Friday, July 27, 2018

Birchwood Afterschool Summer Program focuses on the meaning of community by Elizabeth Richards

This summer, children attending the Birchwood Afterschool Summer Program are gaining a greater understanding of what it means to be a member of a community. The teachers are accomplishing this goal by asking members of the Windham community to visit and share how their role or occupation contributes to a healthy community. The program is also engaging in weekly community service projects.

Heather Marden, one of the Birchwood Afterschool Summer teachers, said that the idea behind helping children grasp stronger concepts about how communities function, and how they can be active members in a community, came from reading a book. The story, “Roxaboxen” by Alice McLerran, details the author’s childhood experiences with neighborhood friends. These children built their own community, which they called “Roxaboxen,” with found materials like rocks, crates, and sticks. In the story, there are examples of children developing a monetary system, transportation, and community services found in real neighborhoods.

This book inspired the staff to block out a section of a wooded area behind the school to allow children to create their own “Roxaboxen.”  Marden said, “The students have created bakeries, restaurants, hospitals, homes, a police station, town hall, auto shop, and even a baseball field. This small version of a community is allowing them to explore different roles as well as strengthen their social skills needed for problem solving, negotiating, and compromise.” 

Watching how motivated the children are to play in their “Roxaboxen” community are some of the teachers’ favorite moments, Marden said. “The children are eager to share this area with parents at the end of the day. We often find parents reminisce about their childhood memories of those special places they created as children that mimicked community concepts for them. Many children have built their own “Roxaboxen” communities at their homes,” she said. attending the summer program showed great enthusiasm when talking about the “Roxaboxen” area. Lincoln Rulman shared some of what they do in the area: “We play in “Roxaboxen,” and we have built houses…we use rocks as money. A lot of people sell chicken[s]…we have a nurse there too…we have signs out there that tell the rules.” 

Like in any community, disagreements can arise, and helping children learn to solve those problems is all part of the experience. Marden said they sometimes hold town meetings to work out issues, allowing the children to take the lead.

While some of the kids said the process was boring, they admitted that it worked to help them solve issues that arose.

One thing that teachers have seen since the creation of their “Roxaboxen” is that the temperaments of children have changed with the extra time spent outdoors. “And, it’s a space where we can really give them freedom to resolve their problems on their own,” said Marden. Sarah Murray says the children are very imaginative in “Roxaboxen,” and they spend a couple hours each day in the area. “They beg to go out there,” she said. “It’s just their zone. That’s where they just know that they have their own control.”

The “Roxaboxen” area has been in use at Birchwood for at least four years now, Marden said, and this summer the teachers decided to take the concept of community a step farther. That’s when they began to invite members of the community in to visit – either in person or via technology. “We have so many resources in our town, and you can bring so many people in during the summer,” she said. “Our entire goal is that they understand how a community functions and that it’s a system that works together, that it takes a lot of compromise to work together.”

Visitors have included members of the fire department who did some CPR training for the children, a Skype visit with a geologist from Casco who is in Hawaii studying the volcanoes, and myself. I visited to help children understand the role of the press in a community.

Often, Marden said, projects will evolve from the visits. After my visit, for example, children wrote their own articles and produced a Birchwood Daily Newspaper. August, Senator Bill Diamond will speak about his role as a legislator. The children will then be led through an activity on how to change rules in your community, as they examine rules in the classroom community and propose rule changes that will go through a mini legislative process at Birchwood, Marden said. A karate instructor will be visiting to lead a series of four karate sessions, focusing on working together and the social and emotional concepts learned through karate.

In addition to the visitors, the school has been doing weekly community service projects to express thanks to members of the community for their important roles. Recent projects have included: bringing a full meal to the fire department, bringing muffins to employees at the post office, making artwork for a nursing home, and making kindness rocks to place into the community to brighten someone’s day.

We are proud of how the children have embraced our summer of building our community concepts,” said Marden.

Raymond Arts Alliance provides an evening of great music among beautiful views by Jennifer Davis

Hacker’s Hill Preserve in Casco is a beautiful location with excellent views of the Lakes Region Area. This past Saturday, July 21 from 4 until 5:30 p.m., Hacker’s Hill came to life as more than 120 members of the community arrived to enjoy the beautiful music from The New England Jazz Band. 

