Showing posts with label Sebago Lake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sebago Lake. Show all posts

Friday, September 8, 2023

Rescued couple grateful after boat starts sinking on Sebago Lake

By Ed Pierce

What began as a leisurely sunset cruise on Sebago Lake turned into a dramatic rescue and later an affirmation of the goodness of their fellow man for a Windham couple.

Fire/Rescue crews from Standish, Windham and Raymond
bring Brian and Kathleen March of Windham on board to
safety after their boat began taking on water on Sebago
Lake on Aug. 21. The boat was towed to shore in Standish
and the next day some volunteers from Shaw Acres helped
push it out of the water and up onto a trailer for evaluation
by insurance agents. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
On the evening of Monday, Aug. 21, Brian March and his wife, Kathleeen, took their boat out for the first time this summer after extensive work was performed in May on the 22-foot skiff craft they’ve owned for three years. They cruised to Frye Island, watched the sunset from the lake, took some photographs, and then headed along the shoreline by Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. And that’s when the trouble started.

“The motor stalls and I put it in neutral and it stalls again,” Brian March said. “I started playing with throttle when my wife told me there was water in the boat.”

He looked over and saw water in two corners, opened the bilge and saw that it was flooded with water. They looked up a towing company by cell phone, but as water began filling the boat, the couple decided to immediately call 9-1-1. On board the couple had a small hand pump, but they were more than 100 yards from shore and continuing to take on water.

“We had our life jackets on and waited for help to arrive,” Brian March said. “But we feared the boat was going to sink.”

The couple spent some harrowing minutes together waiting for rescue.

In the nick of time, the new Standish Fire/Rescue boat arrived at the scene and latched onto the March’s vessel with rope. In the coming minutes, several other towns’ fire-rescue crews responded to help as Brian and Kathleen March were taken aboard the rescue watercraft and a secure line was affixed to the bow of their boat for towing.

Standish Fire/Rescue brought it to the nearest beach, a private residence on Burke Street in Standish. The resident there allowed them to keep their boat at the site until they figured out what to do with it and he stayed with the couple until Windham Fire/Rescue Chief Brent Libby arrived to give them a ride back to their truck and trailer at Raymond Beach.

The next morning, the couple called a towing service and was quoted a price of $5,000 to haul it away to be evaluated for insurance purposes.

“I told our insurance agent I was looking at other options,” Brian March said. “I thought if we could pump the water out if we had a sump pump, we could do it ourselves and save that expense.”

Scouting out possible locations to lift the boat out of the water, the launch at Shaw Acres seemed to be a possibility. Near the boat launch, Shaw Acres resident Victor Salome brought the couple into his home and got on the phone and called Ralph Morrison of the Shaw Acres Community Association. They looked over the situation and agreed to help the Marchs.

They found a sump pump and hoses to pump out the boat at Windham Rental and pumped the water out of their boat, then waited 20 to 25 minutes while it filled again but stayed above the waterline.

At that point, they decided to turn the boat around and make a short trip across the lake to Shaw Acres with two hand pumps and an electric pump on board just in case water started pouring in again.

“Through God’s grace, we made it,” Katheen March said.

Over a span of four hours, they had brought the boat to Shaw Acres and with the help of four volunteers from Shaw Acres, the couple pushed the boat to the dock, pumped it out a third time and up and onto a 22-foot trailer to be appraised by their insurance company.

“They were all very pleasant and willing to help,” Kathleen March said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

To show their gratitude, the Marchs sent Victor and Ralph and the Shaw Acres Association thank-you cards.

“I’m a person of faith and we were blessed that the boat didn’t take on water faster,” Kathleen March said. “We’re blessed that Standish Fire/Rescue had a new boat and it had the power to pull it to shore. We’re blessed that the landowner let us keep our boat there overnight and we’re blessed that the people of Shaw Acres were kind and wanted to help us. Every step of the way we had gifts and blessings.”

She said she feels lucky to be alive and her faith in the goodness of humanity has been strengthened because of their ordeal on the lake.

“Life is short, assess what you invest your time and money in,” Kathleen March said.

Her husband agrees and says in looking back over everything that happened to them, one thing is clear.

“We may have lost a boat but gained some wonderful new friends,” Brian March said. <

Friday, March 24, 2023

Windham third grader’s fundraiser makes big difference for community

By Matt Pascarella

Windham third-grader Eva Doughty really likes helping people. When the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry visited her class, she became inspired. She wanted to help those in need have food and clothes during the cold winter. She decided to organize a fundraiser and created her own Polar Dip event at Sebago Lake on Tuesday, Jan. 24 where about 25 people attended.

Eva Doughty, left, Harper Maxfield and Troy Doughty hold
up the check from Eva's Polar Dip fundraiser from which 
she was able to donate more than $2,200 to the Windham
Food Pantry and the Windham Clothes Closet during the
Windham Town Council meeting on Tuesday, March 21.
At that event, Doughty and several other students from her neighborhood took the plunge into the icy lake waters.

Through determination and persistence, Doughty was able to raise more than $2,200 for the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry at her Polar Dip.

On Tuesday, March 21 during a Windham Town Council meeting, she presented a check to Collette Gagnon, Windham Social Services Administrative Assistant and operator of the Windham Clothes Closet, and Windham’s General Assistance Manager Rene Daniel.

“I decided to do the Polar Dip because I was always curious what it would feel like to jump into the ice-cold water in the winter,” said Doughty. “I thought it was crazy enough that people would donate to me for doing it.”

