You can judge the character of a community by the way it pulls together when the chips are down, or for a good cause.

By that measure, the Lewiston-Auburn area has been standing tall this week.

Only three days after announcing it would have to close its doors for good, the 130-year-old YWCA of Central Maine announced Monday that generous donors had stepped forward with pledges totaling $125,000.

What’s more, leaders announced a $1 million fundraising campaign to erase the $700,000 debt that threatens the organization’s long-term survival.

The spark of hope was provided by the Gendron family, which owns a variety of local businesses, including construction and real estate firms.

A day after reading that the Y would close, Dolard “Del” Gendron arrived at the East Avenue building with a check for $50,000 in hand.

Son George Gendron has pledged to use his business contacts to lead a statewide fundraising drive.

“I have all the faith in the world that we will raise the money,” he said at a press conference Monday, the two men accompanied by their wives.

In an editorial Saturday, we challenged the community to step forward. “There’s an opportunity here,” we said, citing L-A’s history of saving, expanding and improving important public facilities.

Like George Gendron, we have complete faith that our community will rescue this important organization and building.

We did not, however, foresee the tremendous outpouring of support for Riverside Cemetery, attacked last week by vandals who toppled more than 100 gravestones.

Most appreciated was the response of the young men and team officials from the Lewiston Maineiacs hockey team who put their backs to work lifting many of the toppled monuments back into place.

Arriving aboard a bus donated by Northeast Charter and Tour Co. Inc. of Lewiston, and wearing gloves donated by Marden’s and The Home Depot, the team went to work.

The cemetery is not insured and individual families would have been responsible for repairs.

“When we saw it in the paper, we figured it was just the right thing to do,” said Bill Schurman, managing consultant and governor for the team. “It’s a matter of understanding and respecting the community that welcomed us with open arms.

“We tell our players, ‘You’re not playing for the name on your back. You’re playing for the crest on the front.’ And that crest represents the Lewiston-Auburn area.”

Bravo to Schurman and his public-spirited team. And bravo to the Lewiston police who arrested three young men Tuesday in connection with the vandalism.

Finally, the community and much of Maine really came together last weekend for a balloon festival blessed by near-perfect weather.

At times, Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston was so crowded “you literally couldn’t move,” said festival spokeswoman Tracey Steuber.

“The nonprofits are saying that their sales are up over any other year,” festival leader John Reeder told the Sun Journal.

An estimated 130,000 people attended the Saturday evening launch alone.

The result was way better than last year when the festival was plagued by gusty winds and torrential rains and none of the scheduled launches got off the ground.

We thank the hundreds of volunteers whose efforts make the Great Falls Balloon Festival popular.

It’s an awe-inspiring event that shows off our community to the rest of the state.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.