The event was hosted by the Raymond Arts Alliance (RAA) as part of their fundraiser efforts. The event was supported by Loon Echo Land Trust, the environmental organization that manages the preserve.

 The New England Jazz Band performed music from “The Great American Songbook” with a goal of entertaining their audience and reminding those in attendance of America’s great musical heritage. The band is an 18-piece band with a polished sound. “They were fantastic, professional, creative, talented, and very fun,” said Mary-Therese Duffy, President of the RAA. “Everyone enjoyed them tremendously.”  For more information on The New England Jazz Band and to hear their music please visit their website RAA is a program of the Raymond Village Library in partnership with the Raymond Village Community Church U.C.C. The RAA hosts events such as music nights, artists’ gatherings, and workshops to provide an avenue for people to express their talents and interests. All funds raised by this event at Hacker’s Hill will go to support upcoming events in consideration and development such as “The Jazz Poetry Project” with Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl, a “Community Sing”, “Favorite Collections,” as well as a Native American flute maker and storyteller, one or two writers’ groups, a published author who resides in both NYC and Raymond. 

“Our goals also include a monthly fine artists’ group for networking, collaboration and simple enjoyment of learning of each other’s works; a mentoring program where aspiring artists/performers can meet and perhaps shadow a successful artist/performer,”  said Duffy.  “In addition, a scholarship program is available for young students who wish to pursue continued study in the fine or performing arts and humanities.”

With this year’s event being such a success, the goal of the RAA is to have this event again next year. “We hope to continue growing, both in membership and in community participation,” said Duffy. “Our true goal and commitment is for the community to feel that this is their organization and that they can participate at any point and be as creative as they would like to be with it.” If you would like more information or want to participate in the RAA, you may visit their website at

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The third annual Concert in the Park at Dundee begins with high energy and attendance by Lorraine Glowczak

Over 200 people were in for a lively experience at Dundee Park, 70 Presumpscot Road on Wednesday, July 11 for the first evening of four, Concert in the Park Series. Beachgoers and music lovers alike were entertained by the 121 Band, a seven-member local band, based out of Raymond.

“It went splendidly at Dundee,” stated Amy Krikken, one of the lead singers still riding high from the evening.

The 121 Band is known for its high energy delivery of many popular and favorite songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s and beyond. Children and adults were dancing to the tunes of “Mustang Sally,” “You ain’t nothing but a Hound Dog,” “Love Shack,” and “Feel it Still” to name a few.

Those in attendance enjoyed the band’s diverse musical selection, including one member of the audience, Rebecca Lawind. “I like their versatile music selection, energetic style and especially appreciate Amy’s vocals. I also love the nostalgia element to their song selection.” 121 Band launched onto the scene approximately three years ago, with some members playing together much longer with the band, Rip Tide. Musicians of the 121 Band include Krikken, Aaron Spiller (lead singer), Steve Knowles (lead guitar) and Dennis Look (lead guitar), Dan Wolf (rhythm guitar), Matt Natale (bass) and Ernie Look (drummer).

In the three years they have been performing, they have played at various venues throughout the state to include Tailgates in Gray, Dena’s in Windham, Crooked Hook in Mechanic Falls, Skips in Buxton, The Northland in Jackman, Gary’s in Naples; and at private parties and more. “We are looking forward to playing on a chartered and sold-out cruise aboard the Casablanca on Friday, the 20th,” Krikken said. “We did this last year and it is so much fun.”

As for the band’s name, the story goes something like this. The band had just begun, and a name had yet to be decided upon. Knowles, who plays with a number of musical groups, was trying to explain which band he was going to be practicing with that evening. “I’m going to be with my 121 peeps this evening,” he told that friend. Why 121? Because the band’s home base and practice site are located on Route 121 in Raymond. the members of the121 Band are not performing their high energy and danceable music, they are busy working in other fields. “There's a bit of a theme to our work outside of the band,” explained Krikken. “Steve and Ernie are in the computer industry and work from home. Aaron, Steve and Matt work in car industry related businesses, Dan is in construction and I’m in real estate.”

If you missed the 121 Band and the first evening of Concert in the Park at Dundee, do not despair. The third annual concert series will offer three more Wednesday evening concerts from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. with free admission after 5 p.m. The Hurricanes performed on Wednesday, July 18th (The Windham Eagle’s publication day). On Wednesday, July 25, music will be provided by the Downeast Soul Coalition and Rick Charette will perform on Wednesday, August 1.