In creating the event, she distributed flyers around her neighborhood and Doughty and her family also created a flier that was posted to Facebook from which she received additional donations from her friends and family.

When the donations first started coming in, Doughty said that she felt grateful that people were helping and recalled how was happy she was raising money for a good cause.

Eva’s parents, Chris and Sara Doughty, said it was really great to know that their community was so willing to help other families and support the efforts of their daughter to help those experiencing tough times.

Her parents say that they are very proud of Eva and that she took the initiative to come up with the concept and idea for the Polar Dip and followed through to make an impact in the community. They say she is a thoughtful and generous person with a very kind heart.

All the money she raised was donated directly to the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry and will benefit Windham residents in need.

Gagnon said she gets a lot of requests for items such as milk and eggs and the money raised through the Polar Dip fundraiser will make it easier for the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry to provide these necessities as needed.

“I am totally amazed by the generosity of Eva Doughty wanting to organize this fundraiser,” she said. “She’s a wonderful citizen and a great leader. For a third grader to think of and execute a fundraiser like this makes her ahead of her years.”

Windham Town Councilor Jarrod Maxfield agrees.

“It important to recognize Eva and the other kids because they deserve it for stepping up and doing a fairly difficult thing for such a great cause,” Maxfield said. “A third grader inspired a small group to do a big thing which is an example to all of us in town of how to step up and help your community because that’s what it’s all about.”

Eva Doughty said she’s pleased that people donated to her fundraiser and helped it to become a success.

“I felt really happy that my Polar Dip could help less fortunate families have meals and clothes for the winter that they might not have had otherwise,” she said. “I want to help people the same way every year and I want to get the event bigger and bigger so I can help even more people.” <

Friday, February 25, 2022

Polar Dip participants brave frozen Sebago Lake to benefit 'Feed the Need'

A team from The Windham Eagle newspaper was one of many
groups to dive into Sebago Lake during the Polar Dip event
on Feb. 19 sponsored by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of
Commerce to raise money for 'Feed the Need,' an organization
that assists food pantries in the area. From left are Margo
Burnham, Collette Hayes, Melissa Carter and Marion Duyck.
By Collette Hayes

Adventurous Mainers demonstrated their spirit, courage, and tenacity last Saturday as they jumped into the icy waters of Sebago Lake for “Feed the Need.”

Hosted by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the 2nd Annual Sebago Lake Polar Dip was held on Sebago Lake near Raymond Beach last Saturday. This year, with 12 teams participating, just under $9,000 has been pledged to benefit local food pantries in Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham.

According to Robin Mullins, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, there are still additional donations that have not been received yet. Once all pledges have been turned in, a grand total will be calculated, and this year’s proceeds will be donated to “Feed the Need” which provides support for local food pantries in the area.

“Our biggest fundraising team this year was The Even Keel Committee,” said Mullins. “The team was instrumental in raising $4,000 in donations. Each team member will receive a $40 gift card from Hannaford Supermarket.”

Being accustomed to cold water can be done by swimming in it at least once a week and gradually extending the time in the water and members of the Even Keel team said that they swim in the ocean throughout the year. Some members swim daily in the ocean for at least 10 minutes which is ideal training for the Polar Dip event, they said.

Even Keel Committee Member Peggy Armstrong said that the team took pledges for how long they could stay in the near-freezing 33-degree waters of Sebago Lake. Dressed in colorful costumes, the team kicked off the Polar Dip event by plunging into the lake where ice was carefully removed for the event and for 10 minutes they played a lively game of water basketball.

A foreign exchange student attending Windham High School, Marion Duyck, heard about the Polar Dip earlier this month and decided she wanted to try it.

Duyck, a senior from Thuin, Belgium, said she had never done anything like this before.

“I just wanted to experience what doing something like this is all about,” Duyck said. “There is nothing like this in my country. It was really nice and everyone here at the event on the lake was positive and cheerful. The water we jumped into was pretty cold but it wasn’t all that bad. I’d probably do this again.”

Margo Burnham, one of the family members that manages the Wind in Pines Resort in Raymond said that she would definitely participate again next year.

In 2021, Burnham began participating in ocean dips in the spring and fall with a group of women in Camden. She says that she was drawn to it because it was a fun challenge as well as an opportunity to meet and socialize with friends.

During the winter months, Burnham has dipped a time or two into the chilly ocean waters for about a 10-minute swim which she found to be invigorating and enjoyable.

“I loved the cause for the Polar Dip and when invited by a Windham Eagle staff writer to participate, I was excited to team up and to be a support. It is truly inspiring to see a community of people come together to support a common cause,” said Burnham. “The event was festive and fun having an announcer and a countdown for those jumping. I was completely inspired and awed by The Even Keel Committee team. For novices it made a person aware that it can be manageable to be in very cold water for an extended period of time if an individual finds themselves in that situation.”

Recently Burnham was instrumental in helping to save the driver of an ATV that had plunged through the ice on South Pond. The driver had been submerged in the freezing water for over 10 minutes while he was waiting to be rescued.

“I thought he would be frozen,” said Burnham. “With assistance he climbed out of the water and then was able to walk back to the shoreline. Your body can tolerate cold for a lot longer than I thought, especially if you don’t panic.”

To ensure the safety for those participating in the Polar Dip, emergency medical personnel were on hand from the Raymond Fire and Rescue Department as were divers from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. Volunteer crews directed traffic into the Raymond Beach Boat Launch off Route 302 so participants and their families could park safely.

Mullins said on behalf of the entire Sebago Lakes Region Chamber team she wanted to thank all of those participating in this year’s Polar Dip and all the volunteers for helping make the event so exciting. It was just the second time that the Chamber has hosted the Polar Dip.

