meals begin promptly at 5:30 p.m. but guests begin arriving as early as 4:30 p.m. to reserve a spot and enjoy appetizers and fellowship. The meals traditionally end at approximately 6 p.m.

From September through May, the meal sites are as follows: First Monday at North Windham Union Church, second Monday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, third and fourth Mondays at Windham Hill United Church of Christ and on those rare fifth Mondays - at the Standish Congregational Church. During the summer months (June, July and August), the meal sites are: First four Mondays at St. Ann's Episcopal Church and the fifth Monday at the Standish Congregational Church. 

cstlouis@spurwink.orgMany of the 50 to 70 guests who enjoy the meals every week include senior citizens and families with children who are from the towns of Windham, Gorham, Raymond, Buxton, Falmouth, Naples, Westbrook, Casco, Standish and Limington, as well as other area communities. The host groups, from churches as well as various service organizations, help by preparing the food, setting up for the meals, and serving and doing clean-up after the meal. Various other individuals also volunteer in some way with the Monday Meals. The Thanksgiving meal, where there is apt to be 140-150 guests, has consistently had the largest attendance at a meal.

Funding for this program is donated by area churches. The Town of Windham also donates generously to this program on a yearly basis. If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the Food and Fellowship program, you can do so by sending a check or money order to Food and Fellowship, c/o Mark Stokes, Treasurer, 53 Ridge View Drive, Standish Maine 04084.

The Food and Fellowship Monday Meal program will celebrate their 20th anniversary of serving nourishment in both body and spirit on Monday, August 12th from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Dundee Park, 79 Presumpscot Road in Windham. Come celebrate with food and develop long lasting friendships.

systems that keep poverty, hunger & isolation in place.Bottom of Form

Friday, August 2, 2019

Five-year old to receive portion of proceeds from the Tenth Annual Kelli’s 5K

Griffin Cochrane with his brother, Sawyer playing
on the Kelli Hutchison Memorial Playground
By Lorraine Glowczak

It was just two weeks ago that we were introduced to Griffin Cochrane, who took a celebratory home run lap around the bases of Hadlock Field in July. Griffin, who is five years old and from Windham, was diagnosed with leukemia on June 25, 2017, is in the process of receiving his three and a half years of chemotherapy sessions. He will be one of the recipients from this year’s Kelli’s 5K.

In its 10th year, the proceeds from the run/walk are distributed in a number of ways. First and as always, monies raised are contributed to the anticipated growth of the Kelli Hutchison Memorial Playground, located on the grounds of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road.

Known as the Lady Bug Playground, enough funds have been raised that a patio with picnic tables have recently been added. “Wildwood Properties, Inc. has helped us tremendously in changing the design as appropriated,” stated St. Ann’s member, Dan Wheeler who created the original design for the playground. “Genest Concrete supplied the stones for the patio. But what’s been most amazing about the playground is that on a typical Saturday afternoon, I have seen approximately 40 children in the community using it. Additionally, our Rector, Father Tim Higgins, will have conversations with folks at the picnic tables."

In addition to funding the playground, a portion of the funds raised is given to a community organization or an area family facing extraordinary challenges. those new to the greater Windham area, Kelli Hutchison, a member of St. Ann’s church passed away at the age of 10 on February 16, 2010, of GBM brain cancer, an aggressive form of cancer that most often occurs in adult men ages 50 to 70. Although the run/walk may have been precipitated by somber beginnings, the true focus of the Kelli’s 5K is to spread light, friendship and the art of giving to others, which represents Kelli’s true-life expressions. Kelli’s mother, father and brother have chosen Griffin Cochrane and his family to be this year’s recipient.

“We’ve been so touched by the community’s response” began Danielle, Griffin’s mom. “People we’ve never met have reached out to see what they can do to help. We are honored to be chosen by Kelli’s family. It means so much to us.”

Griffin was just three years old when he and his family discovered the reason he had been experiencing red dots on his skin along with excessive bruising. When Danielle and husband/father, Bobby, took Griffin’s younger brother, Sawyer, to the pediatrician - the doctor noticed the bruising and advised them to keep an eye on things.

