Showing posts with label gratitude. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gratitude. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2024

Newspaper surpasses 11-year anniversary in community

For not knowing much about journalism or the publishing industry when first creating a newspaper, the owners of The Windham Eagle are celebrating their 11th anniversary this month and continue to believe their work is essential and needed by the residents of Windham and Raymond.

The first edition of The Windham Eagle newspaper was
published March 1, 2013 and the publication remains
a positive and solutions-based newspaper covering
the communities of Windham and Raymond and
supported by local businesses in the area.
Kelly and Niels Mank published the first edition of The Windham Eagle on March 1, 2013, and now more than a decade later, the couple remains focused on delivering positive and solutions-based news to readers. Headquartered in Windham at 585 Roosevelt Trail, the newspaper publishes 51 weekly editions every year along with a popular Summer Guide for the Sebago Lakes Region and serves as a host for the Eagle Choice Awards every summer.

“When we first started The Windham Eagle, we felt there was a need for a community publication to tell positive stories about our local residents,” Kelly Mank said. “There are so many negative things about this community that are publicized elsewhere but having a newspaper that emphasizes positive achievements and solutions-based news is a necessity and has led to our success.”

She said she had never thought about creating a newspaper before starting The Windham Eagle in 2013 but knew it had to be different for it to succeed.

“I remember talking about it initially and remarking that if we are going to do it, it is going to be different,” Mank said. “We wanted to create a publication that all ages could find something of interest in, and that would contain positive articles focused on the communities of Windham and Raymond. It would spotlight the youth and their accomplishments as they are the future, we would highlight the veterans and their history for their dedication to our community and we would partner with local businesses to help create a thriving local economy.”

According to Mank, many people were skeptical that such a newspaper could be sustainable. They told her that newspapers across America are dying, and that positive news isn’t real news and couldn’t work.

“With a lot of dedication and the commitment we made to ourselves and the community, we have survived,” Mank said. “The newspaper’s success did not come easy or without debt and sacrifice, however, it has proven to be a positive tool and resource for our towns, schools, families, non-profits, organizations and businesses.”

Advertising Director Melissa Carter joined The Windham Eagle in October 2013, having worked at other publications for many years, and said that the greatest misconception people may have about the paper is that it operates with much more of a crew than it actually does.

“Unlike most other publications, we are very a small staff. We do not have a large team of employees but manage to put out more pages on a weekly basis than any other single newspaper in Maine,” Carter said. “Readers may not realize that 100 percent of the newspaper’s revenue comes from supporting advertisers which is why we ask all our readers to support the local businesses they see in the paper.”

Carter said she loves her work with The Windham Eagle. She said she is passionate about working with local businesses, new and old, to help market and brand them so they can grow and succeed. As both the advertising director and designer Carter can deliver a level of service and expertise not found with other publications.

“Being able to get creative and come up with ideas to contribute to their overall success is challenging and rewarding,” she said. “I am not your average ‘salesperson’, in fact I went to school for graphic design and that is where much of my passion lies.”

Managing Editor Ed Pierce is the third of three different editors who have led the newspaper, following Michelle Libby and Lorraine Glowczak in that role.

Pierce has been with the newspaper since May 2020 and says working for a positive and solutions-based publication is refreshing.

“I started out in journalism in 1975 and one of my favorite jobs in my 49-year career was working for a small community newspaper,” he said. “This newspaper really is a throwback because once again I am telling stories about schools, churches, businesses, clubs, people with interesting hobbies and veterans who sacrificed everything so we can live in freedom.”

He said not writing about crime or politics allows him to focus on finding compelling articles that might not otherwise be published elsewhere or even heard about for that matter.

“Every day somebody sends me an email or calls us with a human interest story idea for the newspaper,” Pierce said. “I also enjoy working with our freelance writers to keep The Windham Eagle filled with great positive stories about this community.”

Carter said that The Windham Eagle is the only publication in the area that is direct mailed to every home and business in Windham and Raymond, making it an invaluable resource to the community.

