Friday, September 17, 2021

Holiday lighting project seeks volunteers

PowerServe is seeking up to 60 volunteers for a project in
partnership with the Town of Windham next month to do prep 
work for lighting the trees in the 202/302 rotary in Windham
this Christmas. FILE PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

The calendar says September, but a local volunteer group is already making plans to lay the groundwork for lighting up the 202/302 rotary in Windham this Christmas.

In previous years, PowerServe, a youth volunteer event program, has partnered with businesses like Gorham Savings, Windham Rental, and many more, to help others in the town of Windham with outside projects and to be a light in the community.

“This year we have decided to focus on one project, the rotary on 202/302, and to partner with the town to help to bring more light to the trees there this Christmas and beyond,” said Samantha Patton of PowerServe.

Patton said that PowerServe is a YoungLife Sebago organized one-day event where volunteers serve Windham area organizations and individuals who need assistance with various tasks from painting, yard work, repairs, and much more.

“The first PowerServe event in 2016, originally began as a one-time occurrence in the spring of 2016 to honor a Windham High School student, Shane Donnelly, who had passed away suddenly,” she said. “After the initial volunteer effort, there were many requests for the event to happen on an ongoing basis. Through hundreds of volunteers and the sponsorship of local businesses such as Gorham Savings Bank, Windham Rental, Shaw EarthWorks, Home Depot, Sherwin Williams, and many more, it has now become an annual event.”

In 2019, PowerServe had about 230 volunteers working on 30 projects. 

According to Patton, about 60 teen and adult volunteers are needed for this year’s project which is set for Sunday, Oct. 3 at the 202/302 rotary.
“We need your help. We will be doing the prep work to be able to light up the trees in the 202/302 Rotary in Windham,” she said. “We need 60 people to help dig, rake, glue, and assemble. If you are willing to help, we can find a job for you. Our goal is to lay the groundwork for licensed electricians to provide outlets for lighting up the trees. This project is a partnership with the Town of Windham.”

She said that two three-hour volunteer shifts are available between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Oct. 3.

The goal of the project is to have an outlet at each outer ring tree of 10 and three outlets in the center of the trees in the center of the rotary which can also possibly provide a beautiful site to view during other seasons of the year, Patton said.

“PowerServe volunteers will do the ground prep work then the town’s specialists will take over from there at a later time. With the health concerns in 2020, we were not able to meet so we wanted to make sure this year we stayed mindful of everyone's health; physical and mental, and decided to choose one project that will do just that,” she said. “With everything going on, we need light and hope surrounding our community. What better way to do that than partner with the Town of Windham to upgrade the long-term electricity to the rotary off 302 and light up the trees for all to see. This project includes digging the trenches, gluing, and laying conduit, and backfilling.” 

Young Life Sebago is a Christian-based outreach to teenagers that provides four basic things to kids.

First, they provide positive adult role models to go through life with young people. Second, they provide fun and positive ways to spend time through weekly programs and a summer camp, Patton said.

“Thirdly, they guide them through finding practical everyday tools and resources that they can use as they grow and become stronger in the community and in life,” she said. “Finally, YoungLife provides the basis of the Christian faith in a way that allows students of any background to hear about faith and then make their own decisions about what to do with that information.”

For more details about this year’s PowerServe project or to sign up to volunteer or become a sponsor, visit www.powerserve.me. <

Never forget: Veterans remember 9/11 victims and those who have died in Afghanistan

Veterans from American Legion Post 148 and
VFW Post 10643 gathered at the Windham
Public Safety Building on Saturday, Sept. 11
to remember those lost on 9/11 and in
Afghanistan and pay tribute to first
responders in Windham. COURTESY PHOTO 
By Collette Hayes

The late U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said, “The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it.” On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States last Saturday, veterans from American Legion Post 148 and VFW Post 10643 in Windham gathered at the Public Safety Building on Gray Road and stood in tribute to those who have paid the high price of freedom.

A contingent of veterans stood in silence for 15 minutes to reflect and to remember service members lost in the 20-year war including the 13 service members fallen in the recent events in Afghanistan and for those first responders lost in the tragic moments when the Twin Towers fell in New York City on 9/11.

On the solemn 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, veterans as well as representatives from Windham’s local police and fire departments gathered outside the Windham Public Safety Building to honor those fallen while serving to protect America’s freedom.

“American Legion stands for 100 percent Americanism and to remember all wars,” said David Tanguay, American Legion District Two Adjutant and Field-Allen Post 148 Adjutant. “We are here to honor those first responders to the 9/11 attacks who did not run from the tragic events but ran forward to save lives. Each day we should thank our first responders for their sacrifice and for protecting our communities. The cry at the time of the 9/11 event was ‘We shall never forget.’ I pray that on this 20th anniversary of the attacks, the nation will again come together and remember.”

The group recalled all first responders that lost their lives when they entered the twin towers and more than 300 others who have perished as a result of lingering health issues from that day.

“We are honored that American Legion veterans are thinking of us on the 20-year anniversary of 9/11,” said Brent Libby, Fire and Rescue Chief for the Town of Windham. “Three Hundred Forty-Three firefighters and over 72 police officers gave their lives. These individuals should definitely be acknowledged and remembered for their sacrifice.”

Throughout the tribute, 13 veterans stood in a flag line holding United States flags in memory of the most recent fallen.

“I would like to take a moment to remember the 13 service members lost on the last days of the drawdown of troops in the protracted war in Afghanistan,” Tanguay said. “The flag line today is in place to remember their service as well as to honor all service members lost in the 20-year war as well. I ask the flag line to stand in silence for the next 15 minutes,” he said. “We would like to honor this time with prayer, reflection and remembrance for their sacrifice and also to remember their families in this time of grief.”

Navy Seal Jeff Cook, now retired after 26 years of military service, was 40 years old when he first went to Afghanistan.

“I was part of the group that was sent to build the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan which was the epicenter of the war against the Tailban and al-Queda for 20 years,” he said. “During this time, many military service young men and women tasked with this job, died. It is important that we remember them for their sacrifice.”

