On her last weekend as Mrs. Maine International, Misty Lee Coolidge of New Gloucester threw a barn party that raised $2,500 for Good Shepherd Food Bank.

“Growing up, we had (the Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program) and food stamps,” said Coolidge, wearing a sequined ball gown and tiara at the Party for a Cause benefit March 23 at her event venue in New Gloucester. “I remember what it’s like to not have much.” Her platform has been ending hunger in Maine – or at least doing what she could, including a volunteer shift every Monday at Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, the largest hunger relief organization in the state.

“Anybody who knows Misty knows what a near and dear cause this is to her heart,” said her husband, Peter deBear.

Five years ago, the couple bought a former chicken farm and transformed a barn that was in five pieces into a cozy wedding venue called Coolidge Family Farm. Throwing parties is what Coolidge does, and for this event, she had a lot of help. Milly’s Skillet Farmside Catering, Skye’s Artisan Bakes and Maine Beer Co. pitched in, Blue Fern Designs decorated the barn, Under the Covers got the crowd dancing, Meraki Portrait captured the fun and Jeanne Krull served Maine-ly Meatballs from her food truck parked outside the barn.

Guests included wedding clients, quite a few locals from New Gloucester and Auburn and some other people with a passion for Good Shepherd (Paul Linet of New Gloucester broke out his wool sweater with a sheep stitched front and center).

“We got married here last August,” said McKenzie Jones of Freeport, on the dance floor with her husband, Alan Jones. “This is our first time back.”

“Misty has a lot of town connections even though she’s relatively new to New Gloucester,” said friend Nichole Stevens.

In fact, Coolidge – a mother with three children under the age of 5 – ran for a seat in the Maine House of Representatives in District 65 last fall, and she won in the Democratic primary (Republican Amy Arata won the election).

“I don’t know how she does it all,” said Julie Moulton of Westbrook, adding that Coolidge hosts “Bachelor” viewing parties with her girlfriends. “I’m in awe of her.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and editor based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

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