“We saturate the market more efficiently than any other advertising source. I believe in our paper so much and wouldn’t be able to sell it to businesses if I didn’t,” she said. “We’re able to mail copies of the newspaper to every home because of the support of our advertisers. Because we circulate to 13,000 homes and businesses, there is no question as to who your ad will reach. We bring feel-good stories to the readers that they will not find anywhere else. When people see their neighbors, friends, family, and students in the paper, it creates a personal connection and is what makes us so unique and highly read. And our customers make us successful. Without them we would not be able to pay the high cost of mailing and printing so many copies. We have a loyal base that supports us week after week and for that I am grateful. The trust I have built with my clients is amazing.”

Lisa DiBase, a broker and the owner of Landing Real Estate in Windham, said having an outlet like The Windham Eagle has been invaluable for her company.

“This platform has served as a powerful channel through which we can reach our target audience and effectively communicate our brand message,” DiBiase said. “The Windham Eagle provides us with a local presence, allowing us to connect directly with members of our community. This localized approach is crucial for a real estate agency like ours, as building trust and rapport within the community is essential for attracting clients and closing deals.”

She said The Windham Eagle enhances Landing Real Estate’s credibility and visibility among potential clients.

“When individuals see our name and listings regularly in a reputable local publication, it reinforces the perception that we are a reliable and reputable real estate agency worthy of their consideration,” DiBiase said. “The Windham Eagle serves as a positive and reliable source of information for community events, news, and developments. By being present in such a publication, we not only promote our business but also demonstrate our commitment to staying informed and engaged with the local community. The Windham Eagle has provided us with a platform to effectively promote our business, showcase our listings and agents, and engage with the community. It has been instrumental in driving awareness, generating leads, and ultimately contributing to the success and growth of Landing Real Estate.”

Linda Manchester, the owner of The Good Life Market and Swift River Coffee Roasters in Raymond, says the newspaper has been a huge supporter of her businesses since they first opened, doing feature stories about them to let the community know what and who we were, and consistently coming up with creative and beautiful content for their advertising.

“The personal connection we’ve had with the staff at the paper has been amazing, it feels like they are truly in our corner, wanting to see us succeed,” Manchester said. “It’s meaningful that The Windham Eagle gives back to the community by doing fundraising ads, and highlighting the achievements of local people, organizations, and businesses. The fact that the paper shows up in every mailbox gives readers an effortless connection to each other, to the community, and to a simpler time, and reminds us that we’re all still here for each other. I love working with your paper, because I know and love this region, and I truly believe The Windham Eagle does, too.”

Chris McDonald, the owner of Windham Powersports, says he’s a believer in what The Windham Eagle newspaper does for his business.

"You can have the best product in the world and if no one knows about it, it won’t sell,” McDonald said. “The Windham Eagle has helped me get my brand out to their huge local audience. Customer Service is Key in business and Melissa at The Windham Eagle has provided top-notch service for me and my business. She has offered unique and creative advertising on a weekly basis for nearly a decade. Melissa and The Windham Eagle are like having an ace up your sleeve, helping you win with sales and customer relationships. Thank you to Melissa, and The Windham Eagle, for all you've done for Windham Powersports over the years."

The newspaper’s annual Eagle Choice Awards, where readers cast votes for their favorite and most trusted businesses in the region, remains as popular now as when it started, culminating with a gathering of award recipients hosted by The Windham Eagle. Last summer’s Eagle Choice Awards celebration was held for the first time at Erik’s Church in Windham and drew its largest crowd of several hundred people since the awards were launched in 2015.

The newspaper also sponsors regular advertising initiatives specifically intended to raise funds for local nonprofits and various charitable activities.

The Windham Eagle staff would like to thank their readers and advertisers for their ongoing support. See our celebration pages inside with a salute to more than 100 local businesses. Here’s to 11 more years. <

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Fuller Center expresses gratitude for area volunteers, businesses

By Lorraine Glowczak

The board members of the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing (Fuller Center) always appreciate their volunteers' time, energy, and financial contributions and the businesses that contribute to their cause. What better way to convey that gratitude than to offer it during the holiday that celebrates the expression of thanks?

The Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing
board members are thankful for the generosity of this
community that so readily helps others.
“We certainly could not fulfill our mission of providing adequate shelter and a safe living space for our older adults without the help of area volunteers and businesses,” said Fuller Center President Diane Dunton Bruni. “I am amazed and grateful for the generosity of this community to help others.”

