We are proud to call this city our home

We’ve all seen it. The occasional nasty comment about Lewiston and its residents posted on social media.

We’ve read the tee-heeing and tried to ignore the ugly barbs.

But, in the shadow of Monday’s devastating arson fire that left 75 people homeless and another fire Friday night that left 100 people homeless, we’ve seen enough from anonymous cowards.

Lewiston is a tough town.

Good people live here.

Is this city perfect? No.

But this city does not deserve the level of verbal snark and Facebook contempt it gets. Particularly from people who don’t live here.

And more particularly when we’re hurting.

On Monday, hundreds stood in the bright afternoon sun and watched as three apartment buildings were consumed by fire in a matter of hours. No one was hurt, but treasured possessions and family pets were lost.

Then, late Friday night people ran from their smoke-filled apartments and crowded in the streets. They were clutching crying infants and screaming in search of older children.

In bare feet and nightclothes, they stood watching their homes burn.

That level of despair deserves compassion.

The kind quickly offered by the people who live here and who want to do everything they can to help.

At the YWCA of Central Maine on Saturday, donations of clothes were stacked high. Shoes were paired and lined up against the wall. Coats were hanging neatly and toiletries were organized for easy selection.

Thousands of items had been donated, and dozens of volunteers were giving up their free time to help organize and distribute the goods.

That’s the kind of people who live here. They’re not all prosperous, but they’re willing to help a neighbor in need.

It’s a city that cares.

That’s the Lewiston we know.

We also know this about Lewiston:

We are home to two outstanding hospitals and myriad medical specialists and innovators.

There are dozens of arts venues, including the celebrated Franco-American Heritage Center, The Public Theatre, long-known for its excellence and a growing number of galleries and studios. And, just last month, the city co-hosted the stunning Lewiston Auburn Film Festival.

There are downtown vegetable gardens that residents have cultivated from abandoned lots, bringing fresh vegetables and the satisfaction of growing their own food to our neighborhoods.

The city boosts a variety of elegant eateries and family-friendly restaurants, and will crown its American Culinary Federation chef of the year this Monday.

Every summer, tens of thousands of people come here for the Great Falls Balloon Festival, one of a growing number of downtown festivals, like the Liberty Fest, the internationally renowned Bates College Dance Fest, the Franco Fest and this year’s inaugural Ice Fest and the Mini Maker Faire.

We host trade shows, home shows, shop at farmers markets and route dozens of charity walks every year.

The city has become a draw for fitness events, including the popular Greater L-A Triple Crown 5K Triple Series, Bands on the Run Half Marathon & 5K and, of course, the Dempsey Challenge.

We have a strong public library, devoted teachers in our schools, financially conscientious municipal officials, tirelessly dedicated police officers and firefighters, active charitable organizations and engaged social service agencies.

The magnificent Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is a beacon of ongoing faith and a showplace of period architecture.

The city’s waterfront is a downtown gem and will sparkle even more once Museum L-A moves into its new location adjacent to Simard/Payne Memorial Park.

Bates College, the University of Southern Maine, Central Maine Community College and other public and private academic institutions are successfully educating our youths.

And — we can’t say this clearly enough in light of the week’s events — Lewiston has a lower crime rate than other big cities in Maine.

This city is home to thousands of good people, including many who move here seeking social services. The city is home to thousands more workers who commute here every day because they choose to be part of Lewiston.

It’s not perfect.

But it’s home.

We take pride in that.

jmeyer@sunjournal.com

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Comments

It is refreshing to see a

It is refreshing to see a story like this. I have lived in the Lewiston area for many years and it saddens me to see how so many people have such a negative view of this city and it's residents. Yes, Lewiston has issues as does any other city in America. However, there are still some wonderful people who live in and/or work in this city. Kudos to you for this uplifting well-written piece!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Agreed

Any relations to Ed Lizotte Jr. about 30 yo, mother Rachel?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Let’s face it, throughout

Let’s face it, throughout history cities, even civilizations have come and gone.

The heyday for L-A has come and gone. The L-A job market, let alone Maine’s job market, has not kept pace with the changing times. Like many of Lewiston’s homes, Maine’s policies are obsolete and at the end of their useful lifespan;

Is there any question why the Maine's youth is exiting the State. I'm not sure if L-A can recover; I'm not sure if L-A knows how. God speed.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Has come a far way;

Lewiston from its historic mills of fabrications and hard working class made it what it is. Years passed, sadly from all that loss, the city has struggled to stay ahead of the curve, but has cultivated into another style and type of prosperity and perseverance.

