The Spirit of America Foundation honored 99 people from Kennebec County on Tuesday night at a ceremony for their volunteer work in their own communities.

Municipalities from across Maine nominate volunteers for the Augusta-based nonprofit organization’s awards each year. Those honored at the Manchester Lions Club are from 27 of the county’s cities and towns.

The first Spirit of America Foundation Tribute was presented to Alma Jones by Augusta Mayor William Burney in 1991, according to the organization.

The honorees include fire departments, volunteer groups, town committees and individual residents.

In Gardiner, Deb Files was chosen by the city for her efforts to organize monthly cash mobs downtown and other events.

Files attributed her foray into volunteering to the city’s two-year community planning project that wrapped up last year, Heart & Soul, and the coordinator, Meaghan Carlson.


“It’s amazing. Once you step into volunteering, what you can do and what people ask you to do,” Files said.

She said she hopes the award spurs others to volunteer, and she encouraged people to attend a celebration of volunteerism at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 13, at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Gardiner in Gardiner.

“It’s a positive impact when you volunteer,” Files said. “Whether it’s the Boys and Girls Club, the soup kitchen or Gardiner Main Street, it’s part of being human to me, sharing what we have.”

The town of Rome selected Lois Stratton for its Spirit of America Foundation Tribute for her years of contributions to the town’s Recreation Committee.

“I’m very pleased, but I was surprised because I really didn’t do any of the things that I’ve done to be awarded anything,” Stratton said Tuesday.

Stratton said she’s been organizing community dinners for the elderly annually because she saw a need for a senior citizen group in town.


Every year, Stratton and other volunteers serve dinner “with all the fixings” to sometimes more than 70 seniors in the town, she said. One year, Stratton said, she also held a dinner to help children in Rome afford summer camp.

“I never expected any award,” she said. “I did these things because I like doing it, and it’s just something that should be done.”

In Oakland, Jerry Haynes, reserve sergeant with the Police Department, was nominated a second time for the award because of the additional time he volunteers to helping the force.

Haynes, who has been with the department for 38 years, is known for helping with anything from hooking up electronics to the cruisers to placing flags on the graves of former members of the department on Memorial Day.

“He helps with little things on his own time,” Capt. Rick Stubbert said.

Haynes said he was surprised to be recognized for his work and said it is an honor to work for the department.

“I’ve always been involved with the department,” he said. “It keeps me busy, keeps me out of my wife’s hair.”

Staff writers Paul Koenig and Kaitlin Schroeder contributed to this report.

Comments are no longer available on this story