Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts

Friday, April 30, 2021

New job fair aims to match talent with careers


By Ed Pierce

Walt Disney once said that, “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” Disney probably never imagined trying to hire workers during a global pandemic, but as the summer approaches and Lakes Region businesses aim to be fully staffed, the job market is wide open for prospective employees seeking work.

Maine’s economy is slowly rebounding after a summer of disappointment one year ago as restricted travel curtailed much of the state’s tourism industry and layoffs and closures struck some businesses in the area, courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic. Now with the number of individuals receiving vaccinations growing every day and new reported COVID-19 cases dropping, optimism among Lakes Region business owners is rising for a better summer season than in 2020.

Dahniha Morris builds a sandwich at the Subway Restaurant 
in Windham on Wednesday morning. The hiring outlook for
the Lakes Region is strong heading into the summer and has 
led to the creation of a new job fair to be held from 2 to 5 p.m. 
May 6 at the Windham Veterans Center. More than 21 area
employers will attend the event looking to hire applicants.
To that end, the limit for indoor entertainment venues in Maine will increase to 75 percent on May 24 and outdoor entertainment venues will be able to fully reopen that same day. Also on May 24, retail occupancy limits rise to 75 percent. All of this means more potential customers and opportunities for more businesses to hire help locally.

Assisting businesses in their search for new talent and providing a venue for potential employees to interview with Lakes Region employers is the mission of the upcoming Sebago Lakes Region Job Fair in Windham.

The job fair is being staged by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Chamber in partnership with Bonney Staffing and the Greater Portland Career Center and runs from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday, May 6 at the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive, Windham.

"Let's face it, hiring for the summer in the Sebago Lakes Region has never been easy,” said Robin Mullins, Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce executive director. “The coronavirus, however, has brought a whole new level of frustration and angst to not only our local business owners, but to potential employees as well.”

For job seekers there are significant concerns about their own health and for many managing childcare or remote learning activities for their children, Mullins said.

“For employers there are concerns that the generosity of stimulus checks and unemployment benefits have deterred some from returning to the workforce,” she said. 

According to Mullins, to turn things around in the hiring process before the summer season arrives, a number of creative and innovative solutions need to be explored.

“Employers need to market themselves like they have never done before, and not only to the consumer, but to potential employees,” she said. “A ‘We're Hiring’ sign is not going to be enough. Businesses have worked diligently to make their workplaces safe for both their customers and their employees. Potential employees need to know there are protocols in place to protect them.”

Mullins said that it also is extremely important for employers that provide good training to new staff members.

“Oftentimes, in our rush to hire people, we don't always take the time to ensure employees are adequately trained. I know it takes more time, but in the end, it is worth it,” Mullins said. “An employee who feels competent in their job is more likely to give good customer service, require less supervision, and stay with the organization.”

The latest unemployment figures for Maine posted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 4.8 percent of Maine workers were unemployed in March and that’s down from January’s pandemic-record high of 5.2 percent statewide unemployment. It reveals that Maine’s economy is slowly returning and continuing to rebound as more and more people are emerging from pandemic health and social distancing restrictions.    

Across Maine and throughout the Lakes Region, manufacturing; skilled trade, leisure and hospitality; professional services; construction; information, financial and educational-related services all posted increases in jobs in March prompting optimism for the summer as visitors return to the state for vacations, camps and summer excursions.

This has led the chamber and local employers to seek additional ways to meet their workforce needs anticipating additional business over the summer months, leading to the creation of this new job fair.           

“There are lots of positions available,” Mullins said. “When folks initially lost their jobs, many immediately searched for another job, only to discover there wasn't much available. With the lessening of COVID-19 restrictions and the increase in vaccinations, the prospects for jobs have vastly improved.”

Businesses that will be represented at the job fair are a combination of Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce members and non-members. 

The event is free to participate for job seekers and COVID-19 protocols will be in place. Face masks will be provided, if needed. 

Businesses that will attend looking to hire applicants include Portland Pie Windham; ServPro Portland; Securitas, Inc.; Modern Woodmen Financial Services; Hannaford Supermarket in Standish; Dave’s World; Cintas; Windham Parks and Recreation Department; Kris-Way Truck Leasing; and Bonney Staffing.

Other employers attending the job fair are Poland Spring (Nestle Waters); Sigco; The Driving School; Westin Portland Harboview Hotel; Tyson Foods; Christmas Tree Shops; Bristol Seafood; Krainin Realty; Corning, Inc.; Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office; and Portland Housing Authority.   

Potential employees should not pass an opportunity to meet with local employers in the Sebago Lakes Region searching for the best candidates to fill full-time and part-time seasonal and permanent positions at the job fair, Mullins said.

Be proactive and ask lots of questions,” she said. “There are many great employers in our region. Go find the one that is right for you.” <

Friday, April 16, 2021

RSU 14 adds alternating Fridays to in-person instruction schedule

By Ed Pierce

Following a vote by the RSU 14 Board of Directors on
April 7, students will be returning to the classroom for
in-person instruction on alternating Fridays through the
end of the school year. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE 

When RSU 14 students return to the classroom on alternating Fridays following spring break, it will be another step on the path back to some resemblance of normalcy in their school routine disrupted by the pandemic.

