Rangeley is a town where a few passionate people, working together, can have a big impact. This spring, the people were four staff members of Rangeley Lakes Regional School, and the impact was hope and unity in a time of need and uncertainty. A slogan they adopted – “Rangeley Rises” – became a rallying cry for members of this tight-knit community. Today, it is on flags and tee shirts throughout town.
Recently, these four big-hearted altruists turned “Rangeley Rises” into a full-fledged non-profit organization. This week, I had the pleasure of talking with three of them – Brittany DiPompo, 3rd grade teacher; Lindsey Savage, school nurse; and Michelle Laliberte, pre-K teacher. (Heidi Deery, school counselor, is the fourth co-founder.) Here is an edited transcript of our discussion.
So, how did Rangeley Rises get started?
When school closed in March, we were looking for ways to support students. We were using a school bus to deliver meals throughout the community, and we wanted a way to make it more fun and appealing – a sign of hope. We wrote “Rangeley Rises” on the bus windows because our community always rises to the occasion to support one another. It has taken off from there.
Why did you become a non-profit?
The “Rangeley Rises” motto really connected with people. Rangeley is a community that comes together in times of celebration and need. We want to support that and continue our work beyond this pandemic.
How will you do that?
We’ll help the community however we can. Right now, we’re raising money for a scholarship in memory of Shannon Wahlstrom, a young woman from Rangeley who passed away recently. We want to support students and their families when they face challenges.
We also want to help in situations that call for celebration, not just need. For instance, there are people in our community who go above and beyond every day and aren’t recognized for it. We want to celebrate and support them. We’ve talked about doing random acts of kindness throughout the community.
There are four of you. Who does what?
We work together on most things. We each have different skills, like writing or social media. We’re a close group of friends who have worked together for years so we’re very comfortable sharing roles and responsibilities. We are all directors of the Rangeley Rises non-profit.
What has been the most fun part of Rangeley Rises?
Seeing the Rangeley Rises slogan and logo everywhere. We came up with the logo pretty quickly. We found an image online and made some adjustments. Over the course of a weekend, we sent images back and forth to each other, trying to get it ready to put on the bus on Monday. Now it’s everywhere in town.
What has been the hardest part?
We don’t have business backgrounds, so some aspects of this are new to us, but we haven’t hit a hard part yet. We’ve had to figure out what direction we want to go as an organization. We want to keep our work going without competing with other Rangeley non-profits. We see our mission as different from theirs. We talked with members of the Rangeley Rotary Club before forming a non-profit and one of them even helped us put together our non-profit application. They’ve been very supportive. They even bought Rangeley Rises flags for local businesses.
How can people support Rangeley Rises?
We have a website (RangeleyRises.com) where people can donate and buy merchandise. Everything for sale is printed right here in Rangeley and it’s very reasonably priced – we want everyone to be part of this.
Is there anything else you want people to know?
As a new group, we welcome people’s ideas and thoughts. We also want to know if there are any needs in the community that we can help fill. We are happy to do benefits or to help other people publicize theirs.
Thanks so much for talking with Experience Rangeley, and for all you do for Rangeley. All best wishes as you continue this wonderful endeavor.