Student Appreciation Luncheon

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In this photo are Houlton High School Principal Marty Bouchard, Houlton Rotary Vice President Jane Torres, Houlton High School senior and class officer Danielle Provost, Rotary President Amy Hocking presenting The High School Volunteer Award to Houlton High School, and Houlton High School senior and class officer Jill Howland.DSC_0041

In the photo here are two students from Southern Aroostook High School, Cassidy Lyons and Marissa Boulier, and Amy Hocking, president of Houlton’s Rotary. Marissa was reading the name of the students attending from her school.

The Annual Student Recognition Luncheon was a huge success serving 240 people, including Rotarians and students. East Grand High School, The Greater Houlton Christian Academy, Southern Aroostook High School, Hodgdon High School and Houlton High School students were honored and served a terrific lunch provided by Madigan Estates and the Rotary kitchen crew. The program featured guest speaker Houlton High School student Keegan Fitzpatrick who spoke along with Amy Hocking about the Rotary trip to the Dominican Republic and the service provided to a very impoverished population of Haitian sugar plantation workers. Keegan was impressed with how the poor people there value whatever they have and are proud to show and share what they have. Amy stressed the problem with hunger and how any contribution would help, even just enough to provide a bowl of cereal per day. The Houlton Rotary group assisted with water filtration systems this past February. Keegan and his sister Danica traveled with their grandmother  Rotarian Becky Day. They all had a life changing experience in their volunteer work.

Houlton High School is repeating Volunteer Day on Friday, May 29, 2015 this year if anyone needs a volunteer crew, please call 532-6551 for details.

Community Park Playground

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In the photo are Marie Carmichael of Houlton Parks and Recreation Program, Rotarian Jon Harbison and Vice President of Houlton Rotary Jane Torres. Marie spoke to the group’s luncheon meeting on May 11, 2015 about the New Playground at Community Park for which Houlton Rotary was a large contributor, giving a total of $42,000.00 over the years of fund raising. The fund raising effort began in earnest in 2008 when a new renovation was considered but gave way to a total new plan when the old playground was found not to be up to code. 30 businesses, 20 families and 6 other organizations have donated over the years. Now the total raised is $108,000 enough to pay the best bidder for the equipment and perhaps have a contingency fund for maintenance. On June 6th Rotarians are invited to help with the assembly of the new playground in Community Park. Marie hopes everything can be done that day and not spill over into Sunday the 7th of June. Members are welcome to join in the fun . Don’t forget to wear your Rotarian At Work teeshirt!

Downtown Restoration

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DSC03198In this photo are left to right, Michael Lyne of JHR Development of Maine, Nancy Ketch, Houlton Rotarian, Lorain Francis, Senior Program Director of the Maine Downtown Center and Greg Paxton , Executive Director of Maine Preservation.

Rotarians were educated on what the different organizations are doing around the State of Maine to preserve and enhance downtowns. Lorain spoke first on her work with MDC which has been charged by the State Legislature  and National Trust for Historic Preservation to stimulate vibrant and healthy downtowns. Currently there are 10 nationally-designated MainStreet Maine and 20 Maine Downtown Network communities in Maine.  The 4 points of the Maine Street approach are 1. Organization, 2. Promotion, 3. Design (Heritage and Aesthetics), and 4. Economic Development. Houlton joined the Network Communities in 2011.

Greg informed the group of the work of the nonprofit organization titled Maine Preservation. They deal with real estate that is historic. They assist with getting started in building revitalization, the basics in development, Historic Tax Credits, energy efficiency, 2nd and 3rd floor usage and successful partnerships in downtown settings. The work that is done improves the tax base for the community and can be a catalyst towards economic revitalization. Greg showed examples that the organization has completed in Yarmouth, Biddeford, Lewiston and  a current development in Dover Foxcroft.

 

Breaking Ground at Houlton High School

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DSC03183In the photo are Amy Hocking, President of Houlton Rotary, Shelly Bouchard, educator at Houlton High School and Julie Delano, Houlton Rotarian at the April 27, 2015 meeting.

Julie Delano invited Shelly Bouchard to speak about “Breaking Ground” , a course that she originated and teaches at Houlton High School. Shelly explained the outline of the course which has nine sections. First, the students learn to maintain and harvest crops for sustainability. Second, they learn to recognize and collect wild plant species. Thirdly, they learn to recycle and repurpose common household items such as milk cartons. Next, they have established a school-wide composting program. Fifth comes fundraising, promoting and attending public events. Sixth, the course uses student ideas and initiatives such as the name and logo of the class. Seventh, the students participate in community service programs. Eighth, the class researches commonly used farming practices such as crop rotation. And ninth, the students sample new recipes when using the harvest of their efforts. Shelly showed photos of the 22 students in action in their various jobs and activities.  More information is available by googling Breaking Ground and finding their website under Kitchen Gardeners International.

 

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative

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In this photo are Houlton Rotary President Amy Hocking, Aroostook Aspirations Initiative’s April Flagg and Kristin Wells, and Rotarian Nancy Ketch after April’s presentation at the April 13, 2015 luncheon meeting.

