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Community Celebrates Completion of Cassidy's Kitchen at Hart to Hart Farm in Albion

Community Celebrates Completion of Cassidy’s Kitchen at Hart to Hart Farm in Albion. Photo courtesy of the Charette family

Seven months after the first boards were painted blue by volunteers at Hart to Hart Farm and Education Center in Albion, the community came together again Saturday to honor Cassidy Charette with a dedication and official opening of Cassidy's Kitchen.

Cassidy Charette was a 17-year-old Messalonskee High School student when she tragically lost her life in a hayride accident on Oct. 11, 2014. Since then, her community is making it clear that she is not forgotten through multiple fundraisers, awards, dedications and fundraising nearly $200,000 for charitable organizations. Charette attended Hart to Hart Farm Camp for seven summers as a youth, where she "adopted" and cared for sheep, goats, piglets and calves and enjoyed learning about life on a working farm. In her memory, owner s Doug and Linda Hartpkof, and over 100 people in the community, came together to build a three-season, fully functional kitchen that will be used for educational programming when campers return this summer in June.

"This has been a true labor of love for so many people affected by Cassidy's passing," Linda Hartpkof said. "This is the "something I can do" that everyone reaches for to honor Cass and support her family. We are so grateful to everyone who contributed time and resources to make Cassidy's Kitchen a reality. They are all part of Cassidy's legacy of giving back and spreading kindness. "

According to Hartpkof, the 376 square-foot structure cost about $10,400in materials to build. She said people in the community raised all of that, plus provided additional in-kind gifts, like appliances, tables, windows and lighting, totaling over $6,000. The greatest gifts, Hartpkof said, were the endless hours of volunteer time. While a bulk of the initial work was accomplished on Oct. 11 last year, volunteers ever since have been working weekends, holidays and evenings to do the finish carpentry work, install electricity and appliances and put the final touches on the building before Saturday.

Monica Wilcox Charette (Cassidy's mother) said Farm Camp was a special place for Cassidy and her brother Colby. "It fostered their love and respect for animals, and for hardworking people, like the Hartkopfs, who make agriculture their life's work. There were many summer camp options, but when asked if Cass had to choose just one, without hesitation, it was always Farm Camp."

More than 100 of Cassidy's classmates, teammates, friends, and family came to celebrate the completion of the kitchen. "Cass will be with us all. We know she is proud to be part of this creation-- built with love by her communityall to benefit children. Her light will shine on forever in Cassidy's Kitchen."

Cassidy's Kitchen Dedication and Celebration included the unveiling of the kitchen sign, using Cassidy's own signature and a stained glass window, designed and hand crafted by Cassidy's grandmother Gloria Wilcox. Festivities also included a live performance by the Kennebec Valley Community College band and ShineOnCass cake. Hart to Hart Farm and Education Center is located at 16 Duck Pond Lane in Albion.

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