MAINE, USA — The Central and Mid-Coast Maine Chapter of the American Red Cross honored nine people Tuesday at its 16th Annual Real Heroes Awards Breakfast.
These individuals are celebrated for going above and beyond in service to others.
"These Real Heroes are ordinary people who have committed extraordinary acts," said Johanna Lloyd, chairwoman of the Real Heroes Committee and a member of the Chapter Board of Directors. "Whether they saved a life through quick action or saw and met a need in their community, they all embody the humanitarian spirit that is at the heart of the American Red Cross."
The 2019 Real Heroes of Central and Mid-Coast Maine are as follows.
Adam Salve, First Responder Award
Adam Salve of Durham is an Auburn firefighter who saved a 9-year-old boy from the Androscoggin River. He was off duty when he heard over the radio that two children had been swept into the water, away from the shore. Salve is trained in open water rescue and had his dry suit, helmet, and other swimming gear with him. He went to the scene and joined the operation.
With help from other first responders who were searching the river from the shore, Salve was able to find the older brother who had gone into the water after his younger brother. Salve swam to the boy and put him in a canoe that another firefighter was paddling. Salve helped propel the canoe towards shore by holding on to the end and kicking. The firefighters were able to get the boy back safely, and he was then taken to the hospital.
"My portion of that whole scenario was just one link. There were many, many other people that made it so Max is where he is today," said Salve. "Without the paramedics, without the doctors, without any one of those links, his outcome may have been different."
Jack Schrader, Blood Services Award
Jack Schrader of Manchester has been a dedicated blood donor since 1965. His brother was serving in Vietnam at the time, and he thought that blood donation would be a good way to give back to the community.
Since then, Schrader has donated more than 123 times -- a total of more than 14 gallons of blood.
"There’s people that need your help and it’s not always financial. It’s sometimes things that you can’t buy," said Schrader. "If my blood will keep a soldier in Afghanistan or whatever -- or anybody else for that matter -- alive, then I’ve got to do it."
Gail Hart, Public Services Award
Gail Hart of Harpswell is emergency medical services chief of Harpswell Neck Fire Rescue. She has devoted several thousand hours of her time to this volunteer role. A retired kindergarten teacher, Hart became an EMT when she saw the need in her community and later took on the role of chief.
"Helping people feels very natural to me. It’s very rewarding from a within level," said Hart. "Honestly, I don’t feel like a Real Hero."
Hart's other community service includes leading the Santa fund in town, being a hospice volunteer, and serving on the town’s Fire Rescue Planning Committee.
"She is a community volunteer in the purest and highest sense," said Harpswell Fire Administrator Arthur Howe III.
Gary Croteau, CPR Saves Lives Award
Gary Croteau of Auburn jumped into action one winter day on Taylor Pond in Auburn and saved the life of longtime family friend, Larry.
The two men were using an auger to drill a hole for ice fishing when Larry collapsed and seemed to start choking. When Larry stopped breathing, Croteau followed his instincts and started performing chest compressions and rescue breathing on him.
Croteau has no formal CPR training, but after several rescue breaths, Larry began breathing on his own. Paramedics arrived soon after and transported Larry to the hospital. He survived and lived for another seven months.
"When you’re in that situation and there’s nobody there, you’ve got to do whatever you can. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you still have to try. You can’t just do nothing," said Croteau. "Luckily for me, there was someone looking down and helping me out. That’s the way I see it. I got help and Larry got help, both at the same time."
Kayden Boilard, Community Youth Award
Kayden Boilard of Lewiston is a fifth-grader who started delivering food with her father to neighbors in need a couple of years ago.
The project started out small, in a spare room of their home. Boilard didn’t realize how much need there was in her community -- and how much support her project would inspire.
"It definitely makes me happy," said Boilard. "But it’s an easy thing to do. I’m just delivering food in a box to someone, and it could possibly make their day."
Since its small beginnings, Kaydenz Kitchen Food Pantry has expanded its offerings, providing items like books, clothing, diapers, and more in addition to groceries.
They were about to open in a new space in December when a fire destroyed the building. It was a tough situation, but that didn’t stop Boilard -- her food pantry recently had its open house in another new space.
Andrew Banow, Lifesaving Award
Andrew Banow of Rockland was at the Rockland Municipal Fish Pier last summer unloading herring from the Western Sea. From his position on top of a tractor trailer, he saw lobsterman, Gary Kenney, on the bow of his boat by his mooring. A small boat was going by fast.
When Banow looked up again, he saw feet sticking up out of the water. Banow realized Kenney had fallen in after the small boat created a wave that knocked him into the water. Kenney did not know how to swim, and though his legs were hooked on the side of the skiff, the rest of his body was being weighed down by his clothes in the water.
Banow jumped off the truck and got into a skiff, racing toward Kenney. Banow tried to hand him a gaff, but Kenney wasn’t able to hold on to it. Banow then grabbed the lobsterman’s hand, pulling his face above water, and pulled him into his own skiff.
"It’s just blind luck. That’s the way it is for me," said Banow. "I think anybody else would’ve done exactly the same thing if they had the means to get there.
Bob Bauman and Hollie Vanderzee, Community Service Award
Bob Bauman and Hollie Vanderzee are a married couple from Harpswell. They are two leaders of Harpswell Aging at Home, a volunteer organization that helps seniors live safely and comfortably in their community.
Harpswell has an old population, even for Maine, which is the oldest state in the nation. More than a third of the older adults in Harpswell don’t have the resources to take care of their basic expenses.
"What we discovered is that there was a great need for home repairs because so many of the homes were over 25 years old," said Vanderzee. "Some over 50, and some over 100 years old."
Bauman leads the Home Repairs program. The team works to build wheelchair ramps, replace rotted wood, and install insulation. Since the group's start in September 2016, the team has made more than 60 homes safer, warmer, and drier for their low-income residents.
"Some of the conditions that we find in the homes we visit are difficult for the homeowner to live with, but they’ve lived with them for a long time and are coping with them," said Bauman.
Vanderzee chairs the organization’s Communications Committee. She leads their efforts to let the community know about Harpswell Aging at Home and how they can get involved. The Committee also gets the word out about programs to provide meals, help with chores and transportation, and learn about opportunities to socialize.
Dean Paterson, Services to the Armed Forces Award
Dean Paterson of Freeport is working to decrease veteran suicides through Embrace A Vet, an organization that serves veterans and veteran families living with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
A Department of Veterans Affairs report last year estimated that about 20 veterans die by suicide daily.
"Veterans have already sacrificed by giving service, either when they volunteered or in the time of big-time drafts. They’ve left their families, they’ve come home and maybe had to start again," Paterson said.
In addition to serving on the board of Embrace A Vet, Paterson also manages its retreats for veterans and their caregivers and facilitates its peer support group for caregivers. She is helping veterans and their families deal with issues like isolation, anger, depression, and the hard work of following through with treatment plans.