China Ice Day’s Cornhole Raises Funds for a Group of Maine Women Veterans

CHINA — On a cold, rainy day last October, Nichole Jordan jumped into the pond, where she hosts Women Veteran’s Glamping, after being dared by a woman during the trip. Jordan, cold and soaked, raised $160 in donations while jumping to demonstrate how far she will go to benefit her nonprofit and female veterans.

His group, Glamping For Veteran Women, began in 2019, just before the coronavirus pandemic and just after Jordan was diagnosed with lung cancer. A veteran herself, Jordan founded the group to bring female veterans from Maine and across the country together and provide them with a safe space to connect through glamping.

In order to make weekend trips possible, a large amount of fundraising must be done.

On Saturday, the nonprofit organized a cornhole game as part of China Ice Days, which ran throughout the weekend and offered a range of different activities such as sledding, snowshoeing on the trails of the Chinese primary school and, to end the weekend, an ice fishing tournament on China Lake.

Saturday’s cornhole game started quietly at the China Four Seasons Clubhouse, but soon families dressed in snow gear and families ice-fishing at the lake joined in.

Amy Dyer serves a cup of chili during Saturday’s Corn Hole Tournament during China Ice Days. Proceeds are donated to the non-profit organization Women Veteran’s Glamping. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

To raise money for Women Veteran’s Glamping, Jordan and volunteers in her group sold chili, lasagna and cookies.

Deb Lyons, an Air Force veteran and former student of glamping, as they call her, helped set up the games. Lyons joined Facebook a few years ago to get more involved and find connections with other female veterans in the state and came across Jordan’s event.

Lyons was among one of the first groups of women to go on the glamping trip to Maine Forest Yurts in Durham. At the time, the Navy veteran said she only knew of one other woman in the state who had served.

“I went to the first group and made some friends and stayed in touch with them,” Lyons said. “It was joyful, and it’s a different environment with veterans than with civilians – they (veterans) just get it in different ways. We understand each other and know what it’s like to deploy and go around.

Jordan, who is an Army veteran, created the group for this reason – to bring women together.

She said women veterans often feel “invisible” to men who served. When she asked for donations, most of the groups she spoke with said they had previously donated to male veteran groups. Donations are used to buy sleeping bags and other travel materials and can sponsor some women to ensure no one is turned away.

“I saw the need for female veterans to come together and have the camaraderie for the sisters who served and to be able to bring them together,” Jordan said. “Women veterans are still mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, we are board members, we run the house, we are teachers – everything under the sun. … It’s hard for us to go and do things. We do the best we can. »

Nichole Jordan, founder of Women Veteran’s Glamping, shows photos from one of the group’s events. The non-profit organization was sponsoring a corn hole tournament on Saturday in China to raise funds. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The first glamping trip of the year is March 25 and there are 156 locations, Jordan said. So far, 100 women from across the country have signed up, though most are from Maine. The women stay in yurts equipped with bunk beds, a miniature kitchen and outdoor facilities.

During the weekends, glampers can hike, kayak, swim, and create arts and crafts. At least four women receive a quilt of bravery, signifying a “Welcome Home” love and devotion to those who have served.

Most of the women who attend end up forming lasting bonds and plan to take more trips throughout the year, according to the organizer.

In Maine, there are over 100,000 male veterans according to the latest statistics from the Maine Department of Veterans Affairs. The current and exact number of female veterans in Maine has not been made public by the department, but based on 2019 reports, the number hovers around 10,000 females.

However, Jordan said that based on her experience volunteering at Houlton American Legion, the 16th District Commander of South Aroostook County for the American Legion, and as the Commanding Officer of Station 202 in Topsham, she predicts that the number will be closer to 26,000 women.

China Ice Days are set to continue on Sunday with an ice fishing derby on China Lake starting at 5 a.m.


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