PUTNEY — Yet another "seed" of peace was "planted" in the soil of a small southern Vermont town.
Members of Putney Cares, a non-profit organization dedicated to the service of our elderly community, gathered at their Activities Barn at 54 Kimball Hill Saturday afternoon to highlight their recent peace pole installment. According to Eva Mondon, a resident of Putney, there was no political or religious agenda to bringing a peace pole to their town, but rather it was placed there to serve as a reminder.
"It's about remembrance and a practice, that when we see this, that we remember the peacefulness for ourselves and let that radiate out into family and larger community," said Mondon.
A peace pole is a monument that displays the message "May Peace Prevail on Earth," and the Peace Pole Project was started in Japan by Masahisa Goi (1916 – 1980), who dedicated his life to spreading that message.
At the honoring this past Saturday, Mondon mentioned that she heard Putney has more peace poles for a community under 3,000 than any other place in the world. She noted several locations where they can be found, such as the Town Hall and Putney Central School.
Stories and poems of peace were shared around the pole Saturday afternoon, including one about Quinn O'Reilly, who was involved with the peace pole dedication at Town Hall when he was 10 years old. Mondon noted that when the memorial for those who served in the military was placed in front of the building, she asked the Select Board if they could place a peace pole behind Town Hall. O'Reilly's mother, Kathleen, was present at the dedication on Saturday and said a few words about her son and what he did.
"He was a great believer in freedom and he wrote a poem about it," said Kathleen. "He dedicated that poem that day and he still remembers it fondly, I thought it was a great experience for a kid to have."
Another poem about peace, "Gate A-4" written by Naomi Shihab Nye, was read by Ann Coakley at the Saturday dedication. The poem told a story about an incident at an airport where one woman's effort to help another brought a community together. The ending line states, "this can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost."
At the end of the dedication, the group held hands in a circle and gave a moment of silence around the pole, perhaps to "remember" its significance.
Prior to the event another honoring took place within the Activities Barn, a community center that Putney Cares rebuilt in the old Noyes Barn. The group celebrated, Pamela Cubbage, who is retiring as executive assistant at Putney Cares. Cubbage has served Putney Cares since 2010. She talked about the importance of their work at Putney Cares and why it is specifically vital to that town.
"It's been proven through social science studies that when elders spend a lot of time alone, their health deteriorates," said Cubbage. "And if we want to keep a vibrant community of aging population, which we have here, we want to keep people engaged."
Cubbage said she is leaving the position behind to "open some space" for what is next for her in life. She notes that she enjoys gardening, cooking, farming and bookkeeping, and hopes to explore those more in this next chapter of her life. Despite the exciting steps in what the future holds, Cubbage admits she will miss aspects of Putney Cares.
"I'll miss the people here; it's been a fabulous place to work and it's a community center so I get to interact with a lot of people, peripherally, but to see people and catch up and I'm really going to miss that. It's a great organization," said Cubbage.
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275