“We are very pleased with the attendance for the first two concerts,” stated Linda Brooks, Director of Windham Parks and Recreation, the host of the event.

Brooks also stated that concessions are available at each performance and funds raised will support area non-profits to include the Legion Auxiliary, Rescue and the Lions Club. 

For more information about the Concert in the Park series, visit For more information about: 121 Band, visit For The Hurricanes, visit Downeast Soul Coalition, visit and Rick Charette, visit

Town provides technology the Raymond way by Lorraine Glowczak

Erik Woodbrey in front of his custom built computer
Providing the best services possible, done the right way and on a low budget, is the Raymond’s way of doing business. And that is exactly what is happening with the high quality technical amenities the town offers as a result of a forward-thinking, highly motivated and exceptionally skilled family.
Kevin Woodbrey of Raymond and his two sons, Kyle and Erik, have provided sophisticated technology services for the Town of Raymond for over 20 years. 

Although the family has established their own business, Woodbrey Consulting, and now contracts with the town as a supplier of all information technology services, they began their role as volunteers, providing extensive technical assistance on their own time, and often, at their own expenses.

“Thanks to the Woodbreys, the Town of Raymond provides high quality electronic services as well as industry standard levels of security and back office protocols,” said Don Willard, Town Manager. “Very few small towns are able to reach these standards. We would not be where we are now if it was not for the Woodbreys.”

This is all achieved using high quality equipment, operating under a cost-effective model, which has included utilizing private sector equipment that has been refurbished and updated. “The Woodbreys always make sure we get the biggest bang for our buck, whether it be by sourcing high quality used equipment or through private sector company donations” remarked Willard.

There are a number of projects Kevin and his sons have completed in the last couple of years that financially benefit the Town of Raymond. The latest, of many recent projects, is the updated web streaming and cable television station that operates out of the recently upgraded town studio. Thenew computer system was custom built and installed in the town’s studio by 23-year-old, Erik.

“The main thing about Erik’s upgrade is that we purchased off-the-shelf equipment to build this computer versus buying proprietary equipment which is much more expensive,” Kevin stated.
Erik quickly added, “The broadcast workstation upgrade was approximately $5,500. It could have easily cost over $30,000.”

Another successful and completed project is an updated network infrastructure that manages all the town computers. A majority of the software is open source and equipment for the project was purchased through vendors selling used or refurbished technology, in this case eBay, that offer a two-year parts warranty. “We can easily go back one generation [in computer equipment, servers, etc.] and still provide sophisticated and high-quality technology at a dramatic price advantage,” explained Kevin. large computer console and supporting server racks in which the networking infrastructure and broadcast workstation is housed, also in the studio, was a result of a MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) upgrade and other donated equipment. “I had a friend who worked at the Technology Department at MIT,” Kevin began. “He called me to let me know that they were purchasing a new computer console and asked if I wanted the current one for free. The only catch was delivering the huge piece of equipment back to Raymond.”

But never allowing a small challenge to get in the way, Kevin and his sons drove to MIT with a large truck and trailer and delivered it to Raymond by themselves. “To purchase a computer console of this size would cost approximately $20,000,” Kevin said. “But we got this one for free.”

The Woodbreys have also been busy building and putting in place a Virtual Private Network (VPN). “This allows all the town network devices, servers, workstations and cameras to communicate to each other on a secure and private system that offers sophisticated full network data encryption for security,” Kevin explained.

The Woodbreys talent, skill and innovation are a result of many years of collective experiences. Kevin graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1978 and was employed by companies within the U.S., returning to Maine after many years away. Upon his return, he worked in various information technology capacities in companies such as Unum and WEX.

The Woodbreys built the network infrastructure for a new airport in Branson, MO
He and his wife, Vicki, a systems analyst, decided to homeschool Erik. Upon making that decision, Kevin and Vicki took Erik and Kyle on a five-week, cross country road trip and it was during this transition that Kevin created his consulting firm.

Woodbrey Consulting not only provide their technology services for the Town of Raymond but also provide contractual services for other companies and organizations. This includes airlines such as JetBlue as well as for airports in general.

