January 19, 2018

Veteran’s groups and Coldwell Banker Team Real Estate to host quarterly blood drive

January is National Blood Donor Month and the American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types, including right here in Maine. 

 In fact, American Red Cross states that the recent severe winter weather has played a role in the
increased need due to blood drive cancellations.

Additionally, American Red Cross points out that the flu, and hectic holiday schedules collectively, contributing to more than 28,000 fewer donations than what was needed in November and December. 

Local veterans, along with Coldwell Banker Team Real Estate, will sponsor a drive on Wednesday, January 24 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Windham Veteran’s Center. Although appointments are encouraged, drop-ins are accepted. 

To make an appointment, call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Dunkin Donut cards will be available.

Sen. Diamond introduces bill to help Mainers get propane deliveries

AUGUSTA – Rep. Jess Fay, D-Raymond, will be the lead co-sponsor of a bill filed by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, to facilitate the delivery of propane to keep Mainers warm in declared heating emergencies.

The bill responds to current widespread delays in fuel delivery by allowing propane delivery drivers to fill tanks owned by different companies. The law now states that tanks may be filled only by the company that owns them. This bill waives that requirement, provided both companies involved have an agreement and that an emergency has been declared, as has been the case recently due to abnormally cold temperatures throughout the state.

“It is entirely unacceptable that some Mainers are going without heat in this bitter cold,” said Sen. Diamond. “This bill applies common sense to the situation and allows propane companies to fill tanks that may belong to another company. My view is, if the product is available, there should be no barriers keeping it from being delivered.”

“I have heard from a significant number of folks and want to use the tools I have as a legislator to try to connect people with resources and give them a way to get their fuel in a timely manner,” said Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Casco, who supports the legislation and introduced her own similar bill to help Mainers access propane. “It is upsetting to me to hear from so many constituents about this issue, and it is heartening that Sen. Diamond and I are thinking along the same lines.”

As the statutory cutoff date for introducing bills has passed, this bill must be approved by a majority of the Legislative Council, the ten members of leadership in the Legislature. Bipartisan support is required for any bill to be accepted.

Host an exchange student from Japan by Lorraine Glowczak

The Greenheart Exchange is looking for families who would like to host an exchange student from Japan who will be visiting the Windham Schools from March 2 through March 12, 2018.
“Your family can learn about Japan while you are hosting them and you make a friend for life,” stated Kathy Hansen, High School Programs Regional Director. “They are here to practice English, attend school and get to know a family. It does not cost anything except to feed them. They do not need their own room and they will take the bus to school.”

While the students are here, they will visit the high school, middle school and elementary schools and offer presentations. 

Not only will the host family provide an experience to remember for the student, but create a memory for the family as well. Host mom Heather said, “We did not really have the extra room or time, but we hosted Ari from Japan to help out. It was so fun! The only hard part about hosting is when they leave!” 

If you or someone you know would like to consider or wish to host a student, contact Kathy Hansen at 207-653-1007 or khansen@greenheart.org.

January 12, 2018

Windham First Responders continue to combat opioids by Michelle Libby

Windham Police Department, under the direction of Chief Kevin Schofield, has taken a two-point approach to dealing with the opioids crisis in Windham. In September 2016, Windham Police officers began carrying Narcan Nasal Spray, as a way to save the lives of citizen who overdose on an opioid drug like heroine, oxycodone, oxycontin, cocaine and fentanyl to name a few. 
Since the inception of the program, police officers have administered Narcan 11 times, 7 of those in 2017. 

“Most likely we’ve saved many lives. We have a lot of tools in the tool bag, this is one of them,” Schofield said. 

Police officers will often arrive at the scene of an overdose before the ambulance, which has a seven-minute response time. The police officer on scene, who administers the 4mg dose, could save a life. Schofield likened it to an EpiPen for a bee sting or CPR being started before help can arrive. 

http://www.windhammaine.us/documentcenter/view/3060Chief Brent Libby at Windham Fire/Rescue Department also has his staff equipped with Narcan to administer as needed. In the last two or three years, his department has stayed close to where they’ve been with regards to administering the “miracle drug” as Schofield described it. Windham Fire/Rescue administered 13 doses of Narcan in 2017.  People are now getting prescriptions for Narcan when they are discharged from the hospital. There is no way for police or fire departments to know how many people are being saved with Narcan that they do not administer.

