When we interviewed Tanner for our College Exploration and Engagement Program in the spring of his freshman year, he told us about his buoys. How he chose the bright green and white because the colors were clear and bold in the water. How the horizontal designs with these colors had already been claimed, so he shifted to a distinctive vertical stripe. How this design took him a long time and demanded precision as he taped and painted each of several stripes again and again on dozens of buoys. And how ultimately, it was all worth it, because he had worked hard, and was proud that to each buoy he had brought his best.
Tanner died in a car accident with two friends in early February. He was a junior at Sumner Memorial High School in Sullivan. In the days following, connecting with students in our program, and teachers and staff who knew Tanner well, I didn’t hear much about the Honor Roll scholar he was, or the skilled dedication he brought to baseball and fishing, though all of this was true.
I didn’t say much about how Tanner hoped to study structural engineering or landscape architecture while continuing to fish, or that he would have been an outstanding applicant for the full college scholarship we are launching this spring, though this was true also.
What I heard most — and felt — amid intertwined grief and gratitude was that Tanner was so kind. That he would have done anything for anyone — and did. That he looked out for his friends when they struggled, and he loved his parents and extended family with unshakable loyalty. That he was the first to ask if you needed a hand, and the last to ever complain or cut a corner or make excuses. Even when worried, he persisted.
On a recent rainy day, after a scholarship workshop the previous night that Tanner and his parents would have joined, I visited their home. I wanted Tanner’s parents, Mike and Tracy, to have several photographs from our program including one I framed of Tanner and a friend looking out across Frenchman Bay. I wanted them to have an art piece from that same summer retreat — a silhouetted portrait Tanner had filled with words that mattered to him.
We also shared some quiet and some stories. I told Mike and Tracy how much I had learned about Tanner from what he said two years back about his buoys. They listened. Then Mike disappeared for a minute. He returned with one of the buoys — the green and white just as Tanner had described. We talked a bit more and as I got ready to leave, Tanner’s parents gave the buoy to me.
What an extraordinary kindness. What an extraordinary gift. And what a reminder. We load our boats and head out with hope toward dawn. How can we know if our prep the days before will be enough? Tanner’s prep was focus and tape and patience. As was unquestionably true across his seventeen years, may we too step back at the end of each day to see clearly and boldly that we have given our best.
–– Christina S. Griffith, Director, Davis Maine Scholarship
NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — In November 2017, Maine Seacoast Mission launched Journey, a six-year youth mentoring program. Journey was, and is, made possible by the Emanuel & Pauline A. Lerner Foundation and its mentoring-based initiative, Aspirations Incubator. That initiative is designed to raise and sustain aspirations of rural Maine middle and high school students.
This week, Aspirations Incubator launched its new website www.aspirationsincubator.org and social media pages. The new web presence will offer the public a glimpse into how Aspirations Incubator is working at the Mission and in other places.
Briana “Bri” West, is the Mission’s Journey Coordinator. Bri said, “The Journey program gives students support and relationships that help them navigate their challenges. Students get to experience college and career choices, near and far from home, with friends and mentors. Journey has given students support in-and-out of the classroom, while helping build resilience. In our small community, Journey has given students the motivation to be better, and to strive for what they dream,” said Bri.
“Through deep mentoring and outdoor based programs, Washington County youth are able to explore their strengths and build positive relationships with peers,” added Mission Downeast Director Melvin D. Adams III, Ed.D.
“This work increases college and career aspirations for youth to live and thrive in their communities. We are grateful for the coaching, mentoring, and financial support provided by the Lerner Foundation,” Mel Adams said.
We look forward to contributing to the success of the Aspiration Incubator’s new web presence.
NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — On the windy, brisk, February 25th, Mission Island Health Services Director Sharon Daley, MDI Hospital nurse Maureen Giffin, Mission Island Outreach Director Douglas Cornman, and Mission President John Zavodny eased their car onto the Swan’s Island ferry to deliver their first Covid-19 vaccination clinic since partnering with the Maine CDC and local hospitals. And there was no better way to do it than by teaming up with Executive Director Donna Wiegle and the Swan’s Island Mill Pond Health Clinic.