The Fuller Center was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller, who also founded Habitat for Humanity. The local Sebago Lakes Region chapter focuses its mission on housing repair so older adults can remain and age safely in their own homes.

At a recent Fuller Center Volunteer Appreciation celebration, Linda Gregoire of Windham spoke at the event. She and her husband, John, were recipients of Fuller Center services in July.

Her words speak genuine and heartfelt appreciation that the local Fuller Center believes regarding everyone’s time, materials and financial contributions.

“I’m here to share with you from everyone who was a recipient of the Fuller Housing Foundation projects, our thanks and gratitude for your kind help,” she said. “I don’t just speak for John and myself, but I hope I speak for everyone you helped. I want to start with a quote that epitomizes the spirit of volunteerism by a woman who dedicated her life to helping the unseen. In the words of Mother Teresa, ‘You have not truly lived until you have done something for someone who can do nothing to repay you’.”

Gregoire continued by saying that serving the unseen, the elderly, the disabled, and veterans (who are often both), is a worthy calling.

“We should remember the unseen weren’t always unseen. They were productive members of our community,” she said. “So, to have a group of caring people come into your life to fix or build and repair something you used to be able to do but can no longer do yourself is an unbelievable experience and blessing.”

Gregoire said that she and her husband felt relief that one of their needs was met.

“How do you ever thank the people who freely gave their love, compassion, time, talent and resources? It can be so humbling and overwhelming to receive so much. But I assure you, you have been thanked in prayers to be blessed as you have been a blessing. God smiled a lot this summer, particularly on July 29, but also on a rainy afternoon when the last nail was pounded as the rain fell. None of it goes unnoticed. What you all did this summer won’t just last for this summer. After you all went home, back to your jobs and lives, what you did will last for years. Every project will be a testament to what we can do for one another when we join together and put our “Faith into Action.”

Dunton Bruni said there are so many individuals to thank that it would take an entire page to express the Fuller Center’s gratitude. She listed a small group of individuals, organizations, and businesses who gave $1,000 or more or were local contractors who gave their time.

But first, Dunton Bruni said she felt it necessary to mention one more thing.

“It is essential to note that this list does not eliminate our appreciation for those who gave in smaller ways but with a big heart,” Dunton Bruni said. “Especially those who worked hard cooking to feed the volunteers. Please know that we know who you are and are grateful to you beyond words.”

Dunton Bruni said the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing is grateful to Hancock Lumber, Maine Association of Realtors, Modern Woodman, Sebago Lake Rotary, Bill and Jane Diamond, North Windham Union Church, Alex Ewig, Stephen Fraizer, Raymond Village Community Church, Hussy Seating, Fuller Center Bike Adventure, Randy Perkins of Perks Peak, Brian Shaw of Earthworks, Jill Johanning, Larry Hodgkins, Scott Symonds, Greg Cushman, Rob Regan, Tom Cleveland, Lowes, Casella Waste, VFW Post 10643, Hannaford Supermarkets, and Bob’s Seafood for their help.

Perhaps Gregoire expresses the Fuller Center’s appreciation the best.

“I want you to know you changed circumstances, which has changed lives and how those lives are lived and enjoyed. I hope and pray these projects will be an example to others of what we can all accomplish when we open our hearts and use our hands to help the unseen.”

To learn more about the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing organization, to volunteer, or to inquire about housing repair, call 207-387-0855, send an email to, visit their website at or follow them on Facebook. <

Friday, October 1, 2021

Windham High School joins Dempsey Challenge cancer initiative

Actor Patrick Dempsey, the creator of the 'Dempsey
Challenge,' hosted a Zoom meeting on Sept. 24 with 
Windham High School juniors to thank them for
raising the most money of any class for the initiative 
during homecoming week activities at the school. All
told, WHS students raised $1,715 for the program, which
assists cancer patients across the state and virtually.
By Ed Pierce

When done right, a school helps shape the character and the future of students by motivating them to show respect and to care for others. This premise was at the heart of Windham High School’s homecoming initiative in which students aimed to improve the lives of local cancer patients by raising money for the Dempsey Challenge.

