BANGOR, Maine — Members of the Queen City Grange expressed their gratitude Monday night for the Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s work with the region’s elderly and disabled residents and their families.
Members of the more than 130-year-old Grange group presented the EAAA with its 2009 Community Service Award during a rare open meeting at their historic hall at 1192 Ohio St.
During a ceremony steeped in ritual and tradition, special guest James Owens of Bingham, state master of the Maine State Grange, noted that the award was a prestigious one.
“Granges throughout the United States each year are given the opportunity to give out only one community service award to an individual in the community or a group of individuals, so apparently this Grange thought you must be very special,” Owen said.
Rolf Staples Sr., secretary for the Queen City Grange, agreed. Though the staff at EAAA are paid employees, “they believe in their hearts and souls in what they do,” he said. “The services they have provided to the senior and disabled residents of Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock and Washington counties are countless.”
“This simple certificate of appreciation that we are awarding tonight is only a token of our respect. We hope that you will leave our hall this evening knowing how special you are,” Staples said.
Representatives of the nonprofit were touched by the gesture.
“I wanted to express our humble gratitude for this award,” said Community Services Director Valerie Sauda, one of three EAAA representatives who attended Monday’s ceremony to accept the award on behalf of their colleagues.
“It’s very rare that we receive awards of this caliber,” she said. “At this very difficult economic time, this award is going to get us through to the next day.”
The agency, she said, has “some of the most challenging family and personal situations that we work with every day,”
According to Sauda, the agency has had its hands full in recent months working with seniors and disabled people who have been particularly hard hit by the recent economic downturn.
In one sign of today’s troubled times, Sauda said, the agency has seen a growing number of foreclosures among the population it serves.
“We have had an incredibly challenging month so this is like an icing on the cake for us today.”