For weeks beforehand, Sharon and Douglas went over the variables for launching a series of vaccination clinics for several remote Maine island populations. How to let islanders know, and then register them, for the clinics? Suppose we schedule a clinic and the weather rebels?
Receiving the vaccine depended on the weather too, plus the cooperation of other entities. There were already times went promised vaccine deliveries fell through for one reason or another, usually weather related.
Sharon and Douglas put in place a plan, a template for running the island clinics without a hitch. Would the plan work? Would it need revision?
Swan’s Island was the first chance for answering all those questions while in the field.
The clinic went off without a hitch. Sixty-one people were vaccinated. Sharon Daley told one reporter, “It feels like a big party because everybody is so happy to get this vaccine and it is a real sign of hope.”
President Zavodny, who was taking notes, pictures, and assisting with registrations, sent back to the Mission an 11:45 am email. He said, “System’s working well. Folks are showing up early and are very excited and grateful to the Mission and to the Health Center here.”
Maine Seacoast Mission’s Thomas Thompson had designed “I got my Covid-19 vaccination!” stickers. They were a real hit with clinic goers. EMT Tammy Tipler’s carnations were the perfect touch to send each individual on their way.
At day’s end the Swan’s Island clinic was, in every way, a success.
Next, the Mission crew aboard the Mission boat Sunbeam, with nursing assistance and a Boston Globe photographer, would host four clinics for four islands over two days. Sixty-one down, 147 to go.
NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — On the March 3, 2021 Covid-19 vaccination clinic for Monhegan Island residents, Maine Seacoast Mission President Zavodny helped with registrations, took notes and photos. He also captured the flavor of the clinic in this short, self-narrated video.
NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — As we work to tell the big picture story of the Mission’s Covid-19 vaccination effort, we also want to make sure to capture the small moments. These are the moments that will bring texture and life to this historic initiative now and as we remember them. Here are some of the moments I will always remember from the first few vaccination trips.
I’ll think of Tammy, Swan’s Island EMT, managing parking in her bright yellow jacket and handing out carnations to all those who came to be vaccinated. A big smile and “thank you” from Tammy for a warm cup of tea on that wonderful windy first clinic day.
I won’t forget a Kubota 4×4 ride on Monhegan. Me in the front with Jess the EMT driving. Peggy, Sharon, and Maureen—our medical team—in the back. Bumps and laughter and racing back to the dock and the Laura B where crew and passengers waited patiently for us to finish every vaccination.
I will remember Barb on Islesford dancing from registration to waiting room to vaccine administration and back to waiting. Then finally gracefully gliding right out the door of the Neighborhood House. Victory sign waving, enormous smile beaming.
I’ll think of Dan and Christina on Matinicus. Dan joking that he cut in front of Christina because his hands were cold. Christina not being surprised when I told on him. Both clearly loving each other and so happy to receive the vaccine and our Mission vaccination stickers.
I will remember Mary and Katelyn, Cranberry Isles twenty-something EMT personnel, greeting every islander. Teasing some, more gentle with others, respectful of all.
And then there is Scott, a young Islesford lobsterman with piercing gray eyes, gently easing his grandmother Polly up with each required move. Scott, reassuring Polly that he has her “pogo stick” when he grabs the cane from where it fell.
Most of all, when I think of these first days I will always remember Douglas Cornman, Sharon Daley, and visiting nurses Maureen Giffin and Peggy Akers huddling and planning. Relentlessly. Joyfully. On Sunbeam. At the clinics. On the road. In the plane. CDC protocols, boat schedules, time, and tides to be managed and re-managed. These are the moments I’ll hang on to as this effort goes forward. These are the moments I will share when folks ask me what it was like. What an honor it is to be a small part of this historic work.
mdislander.com March 6, 2021 by Dick Broom on Health, News 137 outer island residents get shots
MOUNT DESERT — A total of 137 people – most of them over 65 – on Swan’s Island, the Cranberry Isles, Frenchboro and Isle au Haut were vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Maine Seacoast Mission’s vaccination clinics on the islands late last week.
Sixty-one of those getting shots live on Swan’s Island, where Donna Wiegle is the health officer and runs the island’s Mill Pond Health Center.
“It was fantastic,” she said of the vaccination clinic. “People could not have been happier, more grateful for the opportunity to get their vaccine out here.”