She said volunteers were instrumental in setting up the event as well as donating heated trailers to keep those participating warm before and after their scheduled jump. <

Friday, October 8, 2021

Second season of ‘Hearts of New England’ series to premiere in Windham

By Ed Pierce

The second-season premiere of the television series 'Hearts of
New England' will debut at Smitty's Theater in Windham at
6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27. Much of the show is filmed in
and around Windham and the Lakes Region.

Creativity has been the calling card of Justin Fortin since he first chose to become an actor and his dream of creating a television drama filmed in Maine using an all-New England cast became a reality in 2018 with the premiere of the first season “Hearts of New England.” Now Fortin is ready to unveil a second season of the show filmed locally and it will debut at a special event at Smitty’s Theater at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27 in Windham.

The series airs on Great Falls TV, which can be found when subscribing to Maine Event Films on You Tube. The first season of “Hearts of New England” drew reviews from critics all over the world for its authenticity and Fortin is aiming to sell the series to a major network once he completes five seasons of filming.

“This series has awesome talent from throughout New England,” Fortin said. “People who watch the second season are going to recognize local businesses and many of their friends and neighbors in the background of scenes.”

A lot of the filming for the second season of “Hearts of New England” was shot at locations around Sebago Lake, including at a number of beaches in both Windham and Raymond, and a scene was also completed at the Windham Barber Shop on Roosevelt Trail.

“Hearts of New England” is created, written, and directed by Fortin and tells the story of a soldier returning home to Maine from serving in a war, only to become embroiled in a war at home as he learns that his father is connected to the mob.

Using local talent, Fortin’s cast has grown from a total of six in the show’s first season to now numbering about 20 to 25 speaking roles for the second season.

Gathering the cast for filming again after the end of the first season proved to a significant challenge for Fortin.

“It’s very hard to film a series because you have to get actors to come back,” he said. “For a feature film or a short film completed in a few weeks that's one thing but getting everyone back for a series is much harder.”

Fortin, who owns Maine Event Films, said a lot of the series cast and production crew was found through local theater groups.

“Many of the actors are people who’ve done theater and community plays before,” he said. “But in filming year-round as we do for this series, a lot of people have jobs and it’s tough to get them during the week. We try to film whenever we can and accommodate their schedules.”

According to Fortin, the second season of “Hearts of New England” is much improved over the first one, which featured 10 installment episodes and last aired original episodes in July 2020.

“This second season is so much better because the cast is in sync having worked with each other for a while now and really knowing their characters,” he said. “The performances for this new season are 10 times better.”

He also said viewers of the second season of the show are in for a major surprise this year.

“We’ll throw a curveball at people and a big finish that people won’t be expecting,” Fortin said. “They won’t expect to see this coming.”

Married and the father of five children, Fortin was born Lewiston and attended high school in Poland. He started acting professionally in 2016 after auditioning and landing a role in the film “Paper City Burnout.”

He works as a manager at Walmart in Windham and films “Hearts of New England” when he can fit it into his busy schedule.

Whatever he’s doing with the show is working. It has been honored as a selection for film and television festivals in 50 different countries and in five different states, including in Reno, Nevada, where the first season of the show was awarded “Best Relationship Drama.”

Fortin and the cast have recently gotten back together and are now filming a third season of the series at locations in Windham and other sites in the Lakes Region.

“The project is 100 percent funded and investment is pretty good,” he said.    

The public is cordially invited to attend the local premiere at Smitty’s on Oct. 27 and many of the actors in the cast from both season one and season two are planning to attend the red-carpet event. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Event Bright.

“It’s going to be a really good time,” Fortin said. “We’re hoping that many people will come out and support local talent. We feature many people from the area in our filming. There are not many premieres in Maine, so this one is going to be special.” <     

Friday, August 20, 2021

Promises kept: Windham couple celebrates 70th wedding anniversary

By Ed Pierce

Joan and Arthur Wickham of Windham were married at
Holy Cross Catholic Church in South Portland on Aug. 18, 1951
and they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with a
pontoon boat cruise on Sebago Lake with family members
last weekend. SUBMITTED PHOTO

They say celebrating a wedding anniversary is a fleeting moment, but that a loving marriage is timeless. For one longtime married couple from Windham, Wednesday, Aug. 18 marked a significant milestone in their relationship as they marked 70 years of marriage.

Arthur Wickham was born in Portland and was living there in 1950 when he took a big chance and went out on a blind date with a girl named Joan Sincyr who had just moved to South Portland from Skowhegan. Something romantically clicked on that blind date for the two teenagers, and they continued dating for another year-and-a-half before Arthur eventually decided to propose to Joan.

She accepted Arthur’s proposal and they were married on Aug. 18, 1951, at Holy Cross Catholic Church in South Portland, and have been together ever since.

Arthur Wickham, now 89, worked as a medical supply and medical devices salesman and later as an executive for the George C. Frye Company in Portland, and he also served in the U.S. Army Reserves, rising to the rank of colonel before retiring in 1992.

He attended Casco Bay College and graduated with a degree in business administration and management and has been active in many fraternal and veteran’s organizations through the years. He served as a department commander for the American Veterans in Maine (AMVETS), the state president of the Association of the United States Army and the Reserve Officer’s Association, and Arthur also completed studies from the U.S. Army Command and General College and the Air War College. 

When he’s not heavily involved in veteran’s issues and organizations, Arthur Wickham can be found working in the yard and still cuts his own grass and maintains the couple’s property as he has done for all of the years they have lived in Windham.          

