From Water Quality to Quality of Life, Maine Couple Honored for Decades of Volunteerism

By Amy Champman

When Jim and Jane Chandler moved to Maine in 1976, Jim immediately got involved in the community, helping to start a glass bottle recycling program. In the four decades since, the couple hasn’t stopped giving back, and for that they were recognized by their town, Woodstock (pop. 1,300), with a Spirit of America Foundation award.

Woodstock is included in the Mahoosuc Heart & Soul project, along with Bethel (pop. 2,600), Newry (pop. 329), and Greenwood (pop. 830).

The Chandlers moved to area because Jane wanted to return to the region where she grew up, drawn by family and the natural beauty of western Maine. Jim shared her love of the outdoors. She was a teacher who shifted careers to nursing and he was a science and environmental education teacher.

The couple’s long list of accomplishments was celebrated with the award presented at their town’s annual meeting recently. The award was created by the Spirit of America Foundation, a charity that honors volunteerism throughout Maine.

Jane’s avocation, love of the outdoors, played a role in much of her volunteerism. She helped establish and maintain hiking trails. She played an active role in conserving land in the area serving as a trustee on the local land trust including bringing a 24-acre preserve with a hiking trail and waterfall from a national conservancy into the local land trust.

“To have that, and to have more local ownership and management of [the preserve], that’s a big success,” she said.

Her vocation, healthcare, was equally influential in her volunteering.  She was instrumental in the formation of a regional rescue service in 1981 and served as its chief for many years. Most recently, she has been involved in an initiative focused on helping seniors remain in their own homes, a concern that dovetails with her career as a visiting nurse. Another of Jane’s favorite projects is the Smile Fund, a denture program for adults.

She was also a key volunteer in planning her town’s bicentennial celebration.

Similarly, Jim’s volunteering was molded by his profession and interest in the environment. He has had a hand in many water quality projects including taking the lead in the battle against the spread of invasive milfoil in area lakes and ponds and preserving a popular roadside drinking water spring.

He served on his town’s Comprehensive Plan Committee and is the long-time chair of the town’s Appeals Board.

Jim reflected on his decades of being engaged in the community. While he’s retired, it doesn’t seem that slowing down is part of the plan.

“I’ve tried to keep a balance of community activities and family activities and personal activities, and I have enough to keep me busy for a long time in all those areas,” he said.