Palermo Community Center celebrates 20 years
By Connie Bellet
It's not too often that a small, "kitchen table" foundation manages to make it to age 20, much less serve a broad area encompassing four counties. Moreover, the original founders, John Potter, Ted Bigos, Jim Osier, Dennis Sturgis and Herb Flint, had different ideas about which community needs the Palermo Community Foundation would address. For a brief time, it was the Palermo Community Health Center and later housed Palermo Online, a community internet provider run by Mike and Sheila McCarty. Feelers were put out to house a library, but the building proved inadequate for the weight of that many books.
Nevertheless, the original idea of providing a community meeting space for social bonding, education, art and music was written into the bylaws and continues today.
To date, the foundation, which is now known as the Living Communities Foundation, has never accepted any tax money and is totally supported by the people it serves. All of the people who help make up the board of directors and "staff" are volunteers. That situation is also unique, considering how much work it takes to manage and maintain a building constructed of donated materials and built largely by very talented volunteers. This is why there are no "business hours," as such. The Community Center, which is located on Turner Ridge Road across from the ball field, is open by appointment (call Connie at 993-2294 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) or for various meetings and events.
For the last five years, the Community Center has hosted the Palermo Food Panty every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to noon. For nine years, the center has sponsored a potluck “Dinner-and-a-Movie” on the last Friday of the month. This month's feature is "Cracking Your Genetic Code" on Oct. 28.
The Great ThunderChicken Drum meets Tuesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. for a rousing, yet soothing, practice session and welcomes newcomers.
On Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 6 p.m., Jock Robie will join the Waldo Organic Growers to harvest worm castings and maintain worm bins. The Community Center has also been used for classes in biblical scripture and American Sign Language, as well as for weddings, Thanksgiving dinners, musical concerts, and computer classes.
The foundation gave away some 300 refurbished computers to disabled seniors and students, and sponsored four Palermo World's Fairs, with exotic foods and entertainment from many cultures. There is also a large community garden with 32 raised beds that helps to supply the food pantry.
All told, there are many reasons to help support the Living Communities Foundation. The building does need a new roof, and any amount would be received with great appreciation. Donations may be sent to LCF, care of Connie Bellet, P.O. Box 151, Palermo ME 04354. Food may be dropped off on Tuesday mornings before 10:30 a.m. Many thanks go to Joel and Annalisa Miller of Wild Miller Farm, to Good Shepherd Food Bank, and to Hannaford’s for their support.