Joan Wickham, now 88, worked for the Portland Housing Authority as a secretary before her retirement. She is an avid baker and cook, loves to make her own quilts and enjoys going out to play bingo whenever she can find the time to do so.

The couple purchased a home on Collinwood Circle in Windham decades ago, and they raised a family there of five children including, Rick, Deb, Bobbi, Cindi and Mike. Over the years the family has grown and prospered and now includes additional generations including eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Arthur and Joan Wickham still live in the same home today on Collinwood Circle in Windham and remain in good health and are as active in retirement as those some 20 years or younger in age.

To mark the occasion of their 70th wedding anniversary, the family took Arthur and Joan on a pontoon boat cruise on Sebago Lake last weekend. It’s become a cherished summer tradition for the Wickham Family and an annual way for family members to get together and celebrate Arthur and Joan’s anniversary.

For many years Arthur and Joan Wickham would take the entire family to Bradbury Mountain State Park near Pownal for a fun-filled summer getaway and that included a huge cookout, but that annual event has now shifted to the pontoon boat excursions on the lake.

Christmas celebrations in Windham were always special for Arthur and Joan and the children because Joan’s birthday falls on Dec. 23, so it’s combined holiday party every year because of the proximity of Christmas to Joan’s special day.

When asked their secret to their long and happy marriage, both Arthur and Joan Wickham answered simply.

“It’s all about communication and listening to each other,” they said. < 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Retired Raymond teacher shares unique bond with class from 1966

Students gather for annual reunions, relive memories from ‘magical year’

By Ed Pierce 

Attending a past student-teacher reunion are, from 
left, Jacquie Dobson, Bruce Hummel. Roberta
'Bobbie' Kornfeld Gordon, and Robert Collins. 
Dobson, Hummel and Collins were students in
Kornfeld Gordon's second-grade class at 
Ellwanger and Barry School 24 in Rochester,
New York during the 1966-1967 school year. 
Kornfeld Gordon now lives in Raymond and 
hosts annual reunions for the class there.
Many who have chosen to teach have found that as years pass, students may not recall individual lessons, but they fondly remember the difference that a teacher makes in their life. Such is the case with Roberta “Bobbie” Kornfeld Gordon of Raymond, whose second-grade students from a school in New York state have chosen to gather for reunions with her every year for more than a half century to reflect on the direction of their lives and be close to their beloved teacher.

Originally from Elmira, New York, “Bobbie” Kornfeld earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Buffalo State University and landed her first teaching job at Ellwanger and Barry School 24 in Rochester, New York. In her final year there during the 1966-1967 school year, her students asked if they could walk to nearby Highland Park on a spring afternoon where thousands of colorful lilacs were blooming.

The class of 30 students enjoyed it so much, they returned to the park for lessons and lunch every day for the last three weeks of school and on the last day of school, parents of the students asked the teacher if she would come back and visit them the next spring for Lilac Week at Highland Park in Rochester.

She moved that summer to teach in Massachusetts and met her future husband, George Gordon there, but she did return to Rochester the following spring and kept going back every year even after marrying and having a family of her own.

Two of her students from the 1966-1967 class, Jollene Dubner of Lowell, Massachusetts and Jacquie Dobson of Rochester, had an idea to turn the annual gatherings into class reunions and the practice gave their teacher a unique opportunity to remain part of their lives and watch them face life’s challenges as they grew to become adults with children of their own. Some of the class had moved away, served in the military or had died and Dubner and Dobson thought an annual gathering would help keep everyone in touch.

In honor of the students’ 50th birthday in 2009, the Gordons invited them to travel to Maine and join
them at their home in Raymond and for a grand celebration at Sebago Lake. That too has become an annual tradition for members of the class, but both the trips to Highland Park and to Maine were scrapped in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions.

A special class

Kornfeld Gordon said from the very start of school back in the fall of 1966, she realized that this class was special.

“Ours was a totally inclusive class and whoever was with us was part of our family,” she said. “We had students from all backgrounds, economic levels, races and ethnicities in that class. During the school year, we had five or six students hospitalized with very serious illnesses, including one who was diagnosed with leukemia. As a result, they all became very close.”

Feeling deeply connected to her students, Kornfeld Gordon led them through what she calls “a very magical year” of teaching them about reading, writing and even architecture, which was accomplished through hands-on field trips throughout the city.

Former students of Roberta 'Bobbie Kornfeld
Gordon's second-grade class from 1966 gather with 
her and her husband, George Gordon, for a 50th
reunion and celebration in 2017. 
“I taught them that life is what we make it,” she said. “I’ve always turned to that and told my students to take one more step if they can.”

Her students found her to be a wise mentor and highly inspirational.

“It was over 50 years ago that I attended Miss Kornfeld’s class. Reaching back, I remember the quality in which she approached each of us as individuals and not as a group,” said Robert Collins, a member of her 1966-1967 second-grade class. “She was always kind, caring and thoughtful. She was able to see our potential as second-grade students and encourage us in those areas.”

He said attending the class reunions with Kornfeld Gordon is one of the most enjoyable and heartwarming experiences of his life.

“I had learned of the reunions I think around the middle 1980s to early 1990s from a classmate, Thomas Rutherford, however, at the time it was something I was not interested in. I was informed again by him that the 50th reunion was coming soon and decided to attend. It was the most emotional, in a good way, event. To see not only my former fellow students, but the highlight was of course embracing Miss Kornfeld after all those years. Yes, there were tears.”

