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Aroostook County Honors its Real Heroes

The Caribou office of the American Red Cross in Maine honored individuals and organizations that went above and beyond in service to others at its annual Real Heroes Breakfast, held May 13 at the Caribou Inn and Convention Center.

This Year’s Recipients:

Peter Miesburger, Caribou

Peter, one of the strongest veteran advocates in Maine, has given countless hours of his time traveling from Maine to Washington, D.C., speaking on behalf of veterans programs. Over the past 20 years, he has been a vital member of the veterans’ legislative board for the Veterans of Foreign Wars for Maine. His efforts have resulted in being the voice for a lost group of veterans, who after returning from Vietnam, were faced with the challenges of adjusting back into the mainstream, and obtaining the benefits they had fought for. Peter has also been instrumental in the development of the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery in Caribou. He is also a founding member of the committee that played a vital role in building a VA clinic in Caribou. He continues to work with Senator Susan Collins’ office to ensure funding for the ARCH program so veterans can receive the quality healthcare close to home. His efforts, along with the work of our U. S. Congress, have allowed Cary Medical Center to serve as the pilot role model for the entire nation regarding veterans’ care. He doesn’t just talk about caring for his comrades – he makes things happen!

Calvin Jandreau, St. Francis; and Steve Rusnack, St. John Plantation

On the evening of May 15, 2014, Calvin and Steve were two of the first people to arrive on the scene in which a local resident was trapped inside a burning car. The driver had lost control of his vehicle, flipping it over, and catching fire. The driver was unconscious and trapped inside. The incident made a loud crashing sound outside of Calvin’s house, which got his attention. Calvin went out to see what had happened. Steve was driving by and saw the flames coming from under the wrecked car. He stopped at the scene and saw the driver laying crossways in the bottom of the car. Acting quickly, he broke a window and pried open the door. Calvin came over to help; both men tugged hard to extract the driver, but with no avail. Finally they were able to grab hold of the driver’s clothing, enabling them to pull him out to a safe distance from the car while flames had engulfed the driver’s side. There was less than 15 seconds from the time when Calvin and Steve hauled the driver from the car until the interior became a raging inferno. The St. Francis Fire Department soon arrived, along with the state police and a deputy sheriff. The driver was taken to Northern Maine Medical Center and later transferred to Eastern Maine Medical center with non-life-threatening injuries. Had these two men not reacted immediately, the driver would have died.

Morgan Dumond, St. Agatha

In the early morning hours of November 22, 2014, Morgan was driving home from a friend’s house in Fort Kent when she noticed heavy gray smoke over the R.F. Chamberland garage on Main Street. She sensed something was not right. Morgan felt it was something more serious than just wood smoke from the garage chimney. She drove home and went into her parents’ bedroom right away to wake them and explain what she saw. She and her mother immediately drove back towards the garage and as they approached, they saw the telltale orange glow – the color of disaster on that frigid night. Morgan grabbed her phone and called 911 as she drove straight to the company owner’s home next to the burning garage. She pounded hard enough to wake him and alerted him to what was happening. As the owner called for help on his phone, his oldest son began to move trucks away from what was now a raging fire. Little did he know what he find would as he jumped into one particular truck— a company driver who had been sleeping in his bunk after coming in from a late trip. The driver awakened and was able to move his truck away from the burning building — just in time before it, too, caught on fire. According to the Fire Chief, had they not arrived at the scene when they did, it would have been very unlikely they could have saved the adjacent office building. They were able to bring the garage fire under control enough to save the office because of early response due to Morgan’s actions. If the main office had been lost with all its records, R.F. Chamberland would have been indefinitely crippled. More importantly, had Morgan not acted on her instincts, the fire could have gone unnoticed for a longer period of time and the truck driver could have died as he slept in his truck parked by the garage, not realizing what was going on around him.

Frank Lafave, Limestone

On September 27, 2014, postal carrier Frank Lafave was delivering mail to a residence in Caribou when he noticed the mail had not been picked up for a few days. Knowing the resident was an 88-year-old woman who lived alone and had no close relatives, Frank decided to knock on her door. When he did not get a response, he contacted the local authorities to check on her. They found that the woman had fallen in the hall and was unable to move for approximately 3 days. Without Frank’s intervention, the woman very likely would have died. She spent the next month in the hospital and is currently residing in a skilled nursing facility.

