Showing posts with label Grant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grant. Show all posts

Friday, March 3, 2023

Windham Hill UCC’s historic belfry to be restored by Easter

By Lorraine Glowczak

Windham Hill United Church of Christ at 140 Windham Center Road was recently awarded the maximum grant amount of $20,000 from the Maine Community Foundation’s Belvedere Historical Preservation and Energy Efficiency 2022 Fund for the restoration of its steeple.  

The steeple of Windham Hill United Church of Christ was
built in 1880 with the bell cast at one of Paul Revere's
workshops in Massachusetts. After 143 years of use, the
steeple is starting to crumble and deteriorate, and the
church has received a grant for restorative repairs.
According to the foundation’s website, the purpose of the grant is to “invest in the preservation, restoration, and retrofitting of historic buildings in Maine. Grants from this fund focus on capital investments in historic buildings that serve as civic, cultural, or economic hubs for communities.”

WHUCC certainly meets all the above criteria for its steeple renovations, expected to begin next week, as it has been the civic, cultural, and economic hub since Windham’s inception in 1762.

In New England’s early years, during the 17th and 18th centuries, the law mandated that states enforce religious devotion. Towns could not be legally established without a founding church that supported a minister by levying taxes. Windham’s Congregational Church, as it was named during the early years and now known as Windham Hill United Church of Christ, was that church.

Since the town of Windham was officially incorporated, the Congregational/UCC parishioners have met at different locations throughout the Windham area. But it was in 1834 when the present building was constructed. It remains a community gathering and worshiping location today.

“The steeple was added in 1880, nearly 50 years after the church was built,” said Rebecca Brown, WHUCC member and chair of the Steeple Taskforce. She further said. “What makes this bell so historically significant and unique is that it was cast in Boston at one of Paul Revere’s workshops in Massachusetts.”

After 140 years of use, the steeple that houses the historic bell is starting to crumble and needs important repairs if the bell is to continue to ring.

“The hemlock beams in the tower that hold the steeple in place are original and they have had significant dry rot over the years,” Brown said. “As a result, we are forced to add steel beams onto the hemlock to stabilize the tower which will also enable us to begin ringing the bell again.”

Brown said that the bell hasn’t rung in over six months due to the hemlock rot. In a previous interview, local historian, and member of WHUCC, Laurel Parker said, “Normally, the bell rings every Sunday but is also rung on special occasions for the community with the hope of peace. It was rung at the end of the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and on 9/11.”

The total cost to repair the steeple is approximately $41,000. While the Belvedere grant will provide a large portion of those costs, other funds have been provided to the church.

“We also have been awarded up to 50 percent of the cost of the steeple restoration through the Maine Steeples Fund with an additional $4,000 contributed from the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ committee on Resourcing the Local Church,” Brown said.

According to its website, The Maine Steeples Fund was established to support local efforts to restore church steeples of historic, cultural, and community significance in small cities and towns in Maine. They have provided financial assistance to over 75 Maine steeples since 2007.

“We are very grateful for all the financial awards and contributions we’ve received from the Belvedere grant, the Maine Steeples Fund, and the Maine Conference of the UCC,” WHUCC Pastor Sharon Rankin said. “This church and the bell that it houses have always been an important part of the community and we want to keep history’s momentum moving forward. This is something to be enjoyed and used for all occasions - for the town and its people. This restoration will keep that secure for years to come.”

Rankin pointed out that the church has always been a cultural, community, and historical building, but that WHUCC is, and always has been, a place to gather for worship – gaining spiritual sustenance in good times and bad.

Brown anticipates that the steeple will be fully restored in time for Easter worship.

"We are hoping against all hope that the restoration will be completed by the end of March and before Easter Sunday, April 9,” Brown said.  “It will be a great way to celebrate – to ring, to announce, and to rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord.”

WHUCC offers in-person, Zoom, and Facebook live options for worship. Sunday services begin at 9:30 am. For more information, contact the church office by phone at 207-892-4217 or by email at <

Friday, September 2, 2022

Grant supports outdoor learning at Windham Middle School

Windham Middle School students work on building raised
gardens for planting seeds last spring at the school. WMS is
the recipient of a $1,500 grant from the Maine
Environmental Education Association for continuing to create
new ways to help students appreciate outdoor activities.
By Ed Pierce 

A new grant is helping students at Windham Middle School to learn more about the natural world, fostering independence and promoting spending more time outside.