He said that the most important thing he learned from his teacher wasn’t something she taught him, rather it is what she gave him.

Spiritual connection

“Throughout life you occasionally cross paths with people and a spiritual connection is made,” Collins said. We don’t know why, it just happens. And because of this bond, my memory of her and how she cared for us is something I carry with me to this day.”

Her former student Dobson, who now works in education herself, said that Kornfeld Gordon is an outstanding example of how a teacher can truly connect with children.

“She cares about us and that was as evident then as it is now,” Dobson said. “She’s the nicest person and continues to be a loving an investing person for all of us. She’s like a Mama Bear, she’s genuine and very patient. She’s a compassionate person who affirms you. Her inner spirit matches her outside beauty.”

A bench is shown from a park in Lowell, 
Massachusetts dedicated in honor of a deceased
student, Jollene Dubner, who was a member of
Roberta 'Bobbie' Kornfeld Gordon's second-grade
class in 1966. SUBMITTED PHOTO

While visiting Maine for her 50th birthday, Dobson joined Kornfeld Gordon and about a dozen or so former students from the class in traveling to Lowell, Massachusetts to visit a park where lilac bushes have been planted in the memory of Dubner, another student in the class who had died. While there they dedicated a bench in her memory.

During that annual trip to Raymond, Dobson said she was amazed when Kornfeld Gordon surprised the group of former students with a collection of drawings, stories, schoolwork, report cards and photographs she had saved for them from their classroom.

“We all received monogrammed linen bags with our work from that year inside,” she said.

Donna Lape Collins, another former student, said that Kornfeld Gordon always made sure what the students were learning was fun.

“In making her lessons fun, it was easy to focus,” she said. “Miss Kornfeld was the best teacher I ever had.”

According to Lape Collins, the single most important thing she learned from Kornfeld Gordon was to respect her classmates.

“I learned that everyone’s a different person, but someone is always there for us no matter what we are going through,” she said. “We learned that we could talk to her about anything. She’s like family.”

Not being able to get together for the reunion in 2020 because of the pandemic was disappointing for everyone concerned, Lape Collins said.

“It was so sad. We had made plans but had to cancel them,” she said. “With all of us aging, every minute you can spend with someone is precious.”

Move to Maine

After teaching in Rochester, Massachusetts and Maryland, Kornfeld Gordon moved with her periodontist husband who was establishing a practice in Maine, and their 6-week-old son, here in 1971. They first lived in Cape Elizabeth and the family grew over time to include four sons. Eventually they bought a home on Sebago Lake in Raymond where the couple lives today.

Kornfeld Gordon worked in Maine as an independent breastfeeding coordinator for Maine Medical Center and operated two businesses, School for Writing and Word Power for Children. She also began working with immigrants from Darfur in 2008, teaching them English.

Bruce Hummel, another of her former students from the 1966-1967 class, said that Kornfeld Gordon is a special person and it didn’t take the class very long to recognize that.

“All of us from that second-grade class could see that then and we still see it now,” Hummel said. “I feel fortunate to have been part of what was truly a unique learning experience back in 1966, which grew from all of us having an incredible to all of us gaining a remarkable friend. As a fairly new teacher, she was not afraid to take a different approach to teaching, which involved making learning

Hummel said that rather than sitting in a classroom all day, she would bring the students outside and for field trips to the nearby park.

“I remember one day all of us sitting around a guitar player and singing,” he said. “She knew how to connect with a bunch of 7-year-olds to make learning fun, interesting and how to challenge our minds at the same time. That connection has remained for more than 54 years now, leading to a bond and friendship for all of us that is hard to put into words other than it was special and we have one person to thank for that, the person who taught us then and still teaches us now one of life’s greatest lessons, kindness.”

Kornfeld Gordon said that the reunions will continue after the pandemic ends and she and her husband are optimistic about hosting a student reunion again this coming summer in Raymond.

She said sharing memories of that special year unites her and the students and it is what makes their class such a close-knit group of friends.

“We are all the same, it’s our history that binds us together,” she said. “Every spring when the lilacs bloom brings back great memories. We are one unit and still are. The bonds that we carry for each other are still deep.” <  

Friday, June 26, 2020

Riding To The Top celebrates volunteers at curbside event

Riding To The Top volunteer Stacie Hamilton feeds Luke, an
RTT horse, a treat. SUBMITTED PHOTO

COVID-19 did not stop Riding To The Top from celebrating the contributions of its mighty volunteer team.

Originally, RTT planned to hold a large barbeque on the shores of Sebago Lake, but this year’s celebration was configured into a smaller “curbside” event at the farm. On Tuesday, June 23, RTT staffers gathered (physically distanced of course!), decorated and rallied to show appreciation for the Center’s 160-plus volunteers.
In 2019 alone, volunteers at Riding To The Top contributed more than 11,000 hours in service valued at over $254,320.
Volunteers at RTT work in the barn, in lessons with clients, exercise horses, repair and maintain the facilities and help with trail improvements. Volunteers also serve on the Board of Directors, on committees and work at fundraising events.
Executive Director, Sarah Bronson said that “RTT volunteers have been an integral part of the organization since it was founded by volunteers in 1993 and they continue to be the heart of the organization.”
She said that volunteers save the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
“While we missed gathering for our larger celebration this year, we were glad to have been able to thank and recognize the people who did so much for RTT last year,” said Volunteer Coordinator Nick Doria.
This year, 27 RTT volunteers received The President’s Volunteer Service Award:

Bronze Level Awardees (Adults 100 to 249 hours/Young Adults 100 to 174 hours): Christine Blackadar, Jo Blinick, Early Bonney, Gradeigh Cameron, Janis Childs, Susan Courson, Cindy Elder, Barbara Foster, Trish Friant, Stacie Hamilton Waldron, Margi Huber, Cathy Kelso, Fran Maxwell, Nancy Robinson and Laura Rochette.
Silver Level Awardees (Adults 250 to 499 hours/Young Adults 175 to 249 hours):
Mark Fuller, Julia Hamilton, Sarah Miller, Jodi Peasley, Clayton Peters, Ashley Reed, Bryony Urquhart and Liz Wood.