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, those attending the event reflected, remembered and honored all Americans who have acknowledged that freedom isn’t free and responded to President Kennedy’s request to “Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” <

Friday, September 10, 2021

Windham resident striving to make a difference in our communities

Windham resident Chelsie Potter is a team
captain for the Out of the Darkness Greater Portland
Area Walk to promote suicide awareness on Sept.
19 in Portland. She's also heading up a bottle
drive to raise money for the American
Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
SUBMITTED PHOTO  
By Collette Hayes

Windham resident Chelsie Potter has been participating in charity work for most of her life. She has participated in bottle drives, food pantries, soup kitchens, a number of charity walks, fundraisers and local events to support local and national non-profit organizations and currently she is a team captain for the Out of the Darkness Greater Portland Area Walk to promote suicide awareness.

The event will be held Sept. 19 in the Fort Allen Park, Eastern Promenade in Portland. The walk is in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s bold goal of reducing suicide by 20 percent by 2025.

Potter is collecting donations for the event as well as sponsoring a glass bottle donation fundraiser. The deadline for making a donation to her initiative is Sept. 16 and she says that 100 percent of the money received will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

She’s continually looking for ways to personally improve herself so she can make a positive contribution to the lives of others. A few years ago, Potter completed training to become a Personal Support Specialist, allowing her to provide in home care and companionship to a number of senior citizens.

In addition, she has participated in training and has completed several walks and fundraisers for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Foundation as well as the Alzheimer’s Foundation and the Red Cross. Recently, Potter completed suicide prevention training from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and decided to collect donations for the foundation.

The Maine Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention focuses on innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs and reaching out to those who have lost someone to suicide.

According to Potter, a goal of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is to teach individuals how to start a needed conversation that might be difficult.

“If you feel someone might be struggling in some way, it is important not to be afraid to ask how they are doing beyond how are you,” Potter said. “Normalizing difficult conversations provides hope to those struggling. We have to dig deeper and connect with people on a more emotional level. Being willing to be vulnerable and to have those needed conversations might save a life.”

Many times, suicide is the result of the response to a traumatic event, Potter said.

“Often times individuals have no idea how to handle a situation when something goes horribly wrong like losing a loved one, experiencing a tragic accident or when one is being left behind,” she said. “During those challenging life events, individuals need resources for coping and a strong external support system available to them.”

Everyday events such as returning to school for students this fall during the Covid-19 pandemic, can increase fear, stress and worry for many parents and students, Potter said.

Teachers can help children with the transition from home to school by promoting social and emotional learning in the classroom. With the right educational support system including well-established and consistent daily procedures and routines that support expectations, students can become part of a strong classroom community where they feel safe to learn new things and thrive.

Potter said that she is sponsoring a glass bottle donation as well as collecting donations for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. If you are interested in donating to this cause, text her  at 207-699-6339.

To learn more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, call Shamera Simpson at 603-318-6517. Maine provides a Crisis Hotline for those needing immediate help, 1-888-568-1112. <

Slate of candidates set for Windham town election in November

The field of declared candidates has been finalized for
Windham's town and state election to be held on Tuesday,
Nov. 2 in the Windham High School Auxiliary Gym. Voters
will fill three town council seats, two RSU 14 Board of 
Directors positions and the Windham Town Clerk position
in the election. FILE PHOTO  
By Ed Pierce

The list of candidates for public office in Windham has been finalized and includes a few incumbents seeking re-election and some new faces hoping to obtain enough votes to be elected to available positions.

After filing paperwork with the town clerk’s office by the established deadline of Sept. 3, the candidates will now embark upon their campaigns after being officially placed on the ballot by Windham Town Clerk Linda S. Morrell.

The election will be on Tuesday, Nov. 2 in the Auxiliary Gym at Windham High School. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Morrell said that as of Tuesday, there are 14,447 registered voters in Windham, but she’s not expecting a large turnout for this election.

“I would expect between the absentees and in-person voting at the polls about 2,500 to 3,800 votes which has been the turnout in the past,” Morrell said. “If anything brings them out, it will be Question 1 on the state ballot. I don’t think the candidate ballot will generate too much interest.”

Question 1 on the state ballot asks voters if they want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Maine Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land.

Local candidates on the November ballot include incumbent David J. Nadeau, who is running unopposed for the Windham Town Council’s At-Large seat for a three-year term.    

Nadeau currently serves as the chair of the Windham Town Council and has been a town councilor for 10 years and previously spent 10 years as a member of Windham’s Planning Board. He was a recipient of the Maine Planners Association’s Citizen Award in 2020 for his long-term vision for the community, volunteerism, mentoring other volunteers and elected officials as well as going above and beyond in understanding planning initiatives and goals of Windham’s future success.

Incumbent Edward M. Ohmott is seeking a one-year term on the council for an At-Large position.

Ohmott was appointed to fill the At-Large vacancy on the council during a meeting on May 25 following the resignation of Councilor David Douglass.

He previously served on Windham’s Smith Cemetery Committee and Long-Range Planning Committee. Since his appointment to the council, Ohmott has been a member of the town’s Marijuana License Fee Committee.

He’s the former president of Champion Cordage, an industrial supplies and equipment firm in California.

No declared candidate filed paperwork for the Windham Town Council’s West District for a three-year term. The position is currently held by Timothy Nangle, but he did not file papers for re-election. Nangle has been serving as the council’s parliamentarian. 

Morrell, Windham’s longtime Town Clerk, filed paperwork seeking re-election to the position. Morrell originally spent eight years as a ballot clerk during Windham elections, then worked as a deputy clerk for the Town of Windham for seven years. She has served the last 27 years as Windham’s Town Clerk overseeing elections and the town clerk’s office at the Windham Town Hall. 

Incumbents Jennie Butler and Christina Small are seeking re-election for three-year terms as RSU 14 board directors. Two seats on the board are up for grabs with six declared candidates.

Butler taught math at the high school level for 31 years and part-time at the University of Southern Maine. She has formerly been a candidate for the Maine Legislature.

She’s known for her belief that Maine needs to provide a well-rounded education for jobs which will bring young families to Windham and says an excellent education is needed for good paying jobs which include skilled trades and for jobs that don’t exist yet.    

Small was appointed to the school board in early 2020 and is a stay-at-home mom who has lived in Windham for eight years.

Small says she believes public education is an investment and was proud to work with the board to create a responsible budget that voters approved even amid the economic uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.  Her priorities include helping to align RSU 14’s procedures with ever-changing regulatory guidelines, and continuation of the district’s Social Emotional Learning work.  

Also vying for seats on the board are Barbara Bagshaw; Jessica M.H. Bridges; Carrie S. Grant; and Michael Pasquini.