Last week, the WHS freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior classes staged a competition to see which one could raise the most to support the annual fundraiser created by Maine native and actor Patrick Dempsey, who tragically lost his mother Amanda to cancer in 2014 and created treatment centers to help others overcome the disease.

According to Philip Rossetti, WHS Assistant Principal, the school chose to participate in the Dempsey Challenge as a homecoming activity to connect with the community.

“In the past we have done a food drive or change wars to support local food pantries. We have several staff and students that have been impacted by cancer and the Dempsey Center has been a great support to many in the RSU community,” Rossetti said. “Rod Nadeau, a counselor in the Katahdin Program, approached us about the opportunity to participate as a school in the Dempsey Challenge. Administration reached out to Pete Small, teacher and coach at WHS, who also helps coordinate homecoming activities to see if this would be a great fit for our school.”

He said that both Nadeau and Small have been active participants for several years in the Dempsey Challenge, which is traditionally held on the last weekend in September and features a separate run and a bike run for participants.

“When looking at the proposed timeline this meshed well with our homecoming events and is an organization that has and continues to support so many within the RSU,” Rossetti said.

Across the state, more than 2,000 individuals took part in the 2021 Dempsey Challenge event which raised a new record of $1.3 million to support cancer centers in Lewiston and South Portland.

That total includes $1,715 raised by Windham High students with the junior class raising $560, the sophomores $475, the freshmen $355, and the seniors $325.

For their winning efforts, members of the WHS junior class participated in surprise Zoom call with Dempsey himself on Friday, Sept. 24.

Dempsey said he was grateful Windham High students agreed to help with the challenge and said he plans on visiting the school soon and thanking the students personally for their efforts to help others. He praised the junior class for raising the most money overall.

“I certainly can’t thank you enough,” Dempsey said. “You’ve set the tone now in the school and it’s such a remarkable thing to want to help those impacted by cancer by saying we support you.”

Students in the junior class told Dempsey that their parents also got involved in the fundraising effort and that boosted them to collecting the most for the Dempsey Challenge during the week of homecoming activities at the school.

“We’re grateful you did that,” Dempsey said. “I’m just part of a very small team at the Dempsey Center and actions like this create stronger vibrations for everybody associated with what we do.”

He said that the Dempsey Center makes life better for people managing the impact of cancer with locations in Lewiston, South Portland, and through a new third virtual location called Dempsey Connects. Dempsey said all services are provided at no cost and include treatment, counseling, consultations, support groups, grief and bereavement sessions, specialized service for youth, massage, reiki and acupuncture.

“As soon as I can work it into my schedule, I’ll be at Windham High School to thank everyone,” Dempsey said. “Doing something like this is the most satisfying thing in the world and we are grateful for the help.” <  

Friday, November 6, 2020

Windham veteran salutes community for honoring his military service

Charlie Melanson of Windham, 89, shows a
photograph of his days serving in the U.S. Navy
aboard the USS Coral Sea as a sailor during the
Korean War. He is at the far left on the top row of
the photo and says he's grateful for continually
being recognized and honored as a veteran by
the community. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
By Ed Pierce

By his own admission, Navy veteran Charlie Melanson of Windham, 89, has accomplished a great deal in life, but he wants everyone to know that on this Veteran’s Day, he owes a huge debt of gratitude for those who have honored his military service in so many unique ways.

It seems wherever Melanson goes in the community while wearing his USS Sea Coral cap, people have honored him by purchasing his lunch, paying for his tab at Lowe’s or buying his dinner. In the past year he’s been the recipient of an Honor Flight to the nation’s capital and was brought to tears when a group of women stopped at his home and presented him with a handmade “Quilt of Valor” thanking him for his service to the nation.

“There’s just something about that USS Coral Sea hat,” Melanson said. “I don’t put it on to show it off, I put it on because I’m proud of it. I am just looking for a way to say thanks for everything that people have done for me and to let them know I am so grateful for remembering my military service.”

Originally from Massachusetts, Melanson was born in 1931 and was raised in a foster home. He was too young to serve in World War II, but when the chance arose to join the Navy in 1948, he gladly welcomed that opportunity.

