REM Award Honorees (2004) — Rita Low (REM)

Community is made up of a network of relationships. When we build community we do so by building relationships. REM’s 2004 REM Award honoree, Rita Low, is a master community builder. For two years she has worked daily at least eight hours a day to develop REM’s Operational Division. She originally came to REM to give her best friend a party, renting the REM Forum at The Center for the event. She immediately developed a friendly relationship with the REM volunteers and they refused to let her go when the event was over.

The reasons people come to work in REM are as varied as the people themselves. Each person is unique and REM values that uniqueness above all else. Rita, retired and in her early 70’s, was facing some tough realities. She had had a full bone marrow transplant several years earlier and was still dealing daily with health problems, including an impending pacemaker operation. Her three sons were all leaving Maine for greener pastures. She would be alone.

Joining REM offered Rita an opportunity to share her wealth of experience in such diverse fields as health care management, hardware and building material sales, plumbing, retail grain, alcoholic rehab, state employment, and federally funded programs to be used to benefit the community. REM also offered a diversion from the loss of close contact with her family and from the distractions of a constantly complaining body.

Rita was raised to value community service. She believes strongly in the principles of REM. She shares freely what she has learned, and uses her wonderful sense of humor to teach, making learning fun. She wisely listens to her body and will do what needs to be done, lying on the couch and putting her feet up, never breaking her train of thought, carrying on the leadership of a meeting with style and grace.

Faye Nicholson says, “I love Rita. Rita loves everyone . . . even the people who drive her nuts. Rita has taught me how important it is to teach volunteers how to love each other. When we love each other we put up with each other’s faults and idiosyncrasies. When we love each other work is fun, disagreements are short-lived, and teamwork is optimally effective.”

REM is very proud to present Rita Low its 2004 REM Award!

All at REM were deeply saddened when Rita Ryan Low passed away on November 27, 2009, after an extended period of ill health. Thinking of REM to the end, one of her last acts was to order a tray of cupcakes for Mrs. Santa's Workshop, an event she had designed. We will miss her.

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