Showing posts with label Raymond Parks and Recreation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Raymond Parks and Recreation. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2024

RSU 14 vehicle donations promote community service

By Lorraine Glowczak

Promoting a culture of community engagement, the RSU 14 school district works to demonstrate by example the impact that educational institutions can have beyond the four walls of the classroom.

RSU 14's recent donations of a van and school bus to
the Windham Food Pantry and the Raymond Parks and
Recreation Department are intended to strengthen the
district's partnership with the local community.
Acknowledging the transportation requirements of the Windham Food Pantry for delivering food to elderly individuals and shut-ins, as well as facilitating ongoing educational opportunities through recreational activities, the district has donated a school van to the food pantry and a school bus to Raymond Parks and Recreation.

The district's dedication to academic excellence includes in its mission to instill values of compassion, service, and social responsibility among its students and staff.

“Community service has always been a focus and academic commitment of the school board,” RSU 14 Superintendent Christopher Howell said. “It’s the reason why it has been incorporated as a graduation requirement through the Capstone Project which integrates a service-learning component.”

Howell said that hands-on engagement in community initiatives not only fosters well-rounded graduates but also nurtures a sense of civic responsibility and empathy among its student body.

“We have always been supportive of student initiatives like PowerServe and clubs like the National Honor Society and Key Club of which community service is the focus,” he said. “Alongside endorsing service learning, the district aims to set an example through its actions.”

Typically, retired school vehicles are auctioned off. However, upon recognizing opportunities to serve the broader community with these vehicles, the district opted for donations instead of auctioning them off.

In 2022, Raymond Parks and Recreation received a donated RSU 14 school bus, supporting resources of this relatively new department within the Town of Raymond. Committed to serving its community, the department offers diverse learning activities, and the addition of the bus alleviates financial burdens by eliminating extra costs to town members.

“The bus has been a tremendous resource because it cuts down the cost we must charge our participants,” said Raymond Parks and Recreation Director Joe Crocker. “It allows us to take the transportation cost completely out of our program fees.”

The donated school bus primarily supports the department’s summer camp and winter ski programs.

The idea to donate a van to the food pantry emerged from a collaborative community meeting that addresses issues of homelessness and food insecurity within the school district. This RSU 14 Community Wellness Committee involves representatives from the school district, town officials, and businesses, who collectively brainstormed solutions to tackle these pressing challenges.

“The Community Wellness Committee meets three or four times a year,” Howell said. “It was during one of these meetings that we realized the challenges the food pantry faces when transporting food to shut-ins or to get food from the area stores and food banks. Because they have always supported our students, we thought it was imperative to also support them and their needs.”

Windham’s General Assistance Administrator Rene Daniel said that the Windham Food Pantry has been delivering food to shut-ins that had no means of coming to the pantry, but the donated van will allow the pantry to elevate itself to the next level.

“It will allow us to pick up generous donations from in and out of Windham,” Daniel said. “Also, we can now institute and implement visiting our senior housing communities by using the van, bringing the Windham Food Pantry to them where they reside.”

Daniel expressed his gratitude to the many individuals and organizations that assist the Windham Food Pantry as it works to eliminate food insecurity.

“It is our sincere appreciation to the Windham School Committee, the Windham Superintendent, and Windham Public Works for their dedication to our community,” Daniel said. “And to Marge Govoni for her continued 100 percent support of the Windham Food Pantry/Clothes Closet since its inception. Words are not enough to express our thanks.”

Howell said that the school district hopes that the recent vehicle donation initiative will inspire students with their service-learning ideas as well as nurture an ongoing sense of community partnership, strengthening the bonds between educational institutions and local communities. <

Friday, January 8, 2021

Raymond Parks and Recreation seeks equipment donations for winter sports loan program

Raymond Parks and Recreation is asking for donations of 
used skis, ice skates and aluminum snowshoes so they can
offer an equipment loan program to residents. Donations
can be dropped off at the Raymond Town Office, 401 Webb
Mills Road during business hours. COURTESY PHOTO  
By Lorraine Glowczak

Raymond residents who enjoy winter sports but do not have easy access to equipment can plan to soon take advantage of a sports equipment loan program that will be offered through Raymond Parks and Recreation.

But before lending out winter gear becomes a reality; the department needs to acquire the equipment first. As a result, they are reaching out to the community for used winter equipment contributions.

“We are asking for donations of used skis, ice skates and aluminum snowshoes so we can offer a winter equipment loan program to residents,” said Joseph Crocker, Raymond Parks and Recreation Director. “We want people to enjoy all the outdoor possibilities Raymond has to offer and we are making it our goal to create opportunities for those who do not have the skis, snowshoes or skates to make that happen.”

For those who appreciate the peaceful and rhythmic feeling ice skating can offer, Raymond Beach off Route 302, is the perfect place to hone those senses.

“As soon as the waters are frozen, we will prepare Raymond Beach for ice skating,” Crocker said. “And we want as many Raymond residents as possible who do not own ice skates to have that experience and visit the [Sebago] lake during the winter months.”

There are also two hidden gems often overlooked during the winter – Tassel Top Park and Raymond Community Forest.

“What a lot of people do not know is that Tassel Top offers more than summertime fun,” Crocker said. “The established trail located there is perfect for beginning snowshoers and cross-country skiers.” 

Tassel Top Park has a 0.90-mile flat trail that beautifully meanders through acres of Maine woods and is clearly marked with points of interest and has benches to offer moments of relaxation. The park is located off Route 302 in Raymond across from the Raymond Shopping Center, and behind Jordan Bay Veterinary Hospital.

The Raymond Community Forest is a 356-acre preserve owned by Loon Echo Land Trust. According to
its website, the community forest contains four miles of multi-use trails and offers exceptional views of and from Pismire Mountain. 

“There are four trails to choose from at Raymond Community Forest, two of which are perfect for snowshoeing and offer opportunities for the more advanced cross-country skier,” Crocker said.

The two trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing that Crocker refer to include the “Spiller Homestead Loop” and “Grape Expectations”. Both are about 1.1 miles in length.

“To have a winter equipment loan program is a great way for Raymond residents to explore outdoors and enjoy the natural recreation Raymond has to offer,” Crocker said. “The benefits are many - fresh air, quiet time in nature while providing a low impact workout. All we need is the equipment to make the lending program happen. We hope people in the area who are no longer using their skis, snowshoes or ice skates would consider donating them to us so others can have opportunities to do so.”

If anyone is interested in donating used (or new) skis, aluminum snowshoes or ice skates, they can do so by dropping the equipment off at the Raymond Town Office, 401 Webb Mills Road during business hours.

The office hours are as follows:

Tuesday - 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Wednesday through Friday - 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Saturday and Sunday – Closed

Once established, the equipment loan program will be free of charge. There will be a deposit required in an amount yet to be determined and the deposit will be refunded if equipment is returned in the same condition after use.

For more information about donating winter sports equipment, contact Crocker at or 207-655-4742 option 2. <