WATERVILLE — Cassidy Charette was two weeks away from becoming a mentor to a young girl as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program when she was killed in a hayride accident in October 2014 in Mechanic Falls.

Charette will be honored posthumously at the REM Awards 2016 ceremony Saturday at the Waterville Opera House. Hers will be of one of 14 awards to be issued at the event, to be held from 2 to 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public, but donations are accepted.

Charette, 17, of Oakland, was a Messalonskee High School junior who had trained to become a Big Sister, but she never got the chance.

After she was killed and 22 others injured, including her boyfriend, Connor Garland, of Belgrade, the community rallied around Charette’s family and kept her legacy alive by raising thousands of dollars for Big Brothers Big Sisters in the Bowl for Cassidy’s Sake, a bowling tournament, and launching other projects.

“Cassidy is being honored by Big Brothers Big Sisters,” said Faye Nicholson, co-executive director of REM, a nonprofit community organization. “She had just completed Big Brothers Big Sisters training and was about to meet her ‘little’ when she was killed.

“The others being honored will have given many years, so it is not Cassidy’s volunteering, I think, that is important here but the community’s support of her family and creation of programs in her name. It’s the amazing community that people need to know surrounds them.”


Charette lived with her parents, Monica Wilcox Charette and Randy Charette, and her brother, Colby, who now is a Big Brother. She was a star soccer player at Messalonskee and was at the top of her class academically.

Saturday’s awards are a tribute to community volunteers who do exceptional work for nonprofit organizations, Nicholson said.

REM has held the awards ceremony annually since 1997. REM’s co-executive director, Jackie Dalton, will do a presentation on a large screen that will show the audience what each organization and honoree does. Maine-ly Harmony, a women’s a cappella group, will perform, as will students and faculty members from Pineland Suzuki School at Snow Pond Community School. Vocalist Maureen Vashon also will perform, accompanied by David Deas on guitar.

The Alfond Youth Center will honor Francis Purnell; the American Lung Association will honor Maxine Michaud; Futurama Foundation, Sally Ann Parks; Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area, Jackie Reny; Inland Hospital, Rona Backstrom; Kotlas Sister City Connection, Martha Coury Patterson; Literacy Volunteers, Janna Townsend; MaineGeneral Medical Center, Elena Vayanos and Mark and Judy Johnston, for all MaineGeneral volunteers; Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, Jim and Amy Przytulski and family; PFLAG (formerly called Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays), Charles Kelly; REM, Connie Napolitano; and United Way of Mid-Maine, Daniel Burgess.

A reception will follow the awards ceremony in The Forum Room on the first floor of The Center, and it will be REM’s final event in that room before moving its operations from the first floor of The Center to the basement area formerly occupied by Women’s Initiative.

At the awards presentation at the opera house, Nicholson; Betty Palmer, executive director of Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter; and Sue Roy, executive director of Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area, will talk about what volunteers mean to them. Nicholson will explain that the REM forum room, office, lounge, board room and kitchen will move to the basement starting Sunday. Those spaces then will be occupied by Waterville Creates! Nicholson said anyone wanting to help REM move may show up Sunday or during the week to help.


“That space will work for the arts,” Nicholson said of REM spaces. “It is not and never has been a fit for community. REM is presenting to the community the idea of building a regional community center on the riverfront at Head of Falls. What would people want to see there? At the REM awards, we will propose that the community begins to imagine what that would be like.”

She said the ACAT theater group, which formerly occupied the studio theater beside the REM office, is now under the REM umbrella and will be based at REM. ACAT will present two evenings of one-act plays April 29 and 30 in The Forum room at The Center in preparation for its participation in the upcoming Maine Association of Community Theaters one-act play festival. The ACAT plays in The Forum room will take place at 7:30 p.m. both nights. Tickets cost $10 a person.

The plays are “Airport Hell,” a comedy by Robert Brustein; “One Tennis Shoe,” a comedy by Shel Silverstein; “Winter Flowers,” a drama by Lily Rusek; “Caught in the Act,” a comedy by Bruce Kane; and “She’s Fabulous,” a comedy by Jack Neary.

Nicholson said she hopes the community’s involvement in designing and building a community center will keep people thinking and working positively for the transformation of the downtown and give the city and Colby College President David Greene the support they need to accomplish their goals for downtown revitalization.

“The meetings are going fine, but the people will need a way to stay involved, and I’m hoping to provide a way for them to do that,” she said.

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