Mahoosuc Heart & Soul
in the news
The article below appeared in The Bethel Citizen on Thursday January, 26th. It was written by Amy Wight Chapman.
What does community mean to you?
This is the first in a series of profiles featuring area residents' thoughts on community-what they love, their hopes for the future, and what they would like to see continue or change. Interviews for profiles are conducted by members of the Mahoosuc Heart and Soul team. If you'd like to learn more, or be interviewed for this series or for the ongoing Heart and Soul project, please contact Program Coordinator Catherine Ingraham at email@example.com or 207-590-0541.
John Walker of West Bethel says he was "born and raised" in the community he still calls home. A 2016 graduate of Telstar High School who has worked as a substitute teacher and custodian at Crescent Park School, John recently became the youngest person ever elected to the SAD 44 School Board.
"I want the School Board to know what it's like to be a student in today's SAD 44," John said, "to have them be able to look through a recent student's eyes for a little while. I'm hoping that will bring change to the board, change to the district." What brought you here, or what makes you stay?
John: My family's been in the area forever; I'm related to just about everybody. As a kid you always think you want to move out, you want to get out of the town ... But, you know, it's kind of grown on me in my age ... I'm just kind of stuck here, and I don't mind it - I love it here. I might travel around, but I think I'm probably going to land right back here.
What do you love about this community?
John: I just love how we're a big family...When somebody needs help, we don't hesitate to come together and help each other. I know just about everyone, it seems, and everyone knows me ... I've got family in Bryant Pond, I've got family in Greenwood, I've got family in West Bethel and Bethel.
What would you miss in this community if it were gone? What would make the community not seem like the same community anymore?
John: If big business came in and drove all the small businesses out, this
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place would be totally different. Right now we have our small shops, and we have our small businesses, and that kind of keeps us unique ... I can't imagine what it would be like if something big was to move in. It would just feel wrong.
What about this community is important to continue into the future?
John: Keeping it small. Keeping small businesses. Keeping that family atmosphere that's been around for years and years and years. If that went away, it would be drastic, I think... That's probably one of the big reasons I hang around, is just because of how small it is, and how I can walk around Main Street in Bethel and at least see two or three people I know that I can say hi to and talk with for a little while.
What would you change to make this community even better? If you
could have one wish for this community, what would it be?
John: I wish that we could do more for the kids in the community, more community activities, more to merge Gould Academy and SAD 44 ... I think getting together with different groups of people and seeing what they want, and trying to come together on one thing, would be awesome, whether it's a rec center, or something [else] to get the kids together. For me, just graduating high school a year ago now, it would be nice to have something for the kids to do after school.
Maine Community Foundation awards grant to Mahoosuc Heart & Soul
Connections | Saturday, July 15, 2017
PORTLAND — The Oxford County Committee of the Maine Community Foundation has awarded $30,000 in grants to six nonprofits, including Mahoosuc Heart & Soul, to implement its community visioning and planning process in Woodstock, Greenwood, Newry and Bethel.
Other grant recipients include:
• Oxford Hills Community Gardens, Norway, to build a community garden and library resource center to increase agricultural educational services for local youth; and
• Muskie School of Public Service, Portland, to develop pathways for young people to pursue careers in health care that address workforce shortages and community needs.
The Oxford County Fund is a permanent endowment that supports projects that strengthen communities in the county. Applications to the fund are reviewed by a committee of local leaders. The next proposal deadline is February 15, 2018. The application and guidelines can be found online.
The Oxford County Fund is built through donations from the community.
FMI: www.mainecf.org, 1-877-700-6800, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oral history project wants your stories
By AMY WIGHT CHAPMAN
Mahoosuc Heart & Soul and the Museums of the Bethel Historical Society are launching a collaborative oral history project designed to both collect people's stories of the "good old days" and guide future community planning.
Beginning on Aug. 16, Travis Wheeler will be available on Wednesday and Friday afternoons at the Moses Mason House to conduct in-depth personal interviews of individuals with a connection to the local area.
Wheeler attended Telstar High School where, despite facing the physical challenges of cerebral palsy and impaired vision, he excelled in academics, graduating as valedictorian in 2015. He also served as manager of the football team, bringing a wealth of knowledge and dedication and an upbeat attitude to that role.
Members of the Ma- hoosuc Heart & Soul team have been collecting stories from community members for the past several months and have conducted well over 100 interviews.
Cat Ingraham, coordinator for the project, is enthusiastic about having Wheeler join the storygathering team.
"Having Travis available to conduct interviews on a regular basis will give people a chance to set up an appointment and think about some of the stories they might like to share," she said.
"The interviews will be recorded, and the audio archived as part of the Bethel Historical Society's oral history collection." "We look at the Heart & Soul recorded interviews as a supplement to, and continuation of, an oral history project started by our organization in the 1970s," said Museums of the Bethel Historical Society Executive Director Randy Bennett.
"With our two climate- controlled fireproof vaults, we believe MBHS is the perfect place for all of the interviews to be permanently archived." Mahoosuc Heart & Soul story collector Cathy Newell has also chosen to conduct her interviews in the meeting room of the Moses Mason House. In her first round of interviews last week, Newell said she spoke with three individuals with a combined nearly 100 years of residence in the Bethel area.
"Although we are fortunate to have many volunteers that we depend on to keep our programs, exhibits, and collections work running smoothly, the efforts of those involved in the Heart & Soul project dovetail nicely with our ongoing efforts to record and preserve the memories (and opinions) of local and area residents," Bennett said.
Designed by the Orton Family Foundation of Vermont, Community Heart & Soul is a long-term planning initiative that uses broad-based citizen engagement to determine what matters most to the residents of a community.
The project focuses on "story-gathering" as a way to learn about a community's unique character and to expand participation in local decision-making. Increased participation in turn fosters deeper connections among residents and increases communication, collaboration, and a sense of investment in the community.
Wheeler has interview slots available at the Moses Mason House at 1:30 and 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. "I am looking forward to seeing many familiar friends, making new ones, and learning more about the community," he said.
Anyone wishing to be interviewed for the project may contact Cat Ingraham at 590-0541 or by email at email@example.com.
Photographs were taken by Amy Wight Chapman and used with her permission.