Meeting on April 7, the RSU 14 Board of Directors voted to approve alternating Friday schedule starting April 30. Under the plan, students will remain in assigned cohorts and the school calendar will be updated to reflect the change.

Last August the district adopted a hybrid instructional model to ensure the safety, equity and accessibility for all Windham and Raymond students as COVID-19 cases spread throughout Maine. Since then, students have been grouped alphabetically with last names from A to K having in-person classes in school on Mondays and Wednesdays and those with last names from L to Z attending in-person classes in school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On days when students are not in school, they have been expected to be following up online with their teachers to the best extent possible on Fridays.

In a letter to the community following the meeting, RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell acknowledged concerns and opinions about how to proceed expressed by parents, staff and students in formulating the decision to add alternating Fridays to the schedule.

“We greatly appreciate the 375 individuals who attended the meeting, the 2,210 staff, parents, and students who submitted feedback, and the 78 individuals who submitted questions and comments following the April 1 meeting when each of the proposals to increase in-person instruction was reviewed and discussed,” Howell wrote. “The decision was not an easy one but was based on what the board felt was best for our students given the complexities of schedules, capacity when working within Maine CDC social distancing guidelines, and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in our communities.”

He wrote that the high level of participation and interest in the RSU 14 Board of Directors difficult decision serves to highlight the extraordinary investment everyone has in the school community.

“I am grateful for your feedback and support as we navigate this difficult school year and can assure you that I will continue to collaborate with district staff on behalf of every child in Windham and Raymond schools.”

For education statewide, Maine Gov. Janet Mills released an update earlier this month to its color-coded Health Advisory System that classifies counties’ relative risk of COVID-19 transmission to assist schools as they continue with their plans to deliver instruction and support students safely.

Mills said that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention continue to review evidence that indicates lower transmission of COVID-19 in schools compared to the general population. She pointed out that during March, the rate of new cases for school staff members or students is 30 per 10,000, or about 25 percent lower than a new case rate of 41 per 10,000 for the general population. 

A survey was sent out to all students, families, and staff on April 1 to gather information to help the RSU 14 board reach a consensus about how to proceed. It had been determined that if additional in-person instructional days were approved, building administrators would be directed to work with school staff to ensure appropriate social distancing guidelines continue to be met and that spaces are conducive to engaged learning. It also directs school administrators to ensure adequate staff coverage for all classrooms. 

In adding the alternating Friday schedule through the remainder of the school year and the resulting increase in in-person instructional days, Howell said that RSU 14 will continue to offer students a remote-only learning option if families do not feel comfortable sending their children for in-person lessons on Fridays.  

Students currently using remote learning are free to return to classroom instruction, but do not have to make the transition if their families wish to keep using the remote option through the end of the school year in June.  

Information on the RSU 14 website says that the school district will provide transportation for families who are unable to transport students to school on alternating Fridays.


Prior to the April 7 meeting, the RSU 14 Board of Directors reviewed several different options and proposals about adding in-person instructional days to the district schedule. The board said any increase in in-person instruction was in response to expressed community needs for children to return to schools for as much in-person instruction as possible while maintaining adherence to social distancing and health/safety guidelines, as well as the academic, social, and emotional needs of students.


“We understand that this has been an extraordinarily challenging year for all staff, students, administrators, and community members. These are difficult decisions. It is important that we maintain a focus on student needs and then respond to challenges that staff are facing as we collaboratively problem solve the myriad of issues that this year has presented,” a board statement read. “As more educators are vaccinated, school districts are examining possible schedule shifts to meet the needs of students and the community.


The RSU 14 Board of Directors has been kept abreast of building-level needs and challenges in response to COVID social distancing guidelines throughout the 2020-2021 school year,” the statement read. “Classroom spacing, furniture needs, social distancing protocols, instructional shifts, social emotional and academic planning, etc., are all being carefully examined and would be presented to the board for their input and consideration, as well. Every decision made by the RSU 14 Board of Directors is made following a thorough review of multiple perspectives.” <

Friday, January 22, 2021

Registration for Senior College classes available through Jan. 27

By Allen Crabtree

The Senior College at Bridgton will offer eight
virtual classes via ZOOM on Tuesdays and 
Thursdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. from Feb. 2 to
Special to The Windham Eagle

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senior College at Bridgton is offering only limited enrollment ZOOM sessions during the month of February.

Classes for the autumn session are free to paid members and mail-in registrations are due by Jan. 27. 

Eight virtual classes will be offered on Zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. from Feb. 2 to Feb. 25.

Tuesday, Feb. 2 – 10 a.m.

Maine Turtles and the Turtles of Holt Pond Preserve

The summer of 2020 was like no other, but because of the inability to host public programs, LEA partnered with Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to conduct a 12-day turtle assessment at the Holt Pond Preserve. The data collected was added to a state-wide reptile and amphibian atlas. Learn about Maine turtles and their amazing adaptations all while in the midst of global change. Instructor Alanna Doughty

Thursday, Feb. 4 – 10 a.m.

