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Shirley Grange to celebrate 100 years Saturday, April 22


SHIRLEY — The Shirley Grange no. 254 will celebrate its 100th anniversary tomorrow. All are invited to attend the free program at the United Church of Shirley, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The National Grange, founded in 1867, has declared April 2006 as Grange Month across the nation. During this month, Granges are encouraged to conduct programs that will educate and enrich the lives of residents in their communities.

Special guests for the event include speakers Lady Assistant Steward of the National Grange Kathleen Peterson, of Jefferson, Mass., and Dunstable resident Calvin Chase Jr., president of the Massachusetts State Grange. Also expected to speak is Thomas Severance, North Brookfield resident and priest archon of the National Grange, along with other town and state representatives.

Bernard Sweeney, a 15-year former veterans agent, will be honored at the ceremony with the Community Citizen award. Sweeney served as the president of the Shirley Museum Building Committee and is a former Shirley Grange president, having served from 1983 to 1984.

Also to speak will be Ellen Hitchings, secretary of the Shirley Grange. She will share some of her memories about Grange activities over the years.

During the ceremony, donations will be made to Loaves & Fishes as well as Longley Acres.

Members will also present donations on behalf of the Grange to Overlook Farm in Rutland, Hitchings said. Overlook Farm participates in Heifer Project International, an organization that provides livestock, training and resources to communities in need across the globe.

A musical performance will conclude the program, and refreshments will be served.

The purpose of the Grange is to give members the opportunity to serve their neighborhood by coordinating community service projects that make a difference in the everyone’s lives.

Providing members with a forum to voice their political concerns, the Grange, a nonpartisan organization, also teaches them how to strengthen their community through legislative action.