“When Erik was 14, we were hired to build, from scratch, the data center including servers, computer systems, firewalls and network infrastructure for a new airport in Branson, MO,” explained Kevin. “We were there for 2 ½ months working seven days per week, ten hours per day. Erik had so much energy with it all. When I was ready to call it a day, he wanted to do ‘just one more thing’ - but we did it and now the Branson Airport is up and running.”

Although the Woodbreys are humble about their accomplishments, their expertise in information technology and their talents to find the greatest product at the best cost has created a town of technology advances that are likely the envy of most.

“We are simply problem solvers,” Kevin said of himself and his family. But Willard clarified Kevin’s statement, “They are problem solvers who don’t accept failure as a possibility. We are very lucky to have them.”

Friday, July 13, 2018

Jordan Small Middle School student places first for Maine in SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite® essay competition by Elizabeth Richards

Taylor Juhase
When 12-year-old Taylor Juhase moved from Connecticut to Maine, she transitioned from private school to public school for the first time. And it was at Jordan Small Middle School in Raymond that she discovered the world of investing, through their participation in the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game™. Juhase then participated in the InvestWrite® essay competition, emerging as the first-place winner for the state of Maine.

The competition involved choosing a nonprofit organization and detailing, in writing an investment plan designed specifically for that organization. Juhase chose Save the Children. In her essay, she wrote “I chose Save the Children because I have a little brother and I would do anything to keep him safe…Save the Children believes every child deserves a future.”

Juhase said she didn’t know anything about investing before participating in the Stock Market Game™ in Jack Fitch’s math class. While she said she still doesn’t understand all of the nuances, she gained enough understanding to impress the panel of judges. what they have learned in the Stock Market Game™ is what the competition is all about, according to a press release from the SIFMA Foundation. “InvestWrite® enables students to develop the personal financial savvy needed to make practical financial decision with confidence and gain a deeper understanding of economic opportunities, consequences, and benefits,” the press release read. “Students consider real-world events and news, conduct research online, and develop investment recommendations. They work in groups during The Stock Market Game program and then write their InvestWrite® essays individually to reflect their critical thinking, analysis and creative talents.”

Juhase said she found out that she won while at school. “It was exciting, but at the same time I was a little sad, because my other friend was sad that she didn’t win,” she said. This compassion that she has for others came through in her essay as well. “I am fortunate enough to have everything I need to have a good and healthy life. My family has food, water, money and a roof over our heads. I can’t even imagine a family in the world starving, having nothing at all to protect children from harm,” she wrote.

Writing about investing was challenging, Juhase said, because she didn’t know much about it prior to this experience. She researched nonprofits online, as well as information on bonds and mutual funds. Now, she said, she thinks the process is really fun. “You really get to communicate and talk about the stocks,” she said. The essay took a couple of weeks to complete, Juhase said. They had time in math class to work on it, and she received support from her teacher and some friends, she said.

All of the attention has been a little overwhelming, Juhase said, since she typically isn’t much of an attention seeker. She added that when she moved to Raymond she felt really welcomed. Her grandmother, Patricia Juhase, said she has found a nice group of friends with whom she has bonded.

Juhase and Fitch were honored at a surprise event at the school in early March. Representatives of the SIFMA Foundation and other special guests were in attendance. Juhase was awarded a medal, a trophy, a t-shirt, flowers and a $100 gift card said Patricia, who travelled from Connecticut to attend the event.
“When I read her essay, I was truly amazed at what she wrote, for a 12-year-old,” Patricia said. “We’re very proud of her.”
The following is Taylor Juhase’s winning essay:

Save the Children

Did you know that Save The Children helps children in 120 countries including the U.S. I chose-Save The Children because I have a little brother and I would do anything to keep him safe. I could never imagine him growing up to a terrible future or life. Save The Children believes every child deserves a future. In the U.S. and around the world, they give children a healthy start in life, and. the opportunity to learn and be protected from harm. I want to help kids my age have a good life that they deserve. This means that they need clean water and healthy food to grow to be healthy and strong. No matter what the challenge is, they always put children first in everything they do. They do everything from child protection to hunger and livelihoods. No one wants a child to be not well treated or have a horrible life.