Global Economic, Market and Geopolitical Outlook.

The instructor is the chief investment officer for R.M Davis wealth management and he will help participants to understand the economic world as it might look during and post pandemic. Instructor John Doughty

Tuesday, Feb. 9 – 10 a.m.

Poems of Spring

When we Mainers, deep in January and February, read the famous Shelley quote, Oh Wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind, we can’t be blamed for feeling that spring could be very far behind. There are, however, a multitude of excellent poems that celebrate the seasonal return of warmth and growth and keep us optimistic in the frigid grip of winter. This class will read and discuss a selection of the more well-known poems about spring and whet our anticipation for the coming months of April and May. The poems will be e-mailed as an attachment to each registrant.  Instructor Ken Gibbs

Thursday, Feb. 11 – 10 a.m.

Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer

Donald MacMillan spent nearly 50 years exploring the Arctic, from 1908 to 1954. This presentation features highlights from his boyhood in Provincetown, Massachusetts to his daring Arctic expeditions. He played a vital role in Robert Peary’s 1908-09 North Pole explorations plus many trips north in his schooner, the Bowdoin. His long career included pioneering the use of radio and aircraft in the Arctic, contributions to environmental science and cultural understanding of Arctic natives.  Instructor is Mary Morton Cowan.

Tuesday, Feb. 16 - 10 a.m.

Question of Principles

Political events are unique to a particular time and place, but there are underlying principles that are presumed to inform them. We’ll examine some of these principles as they may relate to the 2020 Federal election season.  Instructor Dee Miller.

Thursday, Feb. 18 – 10 a.m.

Tennessee Williams Movie Adaptations

Several of Tennessee Williams’ plays were adapted for movies, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof being two of the most popular. This class will look at how Williams dealt with, and often fought with, the screen writers and the censors that influenced the adapters, directors and producers.  Instructor Will Rhys.

Tuesday, Feb. 23 – 10 a.m.

Realism to Semi-Abstraction

This talk will be a conversation about the questions that an artist has to ask herself when she finds a subject she wants to paint. Will it be a faithful representation of the subject? Or does she wish to move a step or two away from the specifics? Then there is the choice of medium, colors and textures. Using three very different paintings, Evelyn will share the stages of developing each one, the very direct (objective) vs. the round-about (subjective) process of another.  Instructor is Evelyn Dunphy.

Thursday, Feb. 25 – 10 a.m.

Ghosts and Ghost Towns of the White Mountains

Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the legends of spirits who wander the White Mountains of Maine and New Hampshire remain fascinating. So are the tales of the towns where hundreds once labored, but now are no more than memories or sad foundations of buildings. This course will explore some of the many legends of this close-by mountain range. Perhaps, on future trips there, you will be more appreciative of what has gone before.  Instructor is Allen Crabtree.

The Senior College at Bridgton is the hometown program for anyone 50 years or older in Bridgton and surrounding Lakes Region communities to learn new things and meet new friends. Senior College has sessions in the spring, fall and winter each year that are designed to appeal to every interest.  Membership is open to any senior in the Lakes Region.

Reservation Forms are available at the Bridgton Library and at

Everyone should fill out the Reservation Form by Jan. 27 to reserve a space in the class(es) you wish and return the form with a $25 check for 2020-2021 membership to: Senior College at Bridgton, P.O. Box 308, Bridgton, ME 04009.

If you have questions, please contact Kappy Sprenger, Senior College Registration, at 207-647-5593 or by sending an email to

Class enrollments are limited to 25. Class spots will be allocated in the order your applications are received. A ZOOM link will be provided to those registered before the start of classes in February. <

Friday, January 15, 2021

Proposed balanced budget for state invests in pandemic response

Maine's governor is proposing a 
supplemental state budget that invests 
in pandemic response funding and
preserves safety net funds for the poor.
AUGUSTA – Maine Gov. Janet Mills has proposed a supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021 and a biennial budget for Fiscal Years 2022 to 2023 that protect the health and wellbeing of Maine people by investing in Maine’s COVID-19 response, continuing to rebuild public health infrastructure, and preserving life-saving health care and safety net services.

Despite the challenges of the nearly yearlong pandemic response and current fiscal climate, the Department of Health and Human Services’ budget, a central component of the Governor’s proposals, bolsters the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, continues critical reforms, maintains access to vital programs and services such as MaineCare, and reduces costs through efficiencies and accessing federal funding.

“Over the last year, COVID-19 has altered the lives and livelihoods of Maine people in innumerable ways,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “These budget proposals are a measure of our dedication to containing the pandemic as well as our objectives beyond the pandemic -- advancing public health, improving the safety and wellbeing of our most vulnerable residents, and making sure Maine people have affordable, high-quality health care.”

