Archive for February, 2008

Scarborough 350: Jeff Poulin

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

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Earlier this month I took pictures of a group of students from Scarborough High School at Pine Point Beach doing a charity polar dip. That’s where I met Jeff Poulin, who is the New England district governor of Key Club, the oldest and largest student-led community service organization in the US. Chatting with him this morning at The Freaky Bean before he headed off to class, I found that Jeff’s interest in community service has been an outgrowth of his father’s work with the Kiwanis. His dad used to take him to Kiwanis meetings when he was little. Jeff joined the Key Club as a freshman and says, only half-jokingly, “It has consumed my life.” His action-packed term as governor is coming to an end in April. He has spent the school year traveling to chapters around New England, has visited Dallas, Chicago, and Orlando, and has an upcoming trip to Bermuda, which is also part of his district.

Jeff developed a five-year strategic plan for the organization. His goal for this year was to grow the membership by 10%. So far, they’ve chartered 12 new clubs. He has overseen the Key Club’s ongoing district projects, raising money for Camp Sunshine in Casco, ME, the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Institute in Boston, MA, and Children of Peace International in Denver, CO. As if this wasn’t enough, Jeff has also served as president of the student council. He spearheaded the effort to get two youth delegates to serve on the Scarborough School Board. He says, “We needed a voice. It shouldn’t just be adults, some of whom may not even have children, who make decisions about us.”

Although he is dedicated to community service, Jeff is passionate about the performing arts. An accomplished tap dancer, he toured with a group called Dancers Inc., and won the title “Mr. Dance of a New Generation.” He has dreams of dancing on Broadway someday, but he has plans to attend a college that has both performing arts and entertainment business programs. His long-term goal is to fuse working with non-profit groups to his love of the arts. He is already on his way to accomplishing it. As a teacher at a local dance studio, he was approached three years ago by one of his students, a nine year-old girl. Her mother had had recurring bouts with cancer, and this young girl told him that she wanted to “fight back against cancer.” Jeff contacted the girl’s mother, and they collaborated to put on a fundraising variety show called “Perform for A Cure.” Now in its third year, the show, in which all the performers are under the age of 21, will be held on March 16th at Scarborough High School. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society and to the Cancer Community Center in South Portland.Jeff has a long list of accolades, but he says working with children is his greatest reward. “When the Key Club brought teddy bears to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, and I saw the smile on a little girl’s face, I knew for sure we were doing something good. Nothing else compares to what we do for children.” As he writes his farewell address as district governor, Jeff looks forward to summer nights spent with friends on Ferry Beach. “That’s my release,” he says. 

Lunar Landscape.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

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FEBRUARY 20, 2008
There was a lunar eclipse tonight. Although I didn’t stay up to watch it, I made my own set of views of the moon through the trees on my street.

Shades of gray.

Monday, February 18th, 2008

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FEBRUARY 18, 2008
I do volunteer work one day a week at Maine Audubon headquarters in Falmouth. The drive up there today was wicked. With temperatures reaching the upper 40s and a light rain falling, the air was turned into such a thick fog it made me feel I had fallen into a black hole. It was especially scary not to be able to see the traffic signals until you were almost in the middle of intersections. And yet the fog was as beautiful as it was terrifying. It was like being in a turn-of-the-century photograph — before the days of super-sharp-focus lenses and when the only colors were shades of black, white and gray. By the time I left at 4:30, the roadway through the property had become visible, but there were still mists rising up from the snowy fields bordering each side of it. I paused to photograph a woman making her way on snowshoes in the waning light

Melting the blues away.

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

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FEBRUARY 14, 2008
There’s reason enough to be blue on Valentine’s Day when you don’t have a sweetheart to share it with. I know, I know — it’s just a silly manufactured holiday — I shouldn’t care. But it was work-related issues that were weighing on my mind today. It was so much easier when I was shooting for the newspaper. I didn’t have to persuade anyone of why they should use me as their photographer. We got our assignment slips each day, and when we showed up at someone’s home or business to take his or her picture, the subject was happy to see us and assumed we were competent because the paper had sent us. Now it’s an ongoing battle to convince clients that you’re worth what you say you are. Today I just wasn’t “feeling the love” all the way around.