Phil and Tyler Corriveau, Fort Kent

One day last winter, a local man went riding on his snowmobile; it was his habit to go off the trail to explore and take pictures. When he was due at a friend’s house for supper that night, the friend was worried and called the authorities. The game wardens searched all night, but could not find the man. Phil and Tyler were out riding on their snowmobiles the next morning, when Phil spotted a set of snowmobile tracks going off the trail and with no sign of tracks coming out. Phil and Tyler followed the tracks and found the man trapped under his snowmobile. They provided immediate emergency first aid and care to the man. Had Phil and Tyler not investigated the tracks going off the trail, the man would have likely died of hyperthermia.

Young Hero Awards -

Greg Jellison and Stephanie Parady, Fort Fairfield

This past year, one of Greg and Stephanie’s classmates began to experience severe seizures in school. Both Greg and Stephanie have been more than kind and considerate; they have personally taken it upon themselves to make sure she is safe during a seizure, with swift action and helping staff in any way possible until medical help arrives. They spend time with her when she returns to school, understandably self-conscious and in need of kind words. These two students have kept her spirits up and have given her the feeling of safety to come back to the school environment time and again. Greg and Stephanie genuinely care about her welfare. Their kindness and compassion serves as an excellent role model to others. They have gone well above and beyond the normal expectations of the general good citizenship asked of the Fort Fairfield school students. Greg and Stephanie are truly heroes for ensuring their classmate stays safe and is cared for.

Lucas Gendreau, St. David

June 9, 2014 was a beautiful day at Long Lake until screams of help were heard. A woman, visiting from Ohio, was desperately seeking help for her husband who had fallen out of his kayak. A neighbor called 911, and then called her sister, who also lives at Long Lake to ask if she knew someone with a boat who could quickly come and help the man. Lucas Gendreau, son of the neighbor’s sister, heard the request and insisted he could help by taking the family Sea-Doo Jet boat to rescue the man. Within minutes, Lucas was approaching the man and helping him out of the cold water. Lucas brought him and his kayak back to shore and helped him empty the kayak. The man had been in the water for approximately 30 minutes and was very cold. If Lucas had not stepped up at that time to help, there is no telling how long it would have taken the rescue personnel to help the man out of the cold water — this incident could have ended tragically had Lucas not offered to help.

Extra Mile Awards -

Kristi Herron, Caribou

Kristi has served as the Caribou Blood Drive Coordinator with American Red Cross Blood Services for 17 years. She works long hours recruiting donors from the Caribou and surrounding areas four times a year for Cary Medical Center’s sponsorship of area blood drives. Her drives are known for their festive events, such as the February drive where donors are warmed up with a bowl of homemade chicken stew. She works closely with the Blood Services team to ensure the maximum units are collected on each drive. The 2014 blood drives all performed well and patients were well served as a result of Kristi’s hard work.

Carrie Dubois Jandreau, St. Francis

St. Francis Elementary School has struggled with falling enrollment over the years. The school administration had decided to close the school, however, community members and staff teamed up to find ways to keep the school open and to defray expenses, and formed the Save Our School Committee in August of 2014. One of the first recommendations was to institute a community meal at the school every Wednesday to allow community members to become part of the school atmosphere, and especially making sure that seniors and shut-ins would have the opportunity to have a hot meal delivered to them. Many individuals signed up to help with this, but only Carrie followed through, working tirelessly to make the plan come together. Every Wednesday, Carrie contacts the cook with a head count, collects and counts the money, and helps the cook package the meals before making deliveries at her own cost. Many seniors and shut-ins look forward to Wednesdays when Carrie pays a visit and brings a hot meal to them.

Heather Miller, Houlton

Heather is a true advocate for the Houlton Humane Society. She works tirelessly to help abused and abandoned animals by nursing them back to health and finding loving homes. Heather’s main focus is for animals within Aroostook County, but she also helps other shelters by taking unwanted animals in to rehome and she promotes fundraisers to help with their expenses. Some animals are too badly injured or ill to rehome, so Heather and her husband take these animals into their own home to care for them. This couple gives animals love, warmth and kindness for the rest of their lives, which may only be a few hours, but could be for years. One animal in particular is close to many people’s hearts – Emerson, a cat with a lot of heart. He arrived at the shelter in August of 2014 with a broken neck and ribs, and burned feet. Emerson has permanent spinal injuries and is sometimes ill due to his injuries. Heather and her husband took him into their home and her husband quickly made Emerson a wheeled device so he could get around independently and easily. Emerson now has his own Facebook page and has over 12,000 followers from all around the world. His fundraisers bring in much needed funds to the shelter.

