Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

Come see the play and decide for yourself

On April 22, Penobscot Theatre company will open ” Je ne suis pas Evangeline” by Carolyn Cook. People are already reacting to this play despite the fact that it hasn’t opened yet.

“Je ne suis pas Evangeline” is the story of Eva, a woman who has recently suffered a great loss. Eva is packing her home so she can return to Maine. As she packs, she reminisces about the strong French and Acadian women who gave her the grit and character to face her pain.

Carolyn Cook is the founder of Theatre du Reve in Atlanta. It is a 25-year-old theater company that brings French language and Francophone culture to life on the American Stage.

Despite the criticism in a recent letter to the BDN, she and Penobscot Theatre Company haven’t co-opted the words of Francophone and Acadian Women. Cook is an experienced theater artist who has created a new work inspired by Longfellow’s “Evangeline” and elements of her own life. The play is not meant to portray the definitive history of all Franco Americans and Acadians; it is the story of one Acadian woman’s life. We know there must be thousands of Francophone and Acadian stories waiting to be told.

We hope that folks will explore Archives Acadiennes’ website at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, visit Museum L-A, read a copy of Le Forum from the Franco-American Centre and books by Maine Francophone authors. In other words, partake in the rich history of Maine.

Jen Shepard

Executive Director

Penobscot Theatre Company


Celebrate vision rehabilitation

The State of Maine is to be commended as one of 22 states that continues to maintain a separate agency that specializes in blindness and low vision rehabilitation for the tens of thousands of Mainers with a vision impairment, Maine’s Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI).

The week of April 14 was national Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) Appreciation Week, in honor of Anne Sullivan’s birthday, in 1866. We recognize the highly specialized rehabilitation work of Sullivan, and the vision rehab professionals today who provide skills training to individuals like Helen Keller for independent living and careers as demanding as Keller’s.

Decades of research from the National Research Center on Blindness and Low Vision show conclusively that those states, like Maine, with a separate agency for individuals with vision impairments, have more successful outcomes. Mainers who are blind, or acquire a vision loss from macular degeneration or other eye diseases, have greater access to specialized vision rehabilitation counselors, vision rehabilitation therapists, and orientation and mobility specialists through DBVI.

In addition to providing better employment outcomes, and quality of life for those with a vision loss, these outcomes dramatically reduce healthcare and other community service costs. Hats off to Maine’s DBVI, and the vision rehabilitation professionals across the state during #VRTWeek! To find a VRT in your community, call DBVI at 877-594-5627.

Steven Kelley


Protecting older adults

Sen. Joseph Baldacci is currently sponsoring a piece of proposed legislation that Mainers should care about. LD 423, An Act To Improve Access to Bariatric Care in Nursing Homes, highlights some important concerns regarding the older adult population in Maine.

Currently, Maine has one of the highest percentages of older adults out of any other state in the U.S. As people age, particular health concerns become more prevalent. These can include hearing loss, osteoarthritis, and diabetes. For rural older adults, the risk of obesity is also much greater. Many of Maine’s older adult population lives rurally.

When independent living is no longer an option, nursing homes and long-term care facilities are common next steps. As older adults live within these facilities, there is an opportunity to better address existing health concerns and improve one’s quality of life. For obese older adults, this can be a struggle. Obesity increases the stress on one’s joints, influences one’s blood pressure, and has adverse outcomes on the cardiac system. Having bariatric care within these facilities ensures these older adults are provided access to services that promote weight loss and improve their overall health.

As our population in Maine ages and obesity continues to be a health crisis in the U.S., it is only logical that we support the passing of LD 423. We must protect our older adults and aid them in living happily and comfortably throughout life.

Haley Sattler