The funding priorities that Mills has identified for DHHS include an additional:

**  $5 million for Maine CDC for COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and support services for people who need to stay in isolation and quarantine (supplemental); 

**  $3 million for the Maine CDC for additional capacity at the Health and Environmental Testing Lab, the Health Inspection Program, the Maine Immunization Program, and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program (biennial); 

**  $6 million to fund Section 29 services for adults with developmental disabilities in their homes and communities by an additional 30 slots per month (biennial);

**  $45 million for MaineCare rate increases for nursing facilities, residential facilities for children and older Mainers, Section 21 and 29 services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other providers per state and federal requirements (biennial); 

**  $7.5 million for community mental health and substance use disorder services, including funds
for new crisis services in Cumberland County, helping individuals get appropriate treatment in the community; new MaineCare coverage for mental health intensive outpatient treatment; to promote the OPTIONS (Overdose Prevention Through Intensive Outreach, Naloxone and Safety) Initiative to dispatch mobile response teams to communities with high rates of drug overdoses and connect Mainers to local treatment; and a new Justice and Health team of intensive case managers around the state who help prevent incarceration (biennial);

** $6.8 million for continued child welfare improvements focused on preventing abuse and neglect and modernizing the core information technology system (supplemental; biennial).

DHHS additionally limits the impact of potential future shortfalls and ensures access to health care for Maine people by dedicating $25.5 million to the Medicaid Stabilization Fund to plan responsibly for potential MaineCare expenses, such as higher enrollment and costs due to persistent unemployment, federal restrictions on a nearly two decades-old funding source, and implementation of recommendations from the MaineCare rate system evaluation.

At a time when affordable and comprehensive health coverage has never been more important, Maine has reached a milestone in MaineCare enrollment. As of today, 70,689 Maine people now have coverage through the MaineCare expansion initiated by Governor Mills on her first day in office, surpassing initial enrollment estimates and representing an increase of more than 60 percent since February 2020.

While economic realities mean additional savings and reductions were necessary, DHHS’s proposal maximizes available funding sources including federal Medicaid match and prescription drug rebates, zeroes in on efficiencies that preserve services and programs, ensures compliance with federal requirements, and standardizes MaineCare rates for some similar services, Lambrew said. <

Friday, October 30, 2020

Halloween alternatives in time of COVID-19

By Briana Bizier

It was shaping up to be the best Halloween ever. This year, Oct. 31 falls on a Saturday, which means no arguing with overtired, costumed children about going to bed instead of eating another five pounds of candy, and no sending bleary-eyed children to school after a late night of running through the streets with their friends.

What’s more, this year there is also a full moon on Halloween night. It’s October’s second full moon, making it a Halloween blue moon. Perhaps best of all, the day after Halloween, Sunday, Nov. 1, is the return of Eastern Standard Time, giving all the little monsters and their parents an extra hour of sleep.

One socially distant way to celebrate with your
children is to drive around local neighborhoods
and view creative homes decorated for Halloween.
No matter what you do this Halloween, don't
ditch the fun. There are plenty of ways to enjoy
the occasion safely. COURTESY PHOTO
By all indications, Halloween 2020 was going to be one for the record books.

Then came COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, that perennial favorite of Halloween traditions, as a higher risk activity. The town of Raymond, following that advice, scrapped their traditional Main Street Halloween celebration, and Windham offered a drive-through Trunk or Treat last weekend for their residents as an alternative to door-to-door trick-or-treating.

Losing the activity that makes Halloween so special for many children, and even some parents, is a tough blow. While there are alternatives to make this holiday feel special, it’s important to be honest with your children: This is a loss. It’s the latest loss in a long string of loss that dates all the way back to March, when most of us thought this whole pandemic thing would blow over in time to see the grandparents for Easter.

If your children are upset over losing their night of trick-or-treating, it might help to remind them why it’s important that we keep avoiding large crowds and close contact with lots of other people. As awful as it is to cancel celebrations, COVID-19 is worse. Even a mild case of COVID is unpleasant, and scientists and doctors still don’t know what long-term health effects some COVID patients might face over the coming years.

It might also help to remind your children that they are part of something larger. Mainers have done a tremendous job following public health recommendations and controlling this outbreak, and keeping our distance from one another, even on Halloween night, is an important part of our success. We will all miss trick-or-treating this year, but by staying home, we’re protecting the vulnerable and watching out for our community — just like a superhero. Hey, we’re all even wearing masks.

However, as my 10-year-old points out, you can’t just cancel Halloween. Most of our beloved Halloween rituals, such as decorating the house and yard with creepy, funny, or just plain weird decorations, are still perfectly safe. Pumpkins can still be carved into jack-o-lanterns, skeletons can still dance in the windows, and you can still craft that perfect costume.

When it comes to that Saturday night, full moon, Halloween 2020 celebration, families have lots of alternative options. One friend told me she is planning on making Halloween baskets this year as a spooky riff on Easter baskets. Another friend will make a candy scavenger hunt for her older children, leaving them a trail of clues to unravel in order to find their treats. My sister, who lives several states away in a neighborhood with no resident bears, plans on hiding candy in the backyard for her young children to find with flashlights.