WMS is one of 160 in the state to receive funding from the Maine Environmental Education Association, helping to create more outdoor learning opportunities statewide. MEEA has distributed $200,000 for the initiative and WMS has received a grant of $1,500 for teachers to reimagine classrooms outside.

The grant benefits WMS educators by supporting a project to create a new garden/greenhouse at the school. Statewide, MEEA grants were awarded to schools for projects including outdoor recreation, science exploration, art outdoors, curriculum and professional development, snowshoes, gardening and birding.

The grant applicants were selected on the basis of innovative ways to engage students in the outdoors and reported on the wide range of positive impacts to their students, from increased school attendance to academic learning outcomes to improved mental and physical health.

“At MEEA, we are so grateful for the amazing educators who have worked so hard this year to get their students outside learning. Research shows that outdoor learning has hugely positive mental and physical health benefits, and also academic benefits for youth,” said MEEA’s Executive Director Olivia Griset. “We also know that not all youth have access to the outdoors, which is an environmental justice issue. These teachers and projects happening in public schools across the state are helping to ensure that our youth have positive experiences gaining a deeper connection to nature in their local community.” 

Griset said that teachers and school administrators across Maine are stretching to fill the gap between school funding and their students’ needs and these grants are highly valuable.

“Often with limited resources, teachers are accomplishing incredible projects, engaging a variety of students, and bringing outdoor learning to new extents across the state. The impact of these projects supports thousands of students across the state," she said. "Supporting teachers and schools in the pursuit of outdoor learning is a critical piece of MEEA’s mission as the organization strives to enhance and amplify the efforts of individuals and organizations that are building environmental awareness, fostering appreciation and understanding of the environment, and taking action towards creating equitable and resilient communities.”

Using the MEEA grant, materials were purchased to create raised beds, soil, starter trays, and seeds for a school garden at WMS School.

School administrators say that WMS students took a lead role in nearly every step of the process, marking the first time that designing and building raised beds, including researching the design, planting the seeds, and using power tools were incorporated in an outdoor classroom there.

“I used to be afraid to go outside because of hornets and ticks and bugs but building outside distracted me from my fear of bugs. It was exciting to use power tools, and I don’t even mind the bug bites I got,” WMS students said about the garden/greenhouse project. “The grant got their money’s worth because this garden will last for a long time. I’m looking forward to coming to school to use the gardens over the summer, and it’ll be a pretty nice home for the worms.” 

The beds that were created at WMS were offered for families to use over the summer, and several families living in apartments nearby responded positively to the offer. As a result, school officials says that this fall’s harvest will be able to feed WMS students during their snacks and lunches this fall.

According to Angela Mavrich of the MEEA, this is the first community garden for the families of students at Windham Middle School, and she said that first group of students using the garden now have all the necessary skills and knowledge to go from the vision to execution of raised beds.

“MEEA continues to seek impactful partnerships with local communities and organizations during this changing cultural and environmental climate, as the equity-centered environmental work that MEEA creates plays a key role in building an environmentally literate Maine; where all people can engage civically and understand the relationship between their wellbeing and that of their environment,” Mavrich said.

Griset said that MEEA expects the 2022-2023 school year will be as successful as last year’s program with a new round of grants to be awarded in November and anyone or an organization is encouraged to join the effort by donating to this fund. To do so, send an email to

“We are grateful to all the individuals who donated to make this project possible and to all the amazing teachers for their incredible work,” she said. <

Friday, November 13, 2020

Service Dog Strong an admirable force for those experiencing RR-PTSD

By Lorraine Glowczak

Laynie Danforth, a RR_PTSD
survivor, trains her new service
dog, Doug, all due to the help
of Service Dog Strong located
in Windham. Danforth says
that Doug has given her the
confidence to start living her

Service Dog Strong’s mission is to provide trained service dogs free of charge to individuals who experience PTSD related anxiety due to sexual trauma, otherwise known as Rape Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD). This includes military veterans who experience MST (military sexual trauma).

Service Dog Strong (SDS) officially became a non-profit in June 2019. Simone Emmons, along with co-founder Kristen Stacy, have been working for over a year on a volunteer basis to provide support to others who have experienced pain and suffering due to sexual assault. The Windham Eagle newspaper spoke with them in August 2019 and shared their story. (

“I started this organization because I simply wanted to help other people who have been through what I have,” Emmons said during that August 2019 interview.

The Windham Eagle reached out recently to see how the non-profit has progressed.

“Since we spoke last, SDS celebrated our one-year anniversary, launched our website, gained many new followers and supporters and we were finally able to financially support our mission,” Emmons said, whose service dog Gunner has eased the angst of anxiety attacks she experiences as a result of personal MST.