The Windham Eagle will offer an in-depth look of all declared candidates prior to the election. <

Friday, September 3, 2021

Tu Casa Childcare kids learn the power of positive thinking and taking action

Children in Guatemala react online after receiving Eugene 
and Quinton Harmon's drawings that were sent with needed
money to buy groceries for a struggling family there through
a donation program launched by Tu Casa Childcare in
Raymond. SUBMITTED PHOTO
By Collette Hayes

Tu Casa Childcare kids and families are now leaders in making a difference in the Raymond community and in the small town of Ciudad Vieja in Guatemala.

Through the Tu Casa Cares donation program, Tu Casa Childcare kids and parents have been invested in helping to pay off the school lunch debt at Raymond Elementary School as well as provide groceries for Guatemalan families who are having a hard time making ends meet.

Tu Casa Childcare is located in Raymond and is nestled among a natural playground environment filled with trees, boulders, vibrant plants and a well-mannered little stream. In English “tu casa” means your house. That is exactly how it feels walking down the stone path to the front door and being greeted by Grace Emery-Freyre the owner, a teacher and the creator of the Tu Casa Cares donation program. Sunlight filters in through the large windows of Tu Casa warming each interest area in the learning environment. The setting is ideal for children who want to explore, create, experiment, and pursue individual interests.

Sitting in a student size chair next to a colorful community gathering carpet, Freyre talked of her love for the outdoors, integrating art into science, the jungles of Costa Rica and the children and families of Guatemala. As she talked, she reflected about how she incorporated these interests into creating the Tu Casa Cares program.

“The main objective of the Tu Casa Cares program is to get children involved in their community and to provide the children with a sense of global awareness,” Freyre said. “Tu Casa kids are participating as pen pals by sending messages and their art work to children in Guatemala along with the funds being sent to buy groceries and needed items.”

 Tu Casa Cares is a donation program receiving donations from Tu Casa Childcare parents as well as local businesses in Raymond. Recently, half the donations were targeted to Raymond Elementary School in RSU 14 to help pay lunch debt. According to Freyre, children in RSU 14 schools will receive free lunch again this year, but in many of these schools there is still outstanding lunch debt from previous years.

The other half of the donations are aimed at Guatemalan families who are struggling to make ends meet. 

According to Freyre, Andrea del Rosario Castillo, a volunteer firefighter, paramedic student, and mother who lives in Guatemala, has agreed to receive funds wired to them on a monthly basis.

“She buys groceries, prints drawings and messages from the Tu Casa Childcare kids, packs goods in baskets purchased at the local artisan markets and distributes the goods to families that are having a difficult time making ends meet,” Freyre said. “She provides crayons and paper for the children in the Guatemalan families to send drawings back to the children at Tu Casa Childcare. She is thrilled and thankful for this opportunity to make a difference.”

Ciudad Vieja is a town and municipality in the Guatemalan department of Sacatepéquez. According to the 2018 census, Ciudad Vieja has a population of 32,802 and the municipality has a population of 33,405. It was the second site of Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, the colonial capital of the country.

With the help of Cathy Gosselin, Deputy Chief at Raymond Fire and Rescue Department, the next phase of the Tu Casa Cares program will provide local support to members of the community.

“It is an exciting next step for us in making Tu Casa a place that provides for the community in a variety of ways while teaching the children the power of positive thinking and action,” Freyre said. “Gosselin will provide information about Raymond community members in need and Tu Casa parents, their children and other volunteers will help to meet those needs which could be anything from shoveling sidewalks, preparing meals to grocery shopping. We would like to get others in the community involved as well. The more funds we generate, the more we can do.”

If you would like to help support Tu Casa Cares, send an email to tucasachilcare@gmail.com or give Grace Freyre a call at 207-396-0256. < 

 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Teacher reaches four-decade milestone as a Windham educator

By Ed Pierce

If the purpose of life is finding your gift to give to others, Nancy Cash-Cobb has certainly found her calling.  After more than 40 years as a teacher in Windham, she’s eager to get started for yet another school year, inspiring students through music at Windham Primary School.

Growing up in Portland, Cash-Cobb developed an appreciation for music at an early age thanks to her parents.

Nancy Cash-Cobb has been teaching RSU 14 students for more
than 40 years and is currently the music teacher at Windham
Primary School. She has taught music there since the school 
first opened about two decades ago. SUBMITTED PHOTO 

“We sang in the car a lot,” Cash-Cobb said. “My dad played piano and violin by ear and my mom played piano and sang in choirs all of her life. I spent my childhood attending concerts and musicals. We loved it.”

Her interest in music grew when she sang in the chorus and played in the orchestras at Longfellow Elementary School, Lincoln Junior High School and Deering High School. She made the decision to attend college and wanted to follow in the footsteps of her teachers by becoming one herself.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in music education and a master’s degree from the University of Southern Maine.

Her first teaching job was for two years in Sacopee Valley in Western Maine, but in 1981 she landed a job as an elementary school teacher in Windham, and she’s been here ever since.

“When I first came to Windham I taught K-4 at Manchester School, then Arlington School, Field Allen School, John Andrew School and the Kindergarten Center,” Cash-Cobb said. “I helped design the music rooms at Windham Primary School and have taught there since it opened.”

Through the years, Cash-Cobb has been a champion for music education in the school district.

“Music enhances our lives and has the power to fill our hearts with joy as no other medium can,” she said. “Music improves connections in the developing brain and helps our problem-solving skills. Music is truly the heart in education.”

She’s Orff music education certified from Long Island University, Hamline University and the University of Illinois, and helped found the Maine Chapter of The American Orff-Schulwerk Association in 1987. That’s an organization of American music educators dedicated to using, advancing, and preserving Orff-Schulwerk, a developmental learning approach to music education created by composer Carl Orff and German music educator Gunild Keetman.

Cash-Cobb has been an active member of the Maine Music Educators Association Executive Board for 35 years and in 1999 was honored as Maine Music Educator of the Year. She’s currently serving as the Co-Conference Chair of the Maine Music Educators Association and is a longtime member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 148 in Windham. In fact, the Maine American Legion honored her at their annual convention in 2017 as “Maine American Legion Educator of the Year for 2017.”

According to Cash-Cobb, professional development offered by the school district has helped her sustain her career as an educator.