If you have older children, it might be fun to take a full moon Halloween hike on a well-known trail, perhaps even while wearing your costumes. Younger children might enjoy a similar hike before the sun goes down, and parents can always offer candy as a reward, or as a bribe, for a hike well done.

Additionally, it is still possible to plan socially distanced trick-or-treating drop-offs with friends and family in town. The CDC recommends giving individual bags of treats instead of letting children paw through an enormous bowl of candies. If you coordinate beforehand, you could drive to houses where family and friends have set out tables of individually wrapped Halloween treats. Just be sure to wash your hands before you dive into those peanut butter cups!

Finally, as we navigate yet another seasonal holiday that has changed dramatically due to COVID, be sure to remind your children - and yourself - that this too shall pass. Pandemics don’t last forever, and someday, we will all trick-or-treat beneath the rising moon once again. <

Friday, October 23, 2020

Windham family aims to preserve Halloween tradition for area children

Volunteers and donations being accepted

By Lorraine Glowczak

Many lessons can be learned through times of challenge and the pandemic is no exception. Today, individuals are confronted with unusual circumstances and make every effort to adjust. Some adjustments require new and expanded points of view as well as increased adaptability and innovative approaches to the way life has become.

The world has made many modifications in the past seven months and now with the holidays approaching, another set of adjustments may be required.

Nikki Taiani of Windham and her family have decided not to be beaten by the present circumstances. They are determined to rise up against the challenge, taking the initiative to keep the Halloween tradition of handing out candy to children on Halloween night, but with a safe and unusual twist.

“We will be delivering candy and toys to the mailboxes and doorsteps of area children on the evening of Oct. 31,” Taiani said. “We delivered Easter Baskets in the same way back in April and have decided to do the same for Halloween.”

Taiani recognized how COVID was taking a toll on families in the early months of the pandemic and
decided to help relieve some of that stress on Easter Sunday.

“COVID hit everyone hard and we were still in the early stages of it, not having answers or a direction,” Taiani said. “I saw a lot of families struggling with the isolation, the quarantine (the lack of toilet paper) and figured this would be a nice way to bring some smiles to those families.”

Easter was six months ago. The virus has not stepped back and neither has the pressure faced by many. As a result, Taiani and her family have decided to act once again.

“COVID is still here, it’s still causing a lot of stress and fear,” she said. “Halloween is a big tradition for a lot of families, and some aren't ready to go out, door to door, so I want to bring a little something to them.”

This time around, however, she wants to expand her deliveries to bring happiness to more people. As a result, she shared a Facebook post on Oct. 4 on the Windham Maine Community Board, letting others know she was in the process of making “boo-bags” that will include candy and toys which would be delivered to area children and inquired to see if others wanted to help.

“We have received a lot of support from that one post,” Taiani said. “We have enough to make 150 ‘boo-bags’ – but there is always room for more.”

As of this printing, the Taiani family and volunteers will be delivering to children in Windham, Hollis and Gray but want to deliver the boo-bags to as many children as possible.

“I would love to reach other communities,” Taiani said. “Although we have volunteers to deliver to the
Hollis and Gray areas, we would love to be able to deliver to Raymond too.”

If your family wishes to receive “boo-bags” from the Taiani family or would love to donate time, candy or toys, please contact Nikki Taiani via social media such as Facebook or email her at

Even on a dark, cold and scary night, the Taiani family and volunteers will shine some light, warmth and reassurance to many this Halloween.<

Friday, July 17, 2020

Raymond couple receives Spirit of America Award for their lifelong dedication to giving

Dick and Cleo Sanborn of Raymond, Spirit of America
Foundation Awardees. have been steadfast members of the
community for many years and are deeply rooted in family
values and a lifetime of helping others in need.
By Lorraine Glowczak

For the past three years, the Town of Raymond has presented the Spirit of America Foundation Award to individuals in the community who have demonstrated a strong sense of civic responsibility and volunteerism. This year’s award was presented to Richard (Dick) and Cleo Sanborn early last month.

“We were very surprised and, to be quite honest, we have no clue why we were chosen for this award,” Dick Sanborn said. “We just do what we do and give what we give because that is how we enjoy living life. We are Christians. This is simply what we do.”

Briefly, the Spirit of America Foundation was the concept of Maine Governor John McKernan and became incorporated on Oct. 16, 1990 to promote volunteerism in Maine.

According to the foundation’s website, the Spirit of America Foundation Tribute is presented to and in honor of those who have volunteered extensively – and is announced at annual town meetings. However, due to the current COVID restrictions, Raymond’s Annual Town Meeting was cancelled. As a result, it was Raymond Select Board Member Marshall Bullock who delivered the news to the Sanborns at their home recently. official Town of Raymond proclamation cited that Mr. and Mrs. Sanborn have been steadfast members of the community for many years and are deeply rooted in family values and a lifetime of helping others in need.