Gold Level Awardees (Adults 500 or more hours/Young Adults 250 or more hours): Lina Jordan, Dan Morabito, Pat Niboli and Patty Shaw.

In addition, special recognition of outstanding service to RTT included: Stacie Hamilton Waldron (Volunteer of the Year); Ashley Reed and Lilly Towle (Youth/Young Adult Volunteers of the Year); Melissa and Eric Prime (Administrative Volunteers of the Year); Susan Layton (Lesson Rookie of the Year Award); Jack DiPaola (Barn Rookie of the Year Award); Trina Bellavance (Volunteer Schooler Award) and Maureen Mathieu (Barn Volunteer of the Year).

RTT also recognized the following for outstanding contributions:
  • Under The Covers Band: (Volunteer Group of the Year )
  • Windham Knights of Columbus: (Volunteer Civic Group of the Year)
  • Headlight Audio-Visual: (Corporate Partner of the Year)
Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center was founded in 1993 and its mission is enhancing health and wellness through equine assisted activities and therapies. Located in Windham, RTT is the state’s only year-round PATH International Premier Accredited Center solely dedicated to Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies.

More than 250 clients visit annually, assisted by certified instructors, a herd of 16 horses and over 160 volunteers, all specially trained to assist with therapeutic riding, equine assisted learning, carriage driving and hippotherapy. Riding To The Top is a community-based nonprofit, receives no federal or state funding and provides financial aid to more than 60 percent of its clients. 

For more information about client services, volunteering, or making a gift, please visit us at or call 207-892-2813. <

Friday, August 16, 2019

“A pound at a time”: Local man brings awareness to the value of clean water

Michael Fitzgibbons at the 4Ocean promotion
By Lorraine Glowczak

Through the efforts of many individuals, positive changes happen in the world. Most often, the projects or endeavors are completed in small scale ways when time permits between work, school, social and family activities. This service to community and beyond is admirable – and is needed.

But occasionally, an individual comes along whose passion to create positive change is so intense, it
becomes their life’s mission – making other everyday activities secondary. One such person who is making an impact on the waters of Sebago Lake and beyond is Michael Fitzgibbons. His mission?

“I am proposing a water resource initiative to call attention to the ocean plastic situation and the value of water to the State of Maine,” stated Fitzgibbons. “And, we must start right here, in the Sebago Lakes Region. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful clean water source, but if we aren’t paying enough attention and ignore the trash in the ocean – it will eventually affect us and our water.”

Inspired by two Florida surfers, Andrew Cooper and Alex Shulz, who are co-founders of 4Ocean, Fitzgibbon is taking their mission and spreading it to Maine. Briefly, and according to“Alex and Andrew [who is also a fisherman] take a surf trip to Bali Indonesia that would inevitably change their lives and the fate of the ocean. Devastated by the amount of plastic in the ocean, they set out to find out why no one was doing anything about it. One afternoon they came across an old fishing village where fishermen were literally pushing their boat through piles of plastic that had washed up on shore. The two surfers realized that the proliferation of plastic threatened both the ocean environment and the fishermen's livelihood. Could the fishermen use their nets, they wondered, to pull the plastic from the ocean? This idea stuck with the two surfers and they knew it was time to hit the drawing board. After realizing that the demand for seafood was driving the fishermen to focus on fish instead of plastic, they knew they had to create something that could fund the desired cleanup

Their efforts have also inspired others to act. In addition to the 4Ocean U.S.A. organization, there is now a 4Ocean Bali and 4Ocean Haiti. “My goal is to create a 4Ocean Maine with the hope that it will spread to other states and countries,” Fitzgibbons said of his personal mission.

The acronym for O.C.E.A.N. stands for the following:

Optimizing Technology – with the goal to utilize the latest technology to prevent, intercept, and remove trash from the ocean and coastlines.
Creating Jobs – Currently, there are full-time captains and crews that are cleaning the ocean and coastlines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Education and Awareness – The goal is to educate individuals, corporations, and governments on the impact that plastic has on the ocean. Hosting cleanups all over the world, both above and below the water, to raise awareness and change behavior.
New Global Economies -By giving ocean plastic a value, we are creating a new economy for the removal of trash.

“This is a lofty project,” Fitzgibbons began. “The opportunity represents a chance for the State of Maine to shine like a bright lighthouse to the world by bringing business and people together for the purpose of saying: ‘Enough, we need to clean up our plastic in the ocean’.”

Flying the 4Ocean banner in their amphibicar
Fitzgibbons is bringing about this awareness through a variety of efforts that he refers to as, “guerrilla marketing” - an unconventional form of inbound marketing, that raises brand awareness among large audiences, without interrupting them. This includes a variety of waterway adventures while spreading the word via social media production with video.  “As the journey progresses on the lakes and waterways, we will be delving into conversation with people everywhere and heightening the efforts of all the groups interested in protecting the water at home in the state of Maine.”