“In my opinion, the secret to my teaching so long in one place is professional development and keeping current and up to date with the best teaching practices,” she said.

In a lengthy career filled with memorable moments, Cash-Cobb says that she’s extremely proud of her work with younger students and opening their eyes to a lifetime of music.

“I still get teary eyed when I hear my students singing,” she said. “My favorite concerts have been the exchange concerts that we do within the district, especially the third-grade chorus with the Windham Chamber Singers. We have been doing that one for probably 30-plus years.”

Under her direction, student concerts at Windham Primary School are the stuff of legends, with three nights of Christmas concerts performed each year. WPS students at each grade level also perform annual concerts of their own with first, second and third grade concerts taking place in March and the annual kindergarten concert performed each May. 

As for her own musical ability, Cash-Cobb will admit to preferring vocals above all else.

“I am first and foremost a singer,” she said. “I play guitar and piano. I grew up playing the violin.”

In case anyone is wondering, her current favorite song to teach to her students is "Elephants have Wrinkles.”

She said there are too many school administrators to choose from to thank for helping her during her career, but she’s grateful for all of their assistance and understanding.

As far as her own favorite musicians, Cash-Cobb said one immediately comes to mind.

“John Denver is my all-time favorite composer and performer,” she said. “I have performed many of his songs at weddings and other events. I also enjoy performing Christian music.”

Family and faith in God have also been instrumental in her long and distinguished musical career. She and her husband, Jerry Cobb, enjoy being actively involved in music for their church and their daughter Sara is a pediatric registered nurse.

The family supports her work as a teacher and when school is out for the summer they enjoy traveling together, especially to Disney World in Florida and to visit relatives out of state.

Besides music, Cash-Cobb also likes swimming or kayaking on the lake and spending time with her 2 ½-year-old grandson, Jacob.

“His father is 6-foot-4 and Jacob is nearly as tall right now as I am,” she said.

Her current principal at Windham Primary School, Dr. Kyle Rhoads, said that Cash-Cobb has left an indelible impression upon her students over the past four decades teaching in Windham.

“Even after 40 years, Mrs. Cash-Cobb’s energy and enthusiasm for learners loving music remains at an unbelievable level,” Rhoads said. “Her passion and care for them shines brightly. A mark of a wonderful educator. What a legacy our learners have had by her teaching.”

RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell said that Cash-Cobb can take pride in what she has accomplished as a teacher and playing a part in their educational development while leading them to  an appreciation of music.

“We are proud of the work that Nancy has done over her 40 years in our district. I am truly in awe of the number of students that she has taught and inspired over her career as an elementary music teacher,” Howell said. “She has worked throughout her career to develop and foster a strong musical foundation in her students. Her dedication has set the groundwork that ultimately develops into the talented musicians that RSU 14 is known for.” <

Friday, August 27, 2021

Windham third-generation auto racer continues family tradition of winning

Windham's Brad Babb is a rising star in auto racing having
won many races in different divisions at tracks in Maine,
New Hampshire and Connecticut. COURTESY PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

Racing automobiles is in the blood of Brad Babb of Windham and it’s a family tradition going back nearly 70 years.

Babb, 29, is following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Bob Babb, who started racing at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway in the 1950s, and his father, Bobby Babb, who raced for many years at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough. Brad Babb’s sister Kelsey has also raced professionally, so it was a natural progression for him to want to compete on the racetrack too.

“I was brought up going to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway every week to watch my dad, and I started racing go-karts when I was 8-years-old,” Babb said.

He’s currently racing a 350-Supermodified car at the Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire and typically competes every other weekend, about 12 times in all from May through September. 

Supermodifieds are made to be raced on asphalt tracks and are a favorite of racing fans. It has a tapered tube chassis that is tipped by a roof wing and mounted on struts keeping ti level for maximum straightaway speed while titling the vehicle forward for maximum corner downforce. Engines on supermodifieds ride alongside the driver for even weight distribution and are mated directly to the rear axle.

“I’ve also previously raced Super Late Models, ACT Late Models, Tour Type Modifieds, and Sportsman divisions,” Babb said. “So far the only division I haven’t won several races in is Tour Type Modifieds.”

A 2011 graduate of Windham High School, Babb has grown accustomed to winning, capturing the Jim Belfiore Memorial for 350 Supermodifieds at Star Speedway on Aug. 14 and winning the 2017 overall championship at Epping in just his first season of Supermodifed racing.

“My favorite part of racing is the competition,” he said. “I obviously enjoy going fast, and I really enjoy getting to know all the different people at the track, but I really love being challenged.”

Finding the time to devote to auto racing has been difficult.

“The most challenging thing is trying to balance my time. I’m at the track as much as I can be because it’s what I love to do,” he said. “But it takes a lot of work in the shop to have the car ready to go on top of working a full-time job and trying to have a little bit of a personal life.”

Married to wife Jackie, Babb works as a welder/fabricator for Casco Bay Steel Structures and is grateful for the support his wife and family offer for his racing career.

“My wife Jackie also used to race go karts as a kid, and her brother still races to this day. So luckily, she enjoys racing too,” Babb said. “I don’t have any kids besides my yellow lab, Sophie. She doesn’t like the noise of the cars, but when she was a puppy, she went to the track with me and loved all the attention she got.”

Prior to competing in 350 Supermodifieds, Babb racked up an impressive record of success in other divisions. He was the 2012 NASCAR All-American Series Maine State Champion, Track Champion and Driver of the Year at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and was a finalist in the Concord, North Carolina Kulwicki Driver Development Program for the 2015 season.

Babb was awarded the 2008 “Rookie of the Year” honors at the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and won the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Pro Series Championship at Beech Ride Motor Speedway and went on to claim the overall 2012 championship at Beech Ridge. In 2010, Babb was honored as the American Canadian Tour’s “Late Model Rookie of the Year.” 

In 2012, he also got to compete in a race at Beech Ridge against his father Bobby, who himself had raced against his father Bob at Beech Ridge in the 1980s. 

During his career, Babb has raced at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire and in the three-night American Racer Challenge in 2015 at New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

His current sponsors are Robert Babb & Sons Wood Contractors, Kaminski Automotive, and Spence & Mathews Insurance, although he says he always be willing to welcome new sponsors onboard. 

His next race will be at Star Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 11 and he’s already preparing for that competition. 