The day I was hired by this non-profit organization I told the people in charge that in my investment strategy diversification was important because they need to protect all of their money. I diversified their funds into mutual funds which are companies that take money from investors and invest the money in securities such as stocks, bonds, and also short-term debts. The combined holdings of mutual funds. are known as portfolios. Investors buy shares in mutual funds. Each share represents an investor's part of ownership in the fund and the income generated. Bonds are very similar to loans. 

When you invest in a bond you let a company borrow your money. According to U.S. News and World Report, DFA Five-Year Global Fixed Portfolio (DFGBX) and Franklin Income Fund are good mutual funds they can invest in. The third place I invested their money was in high quality growth stocks in all the different sectors of the market to keep risk to a minimum. I believe these strategies keep Save The Children viable for years to come. am fortunate enough to have everything I need to have a good and healthy life. My family has food, water, money and a roof over our heads. I can't even imagine a family in the world starving, having nothing at all to protect children from harm. I think about how good of an education I get and a lot of children around the world cannot go to school. In 2012 Save The Children launched the Every Beat Matters campaign, giving Americans a way to help millions of children survive. Also, in 2012 the Syrian Civil War killed thousands of children, and many more were harmed, traumatized, or forced to leave their homes. Save The Children was keeping the children safe in very dangerous conditions.

Save The Children provided the children with the basics that they needed. In 2011 a terrible drought struck the horn of Africa. Save The Children helped about 942,000 children providing them with child friendly spaces, education and counseling services, reuniting children with their families and providing foster families if needed.

Making investment strategies will ensure that Save The Children will always have the finances to be successful and will be able to save more kids in the future.

Students from Bolivia visiting Windham are part of an exciting science revolution by Lorraine Glowczak

The four students from Bolivia with their instructor
Four high school students from Bolivia arrived in Windham on Thursday, July 5 to participate in a 16-day independent, experiential learning program developed and led by Adam R. Zemans, a summer resident of Highland Lake. The environmental educational experience will focus on citizen lake science and conflict resolution, with the intention to learn ways to increase lake stewardship participation and collaboration in the context of climate change.

But perhaps just as important, is the knowledge the students will gain as they become international leaders in water and environmental science; bringing the two countries together to work collaboratively on an important natural resource.

The students, who attend Hughes School in Cochabamba, Bolivia (a private school that provides quality education with emphasis on English, university level science and math as well as training in music and dance), will make their home base at Highland Lake while they explore and learn the various waterways in Maine.
“The present situation facing Highland Lake is a perfect learning experience in environmental stewardship, collaboration and conflict resolution for these students,” explained Zemans. “The way the Highland Lake Association and the towns of Windham and Falmouth have come together to work on solving the picocyanobacteria issue is very cutting edge.”

Zemans, who lives most of the time in Cochabamba with his two sons, is a lawyer turning professor. As a doctoral student in Conflict Resolution Studies from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, part of his own academic studies includes the development of this educational and experiential curriculum. He, along with the following students: Leandro Jose Villabo Prado, Natalia Siles Choello, Abril Adriana Nina Mollo, Ana Lucia De La Fuente and co-leader Ivon Adela Ramirez D’Alencar have all worked together to make this educational expedition happen.

“I presented a lecture on citizen science at Hughes School”, explained Zemans. “Leandro approached me about the possibility of creating a program for he and [the] other students to participate and receive credit. After much thought and discussion with the faculty, staff and students at the school, what was just an idea became a reality and is what brings us here today.”

The curriculum not only includes exploration of Maine waters, there are daily required readings and quizzes as well. It also includes meeting local and state experts in the fields of water quality, aquatic biology, limnology, watersheds, water monitoring, invasive plant species, conflict resolution, weather and climate change, to name just a few.

Dr. Williams of Highland Lake
The day after their arrival, the students met with Dr. Keith Williams, Aquatic Biologist and Civil Engineer who leads the lake monitoring program at Highland Lake. Other syllabus activities include, but are not limited to, learning to ocean kayak at L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School, receiving certificates in lake and Secchi disk monitoring from Lake Stewards of Maine (formerly Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program), exploring Acadia National Park and meeting with Dr. Bridie McGreavy, Environmental Professor at the University of Maine at Orono, to discuss environmental conflict analysis. The students will also paddle through Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve to learn about invasive plant species.