With the help of video production expert, Scott Shaffer, Fitzgibbons will trace his many journeys and awareness trips by traveling down the Lakes Region watersheds and beyond in a jet ski, paddle board, or boat while meeting people and sharing the mission and ideals of 4Ocean. On August 27, he will travel the heads of the Sebago to the Sea Trail. It water adventure will trace the Presumpscot River to the river's mouth in Falmouth.  “I will be in the hands of The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust for this trek. Weather permitting, the goal is to travel and do some filming along the trail – with the intention of bringing about awareness about the clean water we have now and ways to prevent it from being impotable.”

Another event is to be scheduled for Saturday August 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This will be a land event held at Hayes True Value Hardware Store in Bridgton. “Come learn how two guys are cleaning the ocean one pound at a time.”

The revenue for this 4Ocean effort is fueled with the sale of $20-dollar bracelets made of recycled plastic. The purchase of one bracelet results in hauling out a pound of plastic from the ocean. 
If you are interested in supporting 4Ocean and helping Fitzgibbons’ mission to keep our waterways and oceans clean, you can purchase a bracelet by contacting him at thank you to the following volunteers and donors:

Dingley’s Wharf/ watersport team under Wayne, Brother Flecker’s, Patti, Sam, Jake, Sue, Scott  rang it out on the mic.
Schaeffer (Audio Therapy), Sue Santoro/Seasonal Resident, Virginia Fitzgibbons, Michael Fitzgibbons (Locations Real Estate Group) The 4Ocean Pop Up Event held last weekend at the Mountainview Wood Boat and Car show was ideal. Dingley’s Wharf and Brother Flecker’s provided spaces. Jon the MC

Friday, July 26, 2019

An evening of moon gazing on Sebago Lake

By Lorraine Glowczak

There was a total of eight of us as we boarded our kayaks and paddled towards the sunset on Sebago Lake from the beach at Saint Joseph’s College with the hopes to capture a look at a full moon rising – with its silver light reflection bouncing on the water. Nature exceeded our expectations and we were far from disappointed.

Last Tuesday evening’s adventure was the second in a monthly series of guided kayaking Moonlight Paddle tours sponsored by The Sebago Center at Saint Joseph’s College, 278 Whites Bridge Road in Standish. Professionally led by Katelyn Allen, co-owner of Sebago Trails Paddling Company in Raymond, the experience was more than magical.

The evening began at 7:45 p.m. as the eight adventuresome souls gathered together near the campfire on the campus beach to be greeted by Ashley O’Brien, The Sebago Center’s Senior Director of Customer Experience who welcomed everyone to the event and introduced Allen. The friendly and knowledgeable kayaking expert spoke briefly about the history of the lake before sharing important safety tips and logistical information. Allen than distributed headlamps, flashlights and life jackets prior to helping each of us enter and sit comfortably in our kayaks.

We then headed out as the sun was setting in the west, providing for us a show of a slightly muted fiery sky with Mount Washington as its backdrop. “The humidity is a little high right now, but on a clear day, the sun can be much brighter, and you are able to see the peak of Mount Washington,” explained Allen. warm summer evening breeze encouraged us to paddle with ease toward our destination, Squaw Island. As the sun made its quick descent, we made our way around the island only to be greeted by the jaw dropping view of the blue fluorescent moon peaking over the tall pines that line the beach along the Saint Joseph’s College campus.

As we paddled back toward shore, each of us going at our own pace, the serene presence of nature quieted most of our conversations for a moment so we only heard the lapping of the waves slapping against our kayaks as our headlights and flashlights bobbed up and down in rhythm with our boats.
With the campfire as our guide, we slowly paddled back to home base, trying to make the moment last as long as possible. Arriving after our 1 ½ hour paddle, we each helped one another out of our kayaks and ended the night with goodbyes, telling one another a few of our favorite highlights, with the flames of campfire behind us. At 9:45 p.m., we were heading back to our vehicles and our normal everyday lives – only to be changed, if only in a small way, by nature’s moonlight wonder.

Everyone was in agreement that the adventure was more than expected. “While kayaking isn’t new to me, I had never experienced a night paddle before,” stated participant, Lane Hane. “It was incredible! There’s something really special about being out on the lake at night, and Kate did a great job of allowing us to move at our own pace and simply enjoy the moonrise.”

“I was in reverie during the full moon paddle on Sebago Lake. Camaraderie with the group led by our guide, Kate, added to the experience,” Dorell Migliano said. “Her expertise helped lead me back to shore during some windy conditions. It was truly a memorable night!”

You, too, can enjoy the wonders of a moonlight paddle as there are a few more dates coming up to experience the adventure, Thursday, August 15 at 7:45 p.m. and Saturday, September 14 at 7 p.m. For more information or to register:

The Sebago Center functions as an extension of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and is the latest expression of the college’s long-standing commitment to community, one of our seven core values.
Informed by the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy, they demonstrate their connectedness with one another through their expressions of hospitality, courtesy, inclusive relationships, shared values, and collaboration. They extend this value of community by reaching out to neighbors and to members of the broader civic and ecclesial communities.

Friday, July 12, 2019

SEALs for Sunshine undertake 16-mile swim to help military families enjoy Camp Sunshine

Mike Wisecup, Matt Shipman, Lew Emery and
Chad Kalocinski after the first fundraiser in
August 2014 which was a 13 mile swim
By Elizabeth Richards

In 2014, four active duty Navy SEALs participated in the inaugural SEALs for Sunshine event, a 13-mile swim across Sebago Lake. On July 25th, 2019, SEALs for Sunshine will hold their sixth annual event with the longest swim event to date.

