Friday, June 25, 2021

2021 Spirit of America Award humbles Raymond Food Pantry volunteer director

Impressed by Gary Bibeau's above and beyond
dedication to the Raymond Food Pantry as its 
volunteer director, Raymond's Deputy Fire
Chief and Health Officer, Cathy Gosselin, left,
nominated Bibeau for this year's 'Spirit of America'
Award. The Raymond Select Board approved the
nomination and here she presents the plaque to
Bibeau on June 10 at the Raymond Food Pantry
to honor and reward him for his exceptional 
volunteer efforts. PHOTO BY KAELA GONZALEZ  
By Lorraine Glowczak

For the past four years, the Town of Raymond has presented the Spirit of America Foundation Award to honor individuals in the community who have demonstrated a strong sense of civic responsibility and volunteerism. Gary Bibeau is this year’s award recipient, and he was presented a plaque on Thursday, June 10 by Raymond’s Deputy Fire Chief and Health Officer, Cathy Gosselin at the Raymond Food Pantry, where Bibeau is the volunteer director.

Bibeau, who refers to himself as ‘just a do-gooder doing his own thing,’ was quite surprised to have been nominated by Gosselin and fellow Raymond Lion Club members, Caryl Gilman and Laurie Wallace. The nomination was accepted and announced by the Raymond Select Board at their Tuesday, May 11 Zoom/online meeting. His reaction to the news was one of disbelief.

“Cathy asked me to attend the select board meeting and I thought I needed to prepare a report about the food pantry, but she told me not to worry about it,” Bibeau said. “It turns out that I [and the award announcement] was on the agenda. My jaw dropped. I was speechless.”

According to the Spirit of America Foundation’s website, the idea of awarding those who give their time freely began with the inaugural address of Maine Governor, John McKernan in January1987 when he said, “I will create within the Executive Department a program to promote volunteerism in Maine.” Within three years, the Spirit of America Foundation became a reality on Oct. 16, 1990. The foundation, located in Augusta, continues to promote and honor volunteerism in Maine to this day.

Gosselin, while working with Bibeau during the pandemic to establish grants for the food pantry, was impressed with Bibeau’s level of commitment and was determined that he receive recognition and honor for a job well done.

“I have been so impressed with Gary’s dedication and how much ‘above and beyond’ he works to make sure the pantry is a success. That is the reason why I decided to write the nomination letter and reached out to Caryl and Laurie for their input as they both agreed that he was deserving of the award.”

The Raymond Food Pantry, originally located in the basement of the Raymond Town Hall, was relocated in the early 2000s to the Lakes Region Baptist Church, 1273 Roosevelt Trail in Raymond where it continues to operate today. Wishing to assist and be a part of the volunteer efforts, Bibeau reached out to the Pastor of Lakes Region Baptist, Rev. Elmer Young, in 2015 to see if he could be of service.

“Pastor Young and his wife were directors of the food pantry at the time and needed all the help they could get and quickly accepted my assistance,” Bibeau said. “The pastor took me under his wings and off we went. I’ve been volunteering ever since.”

About two years ago, Pastor Young passed away. It was then that Bibeau unofficially took over Pastor Young’s role of the food pantry’s leadership, but he was officially offered the role of volunteer director in February 2021.

Bibeau’s work at the food pantry is recognized by his fellow Lion Club members, who assist him in the day-to-day operation.

“That place works like clockwork,” Lion Club member and food pantry volunteer, Gilman said. “Gary is very efficient in the way he manages the pantry – everything from food pick up at local grocery stores, the sorting of the product and the distribution to the customers. Most importantly, everyone is treated very fairly. Although this is a volunteer position, he works there full-time to make sure everything runs smoothly.”

In addition to the food pantry, Bibeau is a member of the Lions Club, the Oakledge Hills Road Association and volunteers his time to help the elderly with yard work and minor repair of their homes. He said that volunteering has always been a part of his life.

“There is a need out there,” Bibeau said. “There are those who are less fortunate and less capable, and someone needs to help them. I guess it is just in my nature to help.”

As for others who are looking to volunteer their time, the Raymond Food Pantry needs your assistance. “It’s tough right now. Currently, my only source of volunteers are members of the Raymond Lions Club. The problem is that most of us are in the upper age group, and we can’t be doing this forever.”

The Raymond Food Pantry is looking for volunteers who can make fresh food retrieval runs to local supermarkets on Saturday mornings (Hannaford in Windham beginning at 8 a.m.) and Wednesdays (Shaw’s in Windham beginning at 9 a.m.). For more information, contact Bibeau by phone at 207-635-4334.