“Mr. Sanborn, a longtime contractor with the town, has been on the cemetery committee and is very attentive to the groundskeeping of not only the town’s cemeteries but other town properties as well,” said Raymond Town Manager, Don Willard. “Due to their Christian values, the Sanborns have been active and concerned citizens who are always there for others, no matter the circumstances.”

Steeped in the Maine farming tradition where they rely on the land for much of their sustenance and income, their contributions include giving to those who are less fortunate. Examples include giving wood away to those who need heat for the winter months, giving eggs to a local food pantry and when others are facing physical or health challenges, a Sanborn will be there to help – whether it is something as simple as raking leaves, planting flowers or mowing lawns. They do it for those individuals at no cost. They seem to do this with genuine happiness in their hearts.

“They have always displayed a positive approach and a sense of humor even when managing personal hardships,” the proclamation read.

The Sanborns have, in fact, endured their share of adversities. Both once married to other partners prior to meeting one another, Cleo was raising three children on her own while Dick was raising eight as a single father when they chanced upon one another for the first time.

“We met as a result of eggs and goats,” Cleo said.

Cleo, who has worked at Valle’s Steakhouse in Portland or K-Mart in Falmouth (both no longer in existence), was raising French Alpine goats to provide not only milk and cheese for her family but to financially support them as well. Dick, who was working at Nissen Bakery in Portland, had his own farming adventure that included raising chickens and selling eggs. She purchased eggs from him, he bought goats from her. And that is when the spark of true love began.

The Sanborns married on April 4, 1975 and gave birth to another child, a daughter in 1976, making a total of 12 children between them. From there they led a very happy existence as a new and extended family.

“I know people don’t believe me when I say this, but we have never had a fight,” Cleo Sanborn said. “It’s true we don’t always agree with one another, but life is too short to argue about insignificant things. More importantly, we chose to put God in the middle of our marriage and have never took him out.”

Their happiness has been challenged in a variety of ways, but perhaps the most profound loss was the death of five adult children to cancer and other health related issues. They put their grieving into giving to others and their community. The do so in a humble manner.

“You can’t out give God,” Dick Sanborn said. “Just try it. The bible says, ‘Give and it shall be given’ and we know for a fact that it is true. We have never gone without. We put our total faith in God and as a result, we have had a very good life.”

Dick and Cleo Sanborn are both 85 years old and, although they have slowed down a bit, are still working their farm that comes with chickens, gardening and French Alpine Goats (they once were the only commercial goat farm in Maine – and to top it off – the goats were award winning French Alpines). Cleo Sanborn continues to sell goat’s milk, home-made ricotta cheese and Kefir. Dick Sanborn continues to sell eggs and works with his grandson in the excavating business digging graves in the Greater Raymond and Windham areas.

“The Sanborns are an example of what living in a small-town like Raymond is all about,” Willard said. “When someone is in need – you are always there to help. We are lucky to have Cleo and Dick as a part of our community.”

It is for this reason, whether they know it or not, the Sanborns were awarded the Spirit of America Foundation Award. <

Friday, July 10, 2020

Enthusiastic response greets ‘Operation Summer Snacks’ in Windham

The annual “Operation Summer Snacks,” an initiative of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Windham, collects food for children in need who receive bags of food from the “Backpackers” program during the school year but, in many cases, do not have the snacks during the summer.

It is an initiative that hits home for recipients, and this year, it’s starting there, too, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My family is running it out of our house this summer,” said Jill Russell-Morey, a parish catechetical leader who helped create the initiative in 2016. “We weren’t sure how we were going to be able to swing it with the pandemic situation.” where there is a will, there is a way, and “Operation Summer Snacks” has never been a program to shy away from long odds. In just a few years, an idea of finding a way to help local families in need during the summer months turned into an initiative supported by parishioners and community members that totaled more than 2,500 individual snack items and 226 bags of snacks in 2019.

Through the program, each child receives various individual-sized snacks like raisins, crackers, fruit cups, granola bars, and other items.

This year, despite the many challenges, the initiative is off to its best start ever.

“I’ve had a bunch of people contact me to learn where to send donations. Between checks, cash, Venmo donations, as well as stuff being dropped at our house, my daughters and I delivered 1,616 snacks to the Windham Pantry last week alone!” said Russell-Morey. “That next day I received another $210 in checks from parishioners in the mail! It’s been incredible!”

Even with the pandemic, the response to the program has been astounding.

“It’s amazing. One generous lady had a large box of snacks sent directly to my house from Sam’s Club,” Russell-Morey said.

“Operation Summer Snacks” will continue buying and donating through the beginning of August.“We work with the Windham Food Pantry and they really need our help, especially this summer,” Russell-Morey said. “One big change is that the pantry has requested that we not break the original packaging up this year and bag everything ourselves. They want all original packages which allows for less handling of the packages and easier storage.”

Those who can assist are invited to contact Russell-Morey directly at

“The community we live in is amazing and the parishioners and supporters always help when needed,” she said. “The Holy Spirit continues to touch and work through people which provides great hope during these difficult times.” <

Friday, July 3, 2020

Writing projects demonstrate student resilience during COVID-19

By Ed Pierce

Even the most experienced teachers found it challenging to continue to keep students focused on learning and improving while using remote learning during the COVID-19 crisis.

