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Kieve hosts Veterans' Camp

February 17, 2010

Jason Prophit and his daughter Marissa enjoy their afternoon snowshoeing trip during Kieve's Veterans' Program.

Kieve-Wavus recently completed two incredible five-day pilot programs for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. This program gave veterans and their families a chance to reconnect and enjoy a range of physical, creative and healing activities on the Kieve campus. For many, program activities such as yoga, tai chi, rock climbing, whittling, acupuncture, snow shoeing and pottery were new and welcomed adventures. Kelly McLean, a counselor who volunteered from the Sanford Vet Center said, "We saw an incredible amount of positive change occur over the course of the program, I saw three months of healing take place over the course of five days. It was amazing.? Program participant John McLean of Yarmouth told the group that this was the first time since he got back in 2005 that he has been able to let his guard down and relax. In addition to numerous scheduled activities there was plenty of time to just relax and enjoy the company with others who share the same experiences. Evening activities included entertainment by magician Rick Bernard of St. George, jugglers Jason & Matt Tardy and a karaoke night. The Pemaquid Fisherman?s Coop also prepared a delicious authentic downeast style lobster bake cooked outside with a raging wood fire. Excellent food was prepared by the Kennedy Leaning Center staff and a special thanks to Joy Knowlton and Greg Moebius who made appetizers of fresh Maine shrimp tacos with an avocado salsa.

One participant, a 65 year-old veteran who served last year in Iraq as part of the Engineering Corps, discovered a passion for pottery. Most mornings, we could find Joe at the wheel, classical music playing in the background and the beginnings of a beautiful bowl in front of him. Alan Baldwin, of Artsake Framing in Damariscotta, joined the Kieve staff as the program?s pottery teacher. He gracefully guided veterans and their families in making mugs, bowls, tiles and other creations and, most importantly, helped them discover the joy of art. Many of the participants told us as that they would continue to pursue the passions they developed at Kieve?whether it was ice fishing, pottery, whittling or just walking in the woods.

Over the course of the last two weeks, many amazing stories unfolded. Three soldiers were unexpectedly reunited after they parted ways in Iraq in 2005 as a result of the mess hall bombing in Mosul that left many in their unit injured or dead. These three men were surprised to cross paths at Kieve and have vowed to stay connected. For one couple, the week at Kieve served as their honeymoon?they were married three days before Chris? year-long deployment, and only now, several months after his return, did they celebrate.

Kieve?s first cohort showed an incredible willingness to jump head first into new activities as well as into a brand new program that had never been run before. Program Director Maria Millard said, "I watched participants scale up our indoor rock climbing wall with tenacity, grace and determination?the same way they served our country." The program was, as Development and 9/11 Family Camp Director Russ Williams says, ?A homerun!?

These veterans? service to our country inspired incredible generosity, especially in our local region. As has been the case over the past 8 years with our 9/11 Family Camp, eager local businesses and community members readily stepped forward to offer their support. So much of our program was made possible by volunteers and donations. Thanks to The Carpenter?s Boat Shop in Pemaquid for providing us with excellent and spirited whittling and yoga teachers, to Big Al?s for Maine gifts, and to: The Pemaquid Fisherman?s Co-op, Aw Shucks Oyster Shucker, Pemaquid Oyster Company, Atypical Entertainment, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, Bath Savings Bank, Damariscotta Bank & Trust, DJ Steve Hughes, Family Ice in Falmouth, First Federal Savings & Loan, Flowers by Judy Doe, Franklin Saving Bank, Gritty McDuff's, Hidden Valley Nature Center, Maine Coast Book Shop & Caf?, Maine Sport Outfitters, Rick Bernard Magician, Shelter Institute, Shipyard Brewing, Weatherbird, and Yellowfront Grocery. Without the generosity of these businesses the program would not have been the success it was.

For more information please contact Maria Millard


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