April 04, 2020

Carmel PTA works to combat youth suicide

Area businesses and individuals will be receiving a letter from members of the Carmel Parent-Teacher Association and its Carmel Afterschool Program Committee.

We hope all contacted read that letter slowly and carefully, and respond appropriately and immediately by digging deep into their pockets and supporting the PTA request.

The Carmel PTA is asking that you help effect a change in its area that could save a child’s life.

PTA president Jackie St. Louis called last week, and what she had to say sent shivers up our spines, not because of a general statement she made — we know Maine has the highest suicide rate among adolescents in the United States — but we did not realize the specifics of that statement.

During the past 2 1/2 years, 25 children in the Carmel area have attempted suicide.

“And that area doesn’t include Bangor,” St. Louis said.

It also does not include the Newport area.

Twenty-five suicide attempts by adolescents in the Carmel area alone.

Several attempts were successful. “A couple right in our immediate area,” St. Louis said.

The Carmel PTA has decided to be proactive in trying to turn this community tragedy around. It needs your financial support.

“We’re trying to target the time when most of the attempts take place,” St. Louis said, referring to the after-school hours of 3 to 6 p.m.

In its letter, the PTA recognizes that “our rural setting brings an isolation that more urban students do not experience. Students are left with few choices between the time of school dismissal and parental or adult contact.”

The after-school program would be open to all pupils in grades K-8 who wish to participate.

The plan is to offer a variety of classes — from drawing to computer clubs, painting and creative writing to cooking, first aid and music.

The hope is to offer these classes free, but it may be necessary to charge a minimal fee for some of them.

The plan also includes bus trips to area swimming pools, bowling lanes and roller-skating rinks.

Volunteers will teach some classes and help with others. But the PTA needs money for supplies, transportation and to hire instructors for specific classes.

The goal is raise $6,000. To date, the after-school fund has only $500.

The PTA wants to begin with a couple of classes in November. For the health and well-being of the children in this area, November is none too soon.

“Your donation to this program will help provide the children in our elementary and middle schools with safe, fun and educational choices after school,” says the letter from St. Louis, past PTA President Dawn Demmons and Carmel Elementary School Principal Jim Chasse.

“Our children deserve the chance to have a happy, safe and productive childhood.”

We urge not only the people of the Carmel area but people throughout our readership area to help this PTA help its children.

We urge the larger community that is Maine to help this smaller community that is united in its effort to reverse this horrible trend and provide its children “with positive after-school choices.”

To donate to the program, make your check payable to Carmel PTA and mail it to Carmel Elementary School, P.O. Box 228, Carmel 04419, attention Carmel PTA.

Chasse and St. Louis would be happy to answer any questions you have about the program. You may call Chasse at 848-3383 or St. Louis at 848-7215.

Help these adults help these children as soon as possible.

Let there not be one more adolescent suicide attempt in the Carmel area, and let us all try in every way possible to help reduce this deadly statistic that casts its long, dark shadow over our state.

Songs and swing music from the 1940s will highlight the “Boogie Woogie Benefit” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Cole Land Transportation Museum on the Perry Road in Bangor.

The event benefits Camp Susan Curtis, a program that provides a Maine wilderness camping experience for disadvantaged Maine children.

Former Gov. Ken and Polly Curtis will participate in the reception to raise funds for Camp Susan Curtis.

The camp was founded in 1974 by friends of the former governor and his wife in memory of their 11-year-old daughter, Susan, who died of cystic fibrosis. Located in Oxford County, it serves more than 380 Maine children each year.

Music of the ’40s will be provided by The Memphis Belles and The Bell Hops.

The reception is sponsored by the Bangor Daily News, Bangor Savings Bank, the Galen Cole family, Fleet Bank, KeyBank of Maine and Merrill Merchants Bank.

Chairwoman Dianne O’Donnell and husband Claude will serve as hosts for the benefit along with members of the Galen Cole family, Larry and Mary Parker and Rick and Beth Warren.

The public is invited to attend. Tickets are $50 per person and may be reserved by calling 774-1552.

The Standpipe, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; 990-8288.

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