Waldo County Community Action Partners will celebrate its 50th anniversary Aug. 27 with a family fun carnival in the afternoon and an Aug. 31 evening reception with a presentation from state Sen. Michael Thibodeau, R-Waldo.

Meanwhile, alumni young and old of the agency's inaugural Head Start program gathered last month for a reunion to commemorate their own 50th birthday.

The upcoming WCAP celebration will take place at the Belfast Shrine Club on Northport Avenue, Belfast. The public is invited to the free family carnival from 1 to 4 p.m. on Aug. 27.

The Aug. 31 reception, with hors d'oeuvres from 6 to 8 p.m., will feature a historic look at WCAP from its beginnings to present day. People who wish to attend the evening reception should call 338-6809 to reserve a seat.

The Head Start reunion July 23 opened with a welcome from Waldo Community Action Partners' executive director, Keith Small, and remarks from state Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast.

"I got into politics to work on economic development opportunities for young Mainers because I grew up around here and know how challenging things can be at times," she said. "I've been in office for five years and I know more and more now the best way to improve your own economic situation is always education… I've always supported Head Start … and I think it's wonderful that you all came out today because it is all about family and about education and that's how we move communities forward."

In a recorded video message, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, congratulated WCAP's Head Start program for having served more than 5,000 pre-school children since it began. Head Start was the first program of WCAP when it was incorporated in 1965; the agency then was known as Waldo County Committee for Social Action.

Faith Garrold, who was a Head Start director for WCAP beginning in 1998, told how subsequently, as assistant superintendent of schools for RSU 3, she saw firsthand the positive impact of Head Start's services on Waldo County children.

Among the Head Start experiences she shared with those present, Garrold recalled a trip to Washington, D. C., to receive a federal Quality Program Award and the admission of the first severely handicapped child to the program at Unity Head Start.

"…The program just accepted her as they did every other," she said. "I think that's such an important part of Head Start."

After a musical performance from a past Head Start father, alumni and parents took turns swapping their Head Start stories. Shawn-Nee Johnson, a mother who became involved with the program in 2012, remembered a challenging morning getting her son off to school. She said she could not believe her son's excitement and enthusiasm, day after day, when he returned from home from Head Start.

Moxi Palmer, who was a Head Start child 20 years ago, said the program encouraged her to learn and keep learning.

In typical reunion fashion, attendees were invited to revisit the classroom. "It looks so different now," said Austin Merando, who attended Belfast Head Start in 2001. "I miss the loft."