I decided to get out of the office and clear my head. I had to go grocery shopping anyway. Afterwards, I drove along Black Point Road, intending to go down and watch the ocean off Prout’s Neck. I never made it that far. I stopped to look over the marsh, where a band of light appeared to be squeezed toward the horizon by ponderous, gray clouds. I took a photo of a tree silhouetted in the light near Ferry Beach. Content with the shot, I was heading back home when I approached the same crest over the marsh where I had first noticed the band of light. The sun was setting in a glorious display, but it wasn’t the sky that intrigued me as much as the ground. The pinks and yellows of the sunset were pooled in ripples in the snow that had been carved by yesterday’s rain. Such a kaleidoscope of colors! A berried shrub stood out in stark relief against them. Cars whipped past me as I stood on the side of the road and photographed. Didn’t the drivers see what I was seeing? How could they not be compelled to stop and revel in that liquid light? Maybe they were all hurrying home to be in the arms of their loved ones. For us lonely hearts, I’ll share two photos today to help the blues go away.

Scarborough 350: Carroll Tiernan

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

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I met Carroll Tiernan my first summer here, when I began volunteering at the nature center at Scarborough Marsh. As the retail sales and facility rental manager at Maine Audubon in Falmouth, she would pop in periodically at the gift store at the marsh to see how everything was going. Carroll has lived in Scarborough for 30 years, but she is originally from New Jersey and grew up in Essex County, about 20 miles from where I lived when I worked there. Although she was raised in an urban environment, Carroll says, “I’m not a city person. I wanted to get away from New York City.”

Initially, she moved to southwest New Hampshire, but she longed to be closer to the ocean. “I like the smell of salt water. I guess it’s because I’m a Cancer — that’s a water sign,” she says.Carroll had spent summers in Maine, renting rooms at the Pride Motel. When she moved here, Carroll chose to live in Scarborough because she had a job as a racing official at Scarborough Downs. Later she worked as a teacher’s assistant at the Blue Point School. She lived for a time at Pine Point and says she used to run on the beach every day, regardless of the weather. She makes her home in north Scarborough now, but loves taking her grandson, Jack, to Pine Point Beach and scrambling with him out on the jetty. Carroll began her career with Maine Audubon by volunteering at Scarborough Marsh in 1982. The following two summers she was a paid staffer at the marsh; she was hired as a full time staffer at Audubon headquarters in Falmouth in 1985. Anyone who has visited the great gift shop there will know her by her lilting voice and her dedication to customer service. 

Scarborough 350: Mike Bunting

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

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This year the town of Scarborough, Maine, is celebrating its 350th anniversary. A number of events will be held over the course of the year to celebrate. I want to make a contribution to the historical record of the town by taking a snapshot in time of some of the people that live here, the people that I’ve gotten to know since moving here and making Scarborough my home. My goal is to feature a person or persons each week of 2008 on my blog — to write a small profile about them and their relationship to Scarborough. I’m a little behind in getting this project off the ground, so I’ll double up on profiles until I get caught up.

The first Scarborough resident I met was my realtor, Mike Bunting. Like me, Mike is a transplant. He moved to Maine from Vermont in 1985 for a job transfer when he worked at Dun and Bradstreet. He got his real estate license in 1987 and began working with Mark Stimson Associates. The company was sold a couple of times over the years, so Mike is now a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, although his office has remained in the same location on Baxter Blvd. in Portland for the past 20 years. He and his wife Beth, who works at Bowdoin College, moved to Scarborough in 1995. They chose it because it was a “good family town,” and it has great beaches and good schools. Mike says, “Scarborough is a close-knit family community that offers much more than we first saw when we moved here.” His daughters, Sarah and Emily, are avid skiers, like their dad. Sarah swims and plays field hockey at the high school; Emily swims and plays soccer at the middle school. His family loves going to Scarborough Beach. Mike volunteered on the Conservation Commission for three years and coached girls soccer for four years through community services. While he has received numerous achievement awards in the real estate industry, Mike says his greatest satisfaction on the job comes from helping people like me, people who feel nervous or overwhelmed by home buying. He says, “I want my customers to know they don’t have to worry about the process. That’s what I’m here for.” Even though my home purchase was completed two years ago, Mike has remained a resource for me. He continues to answer questions I have about home ownership, and the recommendations he has made when I’ve needed to find various service people have all been aces. 