Paul Hyslop, Fort Fairfield

Paul delivers hot meals to seniors and shut-ins in Aroostook County through the Meals-On-Wheels program. With a warm smile and caring heart, he gets to know his customers on a personal level. Even more, he responds to his customers when he encounters a crisis or bad situation such as attending to a gentleman who had fallen and could not get up, or recognizing a woman was having a heart attack and staying with her after calling for an ambulance. Paul plays a vital role in his work. Even if he is sick and cannot deliver, his wife and son will complete his route and ensure meals are delivered to seniors who are unable to cook for themselves and shut-ins. Paul is truly dedicated to the mission of Meals-On-Wheels and his family is commended for supporting his work.

Loring Job Corps Center Honor Guard, Limestone - (Cory Hart, Andrew Grushkin, James Piper, Jamel Quinones, Leroy Richard, Kenneth Robinson, Christian Algarin Cruz, Roselin Aris, Omar Diaz, Claude Versailles, Brooke Elmore, Christopher Forest, and Charles Rivera, 2014 members)

The Loring Job Corps Center Honor Guard serves with distinction as ambassadors for the entire Job Corps program. Over the past 6 years, this group of volunteer students has provided thousands of hours of community service to the needs of county organizations, including the American Red Cross, veteran affairs, and even traveling to Arlington National Cemetery and placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The group remains to be the primary color guard for the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery. They can often be found in the local community, helping at events ranging from MS and Cancer walks, sorting food for the hungry in Aroostook County, participating in the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program, and providing the ceremonial color guard services at this very event today. If everything was listed, it would fill volumes. Additionally, and they do this while performing at the highest levels within their chosen trades. These students have proven selfless service, compassion, honor, personal courage and serve as role models to their peers.

Caitlyn Chasse and Madysen Picard, Frenchville

Very few people in the St. John Valley communities knew about the cats that are fostered in a small shelter in Fort Kent. This past year, Caitlyn and Madysen learned of the cat rescue efforts and organized several fundraising events that had a great impact on more cats being adopted and more people volunteering and donating items to the shelter. These girls volunteer three times a week at the shelter by cleaning kennels and playing with the cats — they even sneak a few treats in while there. The girls held a community cat item drive, collected old shoes for redemption, held a school penny war, asked teachers at school to donate $5 to wear jeans all week, and hosted and organized a fundraising talent show. Caitlyn and Madysen even earn dollars at home for their chores and they purchase food for their new cat friends. Their projects have encouraged other students and adults at the Dr. Levesque School in Frenchville to become passionate about helping the cat rescue efforts. Both girls are committed to their volunteer services at the PAWS (Paws Animal Welfare Society, Inc.) shelter and promise to keep spreading the word about their new furry friends.

Lifetime Achievement Award -

Dixie Shaw, Presque Isle

Dixie has served the people of Aroostook County, through Catholic Charities of Maine and advocating for the hungry, for a number years. In her opinion no one should go hungry, and she makes sure that money is raised to support the Catholic Charities’ food banks all across The County. She gets the job done, no matter how hard the effort, how long it takes, or who she needs to contact to make sure food banks are stocked. Dixie has traveled many miles, even to Washington D.C., to advocate for the hungry. She is a caring, selfless person who would do all she can to help someone in need. Dixie plays an active role when crisis strikes in our community, knowing who to contact and offering the services of Catholic Charity’s support and its volunteers to help disaster efforts when the need arises. For all that Dixie has done and will do to help keep Aroostook County people fed and cared for; we honor her with this Lifetime Achievement Award.

American Red Cross Spirit Awards -

Presented to the following businesses and municipalities for their selfless efforts of ensuring the mission of the Red Cross is met through awareness and financial needs:

  • Caribou Inn & Convention Center
  • Channel X Radio
  • Town of St. Agatha
  • St. Agatha Volunteer Fire Department
  • R.F. Chamberland, Inc.