On October 16, amidst glorious fall colors surrounding the waterfront areas of the Camp, TREE Program and Wormwood Banquet & Conference Center, visitors celebrated Waban’s 50th Anniversary. The gorgeous day and mild weather were the perfect accompaniment, encouraging attendees to tour the grounds and remember their connection to Waban, whether it was decades ago or yesterday.
Inside the Wormwood Center and out on the large patio area that had been covered and enclosed with a heated party canopy, there were multiple displays of photos, scrapbooks, archived newspaper articles, various artifacts and mementos from Waban’s history as well as a “Waban By the Decade” full wall photo display. While mingling and partaking in refreshments, old friends and acquaintances reconnected and “walked down memory lane” embracing Waban’s 50 years of providing essential services to children and adults with special needs.
Neal Meltzer, Waban’s Executive Director, took microphone in hand to thank everyone for their contributions over the years, whether as a volunteer, an employee, a donor, a legislator, a receiver of services, or a friend. Representatives from U.S. Senators Angus King and Susan Collins’ offices brought remarks from the senators and State Representatives Anne-Marie Mastraccio and Patty Hymanson delivered an official Expression of Sentiment from the 127th Legislature of the State of Maine. (Photo: Michael Liberty, Mary Ellen Fenderson and Paul Sicotte receive recognition as Icons of the Decade (1970s) from Waban’s Executive Director Neal Meltzer. Missing from the photo was Rory MacKenzie.)
In a more formal presentation, Neal recognized Icons of the Decade, going from Waban’s founding year of 1966 through the 5th decade in 2010. These individuals truly represented the essence, spirit, dedication, and commitment of the hundreds of other engaged community members who all contributed to Waban’s success. For the 1960s, it was Wayne Wormwood, the founding force behind Camp Waban and Waban’s Executive Director for many years. Wormwood’s son Vance Wormwood was on hand to accept the honor in his father’s place. Other icons included participants Mary Ellen Fenderson, Michael Liberty, Paul Sicotte and Rory MacKenzie for the 1970s; previous Waban and community leaders Jan Fraser, Charlene Ford Ralston, and Bud and Sandy Legere for the 1980s; early recipient of service and now dedicated Waban staff and her exceptional son, Pam and Ryan LaJoie, for the 1990s; current and previous Board members Roberta Milo and Laurent Paré for the 2000s; and representing the confluence of the past, present, and future, long term (28 years!) employee and current Deputy Director, Gervaise Flynn, for the current decade.
At the end of the celebration, Neal’s closing remarks were representative of the feelings felt by all. “It is truly humbling to look around and see what the dedicated and committed efforts of so many people have accomplished over 50 years. Thousands of people’s lives have been impacted and are better for the programs, services, and experiences they had at Waban. Waban’s and their success is truly the success of all of you that are here today and of our entire community. For all that you have done, we are truly grateful.”