Raymond Town Manager Don Willard said that small towns like Raymond depend upon volunteers and hopes that Bibeau will inspire others.

“The Raymond Food Pantry has always operated on a volunteer basis,” Willard said. “Gary has continued that tradition and has done so with remarkable effort. He is an extraordinarily giving person and without people like him, our community would certainly struggle to meet the ongoing needs of those facing food insecurity. In that regard, the food pantry is now looking for additional volunteers and we hope people will step up and help out.”

Bibeau, who spent 35 years in the semi-conductor industry has lived in Raymond since 1990. Originally from Connecticut, he and his young family moved here when Bibeau accepted a job in Maine.

“I chose to make Raymond my home for its rural atmosphere and the fact that Jordan-Small Middle School was rated with high marks – a school of excellence at that time. I believed it would be the best place to raise my family – and I was right.”

When asked what he does in his spare time, Bibeau, who retired in 2012 responded.

“I mow my yard, then I mow my neighbor’s yard – I guess I don’t do a lot of spare time. I’m always busy.”

Bibeau seems to lead an eventful and happy life, ‘just being a do-gooder, doing his own thing’ with his wife, Rhonda by his side. <

Community honors exceptional volunteer Pat Moody as 2021 Windham Summerfest Grand Marshal

Pat Moody, a lifelong resident of
Windham and a volunteer who served
15 years as president of the Windham
Youth Basketball Program, has been
recognized for his willingness to
volunteer and unwavering devotion to
the community by being named as
the Grand Marshal of the 2021
Windham Summerfest. 
By Elizabeth Richards 

Pat Moody is likely to be at the heart of any conversation about how to make Windham a stronger community. That passion for community is the reason he has been selected Grand Marshal for the 2021 Summerfest.

Linda Brooks, Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Windham, said “Although there were some great nominees to consider, Pat’s passion, enthusiasm and energy for “all things Windham” made him a clear choice for the committee, as he has sought to bring unity to the community in many ways - and that is the essence of Summerfest.”

A lifelong resident of Windham, Moody’s willingness to go the extra mile is evident when he talks about the numerous ways he’s given back to the community, starting in his youth. His parents showed him that when there’s a need, and you have the ability to help out, you do it, Moody said.  “I try to do it with my kids, too, to keep them involved and aware of all those things you can do to help out the people around you to make everybody’s lives better,” he said.

Moody served as president of the Windham Youth Basketball Program for 15 years.  During his time with the organization, he said, they grew the program to the largest youth basketball program in the state. At the same time, they supported basketball throughout the community, holding an annual memorial tournament to raise money to help improve community basketball facilities, including Manchester School, Windham Primary School, and Windham High School.

Although Moody has stepped down as president, he remains committed to advising the organization to keep it strong. “Volunteer programs are only as strong and as good as the time and investment of the volunteers putting in. We’ve got some great people in that one,” he said. “It was a fun ride.”

Moody was an original member and chair of the Recreation Advisory Committee formed in 2015, which has worked to bring the community together through events like the tree lighting, the Halloween event, expansion of programs, and the creation of a new community park at the public safety building.

More than just a rebuilding of the skate park, which only serves a small portion of the population, “we wanted it to be something for everybody there,” Moody said. The plan, which is happening in phases, includes the skate park, basketball courts, beach volleyball courts, a playground, and a walking path around the whole area. 

“This is a way to bring the community together outdoors,” Moody said.

Work on that is currently under way.

Moody has also played a central role in exploring the possibility of a community center in Windham. He served as chair of the initial ad hoc committee that explored feasibility of the project and what members of the community valued in a community center. Their findings were presented to the council, who showed enthusiasm and wanted to better understand the possibilities, Moody said.  A second committee was formed, also chaired by Moody, to discover exactly where the center might go, how much it would cost, how it would be paid for and the kind of revenue it might generate. 

“We’re in the midst of that right now,” Moody said.

In the meantime, Moody isn’t one to wait around doing nothing.  Instead, he built a 36x40 barn with a half court basketball court and has “turned it into the Windham community center for now,” he said. They host events for kids and adults and offered space for preseason basketball when the schools weren’t allowing facility use because of COVID-19 restrictions. Upperclassmen, seniors and parents who thought all was lost were “over the top appreciative” to be able to use the space, he said.

Both Moody and his wife (who was his high school sweetheart) have careers that help support the community, she as the manager of the Windham Walmart and he for work in Public Affairs and Government Relations for AAA Northern New England. Moody has been recognized nationally and locally for the work he does to help keep the roads safe.  

Moody said his first response was when he learned he’d been nominated as Grand Marshal was “oh, fun!” Expressing appreciation when you see people in the community helping out is important, he said, and can fuel the fire within them.