“SDS was awarded a generous local Maine grant as well as donations from loving individuals to fulfill our mission,” Emmons said. “We are able to take our survivors who had been on our wait list for almost a year and start our first ever Service Dog training class.”

SDS adopts dogs from kill shelters with the right temperament and places them in a training class where the RR-PTSD survivor is taught to train the dog themselves. They work under the instruction of an expert Windham trainer and veteran police officer, Dominic Rizzo, known as “Detector Dog Northeast.”

Laynie Danforth is one of those individuals who is helped by this organization.

“I had heard about the benefits of having a service animal [with those experiencing RR-PTSD] so I set
out to find an organization that would help me,” Danforth said. “I searched many hours on the internet and all I found were very expensive programs or programs solely dedicated to veterans. Eventually, I came across SDS and there was finally hope for the future. Not only do they help veterans, but they also help survivors like me.”

Danforth and her new service dog, Doug, have been in training together since mid-August. Doug will officially be hers at the end of the 20-week course that ends in January 2021.

In this short timeframe with SDS and Doug, Danforth has experienced a positive and healthy approach to life.

“Before SDS and Doug, I found it very difficult to be around crowds,” Danforth said. “My PTSD was heightened in the dark and I would spend nearly every night suffering from nightmares or sleeping hardly at all. I was on a few medications that my doctors felt would help keep my panic and other symptoms more under control. Unfortunately, they offered little relief. Now, having Doug in my life he helps me in a number of ways- not only to feel more secure when I am alone or in a crowd but he helps me by doing pressure therapy when I am sleeping so that I don’t have as many nightmares. He also turns on the lights when I need him to, alerts me to the changes in my anxiety even before I notice so I can use alternative methods to calm down. I have been able to get off almost all medications. Doug has given me the confidence to get out and start to live again. It's like a world that I thought was gone forever has started to emerge again.”

SDS, a 100 percent volunteer run organization, works with a local shelter, The Green Ark. They hand
pick dogs to fulfil the mission of SDS, and at the same time giving the rescue dog - who would have been euthanized, not only life but a sense of purpose and calling.

“If readers would like to participate in our journey and support the SDS mission, we have two ways currently they can show their support and be strong with us,” Emmons said. “We encourage them to go to our website at and donate via PayPal or they are free to visit us on Facebook and donate from our page. The cost to put one survivor through our class is roughly $3500.”

Emmons would like to thank the local community and The Windham Eagle newspaper for their continued support and looks forward to more possible assistance.

“We hope our format catches on nationwide and we see changes in options in treating PTSD; having service dogs become a viable option for people looking for a sustainable, non-pharmaceutical tool to lessen the effects of PTSD,” Emmons said.

As for those who may be suffering from RR-PTSD but are hesitant about coming forward for help, Danforth offers this advice:

“You are not what happened to you,” she said. “There wasn’t anything you did to encourage it and I promise that it was not your fault. As scary as it might be to get help, living in fear or in shame is so much worse. Once you take that first step toward healing, you render your attacker powerless and life can begin again.”<

Friday, September 18, 2020

RSU 14 obtains grant for school violence prevention

The COPS School Violence Prevention Program Recently has announced the 160 awardees of the 2020 SVPP Grant, and RSU 14 (Windham and Raymond) is one of only two Maine school districts to receive funding.

According to Lanet Hane, Director of Community Connections for RSU 14, this competitive award program is designed to provide funding to improve security at schools and on school grounds through evidence-based school safety programs. 


RSU 14 has been awarded a $475,000 grant by
the COPS School Violence Prevention Program.
Lane said that RSU 14 was awarded just over $475,000 to be disbursed over a three-year time period.


The school district will use these funds to provide increased training and to make building modifications to improve emergency response time during critical incidents, she said.


Specific improvements include the addition of external public address systems, external warning lights, improved room numbering systems, a district-wide risk assessment, and full-scale police trainings on-site, Lane said.


In addition to the SVPP grant, Lane said that Windham Police Department also has received a grant to fund a second school resource officer position in the school district.


All states, units of local government, Indian tribes, and public agencies such as police and sheriff’s departments and school districts are eligible to apply for SVPP grants. 

The Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018 (STOP School Violence Act of 2018) gave the COPS Office authority to provide awards directly to states, units of local government, or Indian tribes to improve security at schools and on school grounds in the jurisdiction of the grantee through evidence-based school safety programs.

