COVID 19 Unites a Small Town

Rangeley Rises logo

Our small but mighty community
rises to the occasion in times of need.

In March 2020, as the impact of COVID 19 closures began rippling through Rangeley, a group of teachers (Brittany DiPompo, Lindsey Savage, Heidi Deery, and Michelle Laliberte) strategized about how best to help their students. They wrote “Rangeley Rises” in the windows of a bus used to deliver meals to children stuck at home.

The slogan quickly became a rallying cry for the many efforts around town to help residents and businesses through this difficult time. Driving through Rangeley today, you’ll see the bright yellow flags with the Rangeley Rises logo lining Main Street. The Rangeley Rises website highlights positive things happening in Rangeley in response to COVID 19.

Restaurants Deliver Free Meals

One of the most impressive Rangely Rises initiatives was the “Friends Helping Friends” free-meal project. Restaurant owners, despite being among the hardest hit by COVID 19 closures, wanted to help struggling community members. They took turns preparing meals that anyone could pick up for free, seven days a week. Volunteer drivers also delivered meals to homebound residents. In all, the group delivered about 10,000 meals from late March through mid-May.

Funding for Friend Helping Friends came from community donations, including many from seasonal and year-round residents. The original Rangeley Rises group raised over $2,100 for the program by selling “Rangeley Rises” tee shirts. A local screen printer provided the shirts at cost and volunteered his time to make them.

“Friends Helping Friends” was initiated by Sarge’s Pub & Grub and Bald Mountain Camps, and supported by Forks in the Air, 45th Parallel, Furbish House, Oquossoc Grocery, Parkside & Main, Portage Tap House, The Red Onion, and The Shed.

Rangeley Health & Wellness complemented this effort by distributed weekly emergency food boxes, an on-going effort, with help from Moose Alley and the Rangeley Food Bank.

“Hope and Strength Are Not Canceled”

Like children nationwide, Rangeley’s youngsters spent the spring of 2020 at home. The community found resourceful and creative ways to keep them fed and entertained.

Rangeley’s downtown blossomed into a socially distant playground for children, with obstacle courses chalked onto the sidewalks, scavenger-hunt paper hearts in business’s windows, and free, hygienically packaged snacks, crafts, and activity packs on a table outside Morton & Furbish real estate and rental agency. The table is replenished every few days by businesses and bakers around town, and by the town’s dynamic art teachers.

For Easter, the fire department brought out a few trucks and cruised around every neighborhood with lights flashing and people dressed as Easter Bunny and Sparky the Dog waving to children from atop the truck. They even did it again the next day when they realized they had missed three houses.

School staff and teachers ensured no one missed a weekday meal by offering free breakfasts and lunches at pick-up locations throughout the district. These and many other acts of kindness prove the message on the school’s marque: “Hope and Strength Are Not Canceled.”

Businesses Embrace Safety Guidelines

As the long-term impact of COVID 19 safety measures became clear, Rangeley’s businesses and non-profits came together to discuss how best to protect the health and economy of the town. A cornerstone of their response is the Rangeley Rises Safety Pledge. The five-part pledge includes prioritizing the health of patrons, employees, and community members; meeting or exceeding all CDC and State of Maine guidelines; and responding to community suggestions.

Learn More

Visit the Rangeley Rises website to learn more about on-going efforts to help neighbors and friends during this difficult time, and to protect the health of Rangeley’s residents and visitors.

Photo by Kimberly Dolbier

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