‘A way to be together’: Wiscasset villagers, churches to ring bells at noon Sunday; other area volunteer efforts emerge

Sun, 03/22/2020 - 8:15am

    From fundraising for families, to village bell-ringing from porches and churches, and the new group Alna Cares, area residents are finding ways to connect and to help one another through the coronavirus crisis.

    The bell-ringing in and beyond Wiscasset village, including by St. Philip’s Episcopal and First Congregational churches, is set for noon Sunday, Elizabeth Palmer said in a phone interview Saturday night. Her idea was inspired by scenes of Italians and others around the world breaking into music as they shelter at home, and by her thinking of her family at their homes in California, New York and Pennsylvania, where people have been called on to stay home. 

    The bell-ringing Palmer hopes will become daily will be “a moment of pause ... a way to be together” while keeping to social distancing, she said. And she welcomes people in other parts of town and nearby towns to ring bells. After announcing Sunday’s event on social media, she heard from someone telling her they would be ringing from Alna.

    Some of Sunday’s ringing may be more of a clang. Palmer’s Discover Wiscasset Facebook event page “Wiscasset Bells” states in part, “Grab a bell, bang a pot, grab your axes and riff, but be on your porches at noon and let’s take a moment to listen to and hear each other as a village ...”

    Shortly before 7 a.m. Sunday, the event page showed 24 going, 38 interested and 31 shares.

    The planned bell-ringing is among area residents’ moves amid the outbreak. By Saturday night, day-old gofundme campaign “COVID-19 and a coastal community with a big heart” had 19 donations totaling $1,180. According to information one of the organizers, Terry Heller, provided, Friends of Wiscasset Village is sponsoring the effort to raise $15,000 to help feed up to 150 families and help pay their rent and utilities.

    Heller’s announcement Friday read in part: “Our first line of outreach will be to families with children in the Wiscasset schools. These families are asked contact the FoWV for help by emailing  FriendsOfWiscassetVillage@gmail.com, and providing their Wiscasset residential address and need—limited to food, utilities, or rent. Alternately, families seeking help (or those who wish to contribute by mail) may write to: Wiscasset GoFundMe, PO Box 617, Wiscasset, 04578.”
    Heller added: “Thank you each and all for being generous with your gifts and talents that have so greatly enriched our Wiscasset community. We are so doing this!
    Heller is also involved in the village bell-ringing, ordering bells that should arrive later this week, Palmer said. Palmer described Heller as the bell fairy
    And also in recent days, volunteers have formed Alna Cares. Second Selectman Greg Shute said in an email reply Friday, he’s been getting positive responses, and “volunteers are already supporting neighbors in a variety of ways.” Ask what that says about Alna, he responded: “Pitching in when needed has always been a hallmark of Alna townsfolk. We may have differing opinions at times but I’ve always found my fellow neighbors to quickly offer support to anyone in need.”

    To volunteer, email alnageneralstore@gmail.com. To seek support from the volunteers, contact Shute at gshute685@gmail.com or (207) 504-3020, or Alna EMA Director Tom Mckenzie at mckthomas@gmail.com or (434) 466-6944.

    “As we continue to react to a quickly changing landscape, let’s not forget the importance of personal connection while practicing social distancing and following CDC guidelines and the health benefits of spending time outside doing well enjoying that quickly emerging spring,” the group’s March 18 announcement read.