The students are eager to learn all they can about water quality, collaboration, citizen science as well as environmental participation and then apply their knowledge at home in Bolivia, a country that experienced a water crisis in 2016 after a 25-year drought.

“Our town, Cochabamba, literally translates into ‘eternal springs – a place where the springs of water meet together underground,’” stated Ana Lucia referring to the drought. “My grandfather remembers digging in the ground and the waters would flow up freely. But that does not happen anymore, and it makes my grandfather very sad. I want to help my country have healthy waters again.”

Leandro states that he also wants to take the tools he learns here and apply them in Bolivia “I want to create healthy lakes at home, using what I have learned on this trip.”

Not only is there a water shortage in Bolivia, but the lakes and streams are very polluted due to the mining industry. The extraction of natural gas and zinc dominates Bolivia's economy, and this is the major contributor to water and environmental pollution.

“The lakes in our country are very bad,” explained Abril. “We want to talk about it to make some sort of change, but people turn their heads and will not listen because mining is so important to Bolivia’s way of life. Money is more important to people than the environment and our waters. It can be very frustrating.”

“People defend nature more here [in Maine], and that is so good to see,” Ana Lucia added.
Despite the dire situation, the students remain positive and hopeful. “I am here to learn how to take our lakes back and make them healthy again,” Natalia said. “We all want to make a difference, and maybe we will actually be able to make a difference this time - in Bolivia and across the world.” co-leader in the environmental experiential program is also learning something of great value. “I only swim in a pool,” Ivon explained, referring to the inability to swim in Bolivian lakes due to pollution. “Swimming this morning in Highland Lake was my first time in a lake and I feel very fortunate and happy with the experience.”

“She even saw a fish for the first time,” the students laughed. “And she was calling them mermaids in Spanish.”

All four students and the co-leader are enjoying their stay in Maine as well as participating in the different culture and foods they experience. Ice cream, they all agree, is among their favorite.
Although the 16-day educational program is packed with valuable learning opportunities, time has also been set aside for recreation, including a trip to Portland Headlight and an American meal made for the students by Zemans’ aunt who lives in Portland.

“The whole point to this educational experience is to keep our spirits high,” Zemans explained. “As things get more difficult in terms of water quality and quantity, we must look at our strengths rather than what we lack. This will provide impetus for positive collaboration, conflict resolutions and solutions. And these students have just what it takes to make that happen.”

As Zemans put on the top of the students’ syllabus, “There is a revolution happening in science. And now, more than ever, you can be a part of it.”

Friday, July 6, 2018

Seven-year-old receives donation from Manchester School’s L.I.T.E group for medical expenses by Lorraine Glowczak

Hannah Allen
Hannah Allen, a seven-year old Naples resident, was one of the three L.I.T.E. fundraising recipients from Manchester School last month. Hannah, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on April 12, 2018 and faces two and one-half years of chemotherapy treatments, received $500 from L.I.T.E to help pay for her medical and travel expenses.

Briefly, L.I.T.E (Lead, Illuminate, Teach, Empower) is a group formed by four Manchester School students, Lauren Jordan, Isabelle Fortin, Tayla Pelletier and Eliza Hill. Their goal was to make a difference in the world and they certainly did that for Hannah and her family.

Born to Bob Allen and Jessica Fecteau-Allen, Hannah has two older brothers and a younger sister. She was born with Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21 and can come with complications of its own.
Complications of Down Syndrome include heart defects, immune disorders and spinal problems to name just a few. Hannah exhibited none of these issues and was a typical healthy, happy and rambunctious seven-year-old girl. Until, that is, spring of this year.

“This past March, Hannah had a fever that kept going up and down,” began her mother, Jessica. “We also noticed she had a limp. We rushed her to an emergency quick care facility on Friday, April 6th. We were told that she had a virus and that by the end of the weekend she should be fine but to take notice if she wasn’t. By Monday, April 9th, there was no improvement, so we took her to her pediatrician.”

Those born with Down Syndrome also have an increased risk for Leukemia. Hannah’s pediatrician, aware of this risk, decided to do blood work to eliminate the possibility. “We did the blood work on Monday, April 9” stated Jessica. “We received a call on Tuesday, April 10 and was told to go to the emergency room immediately. After many long hours in the E.R., we received the official diagnosis of ATT on that day and began treatment on Thursday, April 12.”