“Being nominated for something like this for all the things that you do in the community is just a big giant thank you,” he said. <

Friday, June 18, 2021

American Legion's State Convention pays tribute to outstanding Windham officers

By Ed Pierce

Veterans from the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham have got to be happy and a bit humbled following the 102nd Maine American Legion Convention in Brewer last weekend. During the convention, Post 148 was recognized with 13 different awards, including two of the most prestigious, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for 2021 and the 2021 Humanitarian Award.

Windham Police Officer Ernest MacVane received the 2021
Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award during the 
American Legion's 102nd Annual Convention in Brewer on
Saturday, June 12. Presenting the award to MacVane are
Department of Maine American Legion Commander Matthew
Jaubaut, left, and Maine American Legion 2nd Vice
Commander Kurt Thurston. COURTESY PHOTO   
Windham Police Officer Ernest MacVane gratefully accepted the 2021 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award from the Department of Maine American Legion Commander Matthew Jabut during the convention on June 12 as his family watched.

MacVane was nominated for the award by Post 148 Adjutant David Tanguay for his consistent hard work and community engagement with the Windham Police. MacVane was recognized for successfully apprehending a felony drug suspect and executing a search warrant the led to the recovery of stolen property and a stolen firearm.

He also drew praise for his efforts while responding to a reported drug overdose in which his actions most likely saved a life. While off duty in another community, MacVane witnessed an attempted carjacking and leaped in to help, successfully detaining the suspect until local police officers arrived at the scene to make an arrest.

MacVane has 22 years of law enforcement experience and said he was deeply moved by the recognition and that his family was able to attend the event and see him receive the award for his work for the Windham Police Department.       

Windham resident and Post 148 member Brian McCarthy was honored during the convention with the 2021 Maine Humanitarian Award. McCarthy is a police officer in South Portland and was honored with the award for his continued efforts with the Guardian Ride, a fundraiser for the Maine Army National Guard’s 488th Military Police Family Readiness Group.

McCarthy has served with South Portland Police Department for more than 12 years and has distinguished himself working in patrol, as well as in his additional duties as a member of the Southern Maine Regional SWAT. He served 20 years in the military before retiring and chose to undertake an annual fundraising bike ride to make a difference for members of his former military outfit, the 488th Military Police Unit in Waterville.

For the past three years, McCarthy has taken off from work for seven-day trek across Maine on his mountain bike, taking pledges for the trip which spans as much as 350 miles at a time. His determination and willingness to help has raised more than $10,000 for the initiative in three years.  

All monies McCarthy collects from his “Guardian Ride” are used by the 488th’s FRG for back-to-school supplies, 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 soldiers stationed overseas.

Like Officer MacVane, McCarthy was nominated for the Humanitarian Award by Tanguay, who first heard about the Guardian Ride initiative during a function at the post in Windham.   

Three local American Legion members were recognized at the convention for their efforts on behalf of Post 148.

Henry “Chuck” Wynot was honored as Post Service Officer of the Year for 2020, his third such award in five years. Whynot, approached the post adjutant about starting a regular Veterans Social Coffee at the Windham Veterans Center in 2016. He had indicated that he visited four to five “housebound” veterans each week and found that some of them just needed a place outside the home that was safe for them to go.  

Initially established and advertised as a drop-off for ambulatory veterans to get out of the house and possibly allowing the veteran’s caregivers a little free time, the Veteran’s Socials are held from 9 to 11 a.m. each Wednesday morning at the Windham Veterans Center. The gathering was considered a success and plans continued for the weekly event which grew over the following years to about three dozen veterans. Many came for the camaraderie and coffee, others developed other interests such as playing cribbage and other board games.

Through the years, strong bonds of friendship have been formed with many of the members and because of the coffee, on average, some 15 new veterans have joined the Field-Allen post and many of them have become integral members of the organization. In March 2020, just two weeks before the fourth anniversary of the coffee, everything was halted because of concerns about the COVID-19 virus spreading in the community. This ended a 203-week run of the Veterans Coffee gathering without ever missing a single Wednesday.

But in early April 2020, an interesting thing happened. Whynot and several of the Veterans Coffee members started coming to the WVC on Wednesday around 9 a.m. and they set up chairs in the parking lot at appropriate social distances to spend some social time together. They brought their own coffee and face masks and the tradition for veterans continues to this day.

Jane Fisher was honored as Post Service Officer of the Year for 2021 at the convention. And David Tanguay himself was honored as Recruiter of the Year for 2021, his second such award in the last four years. 