Some people treat Narcan like a safety net. “A lot acknowledge the risk they’re taking, but the dependency on the drug outweighs the risk,” said Libby. People with acute opioid poisoning are being revived from overdoses all over the state. 

The epidemic has a toll on families and communities. Along with the drug problem is the increase in robberies, car thefts and burglaries. “It’s a societal problem,” Schofield said. “This problem takes up a lot of police resources.” From investigating crimes that occur to fuel the addiction, to dealing with the people using drugs, officers are kept busy. 

Three percent of calls for the Fire/Rescue in Windham are because of overdoses, according to Libby.
Part of the opiate and street drug problem stems from street drugs being cheaper than Oxy drugs. Pharmacology made a change to the Oxy pills and at $1 per milligram, it’s more expensive than heroine.

The second prong in the approach is the Recovery Liaison Program. In November 2016, the towns of Buxton, Windham, Gorham and Westbrook joined together to create a recovery liaison position with money from a Department of Public Safety grant to help those who have issues with opioids re-enter society, find jobs, locate places to live and help them with their recovery at any stage of their disorder. 

“This helps them put their lives back together,” said Schofield. Clients are teamed up with a recovery coach, who may have been through what they’re going through. “These people have mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters,” Schofield added. 

Danielle Rideout runs the program, based at the Westbrook Police Department. The grant money will run out at the end of June 2018. The departments involved are trying to find grant opportunities to keep the program running. As of last November, the program had helped 31 people in Westbrook, 13 in Windham, 5 in Buxton and 5 in Gorham; but Rideout had spoken with over 150 possible participants, inmates and others affected. The program has also received many referrals from area agencies. It is anticipated that the Westbrook Recovery Liaison Program will need over $79,000 to run the program in the financial year 2019. 

“There has been more awareness of (opioid addiction disorder). It’s been a significant problem throughout the state,” Schofield said. “The officers understand the seriousness and the mission of this – the saving of lives.” Opioid addiction disorder knows no socio-economic boundaries. It’s a statewide issue, he continued. “You can’t arrest yourself out of this problem.”   

Schofield has spoken with people who have been revived by Narcan and with help, have been in recovery, hold jobs, pay taxes and can help others. “You really do see a lot of success stories,” he added. Parents are reunited with their children, thus closing DHHS cases, and getting back in the workforce. This is in contrast to having them in jail or paying for their treatment. “It’s a good thing. It’s not costing the town expenses,” Schofield said. 

“We recognize this not just a crime, but a public health issue. If we get them into recovery and succeed, we decrease the demand for opioids. If we can do that we can stem the tide,” Schofield concluded. 

Veteran food pantry is bare and is in need of donations

American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 of Windham is closing in on the donation of approximately 2000 pounds of non-perishable food donated to the Portland Veterans Center Food Pantry. The Pantry serves the homeless and food-insecure veterans in the Portland Area. 

Chuck Whynot
During a visit to the center ten months ago; Post Service Officer, Chuck Whynot, noted that the
pantry was bare. Whynot acted quickly in February of 2017 to establish weekly collections of food.

This past December, Whynot took all his reserves to the pantry to serve the veterans over the holidays. The food pantry is now again bare.

The Post has been delivering approximately 50 pounds of food over the last 40 weeks and has been the primary source of food at the center through 2017.  

Whynot and the Field-Allen Post are asking for donations of non-perishable food items to refill the expended stocks. All donations would be of great help for this vital program for our homeless veterans. Donations may be dropped off at the Windham Veterans Center, (behind Hannaford’s, North Windham) on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.   

Donations will be sorted and delivered each Thursday to the Portland Veterans Center. It should also be noted that the Legion Auxiliary Unit 148 has been collecting personal hygiene items, socks, hats etc. to be distributed to veterans in need who visit the center. For additional information, contact Dave Tanguay at 892-1306.