As a child growing up there, we always felt safe, doors being locked at night was not a thought, where life was sometimes boring but there was lots to do, having good folks always giving a hand to its neighbors.

I will always call it home, even after traveling all over the country and the world, and making my life elsewhere. Family and friends are always there to reminisce about the days growing up and having fun.

Carol Durgin's picture

Has come a far way.

I agree with your comments. Back in those days people had a good work ethic. They had some pride in their work. These days, and I can't speak for everyone,people are dependent upon the State and government to provide for their needs.It is an abuse of the system. Until there is an overhaul in the system, things will continue as they are now. There are those who are ill and old who have to have some help but others who are nothing short of lazy. People have not woken up and it soon will be to late to
make a recovery. We as a country are on a downward spiral. Back in the days you spoke of, people would have recognized a problem in a neighbors home. They were more aware and friendly. To have had 3 girls recently hidden away for 10 years in a home and nobody realize they were there, having a woman in Massachusetts back a few years ago being dead for 2 years and nobody questioning where she disappeared to. I keep hoping we can get over greed and do what is best to save our country. I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Noel Foss's picture

As a transplant from elsewhere in the state

My pride in Lewiston depends on the day. I don't live in Lewiston, but I do work in it.
Since moving to the area I've had;
*A windshield broken by, as near as I can tell, somebody running up the hood of my car, putting their foot through the windshield, and landing on the roof (going by a smallish dent in the hood, the foot-sized hole in the windshield, and the body-sized dent in the roof).
*A motorcycle helmet stolen from the handlebar while I was inside Central Maine Powersports
*The straps on my saddlebags have been cut (twice) by somebody looking to see if I had anything valuable in there (I didn't, and cutting the straps was unnecessary, as they weren't locked at the time)
*The bumper dented and taillight broken on my truck while at the Hannaford on Sabattus street. No guilty driver waiting for me to come out of the store, no insurance card, not even a note saying "my bad; what were you thinking parking between the lines?!"

This isn't to mention the little things that happen all the time that drive me crazy, like close calls too numerous to count because of distracted or careless drivers, time spent sitting at an intersection through a green light because of jammed traffic in the middle of it (drivers determined to get through the intersection, despite there being no room), and the famous "Brake & Turn" that comes from being too lazy/distracted to use your turn signal.

For sure, I've met nice people in Lewiston, and I've also seen courteous drivers in this town. But I've lived in six towns in Maine, and worked in eight (including Augusta and Portland), and I've never had anybody damage my vehicle or steal from me before I started frequenting downtown Lewiston. While there's lots of good people in town, there's enough bad ones to taint the experience (and the town's reputation).

Jake Paris's picture

Great! Thank you!

Say it Loud!

I moved away from Lewiston

I moved away from Lewiston for economic reasons years ago, but have never stopped loving my home town! I visit home as often as I can, and keep up with everything by reading the Lewiston Sun Journal every day.

What many people don't see is the amazing architecture all around the city. Very few places I have been have so many Victorian styled homes and buildings. People want new and exciting, but when that's all there is, it soon becomes boring and mundane.

Take pride in the many wonderful things in Lewiston and enjoy them for us unfortunate people who moved away but never really left...

Steve  Dosh's picture

We are proud to call this city our home

. . You should be proud . You live in a fine city , despite all our railing about it in here . Imma' say that it has gotten better over time , especially because of the work you and people like you have done over many years . i can remember living they'ya and thinking , " Yeah , it is tough and gritty , but essentially full of honest and hard working men and women who do care a lot about things . " Lot's of large families back then just trying to put bread on the table in a dwindling economy and in a harsh environment . That aspect probably hasn't changed

You , LSJ® , deserve a lot of credit for what the city is now and will become . The paper has gotten a lot better over the years and continues to maintain a very high level of integrity , civic mindedness and committment

Without it , Lewiston would be a much impoverished place

/s , the readers

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Bravo

As a life long proud citizen of this community, I couldn't agree more.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Claire, et.al., Seis de Mayo

Claire, et.al., Seis de Mayo ? 16:45 hst . .Not only all that but the LSJ ® has cajones ? Happy day after Cinco de Mayo , /s Steve

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