“Joining the Navy was like going to heaven,” Melanson said. “The foster home was in was like living in hell and I truly loved being on the water and away from there. I liked the food and didn’t mind the military discipline. It was my freedom from growing up as a foster kid.”

His first assignment was to serve as a crewman on board a Navy destroyer, a rusty World War II-era warship that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean bringing U.S. Marines to Europe. When an opening came up to train for 18 weeks as a refrigeration technician at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois, Melanson volunteered and after mastering  that skill, he was reassigned to the USS Coral Sea, a Midway class aircraft carrier during the Korean War.

“The USS Coral Sea was so much larger and much more modern than the destroyer I was first on,” Melanson said. “It was such a huge vessel and at that time, the Navy was transitioning from AJ-1 propeller bombers to F7U Cutlass fighter jet aircraft.”

Besides working on refrigeration units and air conditioning systems on the USS Coral Sea, Melanson also helped maintain aircraft catapult systems aboard the aircraft carrier which helped planes take off
and land on it while at sea and he did small engine repair work. 

But when his enlistment was up, he decided it was time to return home.

“I had four years in the Navy and thought it was pretty good, but I was ready for the next step,” Melanson said.

In Massachusetts, he met and married his wife Dale and they moved permanently to Maine in 1952. Settling first in Westbrook and then later in Windham, the couple raised three sons, including one they adopted.

Charlie performed construction work for local companies and eventually founded his own construction firm, Melanson & Son. In 1970, he designed and built a facility on Route 302 in Windham to serve as the company offices for Melanson & Son. It is now the home of the Windham Flower Shop.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer which may have spread to his bones, Melanson has been undergoing treatment this fall and has had trouble getting around. He’s been searching for a way to show his appreciation to the public for remembering his status as a veteran.

“I was at Duck Pond Variety because I love their fried chicken and a man walked up to me and started a conversation with me about his father and his father’s time in the military,” Melanson said. “When I went to pay for my fried chicken, the clerk told me that the man I was talking to had already paid for my meal and had left the store. I was stunned that someone I didn’t know would do that for me.”

On several other occasions, while eating at the IHOP Restaurant with his wife, people noticed his “USS Sea Coral” hat and walked over to ask him about his military service.

“When we asked for the check several times while leaving IHOP, we were told that someone else had paid for our dinner and we don’t even know who it was that did that for us,” Melanson said. “It truly touched our hearts.”

Then there was another time when Melanson went to Lowe’s and was chatting with a man in front of him in the checkout line who was with a small boy.

“By the time I reached the cashier, I was told my purchase had been paid for by the man I was speaking with and his son who had already left the building,” he said.

In April, Melanson was among a group of Maine veterans to be given an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. to tour the memorials there dedicated to American military members and he proudly displays a cherished photograph of him leaving for that trip with his active duty military sponsor.

About three weeks ago, Dale Melanson was at home caring for her husband and answered a knock at the door. It was a group of women asking to speak to her husband.

“They were from the Quilt of Honor Foundation and they presented Charlie with a beautiful handmade quilt with a Navy theme and a certificate honoring his military service,” she said. “He is so pleased with it and I am so touched that they took the time to do that for him.”

As someone who has experienced a lot during his lifetime, Melanson said he tried to hold back tears when he received the quilt, but just couldn’t.

“That was such a nice thing to do, I broke down and cried and cried,” he said. “People are so good to me and that quilt came at just the right time and is so warm and comfortable.”

Melanson said he’s deeply moved by all of the expressions of gratitude that complete strangers have shown him.

“When I got of the Navy at Norfolk, Virginia in 1952, I was just another sailor and people paid me no attention,” he said. “I think the terrorist attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001 really woke Americans up and since then it seems more people appreciate what veterans have done and the sacrifices they have made for our country.”   

This Veterans Day, Charlie Melanson has a message he urgently wants to get out to the public.

“For all these people who have done such wonderful things for me and pay for my meals at no charge, I have no way to thank them. I simply want to thank those who have recognized me as a veteran and have gone out of their way to show me kindness. It truly means a lot to me and I feel blessed to be recognized for serving in the Navy in this way.” <