Clifton Variety Store owner James “Jim” Hodgins is a man of few words, we are told. So when he does speak, you know his words have meaning.
On Sunday, Dec. 28, the man who had been shot six times during an armed robbery of his store last March moved back home, into a handicapped-accessible apartment in his building, made for him by friends, neighbors and strangers.
With the assistance of his friend Penny Peasley, Hodgins prepared the following statement, which he is eager for us to pass along to you.
“I thank all the people who volunteered to build the apartment,” he said, “and put a new roof on the building itself.
“To all the people who sent donations of money; to the companies that donated building, electrical and plumbing supplies; and to the volunteers who worked on the building and helped in any other way, Thank You.
“It’s good to be back.”
Penny Peasley and David Pratt were the co-organizers of the effort to build an apartment that could accommodate Hodgins and the wheelchair that is now part of his world.
“We would like to extend our appreciation to all of the workers, the companies and the donors of money who helped us complete this project,” she said.
“We see the bad on TV, and read it in the newspapers, and we seldom see the good.
“This is a refreshing view of how the majority thinks.”
Penny told us she is “in the process of writing acknowledgments to all of those who donated in any way.” But, she said, “there were so many companies that donated materials, that we were unable to list them all. It would have taken a whole page.
“In Bangor alone there were 24,” she said, and four each in Beddington, Clifton, and Brewer; and one each in Hermon, Costigan, Old Town, Hancock and Ellsworth.
“That’s a total of 41 companies that helped, including countless donors of money,” she said.
On Saturday, the Franciscan Brothers of St. Elizabeth of Hungary are hosting a by-invitation “Wrap-up Show of Appreciation Dinner” for all the volunteer laborers at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bangor.
“They are doing that because they couldn’t come to help on the building, and they wanted to show their support for what we did,” Penny said.
She, Pratt and all who helped Hodgins are thrilled he is now in his own home, one that can accommodate his needs.
“It’s a nice apartment,” Peasley said of the living room with small kitchenette, bedroom and bath.
“It’s clean, neat, comfortable and handicapped-accessible. It has a sink that he can roll in under, new windows and doors. He’s very pleased, and his spirits are good.” So good, in fact, Penny marvels at his attitude.
“He’s not depressed or discouraged. He never has anything bad to say about anybody. If I’d been shot six times, I don’t think I’d be like that.”
Of the seven $10,000 grants recently awarded by Maine Children’s Trust to help prevent child abuse and neglect in Maine, four are in our circulation area.
Recipients of the grants include Downeast Health Services in Hancock county; Families First in Kennebec County; Penquis CAP in Piscataquis County; and Parent Child Alliance in Penobscot County.
Nine awards of $3,000 each in the “Small Grants” category were also made recently, and six of them went to organizations in our circulation area. Receiving funds that help them focus on innovative approaches to the prevention of child abuse and neglect are Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Kennebec Valley, Franklin County Children’s Force, Washington-Hancock Community Agency, The Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Aroostook Council to Prevent Child Abuse, and Knox County Council to Prevent Child Abuse.
While the urgency of child abuse and neglect in Maine remains crucial, MCT reports the good news is that most recent statistics show a 4.7 percent decrease in child abuse and neglect in Maine last year.
To donate or learn more about MCT, contact executive director Richard Gyory, 47 Lake Road, Wilton 04294, or call 645-3446.
The act of helping others — whether they are needy neighbors right in town or strangers in a city hospital — is what pupils in Monson are learning a lot about these days.
Last Thanksgiving, for example, pupils of this small town between Guilford and Greenville learned their local food cupboard was nearly bare.
So the pupils and staff at Monson Elementary decided to do something about it, and set a goal of collecting 200 items for the cupboard: They achieved that goal in seven days.
And, in the multigrade classes of kindergarten through third grade, the pupils used knowledge of shapes and customs acquired in a unit on math and social studies to help them create a quilt, which they will donate to the pediatric unit at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
Helping the pupils on the quilt project were school board member Patty Johnson and parents Chris Hall and Julie Anderson, who donated the material and supplies.
Grandparents Hilda Sylvia, Melanie Huff and Bunny Knight, parent Joanne Tardy and staff member Sue McNulty brought sewing machines to sew the pieces of the quilt together. The Monson Elementary pupils thank the adults who helped, and we’re sure the recipients of the pupils’ efforts thank them for their thoughtfulness.
The Standpipe, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; 990-8288.