November 27, 2019

Raymond Beautification Committee wins Spirit of America Award

Members of the Raymond Beautification Committee.
From top left going clockwise, Shirley Bloom,
Sharon Dodson, Jan Miller, Susan Adams
By Briana Bizier

If you’ve been impressed by the efforts made to beautify Route 302 in Raymond, you’re not alone. Those colorful flower beds in the summer and festive wreaths in the winter have also caught the eyes of the town of Raymond’s Select Board. On November 12th, in a ceremony with the Cumberland County Commissioners, Raymond’s Beautification Committee was chosen by the Select Board and the Spirit of America committee to receive the Town of Raymond’s 2019 Spirit of America Award.

Based in Augusta, the Spirit of America Foundation is a public charity that honors volunteerism and commendable community service. Every year, over one hundred Maine municipalities present the Spirit of America Foundation Tribute. The recipients are typically chosen by a town’s Board of Selectmen.

[The Beautification] committee does excellent work in insuring that our 302 corridor and other areas in town look their best,” Raymond Select Board member Marshall Bullock said in the write-up he presented to the Spirit of America committee. “Spring cleaning and plantings require a lot of dedicated volunteers who gladly put in many hours. Cleanups through the summer and fall are followed by a drive to place Christmas wreaths on each of our streetlights. These efforts are appreciated by community members and visitors alike.”
The Beautification Committee’s work began in 2003, when the state did an overlay of Route 302
through Raymond, the Portland Water District installed waterlines, and the Town of Raymond put in sidewalks, decorative light poles, and over 70 planted areas along the business corridor and at the Raymond Beach parking lot. Although the newly installed gardens were intended to be hardy and maintenance free, the first year was a bit of a struggle.

Nathan White, Raymond Public Works Director, managed to keep most of the perennials and trees alive by watering the best he could that first hot summer,” wrote Sharon Dodson, who co-chairs the Beautification Committee along with Elissa Gifford. “But the weeds grew taller than most of the plants!”

Raymond’s Beautification Committee was formed the following winter and, that spring, they began their work in the gardens by pulling those weeds, replacing plants that hadn’t survived the first year, and attracting volunteers to maintain the flower beds. These volunteers, now known as the Walk & Weeders, meet every Friday morning from May through October to weed and neaten the gardens.
“For the past few years the Walk & Weeders have had regular maintenance help from Public Works, which allows them to focus more on making the public areas look beautiful, rather than merely struggling to stay ahead of the weeds,” Sharon explains. The Walk & Weeders also plant flowering bulbs to usher in springtime, and annuals to highlight Vacationland’s beautiful summer.

Volunteers make sure the Veterans Memorial is decked out with red, white and blue by Memorial Day and keep our Pink Garden for Maine Women’s Cancer research full of pink tulips in spring and pink geraniums in summer,” Sharon continued. “This year volunteers planted 425 daffodils to support the Maine Suffrage Centennial, so next spring they should put on beautiful golden display along 302 and at the Veterans Memorial Park.”

Those readers who have gardens of their own will recognize the tremendous effort that goes into creating and maintaining the beautiful flowers beds that brighten Route 302, Veteran’s Park, the Raymond Town Hall, and the Raymond Village Library. For Beautification Committee co-chair Sharon Dodson, the benefits of these flower beds extend even beyond the visual cohesion they bring to Raymond’s business district and the good impression this beautiful landscaping makes on potential customers and visitors.

In addition to the immediate gratification we volunteers get from making a messy garden look nice or an empty barrel come to life, we really thrive on the camaraderie of working together to do good
work and get some exercise,” Sharon told me. “We have made lifelong friends while doing this and have improved our own lives in the process.”

The Beautification Committee’s efforts continue through the dark, cold days of December when 70 cheerful holiday wreaths are placed on the streetlights lining Route 302 to keep Raymond shining through the shortest days of the year. These wreaths are provided at cost by Jessica Fay, the owner of Maine Lakes Wedding Event Florist, who also provides the bows for the wreaths.

"Maine Lakes Wedding and Event Florist is happy to contribute annually to this effort,” Jessica Fay said. “Decorating Raymond's public space for the holidays is a way for us to celebrate the ways our town can come together. It also shows visitors and people passing through town that we are a welcoming community."

To purchase these wreaths, members of the Beautification Committee collect donations from local businesses in November. To make a tax-deductible individual donation and help Raymond sparkle through the holidays or shine through the summer, please write a check to the Town of Raymond and note it is “for the Beautification Committee.” Checks can be hand-delivered to the Raymond Town Hall or mailed to 401 Webb’s Mills Road, Raymond ME, 04071.

Finally, Raymond’s Walk & Weed group is always looking for volunteers. Anyone interested in helping to maintain these beautiful flower gardens should contact Sue Look at the Raymond Town Office.

No comments:

Post a Comment