Meet the Friends
of the River Valley
Friends of River Valley serves as a centralized resource for supporting and promoting a range of nutrition, education, health, and social services across the River Valley. There are a wide range of needs to be met, which is why we partner with a wide range of organizations. The River Valley knows several nonprofit groups with important missions, but without viable in-house funding mechanisms. Our goal is to strengthen and activate these support structures through fundraising and planned giving. We presently have an eight-person board who closely assesses the identified needs of the area, reviews our partners’ recommendations, and allocates funds that will have a measurable and lasting impact on our communities. Friends of River Valley provides funding through grants, sponsorships, direct donations, and more.
The River Valley has a rich history in wood products manufacturing and papermaking. At its peak, the paper mill employed 3,300 people and provided the area with millions in wages and tax revenue. Today, the mill employs fewer than 650. The steep decline of manufacturing has created economic insecurity in our communities: families struggling to make ends meet and local businesses struggling to keep their doors open. River Valley region is home to some of the lowest-income families in the state.
In 2017, households below poverty level averaged 16.4% in the River Valley Region, compared to 8.4% for the state.
One in five children (20.2%) in Oxford County lives in poverty
65.4% of students in the local school district (RSU 10) are eligible for subsidized meals.
In a 2018 health survey, 50% of River Valley residents who responded did not have full time jobs.
- Retired Attorney(1963-1994) Preti Flaherty
- Attended Rumford Schools
- Veteran: U.S. Army
- Former Oxford County Judge of Probate and Public Administrator
- Rumford Town Attorney (26 years)
- Retired to Florida (1994-2020)where heavily volunteered with environmental and migrant farmworker housing issues, and programs for the mentally and physically challenged
- Personal interests: Volunteering, exercise, and reading
- Retired President/ CEO of Oxford Federal Credit Union (1995 – Spring 2023)
- Education: BA and MBA from University of Maine – Orono
- Community Service:
- FAME – MPower Board Member
- Old School Food Pantry – Committee member
- Committee member for various local fundraisers for area residents
- Personal interests: Basketball (former coach for youth teams to High School), camping, canoeing/kayaking, reading.
- Managing Partner, HM Payson & Co (1999-Present)
- Community Service:
- MainePERS, Board Member
- Portland Community Squash, Board Chair
- Maine Huts & Trails, Board Member
- Sweetser Family Services, past Board Chair
- Personal Interests: fly fishing, cross country skiing, hiking, reading
Cheryl A. G. Dickson
Executive Director of the River Valley Chamber of Commerce
Co-owner of Erik Designs, LLC
Education: Rumford High Class of 1974
MedCare Ambulance Service-Board Member
Envision Rumford- Ex Officio Member
On various fundraiser committees
Personal Interests: Sewing, Drag Racing, NASCAR, Reading and Volunteering
- Southern Brooklyn Family Services, Clinical Social Worker
- Larchmont Mamaroneck Community Counseling Center
- RHS 1982, Colby College, BA 1986, Columbia University, MSW 1997
- Community Service:
- Fundraiser For John and Josephine Marr Alzheimer’s Research Fund
- Volunteer for Larchmont Mamaroneck Hunger Task Force
- Activist for various social causes and public policy change
- Campaign volunteer for local elections
- Personal Interests: Women’s health and wellness, travel, writing, reading, meditation
- Owner New England Agency
- Registered Financial Rep and Insurance Profession since ’83
- Resides in Rumford Maine
- RHS ’78, Colby College ’82
- Business Education, Life Underwriters and The American College for Insurance and Financial Planning
- Commissioner MV Rec Basketball League, Pine Tree League Baseball, Elected Maine Baseball Hall of Fame ’15, Radio broadcaster local high school sports, past Commissioner RV Cal Ripken Baseball, long time coach, referee, umpire, ALAM Bike Trek Across Maine 10-year vet, member Oakdale Country Club
- Volunteerism: Rotary Club ’96, MV Athletic Boosters, past BOD/GRCC, past member Rumford Finance Committee, President, Strathglass Park Preservation Society,
- Personal interests: flower gardening, physical fitness
- Local paper mill (1995-current)
- Education: Mountain Valley High School, 1990, UMA 2008 BS Computer Information Systems, KVCC 2008, Pulp and Paper Technology
- Community Service: Lifetime member of Rumford Area Historical Society and Mexico Historical Society, member of Dixfield and Canton Historical Societies, Rumford Grange Citizen of the Year 2013, Town of Mexico Citizen of the Year 2018
- Personal Interests: Collecting and preserving local history, gardening and canning fruits and vegetables, reading
- Senior Partner, Preti Flaherty Law Firm
- Education: Attended Stephens High School
- Community Service
- Honorary Consul of France in Maine
- Former State Representative and State Senator
- Former Trustee, University of Maine System
- Board Member, ArtsEngageME
- Professor Emeritus, University of Maine
- Personal Interests: Hiking, reading, and chainsawing.
Education: Rumford High School, Thomas College
Employment: Franklin Savings Bank 1999-2017 currently retired.
Community Service: Rumford Historical Society president, first woman to serve as Trustee for Rumford Mexico Sewer district (16 years), Invasive Plant Patrol for Worthley Pond, Rumford July Fourth Celebration Committee. Volunteer for numerous community events.
Personal interests: spending time with my grandkids , being at camp, listening to music, and sewing.