WATERVILLE, Maine — Some volunteers are being celebrated for their roles in supporting kids and teens in central Maine.
They are volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA at the Alfond Youth and Community Center in Waterville. But one volunteer is getting some extra attention.
“This year's celebration was pretty exciting!” exclaimed Ken Walsh, CEO of the Alfond Youth and Community Center
Walsh said the five volunteers honored were David and Carolyn Green; Eric Haley, Cara Norris, and David Perry. All were honored at this year's annual appeal benefit, but one stood out for his exceptional skills.
Perry received the Romeo Paganucci Award, an award for someone who goes above and beyond for the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA of Greater Waterville at the Alfond Center in the furtherance of their mission.
“We are [the] largest licensed childcare program in the state. Four-hundred kids, on average, daily attendance come to this organization. Eighty percent are food insecure,” Walsh said.
At the top of the organization’s priorities are: to provide essential childcare and tackle the growing food insecurity issue of children in the greater Waterville area.
Perry, in spite of the fact that he's blind, turned a garden into a small organic farm that keeps on growing. He explained it was a long time coming to make his dream a reality.
“After years of struggling to start small organic farms in this area . . . Ken and I met and had conversations about this program. It just matched,” Perry said.
Perry volunteers an average of 25 hours a week each season but in winter. He spends those hours gardening at The Mary Nash Beaupre Greenhouse and Campbell True Value Community Garden. Folks have reported seeing Perry making his daily half-mile walk from his home to the A.Y.C.C.
“It grew with little crops here and there in the early days like 10 years ago, and people like Dave inspire us for greatness and bigger opportunities,” shared Walsh.
There are opportunities to grow fresh vegetables and even to use them for the Greenhouse to Your House boxed meals, serving over 400 kids in the greater Waterville area.
Thanks to Perry, the vegetables will keep growing.
“He has that energy inside that our kids could learn from. So, no matter what hand is dealt to you in life, you can do something about it,” expressed Walsh.
“Oh! The appeals dinner went phenomenally well. My wife and I had a good time. We were very appreciative of the award. And [it] was just a great time had by everybody,” expressed Perry.
"We cannot-not get inspired and passionate about the work that our Boys and Girls Club and YMCA [do]! The fact is, this Boys & Girls Club is on its 99th year,” beamed Walsh.
Every year, the A.Y.C.C. raises funds at their 100-day appeal, which kicked off at the benefit dinner.
Walsh is grateful for the alumni connections and community support over the years.
“Thanks to the generous support of donors, 6,211 people received scholarship funding last year to participate in AYCC programming,” he said.
Organizers say the need this year is even greater.
Those who want to help meet that need can click here.