Austin and Raymond named Valley Grange Citizens of the Year
GUILFORD — Two Dover-Foxcroft women who have worked to provide comforting blankets to countless children through Project Linus and helped provide a happy holidays for numerous families via the Dover-Foxcroft Kiwanis Community Christmas Project, among other volunteer efforts for each, have been honored by the Valley Grange with the organization’s 2019 Community Citizen of the Year honor. Barbara Austin and Judy Raymond received the recognition on the evening of May 17 at the Grange Hall.
Valley Grange Lecturer Walter Boomsma said the award committee struggled to pick out a single candidate for the honor this year, so instead of just one the group opted for two as Austin and Raymond have worked together on many service projects.
Family and friends present shared stories about the Valley Grange Community Citizen of the Year recipients.
Project Linus is a national organization with a mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need through the gifts of new handmade, washable blankets and afghans, lovingly crafted by volunteer blanketeers.
Former Piscataquis County Project Linus Coordinator Merlene Sanborn said, “It’s brought in some wonderful people like those two I consider family and Project Linus sisters.” Sanborn added that she loves the organization and she loves Austin and Raymond as well.
Brian Woodworth, himself the 2012 Valley Grange Community Citizen of the Year, said he is a member of the Dover-Foxcroft Kiwanis with Austin and Raymond. “That’s how I know both of these wonderful ladies,” he said. “They do wonderful work with Project Linus and they do wonderful work with Kiwanis.”
“They have been basically the heart and soul of our Kiwanis Christmas program,” Woodworth said. He said about 160 families are adopted each December with the children receiving gifts such as desired toys and winter clothing.
“A lot of kids have a wonderful Christmas thanks to these two ladies,” Woodworth said. “I just want to thank you for what you do, this community is so much better for having you.”
“I just want to thank anybody who helps us set up for Project Linus, the guys and gals,” Raymond said as an annual community day brings volunteers together to assemble blankets with others giving of their time assisting in ways aside from blanket making.
“That’s all I have been, a helper,” Austin said about Project Linus. “Judy carries the weight. It’s just been a wonderful experience working with Judy and the other Project Linus volunteers.”
Recipients of the Valley Grange Community Citizen of the Year this decade are 2010, the Guilford Primary School; 2011, Dodie Curtis; 2012, Brian Woodworth; 2013, the Piscataquis Observer and WABI-TV; 2014, Julie Orton; 2015, Matt Hackett; 2016, Sherry French; 2017, Will and Melissa Wedge; and 2018, Jamie Kane.