Donna Crane

Donna Crane -- Community Center Volunteer

Donna CraneVolunteers are those people who make a small town function, from those who run for town offices, serve on the many boards and commissions, or work through various non-profits. They provide the needed extra services and contribute their knowledge to projects. But there is more than that: the reasons people volunteer.

“I wanted to get involved in the community,” Donna Crane said recently over breakfast at Gary’s Restaurant, explaining her involvement in a variety of programs. “I wanted to meet people. I like to get involved with people, find out the history. Give back what Wilton gave to me.” She added, “Volunteering is a great thing. How small towns thrive is a function of volunteering.”

SpiralAlthough involved in other areas, Crane’s main focus is the Wilton Community Center, a group that provides services and sponsors town-wide events for all ages. She is the current president. Their most recent event was the annual lighting of Luminaria, the hundreds of candles that line Main Street just before Christmas. That event also includes a sacred spiral in the center of Main Street Park.

When the COVID-19 virus cancelled most events in 2020, including senior activities, she turned to other areas. She is a member of the Wilton Heritage Commission, Old Home Days Committee, the 2020 Census Committee for Wilton, and served on the recent study of recreational uses for the town reservoir. She also helps populate the Community Calendar on the town website.  During the summer, she also worked on the team that provided a weekly hot meal for shut-ins. She is a member of the Wilton-Lyndeborough Woman’s Club, a group that serves both towns in many ways, including the annual Giving Tree at Christmas.

Crane and her family arrived in Wilton in 2008, she said, “the day of the big ice storm. We had moved up from New Jersey to be closer to family.” She has a sister in Bedford. They were also attracted to the town by the Pine Hill School. “We wanted to try the Waldorf system”.

Crane has a degree in library science and currently works in the library at MacDowell in Peterborough. She began volunteering there in 2013 and was then offered a part time position. “It is such a pleasure to work there,” she said. “I get to meet people I otherwise wouldn’t,” since MacDowell is a residency program for artists, open to the public only one day a year.

She also works for Earth and Sky + Water, a nature publisher in downtown Wilton.

History is another of her interests and she is a member of the Wilton Historical Society.

"I love to learn about people and all their connections,” she said. She arrived in town after the closing of the scenic railroad and the long-running Arts and Film Festival, an event she heard talked about. “It was the last year of the Whimsical People.”

While Wilton Summerfest is a good thing, she said, “we need more of them, like the former Winter Carnival. Old Homes Days is only every five years.” The Sustainability Fair, held at the Cooperative High School in conjunction with Earth Day, is another big project, cancelled last spring along with all the other events.

DaffodilsThe Wilton Community Center works with the Wilton Main Street Association (WMSA), but they are separate groups with their own agendas. WMSA designed and maintains the various flowers beds, but Crane has helped with the planting of spring bulbs on the steep bank to the east of the Town hall. “We planted a bunch more this year.”

“Volunteering is essential, and the town gets something,” she said, “but it’s what you, the volunteer gets out of it, doing things that matter. It’s like my life has a purpose. I drag my kids to do things, I’m showing them what you can do.”

She attends many meetings, both as a participant and as a spectator to learn what is happening. Town Meeting is one of them. “I love going to Town Meeting, it’s so interesting,” she said. “I see people that I see nowhere else. There is some overlap at other meetings, some people attend one, some another, but some I see only at town meeting.”

People need to give of their time, she said. “Even elected officials are essentially volunteers. They aren’t in it for the money. We all need to get involved, at whatever level we can, where our interests are.

That is what a small town is.

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