Cheers to Mainers reaching out to help Haitians grapple with the massive destruction and heartbreak from Tuesday’s earthquake.

Mainers are a charitable lot, and many have been helping with outreach projects in Haiti for years, traveling to provide medical care, gathering food and supplies, organizing construction of homes and schools, and providing books in a country where the literacy rate hovers around 45 percent. Unemployment there is estimated to be about 60 percent, and more than 80 percent of the people live in a kind of poverty that Americans cannot possibly relate to. Clean water is scarce, and food even more so.

This is a country that needed tremendous assistance before the quake, and the suffering there now is immense.

Bill and Linda Glass of Sumner returned from a mission to Haiti late last year, after having supervised the repair of 125 homes in 2009, some of which are now damaged. They will rebuild what was lost.

Ken Wagstaff of Andover, pastor at Calvary Bible Church, flew to Port-au-Prince Tuesday to join a group working to put a roof on a church, arriving hours before the earthquake struck. A carpenter, he is there now doing whatever needs to be done.

Daniel Pardieu and Nevil Francois, Haitian natives who now live in the River Valley, are raising money, which the Red Cross said is the best possible thing we can do to help. 

These early efforts are important, but the need for help in Haiti existed well before the earthquake and will last long into the future. Mainers who have helped will continue to help, and others will join in. It’s what a state of practical people can do to help a nation of resilient people.

Cheers to Maine for its preservation efforts in creating and maintaining state parks for the past 75 years.

Maine celebrated Thursday with a special anniversary party at the State House.

Maine’s first park was created in 1938 with 100 donated acres in Presque Isle. That parcel eventually became Aroostook State Park, the start of a 48-park network of campgrounds, trails, parks, waterways and recreation areas that are visited by 2.2 million people who spin $100 million into our economy each year.

These parks, Gov. John Baldacci said, “are a vital part of what makes Maine a great place to live in and visit.”

The anniversary is significant enough for Wicked Joe’s in Brunswick to craft a special Maine
State Park
s Blend to celebrate. Coffee, anyone?

Cheers to the volunteer members of the Spruce Mountain Ski Club, Central Maine Power and Otis Ventures LLC in Jay.

The slopes opened for the first junior ski meet of the season Saturday, but only after a lot of old-fashioned community effort by everyone involved.

The club lost its electrical supply when the Otis Mill closed last year, and it took an all-out effort to save the season.

“It is a miracle,” Ski Club President Judy Diaz told the Sun Journal last Tuesday, a miracle made possible by hard work, dedication and community spirit.

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