“My two main goals right now are to continue having success in the 350 Supermodified division, and to win a Tour Type Modified race, because as I said, I haven’t won in that division yet,” Babb said. < 

Girl Scouts donate protective K-9 vest to Windham Police

Members of Windham Girl Scout Troop 1518
used money earned from, cookie sales to
purchase a protective vest for Kora, a working
K-9 in the Windham Police Department. They
presented the vest to Kora and her handler,
Windham Officer Steven Stubbs, on Aug. 18.
PHOTO BY COLLETTE HAYES  
By Collette Hayes

The nine Girl Scouts in Windham Troop 1518 used their ingenuity and shine to sell over 2,500 boxes of girl scout cookies this year and they donated a large portion of the money they received from the sales to buy a protective vest for Kora, a working K-9 in the Windham Police Department.

Participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program since they were 6-years- old, troop members have developed important life skills such as people skills, goal setting, and money management. According to troop member Kia Coombes, this year the troop decided to set a goal to buy a protective vest for Windham’s police dog and that vest cost $960.

The girls more than met their financial goal through the cookie sale and were able to buy and donate the vest.

“It feels so good doing something for the community,” Girl Scout Madison Nugent said. “Every year we make a donation to the community from our cookie sales. We have donated to the animal shelter, the community garden, the MSSPA Horse Rescue and made Christmas ornaments for the nursing homes. This year we wanted to make sure the Windham police department dog is safe.”

Kora, a five-year-old Malinois, is the recipient of the protective K-9 vest.

On Aug. 18, Windham Police Officer Steven Stubbs along with Kora, visited with Troop 1518 members on the lawn of the Friends Meeting House across the street from the Windham Police station.

“First of all, I would like to thank all of you very much for your generosity in making sure Kora is safe,” he said. “When I’m on a high-risk call, she is usually the first to go into the situation. When I send her in, it means a lot to me knowing she is protected.”

Stubbs has been training Kora since she was 6-months-old.

“Initial K-9 certification takes 480 hours of patrol training in order to qualify to take the test.” Stubbs said. “We have to certify every year for patrol and drugs. Kora can jump over 6-foot walls, find evidence articles and track and protect humans. She works extremely hard and receives little pay for doing it.”

He said Kora has a superior sense of smell and is a great detector.

“She can find a whole slew of illegal drugs,” Stubbs said. “On one of our fun training days we teamed up with the Falmouth K-9 dog team and simulated a drug deal with the Coast Guard. We went out on the Falmouth officer’s boat to where the Coast Guard boat was docked. Drugs had been hidden on the Coast Guard boat for the dogs to locate. This was great training for the dogs. If it becomes necessary for Kora to travel to a shipyard or a wharf full of boats, she won’t be distracted. She knows exactly what she needs to do.”
According to Stubbs. a fully trained police dog is worth probably between $18,000 to $20,000 but in their line of work, they are invaluable.

“They protect us in all different kinds of situations. You really can’t put a price on them,” Stubbs said. “We ask these dogs to do so much. The least we can do for them is to protect them with a vest.”

The new vest is stab resistant, cut resistant and bullet proof.

“There is a door popper on my police car door. If I encounter a confrontation with another individual all I have to do is press a button which I have in my pocket, and it pops the car door open. and Kora immediately jumps out of the car and runs to my side to assess the situation,” he said. “She is amazing at reading body language. She can deescalate a negative situation so quickly just by being present. Individuals are more willing to comply with what we want them to do when she shows up.”

Each day Kora can be found traveling along in the back seat of Officer Stubbs’ police car in her new protective vest.

“When I answer an incoming call over the radio, Kora knows it is time to go to work. She begins barking incessantly, jumping around and pacing across the backseat with almost uncontrollable excitement.” Stubbs said.

Her excitement about going to work each day is something most of us would have a hard time relating to. In so many ways it is evident she is a rare breed and deserves to be protected with a K-9 vest, thanks to a generous donation from Girl Scout Troop 1518. <

Friday, August 20, 2021

Promises kept: Windham couple celebrates 70th wedding anniversary

By Ed Pierce

Joan and Arthur Wickham of Windham were married at
Holy Cross Catholic Church in South Portland on Aug. 18, 1951
and they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with a
pontoon boat cruise on Sebago Lake with family members
last weekend. SUBMITTED PHOTO

They say celebrating a wedding anniversary is a fleeting moment, but that a loving marriage is timeless. For one longtime married couple from Windham, Wednesday, Aug. 18 marked a significant milestone in their relationship as they marked 70 years of marriage.

Arthur Wickham was born in Portland and was living there in 1950 when he took a big chance and went out on a blind date with a girl named Joan Sincyr who had just moved to South Portland from Skowhegan. Something romantically clicked on that blind date for the two teenagers, and they continued dating for another year-and-a-half before Arthur eventually decided to propose to Joan.

She accepted Arthur’s proposal and they were married on Aug. 18, 1951, at Holy Cross Catholic Church in South Portland, and have been together ever since.

Arthur Wickham, now 89, worked as a medical supply and medical devices salesman and later as an executive for the George C. Frye Company in Portland, and he also served in the U.S. Army Reserves, rising to the rank of colonel before retiring in 1992.

He attended Casco Bay College and graduated with a degree in business administration and management and has been active in many fraternal and veteran’s organizations through the years. He served as a department commander for the American Veterans in Maine (AMVETS), the state president of the Association of the United States Army and the Reserve Officer’s Association, and Arthur also completed studies from the U.S. Army Command and General College and the Air War College. 

When he’s not heavily involved in veteran’s issues and organizations, Arthur Wickham can be found working in the yard and still cuts his own grass and maintains the couple’s property as he has done for all of the years they have lived in Windham.          

Joan Wickham, now 88, worked for the Portland Housing Authority as a secretary before her retirement. She is an avid baker and cook, loves to make her own quilts and enjoys going out to play bingo whenever she can find the time to do so.

The couple purchased a home on Collinwood Circle in Windham decades ago, and they raised a family there of five children including, Rick, Deb, Bobbi, Cindi and Mike. Over the years the family has grown and prospered and now includes additional generations including eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Arthur and Joan Wickham still live in the same home today on Collinwood Circle in Windham and remain in good health and are as active in retirement as those some 20 years or younger in age.

To mark the occasion of their 70th wedding anniversary, the family took Arthur and Joan on a pontoon boat cruise on Sebago Lake last weekend. It’s become a cherished summer tradition for the Wickham Family and an annual way for family members to get together and celebrate Arthur and Joan’s anniversary.