Field-Allen Post also won a number of other American Legion Awards presented during the annual convention including:

** Post Excellence Award for 2020 and 2021 (consecutive honors from 2014 to 2021).

** Americanism And Youth Programs Award for 2020 and 2021, the fifth consecutive award.

** Department of Maine “Goal to Grow” membership award for 2020, the fourth consecutive) award.

** National Membership Award for achieving a “New High” in membership with awards for 2020 and 2021, marking 12 consecutive years of 100 percent-plus membership.

** Post Newsletter First Place Award for 2020 and 2021, for the eighth consecutive year.

** Post Narrative History for 2020 and 2021, First Place.

** Post Yearbook History for 2021, Third Place.

** Post member Edmund Pierce, the managing editor of The Windham Eagle newspaper, was honored with the Fourth Estate Award for 2021 for outstanding coverage of veterans and veterans’ issues in Maine. <

Voters approve Windham’s 2021-2022 budget during annual town meeting

By Matt Pascarella

In the annual meeting at Windham High School on Saturday, June 12 residents voted to approve the 2021–2022 municipal town budget of $35,115,270 and RSU 14’s $52,233,221 budget. Senator Bill Diamond was chosen as this year’s moderator at the meeting.

Senator Bill Diamond takes the podium to preside
as moderator over the Annual Windham Town 
Meeting at Windham High School on Saturday, 
June 12 to approve the municipal town budget and
the RSU schools budget. PHOTO BY
All warrant articles brought to the town meeting were approved by those in attendance.

Some of the approved funds in the municipal budget will create a new parking lot and paving at Lowell Park next to the East Windham Fire Station for $240,000; general paving in Windham for $2,600,000; new playing fields at Manchester School for $1,350,000; and $550,000 to complete the purchase of Engine 7 for the Windham Fire Department.

Windham Town Manager Barry A. Tibbetts said this budget represented the needs of the community going forward. He calls this a flat budget, meaning the municipal budget did not increase.

With the flat budget, taxes from the municipal side stay flat. Tibbetts believes the school budget will have a very slight tax increase.

Will there be a tax increase to residents? Tibbetts does not anticipate a mil rate increase. He said holding all things current to last year, taxes should remain the same or at best go down.

However, the town is doing a property revaluation, so depending on home values some property taxes might go up.

“I am very satisfied. I think they did a lot of hard work and I think it’s reflected in how smoothly the town meeting went,” said Windham resident Lisa Bartell.

Windham resident Len West thought they went through the meeting pretty quick. He is concerned about a tax increase and while they made it a point to say there is no mill rate increase, West said they didn’t say anything about the increase in home values.

“I think it went very well; I think it illustrated the trust that people have in our town council and town manager, and I think that’s positive,” said Diamond. “I think it’s a nice reflection of where we are in the town of Windham.” <

Friday, June 11, 2021

Determination motivates 2021 WHS graduate to overcome adversity

Vania Murch has overcome many obstacles on the way to her
graduation from Windham High School this weekend. She was
adopted from an orphanage in Haiti at 10 and did not speak
English when she arrived in America but focused on academics
and volunteering to help other students. She has earned a ROTC
scholarship to attend Stetson University and will be commissioned
as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon earning her
college degree. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
By Ed Pierce

If there is one graduate from the Windham High School Class of 2021 that best symbolizes perseverance and the ability to overcome adversity in certainly one of the most challenging years in school history, it’s Vania Murch.

Her story of determination to rise above her circumstances is an inspiration to her classmates and fellow graduates and she truly represents the promise of what hard work can lead to both in education and in life. The moment when she receives her high school diploma on Sunday will be cause for immense celebration for her family and testament to the indomitability of the human spirit and her desire to succeed, no matter what life may throw at her. 

Murch was 10 and living in abject poverty in an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti when she was adopted in 2013 by David and Anne Marie Murch of Raymond and brought to America. She didn’t speak a word of English at the time, only Creole. With the help of her family and her teachers, she was able to fit in and make the transition to a new life in Maine.

“When she first got here, she had an incredible gift for picking up English quickly,” said her father, David Murch. “Because the orphanage had regular visitors and work teams from the United States, culturally she had few problems adapting to life here, but it was a major change for her.”

Her father said Vania dedicated herself to putting in the time required to master her new language as she started class in fifth grade at Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond. Before long she spoke was reading and writing in English and became highly adept at speaking comfortably in her new language overcoming a formidable obstacle.

As she moved up to Windham High School, Vania made new friends said that she set a goal of learning as much as she could in school and seeing where that would lead to.

She’s actually done so well academically that she’s earned a ROTC scholarship to Stetson University in Florida and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army when she completes her studies in business administration and obtains her college degree.