“For the first month, it was intensive for Hannah,” continued Jessica. “They want to kill as much of the cancer as they can in that first month before they begin the additional chemotherapy plan to completely wipe the cancer out of her. Her usual happy-go-lucky self slept most of the day during that first month. However, this initial intense therapy increases the chance of remission.” Jessica happily reports that Hannah’s energy is returning to normal.

During some of her intense therapies, Hannah was put asleep. “When she woke up, she was really hungry,” Jessica laughs. “And what fills the void for her is McDonald’s chicken nuggets. Compared to chemotherapy, chicken nuggets are the best and she deserves it.” happily reports that Hannah’s energy is returning to normal. However, this high-spirited seven-year-old has a long way to go to get to the end of the Leukemia road. “We have two more years of chemotherapy,” explained Jessica. “But the odds are in our favor. After all the treatments are completed, Hannah will be in remission and cancer-free.”

To pay for the next two years of extensive chemotherapy treatments, fundraisers are under way.
Jessica’s sister, Michelle Fecteau-Chaplin is working tirelessly for her niece “We are hosting a “Hannah Festival” on Saturday, July 28 at the American Legion in Naples from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” explained Michelle. “We will have face painting, Rent-a-Princess, pie auction, silent auction, games, bounce houses and lots of carnival food.”

Cost of this fundraising event is $20 per family at the door and includes everything except for food and drink. The funds from this event will help pay for Hannah’s medical treatment and travel back and forth to the hospital for the next two years.

For those who would like to donate toward Hannah’s medical and travel expenses and are not able to attend this event, please contact Hannah’s aunt Michelle at or call at 207-595-1381.

A big thanks goes to L.I.T.E at Manchester school for their ability to actively care and make a difference.

Finding Our Someday – One family’s trip to discover a different way of life by Michelle Libby

Many people talk about taking a grand adventure or what they might do someday, but few take the leap that Windhamites Corey and Jessie Nickerson and their two daughters took last November when they sold their Windham home and their belongings before traveling with a U-Haul to Florida to spend the holidays with family. The ultimate plan was to purchase a recreational camper to pull behind their truck in order to see the country.

 “It’s so much better than we ever expected,” said Jessie.

The Nickersons at the Grand Tetons
It took them a year to plan their exit from Maine. Both Jessie and Corey owned their own businesses. Corey is a veteran, real estate and business marketing photographer as well as owner of Detail Maine. Jessie, a certified spray tanning technician, owned Envious Bronze, a spray tanning business that she ran out of her home. They found that both businesses were very seasonal in Maine, so they started looking at warmer climates.

“It’s been a long decade for my family dealing with terminal illness and caretaking. We were ready for a change. We were in a rut. It was time to take a leap of faith and step out,” Jessie said.

Jessie’s father was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2007. Four years ago, after Jessie had spent years as his caregiver and homeschooled her children so they could be close to their grandfather, he passed away. The Nickerson’s began to pray and think about what would be next for their family.

jobs@tubehollows.comLooking for somewhere to start over, they rented a car and in three weeks, put 6,000 miles on the car roaming up and down the east coast and west to Texas, but instead of finding a place to settle, they decided that the drive was the adventure. The present trip is their first time out west and they are amazed at the sights.

“My dad never got his someday,” Jessie said. Her father always said, someday he would travel, someday he would go on vacation, someday…the Nickerson’s didn’t want to wait for their someday.
Jessie and Corey searched for a year to find the right recreational vehicle for the family. They finally settled on a 33-foot 2018 Grand Design Reflection 285BHTS, which they purchased in South Carolina. They traded in their beloved truck for a GMC diesel and never looked back.

The youngest Nickerson’s; Lily, 13, and Leila, 11; have been homeschooled their entire educational careers. The family was very involved in the homeschool co-op in the area and were sad to leave it behind, but now they are “road schooling”, which according to Jessie, is a totally different view of schooling. They have more “field trips” and volunteering has become a way of life for the family. Their learning is now part of their everyday adventure.

Many families plan out their travels, but the Nickerson’s have taken a “fly by the seat of our pants” approach. They are open to new opportunities and surprise learning experiences.
While doing this interview, the family was staying on a ranch in Wyoming, riding horses, watching cows get branded and volunteering.