Polar Dippers.

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

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FEBRUARY 9, 2008
I was enticed by a notice in the Scarborough Leader to go down to Pine Point Beach today to watch the fourth annual Polar Dip, a fundraising event sponsored by the Key Club at Scarborough High School. It was 34 degrees outside — downright balmy by Maine standards. I don’t know what the water temperature was. Having fallen through the ice on a couple occasions in my life, whatever it was would be “too damn cold” by my reckoning. But cheered on by family and friends, 60 brave souls were braced to take the plunge. Members of the Scarborough Key Club were joined by club members from Greenville and Sanford, as well as by a group from Massachusetts. An assortment of adults from in and around Portland was also in the mix. All were there to help raise money for Heifer International, a group that operates in 57 countries around the world. Its mission is to end poverty and hunger by providing livestock and by training communities in animal husbandry and farming. Every family that receives an animal agrees to pass on the gift of one or more of the animal’s offspring to another family in need. Key Club vice president Torrie Hazlewood had heard about the charity’s work and suggested that the club try to raise $5,000 in order to buy an “Ark,” which includes 15 pairs of assorted livestock, such as sheep, cows, pigs, and goats. At the time of today’s dip, the group had $4,000 in hand and hopes that by the time all pledges come in, they will have achieved their goal. The Key Club is the oldest and largest student-led community service organization in the US, and with 280 members the chapter at Scarborough High is one of the biggest in the country. They began doing the Polar Dip in 2004, raising funds that year for Tsunami Relief. Cold and crazy these teens may be, but with warm hearts all.

Curbside Couple.

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

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FEBRUARY 5, 2008
To paraphrase the saying on the New York City Post Office Building: “Neither snow, nor slush, nor the blast of diesel fumes could stay these wavers from their appointed rounds.” I spotted Joe and Kim on Route 302 in Windham, waving at drivers passing in front of Liberty Tax Service. It was such miserable weather — cold, but not quite cold enough to snow, so a drizzling, icy rain soaked the couple as they stood curbside. But it didn’t dampen their spirits. There they were, chilled to the bone, I’m sure, but smiling, laughing, and doing little dances to entertain the passing traffic — and themselves, I suppose. Drivers waved back, big semis tooted their horns. I don’t know if they enticed prospective customers to stop, but they brightened my day.

Heaven’s artwork.

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

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FEBRUARY 3, 2008
I hate going to shopping malls. They’re too big and too crowded for my taste, so I rarely go to them. I needed to check out an item at Radio Shack, though, and the only one in this area is at the Maine Mall. So I headed out in the gray gloom this afternoon, the skies overhead matching my mood. After circling around to find a parking space, I made my way through the mall to the shop, only to learn that the item I was interested in has been discontinued. Oh, great — a wasted trip. Now I was truly grumpy. But when I trudged through the exit to the parking lot, I was cured of my ill humor in an instant. There was a section of sky being pierced by slivers of sun, creating beautiful, delicate patterns of light and shadow. I raced to my car to grab my camera. Too bad I wasn’t near the ocean for an unobstructed view. Buildings and telephone poles and wires everywhere — rats! But light like that is ephemeral — the display wouldn’t last the 15 or 20 minutes it would take to get to the shore — so I had to photograph some of man’s creations intruding on heaven’s artwork.

Shadow play.

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

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FEBRUARY 2, 2008
Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t live here, but I saw my shadow today. Does that count? Is spring really just around the corner? I photographed the shadows stretching across the snow in my yard, in the hope that they will soon become patches of sun streaking across the green grass below.