“The weekend after that appointment, Griffin fell and hit his head, so we took him to the emergency room and they kept him overnight in the hospital due to the extreme bruising,” stated Danielle. “It was at that visit where he was tested and diagnosed with Leukemia.”

For the first nine months after diagnosis, Griffin spent most his time in and out of the hospital with fevers and scheduled chemotherapy sessions. Danielle, who is a Physical Therapist, took a sabbatical from work during this time, not only to take Griffin to his chemo sessions, but due to the intense side effects of the chemo, Griffin’s immune system was compromised. “We couldn’t take him to day care,” explained Danielle. “Even if another child had something as simple as a runny nose - it could be detrimental to Griffin’s health.”

Griffin is now on the Maintenance phase of chemotherapy – which is the longest part of his treatment. This consists of daily oral chemotherapy at home. At times during this phase, Griffin takes 16 pills a day. He has been in this phase of treatment for over a year and will be until he finishes. On this maintenance program, Griffin’s immune system is much stronger. He can happily go to preschool and do other activities a five-year-old enjoys."

I’m amazed at how successful Danielle and Bobby were able to teach a three year how to swallow pills,” stated Danielle’s mother, Rhonda Lamb,who has been by the family’s side, helping where needed, since Griffin’s diagnosis.

Kelli Hutchison, who would be 20 years old today,
would be happy that a portion of the run/walk
proceeds will be helping five year old Griffin.
Danielle explained they started with chocolate sprinkles, asking Griffin to swallow and not eat them. Once that was a success they moved up to small M&Ms and continued until he mastered a skill that most children are never asked to do. “I can swallow three pills at once now,” Griffin stated proudly.
Griffin also has a monthly I.V. chemotherapy appointment and a lumbar puncture chemo every three months which requires anesthesia. “We will be completely done with chemotherapy in October 2020,” Danielle said.

Although there is some relief at seeing the light at the end of, what will be, a three- and one-half year tunnel, Danielle admits she has some fears regarding the side effects and repercussions the medicine and surgeries may have on Griffin’s future health. “It always makes me feel better when I hear success stories of other children who’ve been through what Griffin is going through now,” she said.

If you are a runner, jogger or walker, Kelli’s 5K is just around the corner. Those who wish to get in an early morning jog or leisurely walk while contributing to a great community cause, can do so on Saturday, August 10 at the Windham High School’s cross-country course. Located at 406 Gray Road, the annual Kelli’s 5K will begin at 9 a.m. with two courses to choose from. The first, a challenging and timed 5K run that will include rolling terrain, a series of bridges and a steep path. The second course is a non-timed walkathon around the Windham High School Campus.

Register in advance for $20 at./, or you may register at the race prior to 8:30 a.m. for $25. Unfortunately, the original Kelli 5K website is no longer up and running.
“Kelli would be so happy to know that a portion of the proceeds is going to help Griffin and his family,” stated Melissa Hutchison, Kelli’s mother. Kelli would have been 20 years old if she was a live today.
If you can’t make the event or are unable to make a financial donation, there is one more thing you can do. “I hope everyone keeps Griffin in their prayers,” said Hutchison. “This was one thing I'd ask of people if they wanted to do something for Kelli or for us; prayers. Anyone can do them, they don't cost anything and they mean so much.”

The following are a list of sponsors and supporters:
Rowe Westbrook
Nicole Foster with Locations Real Estate
The Beacon
Capozza Tile & Floor Covering Center
Christina Capozzi Foundation
Casco Bay Steel
Betty ReeZ WhoopieZ
Old Port Press
Homestead Mortgage
Wildwood Properties
Windham Millwork
Ice Cream Dugout
Spectrum Healthcare Partners
Bob the Screenprinter Ann's Episcopal Church
Businesses that supplied raffle prizes/supplies/donations:
Cricket's Corner
Dog-Gone Grooming
Point Sebago
Home Depot
Rustler's Steak House
Seacoast Adventure 
Cumberland County Federal Credit Union
Olympia Sports

There have been many donations received from the community also. The Hutchison Family gives a huge thank you for all your support.

