Pictured: Nicole Welch, CPRP, President of the Maine Recreation and Park Association and Recreation Director for City of Lewiston.
Our state and community — Lewiston, Maine — were impacted by a senseless act on October 25, the effects of which have been felt nationally. Over the past weeks, I have tried to put into words the pain I feel for those in our community who lost loved ones. I am so heartbroken for all of those impacted.
I have been lucky to serve the people of Lewiston for 2.5 years. This diverse, supportive, hard-working, resilient, loving community plays home to some of the most impactful community helpers that I have had the pleasure of knowing. Amongst the ripples that have hurt our neighbors, organizing efforts to help pave the road toward healing and hope have begun.
To help the families and victims, we made the decision to close our beautiful Lewiston Armory to programs and rentals so that it can be used for them to begin their healing journey. October marked the 100th birthday for the Lewiston Armory, having been opened in October 1923. In the last 100 years, this building has hosted graduations, concerts, basketball games, sock-hops, training services, memorial services, veterans’ meetings, Eid prayer, election polls, and served as a homeless shelter during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This building has served this community in so many ways, and it is comforting to know that it can be used as a place for hope and healing.
The emails, phone calls, and text messages that many of you have sent have been so welcomed. There is so much love and support coming in from across the country. As all our departments have shown over the years, we pivot well. We show up, do what needs to be done and remain flexible, because we love to serve our community in any way possible. The Lewiston Recreation Department team has done exactly that, and I am beyond grateful for our team.
There are many places to donate to the victim’s and their families. If you’re looking for an easy, local way, head to lewistonmaine.gov/OneLewiston. A few keystrokes, and you’ve helped cover lost wages, set up a college fund for a child, or maybe helped with holiday presents.
As all our departments and businesses prepare for the start of a new week, remember that one of our most basic goals is to build community and make people happy. It truly is the small things that all of you do every day that makes the world a better place. A few people have sent me the famous Mr. Rogers quote over the last few days: “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” You are a helper, and you are creating places for the helpers of tomorrow to grow. It is a tall order, but if anyone can do it, it can be you.
Nicole Welch, CPRP is President of Maine Recreation and Park Association and Recreation Director for City of Lewiston.