AUBURN — David Trider is one of those people.

Whenever someone is in need in the town of Leeds, Trider seems to be around, chipping in with carpentry work here, an electrical fix there and, of course, those 55 years on the volunteer Fire Department.

“There are just so many wonderful things that David has done,” Leeds Administrative Assistant Joyce Pratt said. “He helps so many people and he never expects anything in return. He’s just a tremendous, tremendous person. I’m proud to have him as a citizen of Leeds, and I’m also proud to have him as a neighbor.”

A lifetime of lending a hand doesn’t necessarily earn awards, but the Spirit of America Foundation thinks it ought to. On Wednesday, the foundation was in Auburn to award more than a dozen people, towns or groups for fostering a spirit of volunteerism in local communities.

Trider collected his rather sheepishly, intimidated by the more than two dozen people who jammed the courthouse law library in Auburn.

“I’d certainly rather be doing this very quietly, without any fanfare at all,” he said. Trider is in his 80s and still out and about, helping his neighbors in any way he can.

“I’m still around,” he said. “I’m going to keep doing whatever I can where there’s a need.”

It’s that spirit of selflessness that pleases the people of American Spirit, a public charity formed in 1990 to honor volunteers around Maine.

In Durham, the people of the Eureka Community Center Committee were honored for restoring the old Grange hall and putting it to good use.

The once-proud and popular Grange hall had fallen into disrepair. It looked like it might be torn down or bought out by some chain company who wouldn’t appreciate its local significance.

Instead, the committee raised funds and fixed it up. Now it is home to dances, senior gatherings and special events. There are cribbage nights and coupon nights. The Grange hall has been saved because so many people came together to get it done.

“It’s been nice,” committee member Anita Sellars said, “to see the building being used, and people getting together.”

The Greene volunteer Fire and Rescue Department was awarded for continuing to come to the aid in emergencies in spite of struggles.

“Volunteer firemen are scarce nowadays,” Greene selectmen Chairman Ronald Grant said.

Fire Chief Bruce Sanford, lauded for keeping his 20 firefighters properly certified and ready to go, accepted the award in full uniform.

“It’s a lot of work,” he said, “to keep this going.”

In Lisbon, the Moxie Festival was recognized for getting the festival running year after year.

In Sabattus, the award went to Normand LaPlante, who serves on multiple committees and boards, including those that get the Summer Spectacular rolling each year.

In Livermore, Donald Jordan was awarded for his contributions on multiple fronts, including work with the Planning Board and with the volunteer Fire Department. A World War II veteran who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, Jordan shrugged off the praise from his neighbors.

“It’s been my pleasure,” he said.

Up the road in Livermore Falls, members of the Gazebo Committee were given their due. Since 1990, the committee has continued to raise money for the repair and upkeep of the gazebo, which provides space for summertime concerts and other events. Without the gazebo, those who nominated the committee said, the town would lose some of its character.

In Turner, Leota Austin, Brenda Mullins and Joan Pedersen were handed an award for serving meals to seniors.

In Wales, Marilyn Greenwood and Betty Leighton were thanked for similar work with their food pantry, which began providing food for seniors and others in 1988.

“They go above and beyond,” said Randall Greenwood, county commissioner and emcee of the event.

Marilyn Greenwood and Leighton took brief turns at the podium. Each remarked that helping others was a passion. Each seemed more than a little overwhelmed that they should be awarded for such things.

In Auburn, emergency room medic Tammy Willoughby was thanked for her efforts in getting a dangerous stretch of Route 4 redesigned for safety. She began after a series of car wrecks, some of them deadly, occurred along the stretch near Lake Auburn.

“She was really getting tired of seeing all those people come into the emergency room,” Auburn Assistant City Manager Howard Kroll said.

The West Minot Grange Hall No. 42 was recognized for providing a variety of services for the town, including the creation of food baskets for elderly shut-ins.

Boy Scout Troop 125 was recognized for its work in and around the town of Poland, including trash pickup and other volunteer work.

Lewiston’s Hope Haven Gospel Mission received an award for providing beds, clothes and food for the homeless.

“You do so much to help the people of Androscoggin County,” Greenwood told the gathered group before the ceremony wound down for another year.

The first Spirit of America Foundation award was presented to Alma Jones by Augusta Mayor William Burney on Nov. 26, 1991. Maine governors John Baldacci and Angus King, Maine Municipal Association President Mark Green, MMA Executive Director Chris Lockwood and WABK radio personalities Don Brown and Ryan Cote are among many who have played key roles at one of the more than 350 Spirit of America ceremonies over the years.

You can find more information about the foundation on its website at spiroaf.com.


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