Showing posts with label service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label service. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2024

Retired Raymond Town manager proud of devoted service to community

By Ed Pierce

Don Willard wants to set the record straight regarding the rumors circulating about his departure as Raymond’s Town Manager.

Don Willard served as the Raymond Town
Manager for more than 23 years until his
retirement on Jan. 2. A party in his honor
will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday,
April 7 at the Boy Scouts of America's
Messer center at Camp Hinds in Raymond
and the public is invited to attend.
Willard says he’s not dying of a terminal illness or was fired from his position, the simple truth is that he spent some time last fall recovering from an illness and then decided to retire after 23 years of working for the Town of Raymond. His retirement became official Jan. 2 and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 7, the public is invited to a special party at the Boy Scouts of America’s Messer Center at Camp Hinds in Raymond to say goodbye and wish Willard and his family well in retirement.

“Living and working in Raymond has been a great experience and a wonderful place for my wife Megan and I to raise our son Holden,” Willard said. “I always thought, and often expressed my belief that the Town of Raymond has the capacity to achieve any and all desired goals.”

He said that with a new comprehensive plan on the horizon, a new universe of possibilities will be envisioned and ultimately approved by the voters in Raymond.

“I am certain this will include a continued commitment to environmental protection, as well as a range of quality-of-life issues,” Willard said. “In that regard, I am looking forward to staying actively involved in the community to help realize a new way forward and to see the town reach its full potential.”

Originally from Scarborough, Willard graduated from high school there and spent his first year of college at the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham before transferring to the University of Maine at Orono. He launched his career in municipal government as a paid intern in Scarborough, and then as an intern in Cape Elizabeth in 1981 while still an undergraduate in college.

After earning a college degree in Public Management, Willard served as a congressional intern in Washington, D.C. before being chosen as first Town Manager of the Town of Dixfield in 1983. Then in 1986, he became Town Manager of Rockport, a position he held until December 2000 when he joined the Town of Raymond as Town Manager.

“I have been quite fortunate to work with great elected officials in the past,” Willard said. “The early 2000s were a high watermark for community improvement. The town received an Economic Development Infrastructure Community Development Block Grant to extend the Portland Water District waterline from Windham to Raymond. In so doing, Raymond became the first new member town in 50 years.”

He said that achievement was a result of transformative and visionary elected leadership.

“Selectmen Betty McDermott, Ada Brown, and Christine McClellan also envisioned and supported the Route 302 improvement project, the new public safety building, and the town’s first major road rebuilding program which transformed the appearance of the town's main business area while improving both pedestrian and motor vehicle safety,” Willard said.

According to Willard, he will miss working for the town and says that he always sought to make myself visible and accessible to the townspeople.

“I made my cell phone publicly available and took calls 24/7 and 365 days a year over my tenure,” he said. “One time, I answered a citizen phone inquiry from the back of an ambulance, after a serious personal injury, while being treated on the way to the emergency room. I think people appreciated the fact that they could reach out and share their concerns with me at any time. I was committed to resolving issues and concerns efficiently and comprehensively, so they didn’t become problems for the Board of Selectmen.”

Being a town manager can be a difficult job, but Willard said what he liked best about it was that no two days were ever the same.

“Although the challenges were sometimes unpredictable, one commonality was that I always felt a great sense of satisfaction, making a difference in the communities that I served,” he said. “Having a job like that makes for a pretty good life. The town received extremely high citizen satisfaction ratings across the range of municipal services, while maintaining one of the lowest property tax rates in the region.”

Many employees for the Town of Raymond stayed in their jobs for years as Willard says he sought to create and maintain a positive work environment for his fellow employees, resulting in a sense of esprit de corps and extraordinarily low turnover.

“It was a pleasure to mentor and see many younger employees realize their career dreams,” Willard said “Treating those in need with respect and kindness, while providing guidance and support was a big part of the job and something I particularly enjoyed. If you approach the job of town manager with a dedication to service, commitment to upholding the law and standing for ethical behavior, that is really everything. You can never go wrong by doing the right thing. While I am proud of all the accomplishments over my 40-year career, none of them would have been possible without the support and assistance of others. If Raymond has been successful over my time here, it is because we have always had engaged and committed local government officials and a team of dedicated hardworking staff members.”

