We’ve all driven by the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. Some of us have been there. Many of us plan to go someday. Pine Tree Society’s adult services program participants not only go there, they volunteer. In fact, some of the participants volunteered more than 20 hours and were honored at the annual appreciation dinner at Spring Meadows where they received a tumbler, a wildlife print and a special certificate.
In 2007, one of the adult service program volunteers and Peter C. Pinette, Direct Support Professional for Pine Tree Society in Auburn, received the Joe Jones Presidents Award for their valuable assistance.
“We helped build the gray and red fox displays, including the dens. We also built the eagle display,” said Peter. “The small mammal display was a long row and we assisted with the building of a more natural habitat.”
For Peter, the great appreciation the Wildlife Park gives the volunteers is what sets this experience apart. Park Superintendent Curtis Johnson knows each person’s name and what they like to do. “He treats us as part of the park and goes over and beyond the call of duty to always share his thanks for what we do.”
The impact this volunteer opportunity has on the lives of the adult services volunteers is immediate and long lasting. “There’s a feeling of belonging and teamwork and they enjoy the work and bring that happiness home with them. Through this community involvement, they also gain skills for employment.”
In fact, this volunteerism led to a work contract with the Maine Warden Service. “They saw how well our team did at the Maine Wildlife Park so they hired us to work at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in Gray. It all came full circle which is really cool.”
Maine game warden Lt. Adam Gormley and warden Evan Franklin took the Pine Tree Society adult services workers out fishing. “Last year, Adam brought two of his sons and it was downright amazing. Our team loves it so much.” The Maine Warden Service and Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have an honor board at their office with photos of the best and biggest fish they’ve caught. “One of our guys is up on that board holding his fish from that trip.”
Next time you drive by the Maine Wildlife Park, pull in. The exhibits you’ll see and the grounds you’ll tour are special to us. If you see a piece of litter on the ground, pick it up; knowing it’s for the pride this group of Pine Tree Society volunteers takes in this special Park.