April had spoken to Houlton Rotary one year ago but had new information for Rotarians on Monday April13, 2015. She laid out the philosophy of Aroostook Aspirations and the mission and goals of the organization. Sponsored primarily by Ray and Sandy Gauvin, the initiative helps one student per high school in Aroostook County to obtain a college degree. The concept is to keep talent in the County and to enrich the County by keeping our youth here to work and lead their lives. Students selected for a Gauvin Scholarship are first generation college students and come from under privileged backgrounds economically. The new goal is to aid 20 students  and to increase the number each year. It is found that 97% of AAI students do earn their degrees and 75% stay in the County. Because the population of Aroostook is declining, only 16% of Aroostook’ s population have college degrees and the average earnings per household is $10,000.00 less that the average of the entire state, the Aroostook Aspiration Initiative is committed to improving these numbers. Volunteers are welcome to mentor the students. Retirees from different professions can advise and encourage students. A monthly funding plan is available or fixed donations are welcome. For more information and contact information call 760-0558, visit 754 Main Street, Presque Isle, Maine or email info@gauvinfund.org and check  the website at www.gauvinfund.org. Remember Aroostook Aspiration Initiative’s mission is to reduce outward migration, increase degree attainment and grow Aroostook County’s economy.

 

Job-Driven National Emergency Grant

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Pictured here are Amy Hocking, Houlton Rotarian president, Ryan Pelletier, and Lance Albair of ACAP. Lance spoke about the Job Driven National Emergency Grant given to 32 states including Maine and some of its counties. Aroostook County received $1,00,000.00. JD-NEG connects dislocated workers to the workforce. If a person was unemployed for at least 27 weeks during the recession of December 2007 to January 2009 they are eligible for this program. JD-NEG pays for 50% of the training with the expectation of a full time position for the trainee. This is helpful to employers as well as to future employees. For more information, please contact ACAP at 1-800-432-7881 or email Lance at lalbair@acap-me. org.

Houlton’s Animal Shelter

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DSC_0008-1Shown here are on February 23, 2015 are Amy Hocking, President of Houlton Rotary, Heather Miller of the Houlton Animal Shelter, Kelly King of the Houlton Animal Shelter and Jane Torres, Vice President of Houlton Rotary. Heather showed a moving slide show of life at Callaghan Road’s Animal Shelter as she addressed the serious issues of running such an operation. Finances are a constant concern to keep the operation current in their fragile budget. The good news is that a generous person paid for this year’s heating costs and the building is almost paid in full. Volunteers are always in need to do any work or just play with the animals, cats or dogs and sometimes piglets! The shelter has been very successful working with southern shelters to bring up dogs for adoption. Heather gave a good solid report on her work and it is very clear that she had a strong grasp of the situation here in the County. For more information or to help, please visit the facility or call 532-2826 or stop by at 263 Callaghan Road in Houlton, between the Ludlow Road and the B Road.

The Carleton Project

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In the photo here are Amy Hocking, Houlton Rotary president, Alan Morris, president of the Carleton Project and Robyn Crone, Houlton Rotarian.

Robyn’s guest recently at Rotary was Al Morris. Al founded the Carleton Project after 20 years of teaching in public schools and seeing a need to match his vision. He opened his first private school in 1999 in the town of Presque Isle with 12 students. Today he has added 5 locations and has an enrollment of over 100 students. Al’s job is 1/3 education, 1/3 politics, 1/3 social work. He had a social worker on staff as well as educators. The Project’s mission is student success. A safe environment is created for learning to achieve the students’ goals. The schools run year round to keep the students engaged and successful and accountable. Students who could fall through the cracks are educated through exploration and habit formation to thrive. This is not a special needs facility as those needs are met elsewhere. Individuals are guided and supportive of each other through shared editing of their work to assisted learning in an alternative education format. Goals are set and students are held accountable. Al make sure that graduates have a one year plan before they graduate. 75% of the student body go onto higher education.

Al can be reached at alamo@carletonproject.com. His Houlton location is housed in the Higher Education Center on Bangor Road. For more information visit or email Al.

Department of Health and Human Services and Estela Lane

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In the photo here are Estela Lane of Adult Protective Services and Ann Torres Savage, Rotarian and DHHS employee. Estela spoke to Houlton Rotary recently about “elder abuse”. In 1981 the State of Maine’s legislature enacted legislation to protect our senior citizens. There is an intake unit available for people who suffer from abuse, neglect and or exploitation. Maine has the oldest population in the country and nearly 5500 cases are reported each year, not including unreported cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation. 70% of caregivers are family members. Estela stressed that the hot line number be used for any concerns about elderly citizens who need protection. Please call 1-800-624-8404.

Dolly’s Library

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Shown here are James Matilla, Rotarian and Board Member of United Way, Claudia Stevens, of the United Way of Aroostook and Amy Hocking, President of Houlton Rotary. Claudia educated the Houlton Rotarians about Dolly’s Imagination Library during the February 9th lunch meeting. Books are free to children under the age of 5 and Dolly Parton only expects the shipping to be covered. A child can receive a book once a month. This program is to encourage parents to read to their children and so that when they enter school their imaginations are sparked and studies have proven improved learning skills. Claudia handed out applications and is more than willing to answer any more questions. Her phone number is 764-5197 and the office is at 480 Main Street in Presque Isle.

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