“We didn’t want to do the touristy things, we wanted to come and help out,” said Jessie. They are doing the tourist stops like Mount Rushmore and the Florida Everglades. Everywhere they go, they search for opportunities to volunteer so they will be treated less like a tourist and more like a community member. In the Everglades they worked for four days at Everglades Outpost, a wildlife refuge. Leila has started naming all of the animals they meet on their journeys.

This summer they are heading to Canada and Alaska.

One challenge that has been difficult for Jessie is not rushing. The culture in society is that everything has to be done now, she said. “It’s a new perspective. We have to be flexible. It’s about altering your mindset. Our time is our own. I’m more relaxed,” Jessie said.

The tiny, minimalist lifestyle was not new to the Nickersons. During the Maine summers, they spent most of their time on a 23-foot cabin cruiser on Sebago Lake. They knew how to live with one another in small, confined spaces, so moving into a RV gave them more space than they were used to on the boat.“Downsizing was way easier,” Jessie said about moving from an 1,800 square foot house to a 296 square foot RV. They sold everything except for a few bins left at Jessie’s mother’s house. The girls were able to bring one bin of toys or possessions each and have two drawers for their clothes. They didn’t really have a hard time choosing what to keep and what to giveaway, Jessie said.  

“Everything is here. We pull off the road and we are home,” she said. When visiting family and friends, they often expect them to stay in their house, but the Nickerson’s bring their home with them and are more comfortable in their own beds, she added. 
One of the goals for the Nickerson’s is to grow closer as a family and this trip has already done that.

The RV community.
The RV community is small. They share information, tips and travel itineraries with one another.
“I had no idea the relationships we would have or how wonderful that would be in the RV community,” Jessie said.

When they considered the challenges of RV living, Jessie said they were worried about the family, finances and safety, but that has not been an issue.

“There’s nothing we hate,” she said. Although in retrospect, she said she hated making the beds up clean. On a serious note, she found that saying goodbye often to family and friends has proven to be the most difficult part of this lifestyle.

“We make bonds, very deep and lasting bonds. So, saying goodbye to someone who is living a very similar lifestyle is hard,” she said. Many of the people they have met on the road are entrepreneurs home schooling their children while traveling from state to state. No matter where they go, they are welcomed by other full timers.

“We keep meeting these amazing families and people,” she said. While back in Maine in May, the Nickerson’s met up with a family they met on the road. They spent an entire week entertaining the family and showing them Maine. They have set up plans to travel to Mexico with that same family in the future.

The Nickerson’s have also strengthened connections and networking. They’ve met tons of people who want to be a part of their journey and those who provide opportunities like Jessie’s college friend whose family member runs a ranch in Wyoming.

Making money.
The Nickerson’s saved money for years to be ready for this adventure. They had a set amount of money they budgeted for their time on the road.

“Our monthly budget dictates how much we travel,” Jessie said. Realizing how much they are enjoying seeing the country, they are attempting to discover ways to make money remotely. They have met up with others in the RV community who are making money while “full timing,” which is the RV term for someone who lives in their rig all the time.

Corey is taking jobs using his photography and drone skills and Jessie is working on creating a spray tanning online certification course for those who want to start their own business. Bronze by Willa, in Windham, is a graduate of Jessie’s course. 

“I recommend you go for it. Don’t force it. It has to work for both spouses and families. “It’s a lifestyle. It’s worth it by the freedom it affords,” Jessie said.

When searching for a RV, go into as many campers as possible. People won’t know what they don’t like until they see it. Know that in a fifth wheel, there will be no storage in the back of the truck.
Jessie’s huge advice is that no one has to buy an RV where you are. Look for the best package deals and price.

“We had the courage to take that step,” Jessie said. The family has all lost weight since taking this journey because they are more active. Some people say they are crazy for doing this adventure, but the Nickerson’s don’t care. “If it’s right for you and your family, it’s right for you.”

Jessie wrapped up their first months of traveling with this statement from their website: “A year of planning, stressing, downsizing, selling, moving, buying a truck, an RV and a whole lot of stuff, and here we are.  Figuring out our new rhythm.  Our new process.  How we work.  How we do school.  How we function in this new space.  It has been scary, exhilarating, freeing and inspiring.”

To follow the Nickerson’s adventures, find them at, on Instagram and YouTube @FindingOurSomeday.