“In 10 years, I see myself working in my career in the U.S. Army,” Murch said. “The one thing I’ve learned more than anything else at Windham High School is that if I work hard, I can accomplish anything.”

Along with her focus on academics, Vania said she saw a need to give back to others while attending high school. As someone who was welcomed to the America by her classmates, she wanted to assist younger students and be a role model for them.  

During her freshman year, she played soccer, but gave up athletics after one season to volunteer to help younger children in school.

“I’ve mentored students at Windham Middle School and volunteered my time at Camp Berea,” she said. “I’ve also served as a tutor for students in math and in English.”

During her senior year, Vania was elected by her classmates at Vice President of the WHS Studen Council. She also is a member of the National Honor Society.

“It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but what I will miss the most about Windham High School is the people here,” Murch said. “I have made so many great connections with teachers and have made so many great friends at this school.”

She said it was difficult to single out the most influential teachers she’s had along the way but credits her eighth-grade teacher at Jordan-Small Middle School, Patricia Valley, and her Spanish teacher at Windham High School, Trish Soucy, as among the RSU 14 educators that helped her to reach her full potential as a student.

Of all the field trips she’s taken since starting school in America, Vania says the most memorable for her was a trip her class took to the Boston Aquarium a few years back.

“It was so nice to get away and see a new place while spending time with my friends,” Murch said.

Of the many classes she’s taken at Windham High School, Murch lists AP English as one of the most challenging she completed.

“It was hard, but I kept trying to get a good grade and eventually did,” she said.

Windham High School Assistant Principal Phil Rossetti said that Vania Murch has made an indelible impression upon everyone she’s met there.

Vania is one of the most authentic and kind students at Windham High School. She genuinely cares about her classmates, school, and community,” Rossetti said. “She has made it her passion to get involved in a variety of activities and has accepted a number of leadership roles while taking a challenging academic load.”

Rossetti said she is not afraid to take risks and looks at any setback as a new challenge.

“Her positive outlook is infectious and helps keep her grounded,” he said. “Vania is a highly motivated student that is driven to be a success and makes each school she attends a better place.”

During graduation when Vania walks across the stage to accept her diploma, she will be one of three members of the Murch Family to receive WHS diplomas that day. Two other girls adopted from the same orphanage in Haiti, Pierre-Line and Jesulah, will join Vania in graduating from Windham High on Sunday.

“We’re proud of all of them,” David Murch said. “I very proud of what Vania has been able to accomplish. A lot of investment into this community has led to her own growth, All the special recognition that she’s received this year is based upon her character.”

Vania says that she does care a great deal about others and has spent many long hours studying and concentrating on her academics, but credits her family, her friends and her teachers for her success.

“I guess you could say perseverance is a good word for what I’ve been able to achieve, but I really ow a lot to the people around me who have helped me to succeed.”

As someone who relocated 1,750 miles away from where she was born, had to learn an entirely new language and then adapt to a different culture all while trying to get good grades and fit in during high school, Murch has overcome many challenges so far with many more ahead.

Her advice for others following in her footsteps at Windham High School is simple.

“The high school experience is what you make of it,” she said. “There are so many things to be involved in. Start by enrolling in the hardest class you can find and go from there.” <

Creative 2021 Summerfest events encourage community participation for family fun

By Ed Pierce

As Windham residents slowly emerge from a year beset with the hardships and challenges of social isolation forced upon everyone by the global pandemic, the committee tasked with planning this year’s annual Summerfest celebration is hoping to be a launching point for the town to get back on track.

Summerfest kicks off in a modified version thanks to the uncertainty of the pandemic on Saturday, June 12 and runs through Saturday, June 19.

“The committee has been hard at work for a few months coming up with unique programming ideas that still promotes Windham’s community organizations and businesses while providing family friendly fun activities,” said Linda Brooks, Windham Parks and Recreation director.

Although 2021’s Summerfest may not be the extravaganza it’s displayed in past years, Brooks said the activities being planned are a perfect way for Windham residents to return some resemblance of normalcy while being mindful of their personal health and safety at the same time.

Things kick off Saturday with the start of the Scavenger Hunt and continue throughout the week with photo contests, the announcement of this year’s Summerfest Grand Marshal during a live televised Windham Town Council meeting on June 15, and an exciting Golf Ball Drop hosted by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the Sebago Lake Rotary Club and Modern Woodmen of the World on June 19.

To participate in the popular Scavenger Hunt is simple and easy, Brooks said, with clues being available throughout the town during the week.

“Families can download the Scavenger app on their own with a map that will be published,” she said.