Swimmers, including SEALs for Sunshine founder, retired Navy SEAL Commander Michael Wisecup, will navigate from Long Lake in Bridgton, through Naples into Brandy Pond, down the Songo River and across the northern part of Sebago Lake, where they’ll end their journey at Point Sebago, next door to Camp Sunshine.

Wisecup started SEALs for Sunshine to raise awareness of what the camp could offer to military families with children facing life threatening diseases. The first event in 2014 coincided with Camp Sunshine’s 30-year anniversary campaign, “Going the Distance.  “Going the Distance seemed to fit with a 13-mile half marathon swim across Sebago Lake,” Wisecup said. year since then, SEALs for Sunshine has held at least one intense physical challenge to support the goal of raising money for military families to attend Camp Sunshine. Just over $500,000 has been raised through these events, prompting a significant increase in military families – both active duty and veterans – attending camp.  Many of these families would not have known about Camp Sunshine without the publicity surrounding these events, Wisecup said.

The funds raised through SEALs for Sunshine events directly supports both attendance at the camp and travel costs to alleviate the financial burden of getting to and from camp, Wisecup said. 

The goal the first year was for each of the four swimmers to raise $2500, the approximate cost of getting one family to camp. They ended up raising just over $250,000.  “We were blown away.  There was so much support for it, support for the camp, support for the military. It was really nice,” Wisecup said.

Since that first event, SEALs for Sunshine participants collectively have swum 391 miles, biked 770 miles, run 116 miles, and put in 780 miles worth of stand-up paddle boarding.
“We try to do something different every year,” Wisecup said.  “This year, we’re coming back into the water.” 

The events are deliberately extremely physical challenges, Wisecup said, to bring some awareness to the difficulty a family faces when their child receives a life altering diagnosis.  “At that moment, that family has to fight for everything. They can’t quit. That’s a cornerstone of the SEAL ethos - never quit,” Wisecup said. 

While participants have the benefit of preparation and training, families don’t have that luxury, Wisecup said. “They don’t get to prepare their finances, their life, and put everything in order,” he said. “We’re lucky to be able to prepare, but we need to make it hard so that it connects, and it’s something we can have in common with those families as well.” year, according to a fundraising letter sent by Camp Sunshine Development Director Michael Smith, there is a matching challenge from Ralph and Suzanne Heckert and the Capital Group, so each donation made will be doubled.

SEALs for Sunshine events have enabled more than 200 military families from across the country to travel to Camp Sunshine, Smith said in the letter, but there are many more who still need help. 
To support the July 25th Swim for Sunshine, visit or

Editor’s note: Michael Wisecup, has been named vice president for strategic initiatives at Colby College. His responsibilities include operationalizing and managing key strategic initiatives, developing strategies and processes to assess and improve the quality and effectiveness across all areas of the College, coordinating special projects to ensure strategic alignment, increasing organizational focus, and facilitating collaboration regarding strategic planning, execution, and crisis management. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Jordan River milfoil problem brought to bay - By Walter Lunt

Grants, dues, donations and determination transform a green bottom to an almost clear channel

A busy stretch of Raymond’s Jordan River, once choked with invasive milfoil, is now virtually weed free.

“Back in 2006 (the milfoil) was so thick it was flowering on top of the water,” said Gale Pillsbury of the Jordan River Marina Condominium Association, a loose consortium of stakeholders along the waterway. Known as Panther Run, the section of river from the bridge near the intersection of Routes 302 and 85 is lined with boat slips and drains into Sebago Lake.

Pillsbury described the channel as a collection point for the spreading plant, which can be brought in on boats from the lake, as well as deposited from the downstream flow of the river.

“We attacked the problem in several different ways for a few years,” she explained. Crews of divers plucked the weed, a variety known as variable milfoil, while residents hauled the tangled chunks of green by wheel barrow to load onto trucks. Now, she said, a firm out of Brownfield, Maine, has transformed an ongoing crisis into a much simpler maintenance task.

On a recent October morning, divers from New England Milfoil, Allan Arnold and Sam Dyer removed the last 170 gallons of milfoil from the waterway, utilizing Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting (DASH). Dyer said that amount compares with about 1,300 gallons during the same period last year.

“We’re getting it close to a managerial situation,” he added. Both divers agree this stretch of river is in a no-win zone because the milfoil comes in from both directions. Dyer fingered a tiny milfoil fragment and said, “This can go to seed, re-root and create hundreds of new plants.”

The two divers worked in close coordination from their DASH boat, clearing an area around empty boat slips at Indian Point near the mouth of the river. Arnold, a tender, operated a noisy suction machine aboard the boat, while Dyer, underwater along the shallow shore, pulled the weeds and fed them into the suction dredge. The plants end up in 10 gallon containers and were then taken to a composting facility. Arnold observed that despite the ugly problem created by the thick, wriggly plant, “This stuff can grow up to seven feet tall, and when you’re diving in 10 feet of water in a heavy infestation where it grows like a forest, it can be a pretty impressive sight.”

“These last two years have been great. They stay on top of the problem. It makes it easier for us,” said Jonathon Korda of the Indian Point Owners Association.

Pillsbury said the milfoil eradication effort is funded with money from grants, dues from the two condominium associations, and donations from the boat sales marina on Panther Run. Grants are available from Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection which utilizes funds from the state’s milfoil sticker program.

She summed up the association’s progress over the past two years. With an average of 15 dives per year, N.E.M. removed 11,100 gallons of milfoil in 2015, and only 6,960 gallons this 2016 season. The progress is clear.