WILTON — Western Maine Play Museum is seeking support from the community to close its $115,000 gap to begin renovations on its building. The progress has been steady due to the help of area “museum heroes.” 

Colby Ryder has lived in Wilton, Livermore, Livermore Falls and Jay all his life, and has always loved Wilton for its “quaintness, beautiful scenery and nice community.” He has helped Western Maine Play Museum in countless ways through his gifts of time, expertise and good will. When he first heard about the museum, he “thought it was a great idea, and only good could come of it for the town and the community as a whole.” He sees the museum as a “vehicle to inspire all children and a way to nurture their curiosity and develop their aptitudes.”

A man of great personal generosity and affection for the town of Wilton, Ryder has offered his volunteer help to the museum since the very beginning. Among his many contributions are lawn mowing, cleaning out the museum building, supervising juveniles and adults doing community service work for the museum, helping with the summer outdoor movie series, cutting dead trees and overgrown shrubbery on the museum grounds, helping with the tear-down and cleanup of the cottage on the museum property to make room for the parking lot.

He believes that children are inspired to become involved in their community through the example of the adults in their lives. He is also a great supporter of local businesses.

He may be contacted at [email protected] or 207-578-1787.

Another one of WMPM’s original supporters is Nancy Prince, a longtime Wilton resident and community volunteer, whose teaching and coaching have touched many lives over the years. A firm believer in learning through play, her experience as a volunteer with small children has shown her that “not only do children learn more eagerly and happily when play is the medium, but the combination of learning and playing yield better results in academic success.”

In 2010, Prince published a children’s book “Libby’s Loons,” illustrated by Luanne Wrenn, which has been sold throughout the state. Inspired by Jeff Chaisson’s generous example, last year Prince donated to WMPM 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of her books. She plans to continue her donations through 2016.

She looks forward to being the museum’s “number one volunteer” when it opens. Books are available locally and at www.nancyprinceofmaine.com.

Jeff Chaisson is a Wilton businessman, owner of Wilton Hardware Store and Expenet in Wilton. As a father of two young girls, and a Wilton resident and business owner, he is very excited about having the Western Maine Play Museum come to Wilton. He says “to have something this big come into your town? I think it’s foolish not to support it!”

For people who may not be familiar with the intention of a children’s museum, Chaisson reminds them that WMPM is not a display of paintings statues, or antique toys where children “ just look at things.” He accurately describes WMPM as a place for children to have hands-on creative play, where they are “getting an education whether they know it or not and having fun doing it.”

In this era where children become easily bored by electronic gizmos, he points out the importance of interactive exhibits that encourage children to engage in creative play that can keep them interested for a long time. Chaisson echoes Ryder’s idea that the WMPM experience can open all kinds of doors for children to explore their own interests and talents. Chaisson also is pleased that WMPM is local and easily accessible, making visiting downtown Wilton a much more attractive option than having to drive one or two hour hours to find other similar facilities in Augusta, Bangor or Portland.

Chaisson is excited about the long term growth opportunities that the museum will offer the town. He sees the museum as drawing many people into Wilton, which will open many possibilities for new business expansion: more eating places, a gift/boutique shop, a sporting goods store, a kids’ clothing and toy store, and more. He sees the museum as “a huge asset to the town of Wilton.” His civic-minded generosity is a ready inspiration to other area businesses.

FMI, volunteer: [email protected], [email protected], www.facebook.com/WesternMainePlayMuseum, www.westernmaineplay.org.

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