The selection of this year’s Grand Marshal pays tribute to a local resident who has made a significant contribution to unity in the Windham community. The announcement will be televised live on WCCG Channel 7 at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 15.

The photo contest is multi-faceted with weekly categories ranging from “Best depiction of “Summertime in the Lakes Region;” to “Best depiction of the Summerfest theme;” to “Bringing Unity to the Community;” to “Most creative” presentation; “Most entertaining presentation;” and “Best youth entry for children 15 and younger.” Submissions are made on Facebook and will be displayed prominently online.

Lastly, the Golf Ball Drop promises to be a spectacular new way this year to draw Summerfest to an end.

During this special event, marked golf balls will be dropped by firefighters from the Windham Fire Department using a ladder truck.

The owners of the golf ball that falls closest to a designated pin will win a cash prize. Participants have until June 18 to purchase a golf ball for $10 each for the contest and the more people who participate, the larger the contest prize money will be.

“We will continue to promote the opportunity to purchase a golf ball for $10 a ball, and golf balls can be purchased right up until 5 p.m. June 18 so we have more time to get these sold,” Brooks said.

The 2021 Summerfest Committee is led by Deb Matthews and includes Tom Matthews, Barb Maurais, Liza Libby, Aaron Pieper, Kelsey Crowe and Linda Brooks.

For more information about Summerfest activities, call Deb Matthews at 207-756-9805 or Windham Parks & Recreation at 207-892-1905 or go to or at the website<

Friday, June 4, 2021

Windham author drawing national attention for her inspired storytelling

Windham resident Kristine Delano's unpublished short story
'Glimpse of Lace' has been chosen as a finalist for the 2021
Cascade Awards for literary work. Delano also has written
three novels since retiring from a high-powered Wall
Street career and moving with her family to Maine.
By Ed Pierce

A Windham author is about to make a splash nationally for her writing, but Kristine Delano’s own life story is nearly as compelling as the stories and novels she hopes to tell. 

Delano’s new short story, “Glimpse of Lace,” has just been selected as a finalist in the Short Story category for the Cascade Awards, a writing competition open to any author nationwide. She’s also working on three different novels she hopes to publish while appreciating family life at home on the shores of Highland Lake in Windham.

Life these days is vastly different and somewhat slower from the hectic 20-plus years she spent as working for Wall Street companies before retiring, giving up her panoramic view of New York City and moving north to Maine to pursue her passion for writing.     

Growing up as a military dependent, Delano became a voracious reader as she frequently had to pack up and relocate as a child with her family and having to make new friends wherever the family moved to. It left her with many untold stories in her head she always wanted to tell, but as she progressed in her financial services career, finding the time to devote expressing herself creatively through her writing posed a problem.

“When I worked on Wall Street, I used my writing in more of a technical way,” Delano said. “When I retired, my family was surprised with what I wanted to do because they expected me to go into consulting or to open a small business.”

While working for financial companies, she often mentored young staff members about their careers, but paid attention to what they had to share with her about their lives. It became the inspiration for some of her future stories.

“They spoke to me about their fears and their lives,” Delano said. “They shared their experiences. It was a good genesis for me as a writer.”  

Married to an architect and the mother of three children with one in college, one starting college in the fall and the other a freshman in high school, Delano also continues to sit on the global board of a 6,000-member financial services organization focused on women’s empowerment. She also is active as a speaker, mentor, and strategic planner for many businesses, churches, and parachurch organizations, but writing and developing ideas for stories is now front and center for Delano.

“I typically get four or five ideas a day and then have to figure out which one can stand the test of time,” she said. “I kind of write it in my head and before putting pen to paper I’ve already kind of worked out the character’s voice.”

She says that she’s found that writing is a world away from her former Wall Street career.

“It’s surprising for me. I thought I had a thick skin. I worked on Wall Street and always succeeded,” Delano said. “Writing is very different. Sometimes you don’t know that you don’t like what you’ve done. It’s overly complicated or pedantic or subjective. I’ve found though that you can’t write to please everybody.”   

The ability to connect with readers though is what inspires and motivates Delano’s writing.

“The best impact I can have on one person is through their eyes or how they see themselves with what I write,” she said. “I’m trying to find an authentic voice that will speak to somebody.”

The plot of her short story selected as one of three finalists for the 2021 Cascade Awards is as genuine as it gets and Delano’s keeping her fingers crossed for when the award recipients are announced in August.

