2017-03-30 / Front Page

Altrusa welcomes first male member

By Garrick Hoffman
Staff Writer


Biddeford residents Ray and Judy Cadorette are, respectively, the first male member and first president of Altrusa’s Biddeford-Saco chapter. On March 13, Ray Cadorette was initiated as the first male member, and Judy Cadorette served as president in 1976, when Altrusa’s Biddeford- Saco chapter was formed. Judy Cadorette continues to serve as secretary. (Garrick Hoffman photo) Biddeford residents Ray and Judy Cadorette are, respectively, the first male member and first president of Altrusa’s Biddeford-Saco chapter. On March 13, Ray Cadorette was initiated as the first male member, and Judy Cadorette served as president in 1976, when Altrusa’s Biddeford- Saco chapter was formed. Judy Cadorette continues to serve as secretary. (Garrick Hoffman photo) BIDDEFORD – “Does the word Altrusa mean anything to you?” Nancy Phillips of Saco wrote to the Courier last year. “In a nutshell it means ‘doing good works for good causes.’ Most people have never heard of us, but we sure have done some good works for good causes in the greater Biddeford and Saco communities.”

On March 13, Biddeford resident Ray Cadorette, 69, became its first male member and his initiation was held the same day, making him what his wife calls a “full-fledged Altrusan.”

“I’m the first to take the bullet and decided to join,” Cadorette said with a laugh.

Altrusa is an international association of professional women and men who volunteer their expertise in projects dedicated to community betterment, according to its 2016- 2018 yearbook. It has local chapters throughout the world, including its 25-member Biddeford-Saco branch, which is one of four chapters in Maine. The others are located in Portland and Sanford, as well as one at-large chapter in the Lewiston area.

Altrusa is celebrating its 100th year, while the Biddeford- Saco chapter began in 1976 and celebrated 40 years last year.

Judy Cadorette, Ray Cadorette’s wife and the first president of the Biddeford-Saco Altrusa chapter, said although the Biddeford-Saco chapter was exclusive to women for most of its 40 years, it opened its membership to men in 2011 when the organization began rebranding to foster fairness. It is now open to the public, although at one time an individual could only join via invitation.

Judy Cadorette served as president for a year and a half but still volunteers for the local Altrusa chapter as its secretary. Presidents currently serve two-year terms.

“(Altrusa members) do many, many things,” Ray Cadorette said. “They’re very, very active in the community and they do a lot for the community.”

According Phillips’s letter the editor, in the last 10 years Altrusa distributed 400 free books to people in the Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach communities; gave away a similar number of bike helmets through its cooperation with the Michael T. Goulet Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy Foundation; delivered free large print books to assisted living communities; gave out more than $10,000 in scholarships to area graduates; donated gift bags to 150 needy mothers through Altrusa’s Newborn Assistance Project at Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford; sent nine underprivileged children to the Royal Family Kids Camp in Ocean Park for a week and honored every soldier from Maine who has died with a contribution to the Bob Woodruff Foundation for Traumatic Brain Injury. Every soldier’s family received a commemorative Christmas ornament with their son or daughter’s name embroidered on it.

Ray Cadorette has been involved with Altrusa since its inception, working in different capacities though never an officially recognized member. He anticipates that he’ll be a part of a committee, as there are a number of them within the organization. He said he believes his work background has contributed to the organization.

“All my life I’ve been a maintenance man. I did carpentry, plumbing, welding, fabrication – you name it, that’s all I’ve ever done,” he said.

In the past he’s helped with construction projects, assisted at Relay for Life events, delivered various goods – especially gifts during the holidays – and helped at yard sales at Young School in Saco.

“I do the very heavy stuff,” he said.

Altrusa has no member capacity, but it does have criteria to join, Judy Cadorette said. Individuals who want to be members are required to be involved with their community in some form and they are asked to attend meetings for two to three months before becoming a member. Members are considered volunteers, and although there are no requirements for hours to fulfill, they are asked to attend every meeting if possible.

“We want to know you’ll be the right person for Altrusa,” she said.

Altrusa meets twice a month on every second and fourth Monday. Meetings are held at The Inn at Atlantic Heights in Saco for dinner program meetings and at Wardwell in Saco for business meetings.

Ray Cadorette praised the work of Altrusa members.

“They’re always doing something – they’re always involved, they’re dedicated to each other and to the community,” he said. “They work hard, they show up at meetings and do all their fundraisings. You really have to take your hat off to these people. They don’t sit on their butts.”

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