For many years Arthur and Joan Wickham would take the entire family to Bradbury Mountain State Park near Pownal for a fun-filled summer getaway and that included a huge cookout, but that annual event has now shifted to the pontoon boat excursions on the lake.

Christmas celebrations in Windham were always special for Arthur and Joan and the children because Joan’s birthday falls on Dec. 23, so it’s combined holiday party every year because of the proximity of Christmas to Joan’s special day.

When asked their secret to their long and happy marriage, both Arthur and Joan Wickham answered simply.

“It’s all about communication and listening to each other,” they said. < 

Seized horses recovering at MSSPA facilities in Windham

Since July, the Maine State Society for the Protection of 
Animals in Windham has been caring for 18 horses that
were seized from an owner in Springvale. The MSSPA 
aims to rehabilitate the horses, get them healthy and find
them new homes, COURTESY PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

The Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals is always prepared to handle emergency care situations for horses but nothing the nonprofit rescue organization has seen before could prepare them for what they’ve experienced this summer.

On July 14, Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Animal Welfare Program seized 20 horses, 11 chickens, two pigs, six dogs, six cats, two geckos, three rats, and a bearded dragon from an owner in Springvale and at that point the MSSPA assumed care for the horses, many of whom were in desperate need of food, vaccines, and veterinary care.

According to Meris Bickford, the MSSPA’s chief executive officer, the 20 rescued horses joined 27 other equines at the facility on River Road in Windham, swelling its population to 47 in just one day.

“To the best of my memory it’s the largest equine seizure I can ever recall in Maine,” Bickford said. “We used a caravan of trucks and trailers and vehicles to bring them here.”

Almost immediately two of the suffering horses were determined to be beyond the scope of medical help and were euthanized. The remaining horses that were seized range in age from a month-old filly to in their 20s.

The rescued equines include a group of wild mustangs captured by the Bureau of Land Management agents out west and shipped to the farm in Springvale where the owner was struggling to care for them.

“These mustangs are a band of five,” Bickford said. “They have not been touched before by human beings. Some had lice, some had not had their hooves trimmed or had basic vaccinations.”        

Liam Hughes, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Animal Welfare Program director, said that he’s pleased that organizations like the MSSPA exist to assist in helping these horses recover and find new homes.

"The animals are getting the medical care and attention that they need to thrive," Hughes said. "We are immensely grateful to all of the animal sheltering organizations, animal control officers, and volunteers who worked together on this important cause."

During a hearing in July, the owner of the seized horses acknowledged an inability to care for the animals and received a lifetime animal possession ban, Hughes said. The owner can ask the court to amend the ban in five years and no charges will be filed.

In a little more than month since the seized and suffering horses arrived at the MSSPA facility, many are improving significantly, Bickford said.

“Of the 18 that are left, many are making good progress,” she said. “Some are thin, but they are not malnourished. A couple are in decent condition.”

The MSSPA’s goal is to rehabilitate the horses and then find new homes for them. They receive the best possible veterinary and farrier care on site and some eligible horses receive professional training in groundwork, riding, and driving. If no suitable adoption is found, the horses may live out their natural lives at the farm.

“For some it will be a fairly short turnaround,” Bickford said. “One of the mustangs though we have not been able to have hands on yet because it is wild.” 

Bickford said that MSSPA prepares, plans, and budgets each year to assist up to 100 rescue horses at one time but acknowledges that a large group like the one arriving this summer from the seizure does indeed put a strain on some areas associated with their care.

“It means more veterinarian resources, more feed and that our budget expenses have doubled,” she said. 

She said the MSSPA is thankful that many people have called or emailed them asking how they can help or be of assistance following the seizure, even though the facility remains closed to the public because of continuing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of interest in these animals and had all manners and offers of in-kind assistance,” Bickford said. “The best way someone can help us is by making a donation at www.msspa.org/ and to also vigorously report animal abuse to the authorities when they see it. <

Friday, August 13, 2021

Longtime Windham teacher honored by Community Service Award

Pat Wilson taught for 29 years at Manchester
School in Windham and in retirement has
spent years volunteering for non-profit
organizations in Westbrook. On Aug. 18, 
Wilson will be honored with the 2021
Highland Grange Award at the Highland
Lake Community Center. 
SUBMITTED PHOTO   
By Collette Hayes

Former Windham teacher Pat Wilson has devoted her life to the service of others and for her efforts in making a difference for so many, the Highland Lake Grange is recognizing her with the 2021 Highland Grange Award.

The honor is given to Westbrook residents who have made a significant difference in the lives of others through community service. To celebrate her accomplishments, grange members present her the award at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18 at the Highland Lake Community Center.

According to Larry Levesque, a Highland Lake Grange member, the Grange Service Award salutes an individual who makes a significant difference in the lives of others, and he said Wilson fits that description perfectly.

Levesque said that Wilson has devoted a lifetime to the service of family, friends and the Windham and Westbrook communities. Over the last several years she has donated many hours-of-service volunteering one day a week at the Westbrook Community Center in Cornelia’s Closet, the thrift store in Westbrook and after seeing a need for volunteers at the Westbrook Community Center’s food pantry, she started volunteering there one day a week as well.

Just the other day, sitting next to the large windows in her kitchen during an afternoon thundershower, she talked of just that. She had spent the last few months collecting bundles of clothes that were now piling up to overflowing in her closet.

“I wanted to take the bags of clothes over to the thrift store today,” she said, “but with this unexpected rain, I will have to put it off until another day. For the last several years, I have taken my personal jewelry over as well. I love to see how happy it makes the customers at the thrift store to receive something so beautiful.”

Her sense of goodness draws many to her which is evident when she talks of how the customers at the food pantry invite her to attend their luncheons and are anxious to sit and talk for a while whenever she is volunteering at the pantry.

Her former students at Manchester Elementary, where she taught for 29 years, feel the same way. Today they have grown to adults, and many follow her on Facebook.

She said that she set high expectations for each one of her students and tried to individualize instruction to meet their specific needs.

“When I was teaching, every day I would try to find something fun and interesting to include in my lesson plans, something to be sure each student would learn and grow.”

Now many years later, she still tries to meet those individual needs of her former students by posting things she thinks they might be interested in learning mixed with a lot of humor. 