In “Glimpse of Lace,” Annabelle has a unique blessing, or perhaps it’s a curse. For almost five years, since 10th grade, she’s gotten glimpses of the end of her romantic relationships before they’ve even begun. This has made her weary of men. While sipping hot chocolates before their last runs on the mountain, Brian, a recent finance graduate from Bates, brushes up against Annabelle. She glimpses herself in lace and Brian next to her in a tux. Brian is exactly the kind of guy Tara, her best friend, would choose for her, so why can’t Annabelle believe this glimpse got it right?

According to Delano, the reactions she’s received so far about her storytelling keep her motivated to write more.

“In the beginning my goal was to get stories out of my head and onto paper,” she said. “Now I want feedback about my writing. I want to get better at my craft.”

Writing her first novel gave Delano great practice of the discipline, patience and time required for writing.

“I had a misconception that as soon as you finish a novel you should publish it,” she said. “To gain the attention of an agent is a long process and now I believe you shouldn’t publish anything until you know that it’s the best that you can do.”  

She’s just completed writing a second novel and a third one while she continues looking to get them published.   

Her writing regimen for a short story is a bit quicker.

“I can finish a first draft of a 2,000-word story in about three hours,” Delano said. “It can then take weeks and months though to work through the voice of the story and pieces of the plot.”

On any given day, Delano can be found finding ideas for stories or sitting down at her computer to write. Compared to the hustle and bustle of her Wall Street career, her new lifestyle evolves at a slower pace, but she’s able to derive a great amount of satisfaction from turning an idea into a literary expression and in much different surroundings.   

“We live in such an amazing place and Maine’s life is sometimes hard,” she said. “There are beautiful people and families here and great stories to tell. I’m available to listen.”

If you would like to follow her writing journey, like her on Facebook at <

Raymond residents set to cast ballots June 8

Raymond's annual town meeting will be conducted by secret 
balloting on Tuesday, June 8 at Jordan-Small Middle School.
A number of committee posts and a seat on the town's Select
Board will be determined by the results of the voting. Also
being voted on is the approval of the RSU 14 school budget.
By Briana Bizier

For the second year in a row, COVID-19 has disrupted the Town of Raymond’s annual Town Meeting. This year, like in 2020, Raymond residents will be voicing their opinions on the town’s proposed budget and candidates through a secret ballot at Jordan-Small Middle School on Tuesday, June 8 instead of during the traditional in-person Town Meeting.

“When we made the decision to use the secret ballot, we made it out of caution, and trying to take care of our townspeople,” said Raymond’s Town Manager Don Willard. “The whole idea of trying to do business in a pandemic is not easy. Our citizens and staff have been so cooperative and understanding of the safety protocols to keep people safe. We’re very, very appreciative of our citizens and how great they’ve been to work with us.”

Raymond’s 2020 Town Meeting was also disrupted due to the pandemic, which resulted in the town’s electorate facing an eight-page ballot to approve the budget items and ordinances that would normally have been approved with an in-person vote.

“Last year we didn’t have any serious complaints,” Willard said, “but the ballot was long, and there could be some voter fatigue.”

This year’s ballot is a bit different.

“It’s four full pages on two sheets of paper,” said Raymond Town Clerk Sue Look, and the items on this year’s ballot are not expected to generate too much strife. “It’s pretty much business as usual. There aren’t any controversial issues on the ballot, that I’m aware of.”

Look said that the budget items on the ballot, which include funding for Raymond’s Public Safety and Public Works Departments, are the same as previous years, although the specific amounts differ.

Raymond’s Finance Director Alex Aponte echoed Look’s sentiments. 

“When we were putting it together, we saw no need to make any major changes. There are no surprises in this budget,” Aponte said.

Willard agreed, and shared some positive news.

“The town is in great fiscal shape,” Willard said.

This year’s ballot also includes the annual budget for RSU 14, which needs to be approved by voters, as well as several land use ordinance updates.

“These ordinance updates are necessary, and in some cases required by law,” Look said.

Voters who wish to read up on the individual ballot items before voting can view the full warrant and the ballot on the Town of Raymond’s website.


For many Raymond voters, the biggest decision they will face at the polls on Tuesday will be choosing their newest elected representatives. Incumbent Kate Levielle is running unopposed for a three-year seat on the RSU 14 Board of Directors, and Robert Gosselin and Kevin Oliver are running to fill two out of the five open seats on Raymond’s Budget and Finance Committee.

Those three open seats could be an excellent opportunity for a Raymond resident with an interest in local politics.

“At this point, it wouldn’t take very many write-in votes for someone to be elected to the Budget and Finance Committee,” Town Clerk Look said. “That position certainly gives folks a good overview of the town and the functions. It’s actually quite interesting, and it’s a good way to see what the town is doing.”

