Meet MOFGA Volunteers Dwight and Kay Gagnon
By Betsy Garrold
“Volunteerism” would have to be the watchword for Dwight and Kay Gagnon. These energetic retirees share their talents and enthusiasms with many organizations around their home town of Benton Falls, Maine. Their roots run deep in the Benton community: their daughter lives next door in an 1830s house lived in by Dwight’s grandparents, then parents.
On the MOFGA grounds Dwight has done many chores from digging post holes to painting picnic tables as part of a group of Wednesday Volunteers. This close-knit group was organized about five years ago by another volunteer, Randy Dondero. “You get to know the people, a network of friends working toward a common cause. There are many things people can do with their spare time, I find this rewarding and meaningful,” Dwight says. As a Wednesday Volunteer, Kay likes helping with mailings, packaging, folding shirts, sorting and organizing. One of their favorite volunteer gigs is the setup and breakdown of the Common Ground Country Fair. “We give the impression of being laid back but it is because of all the hard work that goes on before the fair,” says Dwight. He has been coming to the Fair since 1976 when it was at the Windsor fairgrounds, and Kay attended her first Fair in 1998 at its permanent Unity location.
In other volunteer roles outside of MOFGA, Kay helps to raise funds for the restoration of the steeple and bell tower of the Benton Falls Congregational Church. This particular bell is the last Revere bell cast at the foundry in Canton, Massachusetts. The reconstruction project went all the way down to the church’s granite foundation. Leakage and rotten beams, as well as COVID, have slowed work but the small congregation of 18 to 24 active members keeps plugging away. Kay also serves as the volunteer pianist for the church, a position she inherited from Dwight’s mother, and sings in a hospice choir and participates in the Central Maine Garden Club.
Dwight’s volunteerism goes back to his college days when he participated in data collection that led to the passage of the Maine “Bottle Bill.” These days he spends his time creating art, including the chickens that graced the 2017 Common Ground Country Fair poster. He uses a grid technique that he shared at several PechaKucha events. Both he and Kay agree that winning the 2017 poster was life changing. The whole family gathered for the Common Ground Fair that year.
Caitlyn Barker, community engagement coordinator with MOFGA, says of the Gagnons: "Dwight and Kay have become an integral part of our volunteer program. They’re an amazing team who generously offer their time to our organization each week. They embody the community spirit that MOFGA is known for and help us to continue the important work we do."
Kay wants people to know that volunteering at MOFGA is a great “couples’ activity.” And the two Gagnons are a good example of how true that is.