Jim Gets It

Thursday afternoon the most interesting thing happened at the teen center program. Jim Howard of priority reality and his right hand guy CJ came to deliver an oversized check for $5,000 for a photo op.

The check was not valid of course and despite the teens pleas to take it home with them (and cash it immediately at the bank), everyone knew it was not really valid tender.

The “spendable” money had come last April when Mr. Howard put up a matching donation to help feed all of the youth in grades six through 12 who frequent the afterschool teen center drop-in program at the People Plus center in Brunswick. This seed money brought in an extra $6000 in matching funds and we raised a total of 11,000 for those teens.

“Those teens,” as I refer to them are the at risk youth of our community. At school they’re on free breakfast and free lunch and they eat an enormous amount of food in the afternoons at the Teen center because they generally don’t have a hot meal waiting at home when they get there.

Jim gets it. At 15, Jim Howard was a homeless youth. Circumstances caused him to set off on his own and he has made his way in the world ever since.

So I invited to come in for a nice little photo op with all the teens (who were on their best behavior because they had been promised brownies as a reward after they posed nicely for the picture with the man who donated money). And they were really lovely. They were well-behaved and personable and respectful.

After the picture was taken Jim wandered into a little cluster of the kids and said “hey, let’s talk for a minute. I’d like to get to know you better,” and the teens accommodated. I came back 20 minutes later to find a cluster of 10 or 12 teenagers around Jim Howard sharing their life stories. When I entered the room I heard snippets of “I’m scared to tell most people this…” and “I don’t usually admit this but, …” and “you’re not gonna tell anyone are you … .”

It was moving for me to see this and I’ve worked with these kids for about five years now.

Sometimes a person surprises you. Sometimes the kids surprise me.

And sometimes we find these moments in our community where you don’t really know a person or their backstory, we make assumptions and they are so far from the actual landing mark.

Anyway, I couldn’t have been more pleased to see Mr. Howard cozied in on one of the stained couches in the teen center program nestled in with a dozen teens sharing life stories, and really listening to those kids. They appreciated it and I’m guessing he did too.

And I promise you those kids will not soon forget that afternoon where they got to hear the real life story of the man who helps to feed them in the afternoons.

Stacy Simpson Frizzle,
Executive Director,
People Plus,
Brunswick

Supporting Berry

During an icy winter, while Seth Berry was State Representative, I was frightened twice during one week by passing logging trucks driving north on route 138, the winding country state road that I have lived on for these last 18 years. Not knowing what to do and unwilling to have to pass them again — I know first hand how easy it can be to get into an accident on that road — I contacted Seth Berry to look into it for me. There are two lovely parallel roads trucks could easily take: routes 201 and 295.

He responded saying that he had driven the length of 138 and found there were no current logging operations on this road. He put in a word, wherever one puts in a word about this sort of thing, and going forward through that long icy winter I no longer had to pass logging trucks on my daily commute.

Now there are many things coming down that pike that affect us both short term and long term. I trust that Seth Berry will look into these things at our request, determine the facts, and act with integrity. I urge all voters to join e in casting a vote for Seth Berry: honest, dependable, responsible, caring.

Mary Kelley,
Bowdoinham

Supporting Incumbents

I am writing in support of Brunswick’s three State Representatives, candidates running in November for the Maine Legislature: Rep. Jay McCreight, Rep. Ralph Tucker, and Rep. Mattie Daughtry. All three have worked diligently on our behalf on 5 different legislative committees. Brunswick’s Democratic delegation cooperates and shares their expertise to cover a broad range of the district’s needs from environmental, to educational, to insurance, to civil rights, to health care, to marine resources.

Representative McCreight has successfully sponsored legislation to improve access to health care, and to help Maine college graduates to access the Opportunity Maine Tax Credit Program. She has supported good policy for our marine resources and our legal system. Rep. McCreight also represents all of Harpswell and West Bath. She is running for a 2nd term in the Maine House.

Representative Tucker was a key player in the fight over metallic, open pit mining, speaking successfully against weak proposed rules. Trusted by leadership with two committees, Judge Tucker has focused on health care insurance problems. He is running for a 2nd term in the Maine House.

Representative Daughtry created the Maine Commission on College Affordability and College Completion and has been a champion for college and school funding. Representative Daughtry is running for a 3rd term in the Maine House.

I urge you to go to the polls on November 8th and cast your vote for these three well qualified, hard working candidates for the Maine Legislature.

Eleanor Brown,
Brunswick