But for Amy Engelberger, a Windham Middle School English and Language Arts teacher, a special project this spring demonstrated for her that students are highly adaptable and despite facing obstacles, can produce superior results.

There were many curriculum choices to make as a teacher during our remote learning and I chose to teach writing units for all three of my classes during our last several weeks together,” Engelberger said. “I wanted students to choose their topics and stressed they should choose something they felt very passionate about because this would keep them engaged and curious throughout the writing unit.”
Engelberger said she was confident she could support her students through the research and notetaking process, and then provide lessons to guide them through the writing process one step at a time using Google Classroom and Zoom meetings. 

“The seventh-grade unit was an argument unit where they had to develop a thesis statement and support their thesis with evidence gathered through research,” she said. “The sixth-grade unit was an informational unit where they initially researched their topic to see where the research led them. Students eventually planned three ‘chapters’ to teach readers about their topics.”

As the end of the school year drew closer, Engelberger said she was pleased with the results of the project.

“I have been a teacher for 14 years at Windham Middle School and I felt so emotional as we neared the end of this school year,” she said. “I was so proud of my students and was amazed at the level of engagement in these writing units. I told them as long as we continued to communicate as much as possible while we were apart I knew we would find success and they did it and stayed with me until the end of the year.” said she was so impressed with their finished writing pieces, she thought immediately that many of the pieces could be enjoyed by a wider audience.

She submitted four student articles she chose from the project to The Windham Eagle for publication because they seemed very relevant to her in a number of ways. 

The articles included “Supporting Local Farmers” by seventh-grader Mia White; “Online Learning: Is it more Helpful, or Stressful?” by seventh-grader Riley Yates; “The Library of Congress” by sixth-grader Elizabeth Duncan; and “Stop Motion is a Great Way To Tell a Story” by sixth-grader Nathan R. Paulding.

“Obviously the online learning piece is something we have all been thinking about,” Engelberger said. “Riley is a very gregarious young lady, and even though she was incredibly successful through the entirety of the distance learning it was hard for her to learn remotely.  I loved how she was exploring the topic and thinking deeply about it. 

“Mia is very passionate about farming and talks about a possible future in farming,” Engelberger said. “She can debate the need for farms like a champion. I thought the piece was so relevant as more families and communities consider starting home gardens and trying to support local farms.  It was informative and interesting to read.”

For the other two submissions, Engleberger said she chose them because she thought it might be fun for younger readers of the newspaper to possibly explore these two topics on their own this summer.“Nate loves stop motion and spends a lot of his free time making videos and posting them to his YouTube channel.  He even made his teachers a thank you video for Teacher Appreciation Week,” she said. “I thought more people might want to try this and Nate's piece can teach them and point them in the right direction. 

“Finally, it was important for Elizabeth to tap into her own curiosity with this unit and she settled on the Library of Congress. She worked hard to narrow down the innumerable sub topic ideas and her plans were well done,” Engleberger said. “The finished piece on the Library of Congress was fascinating, I learned so much. Perhaps people might take a rainy summer afternoon to explore the sites Elizabeth highlighted in her chapters. I know I plan to do this.”

A total of 35 of Engelberger’s students participated in the writing project and she said she’s thrilled by what they accomplished during the most trying of circumstances.

“The tasks my students completed during remote learning were not easy and I couldn't be prouder of their persistence and strong communication skills to partner with me in their learning,” Engelberger said. “They reached out to me often to seek feedback and used my notes to improve their writing.

To read the student writing projects online, click on:

Online Learning: Is it more Helpful, or Stressful? By Riley Yates, Windham Middle School Grade 7 

Stop Motion is a Great Way To Tell a Story By Nathan R. Paulding, Windham Middle School Grade 6

Supporting Local Farmers By Mia White, Windham Middle School Grade 7

The Library of Congress By Elizabeth Duncan, Windham Middle School Grade 6

Friday, June 26, 2020

American Legion ceremony retires unserviceable flags

American Legion Fiueld-Allen Post Americanism Officer
David Horne conducts the ceremonial burn of retired
American flags on Flag Day 2020 at the Windham Veterans
Center. In the background are Field-Allen Post members
Eric Bickford, Alola Morrison and Craig Pride.
By Dave Tanguay
Special to The Windham Eagle

Following CDC guidelines of social distancing, face coverings and hand sanitizer, the American Legion’s Field-Allen Post conducted the annual Flag Day ceremony on Sunday, June 14, Flag Day in Wndham.

In previous years, the post collaborated with Boy Scout Troop 805 when conducting the annual ceremonial burn, but did it solo this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

This year, the Post Americanism Officer, David Horn, selected a small number of flags for the ceremony from bags of hundreds of flags collected by the post since last fall.

