LEWISTON — Jeanne Raymond has a lot of unofficial titles.
She’s a “mother” to Lewiston Public Works employees, “grandmother” to teenagers on the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council and “mayor” of No Name Pond. A sign on her porch even says so.
But even as city employees and Lewiston students would tell you how much she means to them, Raymond offers, “I need them more than they need me.”
Raymond, a longtime president of the No Name Pond Watershed Management Association, received a city award for community service in 2007.
The surprise award recognized her for “unwavering commitment to the environment; namely, No Name Pond, her tremendous support of municipal departments and her consistent encouragement of the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council.”
At 82, Raymond is still doing all of those things.
She brings brownies to any Lewiston Youth Advisory Council meeting she is able to attend, and offers trays of cookies to Public Works plow drivers — sometimes in the middle of a winter night.
Last week, Raymond came to the City Council meeting to support the youth council, which was presenting the results of a recent survey and adding eight new members for next year. She was wearing an LYAC shirt.
She has such a history with the crew at Public Works that the department threw her an 80th birthday party two years ago, cake and all.
Dot Perham Whittier, community relations coordinator for Lewiston, said Raymond has been supporting the Youth Advisory Council since it was established in 2001. Raymond attends so many meetings they gave her the blue LYAC shirt.
“She is passionate about the potential of youth, especially those on the youth council,” Perham Whittier said. “Each year, members come to love Jeanne due to her interest in all that they do. They feel her genuineness and support.”
Raymond said she is amazed by her interactions with the youth council members. She said they are “examples for our legislators” in the way they treat one another and listen. She watches them plan projects and she does anything she can to boost morale.
Much of the group’s recent efforts have focused on the city’s image.
There was a Lewiston trivia night with door prizes, and a “success stories” forum that highlighted people from Lewiston who have found success here. Then there was a recycling competition and image survey.
Raymond moved to Lewiston in 1989 with her husband after the pair retired. She worked as a nurse for many years in Derry, New Hampshire, but had always wanted to live in Maine. She said they sort of stumbled upon their home at No Name Pond.
Recently, when she learned two of the graduating seniors on the youth council wanted to be doctors, she gave both young women her two remaining stethoscopes from her nursing days.
“I talk and brag about these kids to anybody who will listen,” she said. “I tell them all the time, ‘You are the faces of hope for everybody in Lewiston.'”
By the early 2000s, Raymond had become an important part of the community at No Name Pond. She helped save the pond community from folding by advocating for the city to install a community septic system. When they spent the winter installing it, Raymond kept the crew fed and warm.
“Every day, I cooked something for them,” she said. “If the city hadn’t done it, we would’ve lost our neighborhood.”
She said in return, the neighbors have been protective of the pond.
Years later, she railed against littering and dangerous activity at a small public beach near her home. The trash issue got so bad that the city eventually decided to cut off public access due to water quality concerns.
As a member of the ponds’ watershed association, she also helped local fishermen and children get rid of their lead fishing sinkers after they were banned. She worked with the Audubon Society to give out safe sinkers in exchange for the lead ones.
Raymond holds onto the memories she has made since retiring and coming to Lewiston. She keeps a photo album stocked with pictures from Public Works events and projects, and another for pond activities.
She comes to the Public Works events and meals, and is the only nonemployee on the department’s recreation committee. She said no matter how busy they are, someone — often the director, Dave Jones — stops by during a storm or if the power is out to make sure she is OK.
“She eventually became the ‘Den-Mom’ for (Public Works), attending all our breakfasts and our annual picnic BBQ,” Jones said Friday. “She is special and all our employees love her.”
Raymond said something similar.
“I’m telling you, I love every one of those people at Public Works,” she said. “They are treasures, just like those teens.”
Know someone with a deep well of unlimited public spirit? Someone who gives of their time to make their community a better place? Then nominate them for Kudos. Send their name and the place where they do their good deeds to reporter Andrew Rice at [email protected] and we will do the rest.
Jeanne Raymond, sporting her Lewiston Youth Advisory Council shirt, at her home on No Name Pond in Lewiston. Raymond is a “mother” to Lewiston Public Works employees, “grandmother” to teenagers on the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council and “mayor” of No Name Pond. (Andrew Rice/Sun Journal)