Lincoln Academy's CHIP volunteers

Lincoln Academy students with Theo Barstow at her home at the Stepping Stones property in Damariscotta. From left: Sarah Kennedy (holding Elliot Sewall), Can Yozgat, Noah Jordan, Becca Lambert, Thomas Thelander, Marilee Harris, Rayna Reckley, Rozemarjin “Rose” Meklenkamp, Kai-Lin Shen, Wenxin “Wendy” Liang, Jessica Uviovo, Franziska Scholz, Danna Dominguez, Yuke “Chloe” Tian, Alexandra Pavlikova, Theo Barstow, Manyi “Gemma” Tang (Photo credit: Jason Sewall)

by Sarah Kennedy

In the early morning hours of Saturday, September 9th, while most of their classmates were sleeping-in after a busy first week of school, 14 Lincoln Academy students tumbled out of their beds ready to lend a neighborly hand as part of CHIP Inc.’s Community Cares Day.  Community Cares Day is an effort to improve housing standards in Lincoln County.  This annual work day matches volunteers with families who have requested assistance making their homes safe, warm and dry.  The students joined more than 100 volunteers working at 15 job sites throughout the area.  

After an overview of the day’s projects and a brief presentation on CHIP Inc.’s safe worksite guidelines, the group got to work at a transitional housing site run by Stepping Stones in Damariscotta. They met with Stepping Stones founder Bill Howlett and executive direction Marilee Harris and several residents who worked alongside the teens on their projects, painting one small home on the property, weeding, mowing and pruning.

The students reported a highlight of their day was helping resident Theo Barstow, who is in her 80’s, spruce up her small garden, level the stone walkway leading to her home as well as other trimming, mowing and pruning to make the site’s communal yard area more safe and welcoming.

Crew leader Sarah Kennedy commented, “Some of the international students in the group have only just recently come to Maine from their homes in big cities and this was their first time doing any sort of yard work. This was a big contrast to the local students who shared how mowing and yard work are part of their regular household chores.  After helping each other get familiar with the tools, everyone joined right in!”

The group also removed loads of donated household items from a storage building at the worksite to inventory, organize and prep for use by families in need.  The students worked hard and staff and residents from Stepping Stones and CHIP Inc. were impressed by their maturity and enthusiasm for the projects.  CHIP Inc.’s coordinator, Brittany Gill commented, “It isn’t often that people think of teens volunteering to work on a project like this.  We were glad to have them and hope to have more student volunteers take part in Community Cares Day and other programs serving families in our community.”