Kick Off Day begins the 200th anniversary and year-long celebration of Maine’s statehood

Sen. Bill Diamond, Gov. Janet Mills, Portland Mayor
Ethan Strimling
By Matt Pascarella

Governor Janet Mills joined the Maine Bicentennial Commission, a committee in charge of planning and coordinating programs in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Maine voting to leave Massachusetts. The events launched the commemoration of the State of Maine’s bicentennial at four communities across the state on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Governor Mills and the Commission, of which Senator Bill Diamond is the Chairman, visited Presque Isle, Bangor, Portland and Augusta. 

They raised the bicentennial flag, dedicated commemorative pine groves and announced programs
and events for Maine’s 200th anniversary of Statehood.

As stated in the recent press release, “Bicentennial Kickoff Day coincides with the 200th anniversary of the affirmative vote to separate the District of Maine from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in July of 1819.”
Mayor Ethan Strimling opened the Portland ceremony, which took place in Deering Oaks Park. “As we celebrate our 200 years of history it’s important we recognize all of those who have come to build our state and those who will come in the future...we would not be as strong as we are today if not for
everyone that’s come here.”

Senator Bill Diamond spoke shortly after and began by thanking members of the Bicentennial Commission for all the time and work they have put in. Diamond mentioned some of the spectacular events that would be happening in 2020 all around the state; including the arrival of the tall ships, parades and the sealing of the time capsule.

He added that the goal of the Commission was, “To provide communities, cities and towns with resources so they can put together their own celebrations.” Money has been raised and communities can apply for community grants. Senator Diamond added the Commission wants to fund as many as they can. “We’re really looking forward to making this the celebration that it should be, 200 years; and we’re going to try and do it just as right as we can.”

Governor Mills, Senator Diamond and Mayor Strimling then each grabbed their shovels and dedicated commemorative pine groves. Janet Mills spoke next and stated she was honored to join the Bicentennial Commission chair, Bill Diamond, Mayor Strimling and so many other in launching the commemoration of Maine’s 200th anniversary statehood. “Maine has a proud and storied history and our bicentennial offers us the opportunity to recommit ourselves to the values that shaped us as a state and as a people,” Governor Mills declared. “This unique place we call home offers so much to so many. “Maine is not just about
natural beauty...but it’s about its people. For more than 200 years sons and daughters of Maine with courage in their souls and kindness in their hearts...have built this state and lead the nation.” Maine is made up of all kinds of people “they make Maine as great as it is.”

A few facts about Maine:
*Maine was the 23rd state to join the Union and did so in 1820.

*With its 16 counties, 3,500 miles of coastline and 17 million acres of forest, the Pine Tree state is a place many are proud to call home.

*Some famous Mainers include author Stephen King, actress Anna Kendrick, author E.B. White, actor Patrick Dempsey and Olympic athlete Joan Benoit Samuelson as well as children’s singer/songwriter Rick Charette (just to name a very small amount).

According to the website
*Bangor claims to be the birthplace of Paul Bunyan. A titan-size statue in the city is one of the largest in the country, rivaled only by Akeley, Minnesota, reminding Bangor residents of their connection to this character of American legend.

*Portland is home to the International Cryptozoology Museum, showcasing Yetis, Bigfoots and other well-known oddities. It’s located by Thompson’s Point in Portland.

“Wherever you go, whatever you do, whomever you are with, tell them about the great place you come from...we will always greet you with a hearty hug and a ‘welcome home,’” concluded Governor Mills.

The Sebago Lakes Region communities are making their plans for Maine’s bicentennial celebrations,
including right here in Windham. Some upcoming events include:

  • A kick-off event in October 2019 – possibly in conjunction with the widely attended Public Safety Fair – that helps “get the party started”
  • A celebration in March 2020 that commemorates the date that Maine became a state. The Windham Public Library will likely host a Bicentennial themed tea with birthday cake or some other type of birthday party type event
·       Summerfest 2020 will have the bicentennial as the theme and there will be a Windham History bus tour is in the works for Summerfest as well. For more information on Maine’s milestone and events happening throughout the year please visit