As in life, not everything went his way as Town Manager though.

“My greatest disappointment was the failure to achieve a modern and adequately sized municipal office,” Willard said. “Hopefully, when the middle school is vacated and turned over to the town, that goal, which was the top one when I was hired 24 years ago, will finally be realized.”<

Friday, July 21, 2023

Raymond family’s food pantry makes a difference in community

By Kaysa Jalbert

RAYMOND – Every Tuesday morning Sabrina Golabiewski of Raymond takes a drive to the stores that have contracts with The Vineyard of Mechanic Falls Church to pick up fresh-rescue food items. Golabiewski then brings the items home, boxes them up, sends out a mass text to the community, and opens up her home for families to pick up these items anytime from noon to 7 p.m. the same day.

Sabrina Golabiewski of Raymond and her
family pick up fresh-rescue food items at
stores in the Lakes Region and then bring
the items to their home every week for
anyone in need in the community.
Over the past five years, Sabrina Golabiewski has devoted her time and freezer space managing a food pantry from her own home as an extension of her church to make resources more widely available for families in her community.

“I started picking up fresh rescues for my church and because I have five kids, they said I could help myself to extras. When I got there, I was so overwhelmed by the amount of food that could potentially be thrown out,” said Golabiewski.

From what started as a small gesture of picking up extras for her friends and storing them in her single freezer space, the concept has expanded to providing items for between 11 to 26 families a week and they now have five freezers, some coming as donations from her community and church.

Most local food pantries have a small window of about two hours once to twice a month for families to pick up,” Golabiewski said. “I cater more to the working families so they can pick up after work.”

The most common items they collect from Golabiewski are baked goods, and lots of them. They also frequently receive produce, deli meats and some pre-made sandwiches, all not up to shopping standards to be sold, but too good to go to waste.

But she doesn’t do it all alone.

Her youngest son, Caden, 9, goes to the stores and helps pick up food with his mother. When they arrive home, the remaining four children, Cameryn, 10, Ethan, 14, Ashten, 16, Greyson, 18, all jump in to help haul the goods into the house.

There is one more team member that influenced Sabrina to have a giving heart, her mother, Connie, age 71.

“She just has a service heart,” says Golabiewski, “I definitely saw how much it meant for her to do things for others so even as a salty teenager I was happy to do these things.”

On Tuesday mornings, the family takes over the kitchen and dining room, and with food items spread out to be organized, Connie counts to make sure there’s enough boxes. Everything is then kept cool in an air-conditioned bedroom for people to come in and get their box.

To make sure nothing goes to waste, Sabrina also sends out a Facebook post so that those not in the mass texts can also have a chance at some support.

Sabrina hopes that her actions will influence her children to carry on helping their community as they grow up, just in the same way Sabrina’s mother influenced her.

“As a single mom, it’s important for my kids to see how fortunate and how blessed we are,” she said.

In addition, Golabiewski runs the 302 Nutrition shop in Raymond. This summer, a friend helps cover Sabrina’s shifts on Tuesdays while she manages the food pantry. In the fall and winter, they shut down the shop on those days to run the food pantry instead.

“Feeding the families is far more important than being open for a couple hours on a Tuesday,” said Golabiewski.

When she started at 302 Nutrition, she thought it would be a great way to give back to her community and to use the store as another way to do food drives.

In the five years that Golabiewski has been running this service for those in need, they have only missed about four to five days in total but otherwise are open every Tuesday.

“If it comes down to heating your home or eating, I don’t want to make people have to choose that,” she said. <

Friday, September 18, 2020

Windham Pack 805 ready to welcome new Cub Scouts

By Ed Pierce

Windham Cub Scouts Pack 805 gather following
a pack building exercise this summer in which
eight wooden benches were made by scouts that
will be donated to various locations around town. 

For boys in kindergarten through fifth grade, joining the Cub Scouts will open a world of adventure, make new friends, gain a sense of confidence and is an opportunity to learn new skills in an environment designed to help them succeed.

