AUBURN — Jane Wheeler almost seems astonished that somebody would give her an award.

The Leeds woman has been volunteering a long time to help the local elderly and the community at large, but an award? Really?

“I do what I do,” Wheeler said, “because I love to do it. The most important thing is that I’m helping others.”

Mary Richardson also seemed bewildered. She’s known across Turner for her work on the Secret Santa program, but that’s just her chipping in to help the less fortunate. She really wasn’t expecting an award, either.

Fortunately, there are people who recognize the good work of volunteers, even if the volunteers themselves think nothing of it. Dozens of them gathered Wednesday in the Androscoggin County Superior Courthouse to honor those whose hard work has enriched the community.

“It’s the spirit of her and people like her that makes small-town living so much nicer,” said Turner Town Manager Kurt Schaub of Richardson’s work. 


In all, 11 people — as well as the towns they represent — were honored by the Spirit of America Award Foundation, a public charity established to encourage and reward volunteerism across Androscoggin County. The foundation had no difficulty finding people to thank for their selfless, hard work.

Take Robert Michaud, for example, a Leeds man who volunteers so much for his community, it would be easier to list the things he doesn’t do rather than the things he does.

Michaud works with his church and serves as a scout leader. He acts as webmaster for the local Recreation Department and coaches youth sports, ranging from T-ball to flag football. He helped launch a program to get wheelchairs to those who need them but don’t have access. The list just goes on and on.

Helen Clifford, of Minot, is described as a person “who just never says, ‘no.'” She was lauded for tireless work — every bit of it volunteer, mind you — on behalf of her local church, the Grange and the community as a whole.

Patricia Provost was awarded for her work with the senior center in Durham, among other things — such as a coupon program to help the less fortunate, efforts to round up food and school supplies and volunteer work to aid the animal shelter and families of the military. Provost said she does these things because she wanted to go outside of her comfort zone, to stretch the limits of her imagination and to help her fellow community members. She wasn’t expecting an award, either.

“It was a total surprise to me,” she said.


Patricia Rose was lauded for her “tireless work” to improve the town library in Greene.

“She’s a real friend to the library,” Greene Selectman Ron Grant said. “She really shows what volunteerism is all about.”

Faye Brown was awarded for her work on bringing more than 40 new gardens to Lisbon, for her efforts to repair the town gazebo and for “making Lisbon a more beautiful place.”

Sarah Delaney of Livermore was recognized for her work on gardens and for a variety of projects aimed at beautifying the community. Last year, Delaney worked with members of the Livermore Falls Downtown Betterment Group to plant flowers under the bulletin sign at Gateway Park.

Also thanked were a handful of entities, including Lewiston’s YWCA, for the variety of programs they offer and for the sheer amount of help they provide to people in need; Sabattus emergency medical responders, for their “sensitive and faithful service,” and Poland’s Girl Scouts Troop 1141, which organized a variety of activities to improve the community or to assist those in need.

“We’re just happy that we’re able to help,” one scout said.

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