The only contested race on the upcoming ballot is to fill the one open position on Raymond’s Board of Selectmen. Joseph Bruno, Dana Desjardins, and Abigail Geer are all vying for the position, which is a bit unusual for Raymond.

“There’s only been one other contested race for Select Board in the seven years since I’ve been here,” Look said.

The three candidates shared their platforms in the May edition of the Raymond Roadrunner as well as during a special Meet the Candidates Night on June 1 which was hosted by the Lion’s Club and moderated by Bob Fey.

This forum gave each candidate a chance to introduce themselves and to field questions from Raymond voters. The tone of the conversation was mostly jovial and collaborative, although there were a few moments of mudslinging, especially when one candidate was accused of being a Yankees fan.

“One of the things I learned growing up in Maine is to leave things better than you found them,” Abigail Geer told the audience in her introduction. “For me, that boils down to three things: Look for ways to help people, always go above and beyond, and have a heart for service. I’ve put that to work by working for organizations focused on the social good – schools, community building organizations and nonprofits. For me, this is the logical next step.”

Geer spoke of her experience as a millennial who has done everything from cleaning houses to working in school systems, and she credits her ability to bring a new perspective, fresh ideas, and a new approach to solving problems through collaboration to her unique background. Her priorities include an emphasis on internet access.

“We need reliable, steady internet,” Geer said. “It drops regularly now. We really need to think about the infrastructure we need in place to support not just those who work from home, but those who want to live in the 21st century.”

Bruno also spoke fondly of his long history in Maine as he introduced himself to the audience.

“It’s been wonderful growing up in this town,” Bruno said. “For me, I have a commitment to public service in many ways, whether it’s on the state level, being on the school committee, or on the select board. I took three years off – well, I wasn’t really off, I was on the property/finance committee – and I miss the Select Board, I miss being part of this town, I miss making decisions for this town.”

For Bruno, affordable housing is a key issue.

“We have to grow Raymond smart,” Bruno said. “We need to make sure our taxes are affordable, especially for our seniors. We need to figure out a way to make it affordable for them and for everyone.”

Desjardins also has a history on the Raymond Select Board, and he credits his renewed interest in the Select Board to the pandemic.

“I’ve got a lot of time now on my hands, with all this COVID, and I’ve been watching planning board meetings, zoning meetings. I’ve been living a pretty boring life,” Desjardins said. “Watching a lot of the Select Board meetings – you know, I miss it. I enjoy the interaction with the people of Raymond.”


Desjardins expressed a clear desire to keep spending and taxes low, as well as concern over zoning laws.

“Watershed issues are very important to me, and it should be an important thing for everyone else in this room and in this town,” Desjardins said. “We also need to make a decision: are we or are we not going to allow cannabis sales in this town?”

All three of the Select Board candidates shared their hopes to revitalize the relationship with RSU 14 as well as to create a new comprehensive plan for the Town of Raymond.

“When was the last comprehensive plan done? In the 90s?” Bruno asked. “That’s one of the things the Select Board will have to look at.”

Geer agreed with the need for a comprehensive plan.

“Raymond is beyond beautiful,” Geer said. “We need to know that, in 50 years, our grandkids will have the same access to this natural beauty that we have. We need a comprehensive plan to guide that.”

When asked what they would bring to the Town of Raymond, the candidates all spoke of their desire to bring people together.

“Everyone’s doing their own thing, and we’re missing a sense of community,” Bruno said. “One of the things missing in the town of Raymond is senior suppers and lunches, like we used to do.”

Bruno and Geer both expressed support for the creation of a community center in Raymond, an idea which was countered by Desjardins, who suggested creating a stronger partnership with RSU 14 that would allow Raymond residents to use the existing school buildings as a gathering place.

Geer also spoke of the importance of community events.

“There’s so much opportunity to do events that are low-key, low-cost, and have a high impact,” Geer said. “We could do bingo night, we could do karaoke night, and those could be cheap and cheerful. We need those opportunities for our youngest and our oldest residents to come together, and we’re going to get a lot of bang for our buck.”

Whichever candidate they support, Town Manager Willard promises that Raymond residents will have a positive experience at the polls.

“We’ll have a safe and well-organized, well-run election,” Willard said. “People should get out and vote, it’s important to vote, and we’ll have that organized in a way that’s safe.”

State Representative Jessica Fay said that she agrees with Willard’s call for Raymond residents to take an active role in their local government.

"Participating in Town Meetings and local elections is an important way for residents to make our voices heard,” Fay shared via Facebook. “It’s as important as state and federal elections.”

Raymond’s polls will be open in the Jordan-Small Middle School gymnasium from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 8. <