Members of the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council accept the Spirit of America award from city officials Tuesday. From left, front row, are members Hope Rubito, Emma Wolverton, Emma Williams, Carolyn Adams, Damon DeWitt, and council adviser Dottie Perham-Whittier, community relations coordinator for Lewiston. In back, from left, are Councilors Jim Lysen, Zack Pettengill, Alicia Rea, Kristen Cloutier, Michael Lajoie, Joline Beam and Michael Marcotte.

LEWISTON — The Lewiston Youth Advisory Council is this year’s recipient of the Spirit of America award, an annual recognition of volunteer or community service organizations.

The council, established in 2001, has focused its recent efforts on Lewiston’s image and has held a series of events aimed at highlighting successful businesses and the city’s expanding food and dining scene.

Most recently, the organization made up of high school students rolled out an anti-bullying initiative, which began by placing encouraging, positive messages on 1,400 lockers at Lewiston High School.

In announcing the award at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Kristen Cloutier praised the group’s work in spreading positive messages.

A proclamation signed by Cloutier states, “In recognition of its continued contributions to the city of Lewiston. Your volunteer efforts to enhance the community through sharing your voice and undertaking various positive initiatives are outstanding. Lewiston is a better place because of the dedicated efforts of LYAC members.”

The Spirit of America Foundation, a nonprofit based in Augusta, asks Maine municipalities each year to select individuals, projects, or organizations for recognition of commendable community service.


The last three winners of the award were Raise-Op Housing Cooperative in 2018, Healthy Homeworks in 2017, and Lots to Gardens in 2016.

City officials described the youth council as giving youths a voice, enabling them to learn about municipal government, and undertaking projects and initiatives “for the betterment of the community.”

Since July 2018, the youth council has undertaken a Shine on Lewiston series, which included video features on new and expanding businesses, a “police insider” panel with Lewiston police, and a “let’s go eat” food sampling event at The Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center, aimed at promoting Lewiston as a food and dining destination. According to the group, 12 eateries participated and donated their food, and people were lined at the door 40 minutes before the event started.

“I am so pleased that the youth council was selected for the 2019 award, as the members certainly embody the meaning of community service,” said Dot Perham-Whittier, the city’s community relations coordinator and LYAC adviser. “The youths’ personal growth that evolves throughout each year is also very meaningful to witness. They strengthen their own skills while engaging with their community and learning more about municipal government.”

The anti-bullying initiative is continuing with a poster contest for Lewiston’s elementary schools, with grade level winners from each school to be recognized at a ceremony hosted by LYAC. The group also is collecting testimonials about bullying experiences for a video they want to film. Testimonials can be submitted online at

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