Up to a total of $50 million in funding was available for grants during the FY 2020 SVPP cycle. <


Friday, March 13, 2020

Saint Joseph’s College to announce $1.45 million award to address Maine’s secondary STEM teacher shortage

President James Dlugos is set to announce that Saint Joseph’s College of
Maine has been awarded a five-year, $1,444,983 grant from the National Science Foundation’s
Track 1 Robert Noyce Scholarship and Stipend Program.

Governor Janet T. Mills will officiate at the announcement, which will be made on Monday,

March 16th at 10:30 a.m. in the Baggot Street Cafe of the Heffernan Center at Saint Joseph’s
College. The event will be open to media.

The Growing Future STEM Teachers in Maine (GFSTM) project will provide two-year
scholarships of $25,500 per year to a total of 18 undergraduate juniors and seniors. The program
will provide special supports as they pursue STEM degrees in biology, mathematics, or physical
sciences-chemistry or environmental science, as well as secondary education certification., Noyce Scholars will work in high-need urban and rural schools across Maine.
GFSTM is a collaboration between Saint Joseph’s and Southern Maine Community College, and
a partnership with 7 school districts.

The seven GFSTM partner schools include: Deering High School, Lewiston High School, and
Westbrook High School as urban schools; Bonny Eagle High School, Windham High School,
Lake Region High School, and Old Town High School as rural schools.

The Growing Future STEM Teachers in Maine project is designed to increase the number of
secondary STEM teachers in an era when nearly a third of Maine teachers are 55 years old and
nearing retirement, and to address the decades-old problem of Maine’s shortage of STEM
teachers, in particular. By partnering with a community college and seven high-need schools, the
Noyce project is designed to grow students from within those sites. The project will also
encourage students from high-need school districts to return to their communities as teachers and
leaders of the next generation of science and math educators.“Saint Joseph’s College is deeply committed to educating the next generation of STEM teachers
for Maine schools,” President Dlugos said. “STEM education remains the foundation and the
number one priority for training Maine’s future skilled and educated workforce. By working with
SMCC and schools across Maine, this project promises to draw more students into STEM-Ed
degrees, provide teacher training with diverse populations, and plant seeds with current high
school and middle school students to become future STEM teachers.”

Maine’s Congressional leaders expressed excitement about the program. “In order for Maine’s
students to gain STEM skills, we need to make sure they have dedicated and well-trained STEM
educators,” said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. “For decades,
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine has been giving teachers the tools they need to train the next
generation of STEM workers. This funding will help the college expand its efforts and make an
even greater impact on Maine’s students and economy.” Chellie Pingree said: As the number of STEM jobs in Maine increase rapidly, we
need our students to be well-prepared for their future careers,” said Pingree. “Increasing the
number of public school STEM teachers will go a long way towards preparing our children for
the jobs of tomorrow. My thanks to the National Science Foundation for recognizing how
important this STEM education is for the future of Maine’s workforce and for funding this

Representative Jared Golden added: “Saint Joseph’s College does critical work to prepare young
Mainers for jobs in education and other careers, positions we need to fill in our state. This grant
will provide Maine students with opportunities to develop valuable skills that they’ll bring back
to the classroom and help address our STEM teacher shortage. I’m proud to see the NSF
prioritize schools in places like Lewiston and Old Town to provide Maine students with access to
good jobs and a quality education.”

Matthew J. Lokken, Principal of Lake Region Middle School, a project partner, said: “We
appreciate that Saint Joseph’s College will address the shortage of science teachers in our region.
In the last few years, we have not had a large pool of applicants for posted STEM teacher
positions. It is essential that students at the middle school receive rigorous and authentic learning
opportunities in STEM education for not only academic success and opportunities, but to
effectively prepare the next generation of innovators.”

The first Noyce Scholars will be awarded scholarships in Fall 2020. The grant’s investigators
and creators are Dr. Patricia Waters, Assistant Professor of Education, Dr. Emily Lesher,
Associate Professor of Science, and SMCC’s Dr. Daniel Moore, Professor of Biological
Sciences.“This partnership provides new opportunities for our students who have a passion for math and
science,” said SMCC President Joe Cassidy. “Besides helping our students, the program will
benefit Maine’s educational system by allowing us to do our part in delivering a new generation
of STEM teachers where they are most needed. This builds upon our mission of transforming
lives and communities through education and training.”

For more information about GFSTM, the scholarship criteria and application process, see or contact Oliver Griswold at 917-617-2103 or