In Windham, Cub Scout Pack 805 is always welcoming new scouts and new parents that hopefully turn into new pack volunteers. On Monday, Sept. 21, Pack 805 will conduct a registration night at Donnabeth Lippman Park at 6:30 p.m. and pack leaders are hoping for a great turnout of boys looking to take the first step to become Cub Scouts. 

“Scouting teaches kids positive character traits, helps foster relationships, and to be part of the community,” said Pack 805 Den Leader Casey Melanson. “It helps them take their best self, work on self-growth, and try new things. The scout motto is ‘Do Your Best’ and that’s what the kids learn.”

Melanson said that Cub Scout Pack 805 dens meet one night a week for about an hour. The whole pack gets together once a month, usually for a special meeting, like Trunk or Treat, a holiday party, or for the Blue and Gold Banquet or other special events.

According to Melanson, Pack 805 currently has about 36 Cub Scouts who work on several community projects each year. 

“We have assisted in celebrating the grand opening of a retirement home, picking up trash after Summerfest, and we will usually host a toy drive for a family for Christmas,” Melanson said. “We also participate in Scouting for Food each November to collect needed goods for the Windham Food Pantry.”

Pack 805’s dues are $100 per scout for the year, half of which is due at sign up and the other in December.  Of that $100, most of it covers national registrations, insurance, and
other expenses.  The rest stays with the pack to help toward achievements by local members.

“During the year, the pack does fundraisers to help with the cost of awards and to pay for some of our activities, like camping and overnights at EVO,” Melanson said. “We do pizza sales, popcorn sales, and bottle drives.  Our last bottle drive raised over $1.200/”

According to Melanson, Cub Scout uniforms consist of a shirt, a rank neckerchief, and a rank slide. Pants and rank hats are optional. Scouts are encouraged to have a belt (not necessarily a scout belt) to be able to display their beltloop achievements. 

“There is also a handbook for each rank that the scout will need to be able to learn, perform, and complete each achievement,” Melanson said.  “Prices for these items start at around $6 and go up from there. There is a Scout Shop right in South Portland by the Jetport that carries everything that a budding scout would need.” 

She said that Cub Scout activities emphasize having fun and learning useful life skills.      

“Cub Scouts can do anything they put their minds to. We have gone winter camping, hiking, ice fishing, and built lean-tos in the winter woods,” Melanson said. “We also have our annual Pinewood Derby where the boys design and build their own cars and then compete against one another.  As a pack we have had beach outings, cookouts, movie nights, and EVO Rock Gym overnights.”

Serving as Pack 805’s Den Leader, Melanson said that she became involved with the Cub Scouts when her son joined as a Tiger in first grade. He’s now in fifth grade and part of the Arrow of Light Den, which is second-year Weblos, the highest rank of Cub Scouts. He will be crossing over to Boy Scouts at the end of this year, she said.

“I was just a scout mom, but soon became part of and then Chair for the Fundraising Committee.  I am also now the Den leader for this year’s second-graders, the Wolves,” Melanson said.

Joining the Cub Scouts is almost a rite of passage for boys in Windham.

“Our pack is a great group of scouts and parents.  We care about each other, push each other, and just all around have fun,” she said. “We want our scouts to learn what is means to be part of something important, what is means to help their community, make new friends, build relationships, and most importantly grow as a young man.” 

Over the summer, members of Cub Scout Pack 805 worked on completing their achievements so that the scouts could move up in rank. 

These included First Aid, safety, teamwork, nutrition, and other topics, Melanson said. 

“We did have a few Zoom meetings when possible just to stay in touch with our scouts,” she said. “And the scouts worked on completing a different outdoor activity each month in order to earn their National Summertime Pack Awards.”

For Pack 805’s registration night on Monday evening, the registration table will be staffed through 7:30 p.m. 

“We have asked that only one parent comes to complete paperwork, to make sure that we can social distance appropriately,” Melanson said. “If someone has a new potential scout who is interested, they may come with the parent. We are asking that masks be worn also. If someone is interested in joining but is unable to make the registration event, they can reach out to us through Facebook or email.

For more information about Cub Scout Pack 805, visit their “Pack 805 Windham Maine” Facebook page or send an email to <