“They need humor to survive in this challenging world,” she said, as a beautiful smile lightened her face. Looking out the window to the rain, which now had turned to a heavy downpour, she reflected on one of her only regrets as a teacher. “I wish I would have had more time to get to know a lot more about each one of my students so I could have better prepared them to meet their life challenges.”

In 1998, Wilson retired from teaching to take care of her husband who had suffered a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair. Her husband enjoyed traveling, and Pat was by his side each step of the way helping him to enjoy the things he loved to do.

Her daughter, Kathleen Burkhart, shared insight into how much Pat loved her dad and her dedication to him.

“Mum’s time was dedicated to Dad and his needs and the groups he belonged to,” Burkhart said. “She was a fantastic caregiver for 29 years. Yes, 29 years with him in a wheelchair.”

Burkhart also spoke of ways that her mother has served in the community.

“Many years ago, Mum started the Westbrook Festival of Trees in my grandmother’s name, Beatrice Elwell, because gram loved Christmas so much,” she said. “The charities that were recipients of the donations have been Westbrook Police, Tots for Tots, Mission Possible, Animal Refuge League, camperships for Pilgrim Lodge and Westbrook Warren Congregational Church.”

After retiring from teaching, her mother volunteered with the Cumberland County Retired Educators Association writing the newsletter and working to help get better benefits for teachers and retirees,” Burkhart said.

Following her mother’s death, Wilson volunteered at the hospital where her mother spent the last weeks of her life. She has been a member of the Westbrook Warren Congregational Church since she was 11 years old and has served on the Christian Education Board and the Deacons Committee at the church for many years.

About five years ago, Wilson worked with a local, young Somalian man to help get his family to the United States. She started by paying him to do odd jobs and eventually made a large donation to his cause.

Even though on a Friday afternoon, many years ago, Wilson closed the door for the last time in her fifth-grade classroom at Manchester School, she still continues to inspire us through the example of the often-forgotten principles of empathy, compassion and service. <

Speed reductions ahead for Windham motorists

The Maine Department of Transportation has 
authorized a request by the town of Windham
to reduce the speed limit on William Knight
Road off Varney Mill Road from its current
limit of 45 mph to 40 mph. Speed limits for
a portion of Nash Road and for Gambo Road
will also drop from 35 mph to 30 mph.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE 
By Ed Pierce

Maine’s Department of Transportation has authorized a request by Windham officials and local residents to lower the speed limit on three heavily traveled roads in the town.

In October 2019, Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield requested that the Windham Town Council ask the MDOT to reduce the current speed limits for Gambo Road, a portion of Nash Road, and for William Knight Road on those thoroughfares and to conduct speed studies to reduce the potential for accidents there. Now with Windham’s request approved by the MDOT, reposting of new signs indicating the lower speed limits on those roads will begin by the town’s Public Works Department.       

In his original memo to the Windham Town Council, Schofield said that as Windham has grown and traffic has increased, the need to consider reduced speed limits for those roads has risen.

“Many of these areas have changed over the years to include, walking trails, youth soccer fields, discontinued bridges and increased development and traffic Schofield said. “So lower speeds, and hopefully slower traffic should help increase safety and quality of life in these areas.”

The current speed limit for William Knight Road, which runs between Varney Mill Road and Route 302, is 45 mph. At 1.17 miles in length, it has a rural appearance to it, but with development over the years, Schofield said that there are now 22 residential dwellings on William Knight Road and five intersecting roads off it with 24 residences abutting the roadway.

He said topography plays an important road in the potential for accidents on William Knight Road.

“Approximately in the midpoint of this section of road there is a steep dip into a ravine. This causes a blind spot for a residential dwelling in this area,” Schofield said. “As prior residents would give instruction when leaving the property to look left, right then left again and count to five to make sure a car did not appear out of the dip at a high rate of speed, they reported many near misses over the years.”

In his memo in 2019, Schofield cited that since 2015, there were four crashes on William Knight Road in 2015, one in 2016 because of icy roads conditions, one in 2017 involving a deer and two in 2019 caused by a line-of-sight issues and driving too fast.

The MDOT has authorized dropping the speed on William Knight Road to 40 mph, according to Cathy DeSouza, MDOT’s Southern Region Assistant Traffic Engineer.

For Nash Road between Windham Center Road and Route 302, Schofield said that the current speed limit there is 35 mph and runs about three-tenths of a mile long.

He said the topography of Nash Road, lack of sidewalks and its short length frequently leads to speeding there.

“I receive complaints about speeding on this section of road, in particular about the rate of speed vehicle crests the steep hill on the west end or the road near Windham Center Road,” Schofield said. “When traveling this section of road at 35 mph it feels too fast for the conditions.”

The speed on Nash Road will dropped to 30 mph, Schofield said.

On Gambo Road, starting at the intersection of River Road and running southwesterly for four-tenths of a mile, the current speed limit is 35 mph, but it does pose a safety issue because of its location.

“Formerly the bridge over the Presumpscot River accommodated vehicular traffic into the town of Gorham, this is no longer the case creating a dead-end road,” Schofield said. “The mountain division recreation trail also crosses the lower end of Gambo road.  Probably most significant is the location of the recreation fields at located near the end of the road that accommodate various recreation programs.  This situation creates more traffic than one would expect on dead end road with few dwellings.”

He said every year the Windham Police Department receives speed complaints on the road and efforts officers to slow traffic down on Gambo Road haven’t worked.

In a letter from the MDOT to the town of Windham, DeSouza said the agency has authorized a speed reduction for Gambo Road to 30 mph. 

“Within the past several months three roads were reviewed for speed limits as requested by residents,” said Windham Town Manager Barry A. Tibbetts. “Chief Schofield has been in contact with the State MDOT, which is the only agency to modify a speed on public road. The process can take up to nine months or more.  The agency looks at a number of factors, ranging from safety conditions, site distances, number of curb openings (driveways), vertical inclines, road widths, traffic volumes crash data points, engineering judgements, etc.  The agency has recommended lowering the speed limits on two different road sections, Gambo and Nash Roads, by 5 mph per hour and establishing a new speed limit of 40 mph on another, William Knight Road. These reviews provide excellent guidance in maintaining safety and traffic flow within Windham.”