The ceremony was open to members of the public who observed the ceremony from their vehicles in the Windham Veterans Center parking lot and it also was the first official ceremony for the post’s new commander, Eric Bickford, who officiated at the event. officers attending the event included Commander Bickford, 2nd Vice Commander Alola Morrison, Sergeant at Arms Richard Graves, and Americanism Officer David Horne. Filling in for the 1st Vice Commander was Craig Pride and for Chaplain was Dave Tanguay.
After an inspection of the flags, Commander Bickford offered some brief remarks.

“Comrades, we have been presented here with the flags of our country which have been inspected and judged as unserviceable,” Bickford said. “They have reached their present state or condition in the proper service of tribute, memory and love of our country and our veterans.”

He said that a flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze or a beautiful banner of the finest silk. 

“Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great, but its real value is beyond price, for it is the precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for, lived for and died for, a free nation of free men and women, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practices of justice, freedom and democracy,” he said. “Let these faded flags of our country be retired and destroyed with respect and honorable rites and their place be taken by bright, new flags of the same size and kind and let no grave of our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airman dead, be un-honored and unmarked.”

The ceremony continued with a brief prayer from the chaplain as the flags are placed in the flames to be consumed. 

Words from the Chaplain’s Prayer included, “to a clean and purging flame we commit these flags, worn out in worthy service. As they yield their substance to the fire, may your holy light spread over us and bring our hearts renewed devotion to God and Country.”

If anyone in the community has a flag rendered unserviceable, they may be brought to the Windham Veterans Center on Wednesday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m. for collection by the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148, Windham. <

Raymond will continue to offer free food to students, families during summer months

By Lorraine Glowczak

Although recent changes to the USDA’s eligibility requirements helped solve RSU14’s challenge in providing summer meals for students who are experiencing food insecurity, the Raymond community is still moving forward with their initiative to provide grocery item for students and their families this summer, no questions asked.

Until the waiver of federal eligibility requirements were extended about two weeks ago, not one of the RSU14 school sites were eligible to provide free meals for all students, since they do not meet the benchmark of over 50 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced meals.

Raymond Community Community Organizers prepare bags of
non-perishable and fresh food items to be given out Tuesdays
from 1 to 3:30 p.m. (until further notice) at Jordan-Small
“As soon as we discovered students in Raymond would not have access to food this summer, I knew we had to do something,” said Teresa Sadak, one of the organizers of the initiative and a Raymond Town Select Board Member. “I was determined that we would find the funds and figure it out.”

Although Windham and Raymond students will have the opportunity to pick up nutritious meals four days a week  – the Raymond Food Committee organizers decided to move forward with their original plan and provide weekly grocery items for all Raymond families with children in order to fill in the gap of making sure adults have access to food too.

The initial plan was to hand out food every Tuesday from 1 to 3:30 pm (and will do so until further notice), but with the recent development with the RSU, Raymond is working to figure out the best way to proceed with providing non-perishable and fresh food items at Jordan Small Middle School’s cafeteria, located at 423 Webbs Mills Road. Either way, grocery items will continue to be distributed through-out the summer months until the start of the school year next fall. Until a set date and time has been established it is encouraged to email the organizers at on a weekly basis.

“The goal is to reach as many families as possible,” said Raymond Community Communications Coordinator, Kaela Gonzalez. “We want to make sure all of our families are fed so we are trying to find the best time to accommodate people’s schedules. It is also important to note this program is confidential and open to any family that needs help with food.\ No paperwork needed - just show up and we will hand you a bag of food.”

The types of food to be offered varies from week to week but examples include kid friendly foods such as: granola bars, goldfish and fruit snacks, cereal, fresh fruits and veggies, pasta and sauce, peanut butter, crackers, English muffins and much more.

“For the first couple of weeks, we have planned to serve 35 families,” Sadak said. “It will be on a first come/first serve basis, but we are determined to not let any child or family go hungry and if we discover we need to provide for more families - we will find a way to serve everyone.”

One solution the committee, which consists of Sadak and Gonzalez, Rep. Jess Fay and Deputy Chief of Emergency Services and Health Officer, Cathy Gosselin and other volunteers, is requesting feedback from families to help the committee plan and prepare for each week.

“If people could email us at to let us know the following questions, that would be very helpful,” Gosselin said.

Those questions are: Do you want to receive food this summer? What is the best time for you to pick up- afternoon or evening? Do you need the food dropped off at your home? How many in your family?

Once the committee has received feedback from the community, they will decide whether it makes the most sense to hand out additional food during the RSU pick up times or also offer evening hours for families that are not able to pick up food during the day.

Due to recent circumstances, many families have met with some financial challenges.

“Some folks have not been able to access unemployment benefits as a result of recent layoffs due to COVID-19,” Rep. Fay said. “As a result, it has affected some families’ ability to feed their children, pay the mortgage and pay other bills. I’m concerned about how they can feed their family, and this is a great solution.”

If you want to support this program, please visit or the Town of Raymond’s Facebook page, for more information.

There are heroes everywhere and they certainly exist in Raymond.

“This is typical of the Raymond community – coming together and supporting one another in times of need,” Raymond Town Manager, Don Willard said. <