September 1, 2017

Raymond Village Library celebrates new renovations by Lorraine Glowczak

The board of trustees and staff of Raymond Village Library (RVL) held a special re-dedication of the recent completed library renovations that consisted of a new circulation/check out desk. The event took place on Sunday, August 27 to honor Basil and Dia Chigas from Acton, MA as well as the many volunteers and area community businesses that gave their time and/or services. 

The space was dedicated to Dr. Charles and Florence Chigas. The Chigas's have been part of Raymond since 1951. 

Avid readers, they passed their love of libraries on to their son Basil whose donation made this space possible,” the RVL website states.
Although this is a story of a husband and wife team who generously donated money in the memory of Basil’s parents, it is also a tale about a small group of people coming together to create something bigger than expected. 

Much like a pebble dropped into the water, the ripple effect of Basil and Dia’s donation created a community of volunteerism that made such a project, not only easily possible, but successful.

Sheila Bourque, RVL Board of Trustees President, was the first to speak at Sunday’s event, welcoming all present and expressing gratitude to everyone who made a donation, spent time, energy or money to the newly constructed circulation desk. She thanked the following businesses:

Island Cove Building and Development
Paris Farmers Union
Miller Flooring
Hancock Lumber Company
Dave Blanchard, Electrician
Woodbrey Consulting
Mike Knight, Drywall
Tim Sanborn Cabinetry
Nick Hardy, Glass Artist
Raymond Public Works
Donors and Volunteers

Raymond Village Library staff was also recognized for their ability to keep the library running smoothly despite the sometimes loud and chaotic construction process. “Volunteers and staff had to keep a running library during construction,” Bourque stated. “It was not an easy task but they did it successfully.”

Although technically, the idea and dream of a new circulation desk began in early spring 2017 when the Chigas’s approached the Board of Trustees President, the real story began over 75 years ago. Basil Chigas shared that story with The Windham Eagle.

Basil’s mother, Flo Wastchak was a nurse who served her Country during the Second World War. His father, Dr. Charles Chigas, a dentist whose nickname was Dino, also served in the war. They met at Fort Sam Houston, TX where Wastchak or rather, Captain Wastchak outranked her future husband, 
Lieutenant Chigas. Fast forward a couple of years and it’s the 1950s. The couple married and made Billerica/Lowell, MA area their home. Here, Dr. Chigas owned a dentistry practice and Flo continued nursing. Two children, a son Basil and a daughter named Martha were now a part of their lives.

Glass Artist, Nick Hardy, donated his artwork to the library.
“In the early 1950s, polio was running rampant” Basil Chigas explained. “As a result, my parents wanted to find a place in nature, away from the city for their children to explore and be safe from the disease. They discovered Raymond and purchased a small camp in 1951 and we have been coming back here to spend summers and to ski in the winters ever since.”

The Chigas’s named that camp Porta Panagia. Although there are various interpretations (and a church in Greece) of that name, Basil’s father’s version of the expression is “doorway to heaven.” Dr. Chigas saw so much beauty in Raymond that he viewed this small camp and its location as his own heaven on earth. 

 “I wanted to leave something behind in their memory to a town that was so important in their lives and to honor their passion for reading,” said Basil Chigas. “That’s the sole purpose of the donation.”
That’s when he approached the trustees of the library and asked how he could help. “We really need a new sign in front of the library,” Bourque recalls saying at their first meeting. “Think bigger” was Basil’s reply.

And that’s how it all began. The new library circulation desk that caused the ripple effect of community collaboration and created an improved and updated library service that is available to encourage a love of reading among children and their families.

“Their vision resulted in the community coming together that led to much, much more than what was initially asked for,” said Bourque.

The RVL website states the sentiments best: “The energy created by this donation resulted in additional donations that allowed the renovation of the bathroom which is now ADA compliant and attracted a new Community Garden Reading Room donated by Highwire Hydroponics.”

Not to mention a variety of volunteers with big hearts who gave their time in the construction efforts.

The next time you enter the doors of Raymond Village Library, don’t let the appearance of that small quaint building fool you. There’s a lot of big hidden in those walls and foundations that has in the past and continues now, to serve the community and the world, in ways unknown. Who knows, you may just happen to enter your own version of heaven.

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