According to Schofield, once all of the new signs have been put in place by Windham DPW crews, Windham police will begin enforcing the new speed limits for these roads and also alerting drivers of their speed on others through the use of the police department’s electronic road sign. <

Friday, August 6, 2021

Grueling ‘Guardian Ride’ fundraiser nearing for Windham veteran

POLICEMAN TO RIDE BIKE 360 MILES TO HELP MILITARY UNIT

By Ed Pierce

Windham resident Brian McCarthy, a South Portland police
officer, will undertake a 360-mile trek n his mountain bike
from Windham to Moosehead Lake and back in an effort
to raise money for his former military unit, the 488th
Military Police Company based in Waterville. This is
the fourth summer that McCarthy has rode across Maine
on his 'Guardian Ride' to help fund programs that assist
families of soldiers serving overseas.
SUBMITTED PHOTO  
When Brian McCarthy had to deploy with his U.S. Army unit to serve in the Gulf War, the last thing he needed to worry about was the well-being of his wife Kristin and daughter Logan at home. McCarthy learned first-hand the peace of mind that organizations like the 488th Military Police Company’s Family Readiness Group give to soldiers serving overseas, helping families solve problems at home while their loved ones are miles away.

When McCarthy retired as an Army Sergeant First Class following a 20-year military career, he vowed to do whatever he could to help continue the important work of the 488th’s Family Readiness Group and in a few weeks, he’s going to embark on his fourth 350-mile “Guardian Ride” to raise money for the organization.

All money pledged to McCarthy during his summer bicycle ride is donated to the Family Readiness Group and are used for such things as the purchase of back-to-school supplies for military dependent children, a summer cookout for unit families and single soldiers alike with water sports and camping, a catered unit Christmas party with a visit from Santa, emergency relief funds for families in need, and for keeping unit families in touch with their loved ones stationed overseas.       

McCarthy, a South Portland police officer, will depart from the Windham Veterans Center for this year’s trip on Aug. 23 and hopes to return to Windham on Sunday, Aug. 29. Through three previous “Guardian Ride” trips across Maine, he’s raised more than $10,000 for the Family Readiness Group and will use a 23-year-old HARO mountain bike with an Allen Sports cargo trailer for his adventure.

“My route this year will be an out-and-back ride from Windham to Moosehead Lake and back, and possibly a loop route to Moosehead, then west to Jackman, and then home, depending upon what I see for road conditions,” said McCarthy, who is undertaking the trek while on vacation from his job as a South Portland police officer. “I’ve never been up there before, so much of my route reconnaissance depends on Google Street View images and studying elevation changes in the Delorme Gazeteer. The total mileage looks to be around 350 to 360 miles over seven days.”

According to McCarthy, the hardest part of each “Guardian Ride” is getting to each day’s portion of the trip.

“The finish line is a wonderful glowing vision, but the end of each day comes with very little fanfare and is fairly aptly described at times as a hasty retreat from the beating sun or cold rain,” he said. “I’m far from an elite athlete nor an accomplished cyclist, so 50-plus miles per day, towing a trailer along the hilly main streets and back roads of Maine, for seven straight days, is among the toughest physical challenges I’ve endured. And doing it alone makes for some long quiet days. But my cause, and my donors and supporters keep me motivated.”

For his efforts, McCarthy was presented with the 2021 American Legion’s Humanitarian Service Award in June at the Maine American Legion Convention in Brewer and said that he was deeply humbled by the honor.   

“Receiving the American Legion’s Humanitarian Service Award was a complete surprise to me,” McCarthy said. “I didn’t take on this endeavor for any personal recognition, so to be recognized by such a great group of veterans, patriots, and community volunteers was very humbling. I have a tremendous amount of respect for our Legionnaires and their history of service in and out of uniform. I’m very thankful to Dave Tanguay for the nomination and my Post 148 family for their support.”

Tanguay, the adjutant for Windham’s American Legion Field-Allen Post 148, says McCarthy is a good man and American legion member who is making a substantial difference for his former National Guard unit, the 488th Military Police Company based in Waterville.

“For the fourth consecutive year, Brian is taking personal time off from his duties in South Portland as a police officer to make a seven-day trek across Maine called the ‘Guardian Ride,’ on his mountain bike and trailer as a fundraiser for the unit’s Family Readiness Group and youth programs for deployed family members,” Tanguay said. “Over the last four summers, the American Legion Field-Allen Post has supported Brian as a base of operation and financially in support of his goal. We are looking forward to Aug. 23 to give Brian a rousing send-off on his latest trek.”

Support from Windham’s American Legion post and from his former military unit have boosted McCarthy’s spirit during his long solitary rides since he began the project.

I’ve received overwhelming and heartfelt support from my old unit, the 488th Military Police Company. I’m still in regular contact with current soldiers and leaders through social media, as well as unit alumni like myself,” McCarthy said. “They are extremely appreciative of not just my efforts on the bike, but also of the generosity of my donors and ride supporters.”

Stretching himself to the limit physically and mentally each day while on the ride, McCarthy said he stays focused on the underlying purpose of the fundraiser and the good things it does for others.

“When I deployed, I had a great deal of support from my family, not only in the form of emails and phone calls, but also in the knowledge and surety that they were secure in our home, in their schooling, jobs, etc. I was blessed with strong family supports,” he said. “I also knew that our unit’s Family Readiness Group had our back, just in case there was an unforeseen emergency or if something fell through the cracks. Additionally, my coworkers and community also rallied around me and my soldiers, keeping us well supported with care packages and cards, etc. With me taking on this ride every year, and raising not only funding, but also awareness of the FRG, is my own little way of giving back to the unit and its families behind the scenes.”

He said the “Guardian Ride” is important to him because he truly loves our soldiers and their families.

“Even more so, now that I’m out of uniform, I look at the hard work our National Guard ‘citizen soldiers’ do overseas and here at home, and I just feel like I need to show our appreciation,” McCarthy said. “And if I can help raise a few bucks for more burgers at the unit picnic, or more kayaks and tent sites at the unit family weekend, or a few more goodies in the back-to-school supplies, or a few more presents from Santa at the Christmas party, then it’s all worthwhile. I will do this ride every year as long as I’m able, and then maybe pass the torch to a fellow 488th alumnus. Ideally, I’d love to inspire a fellow retiree from each of Maine’s National Guard units to undertake their own versions of an FRG ride. I think that would be quite an event.”

To make a pledge to McCarthy for this year’s “Guardian Ride,” visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-guardian-ride-2021 <