2017-01-05 / Front Page

Voting continues for Great Person Award

By Molly Lovell-Keely
Managing Editor

It’s time to vote for the Courier’s Great Person Award nominees.

Each year we ask our readers to tell us who has influenced their lives. There are no special qualifications for the Great Person Award – it’s simply to honor those who make this community a special place to live.

Your Great Person may be the person who hands you your morning coffee daily with a smile on her face. It may be the volunteer who works tirelessly for an area nonprofit. It may be a teacher who spends that extra moment helping you, or a police officer who coaches your son’s basketball team. The award is meant to be a thank you for all they do during the year.

The winner will be interviewed for a newspaper article.

There are two steps in the Great Person Award process – nominations and then voting.

A ballot of everyone nominated is printed in the Dec. 29 edition of the paper. Voting will end at noon, Monday, Jan. 9, and the winner will be announced in the next edition.

Nominations so far include Saco resident Janice Nunan, who was nominated by her daughter, Cheryl (Nunan) Bedard, for the many acts of kindness she performs and the countless hours she spends helping others.

“Helping others keeps her going,” Bedard said of her mother, who is 81, and full of “life and spunk.”

“She may struggle at times to make ends meet, but has raised six children, now all grown: (Sheila (Nunan) Caras, myself, Philip, Douglas, David and Dennis), always working fulltime and throughout our upbringing worked third shift while our Dad worked days in order to provide for all of us.”

Bedard said there is never a day that her mom has not done a good deed for others.

“She puts a smile on the faces of people that need a little extra help in taking care of themselves,” Bedard said. “She puts herself second to all her family and friends in taking care of their needs first. “

Nunan is often called upon to watch over her grandchildren when they are too sick to go to school, have days off or when they need to be picked up at school. Her many acts of kindness include taking her friends to doctor appointments or to stores so they don’t have to drive or be alone.

“She fills her days with visiting several people in our community whether at their homes, nursing homes or other facilities and puts a smile on their faces with doing simple gestures and offers support when seldom do they get other visitors,” Bedard said. “I don’t know a more caring, compassionate, loving and thoughtful person that deserves this award than our Mom.”

Another Saco resident was nominated, Kathie Purdy, by Christina Query Shea, also a Saco resident.

“Kathie is a positive and active member of the Saco community,” Shea said. “She’s a hard worker and volunteer. She is vice president of Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement, she’s a Saco Grange member and is on many of their committees. She’s also one of the hardest working volunteers for Saco Main Street.”

Shea said she will do anything to make an event go as smoothly as possible.

“She will hand out water, sell T-shirts, sweep the floors and sell tickets. You name it and she is the person for the job. More importantly, she does it with a smile and kind words. She meets everyone as a stranger and leaves everyone as a friend.”

“Kathie is a Great Person in the Saco community for sure. She does this all, and much, much more, to help better our community. She loves this area, she loves her home and neighbors. Kathie takes a genuine interest in everyone she meets. She sees a need, and fills it, because it needs to be done, for no other reason. I would love to see Kathie get the recognition that her tireless efforts deserve.”

Mary Johnson of Saco was nominated by fellow Saco resident Leanna McCausland.

“Some of the reasons I feel she is more than deserving of this award are:

Mary is very community minded; very generous of herself and her time; she helps at her church; She helps to get people to volunteer and donate their talents for the ‘what can you do to give to the community day.’”

Johnson brings McCausland’s recycling and garbage bins up to her garage door without being asked. She also helped a small boy who was riding his bike on Route 112 who couldn’t get into his day care, and befriended a young woman who was here for the summer to work and was looking for a church to attend.

“Mary cooks for the shut-ins and visits with them. She saves (and brings into my shop) the pages of “Kids Corner” for my granddaughters to enrich their minds.

“She shares her chicken’s eggs with me; she makes goodies for me and brings in her homegrown raspberries,” McCausland said. “She has taken it upon herself to write a history of her family home and when a new family moves into that house, she goes there and presents that history to them. She was also instrumental in helping my daughter get her job as a 911 operator at the Saco Police Department, which led to even more opportunities.”

“Mary Johnson, through her selfless actions and natural kindness and caring ways, makes me want to be a better person and actually, my life has been enriched and enlightened having her in my life.”

Floor manager at All Day Breakfast in Biddeford, Damien McDonagh, was nominated by Joyce Beaulieu.

“Three or four times last winter I missed the bus, and he would bring me inside and give me coffee while I waited for the next bus, and he wouldn’t charge for it,” she said.

She also said there was once a homeless man outside the restaurant who McDonagh brought in and fed, and also gave food to take with him.

“He makes everyone that walks in there feel great,” she said. “He’s just so caring and he touched me so much with his kindness.”

Saco resident Mary Descoteaux has nominated Edward J. McGeachey, CEO and president of Southern Maine Health Care, also a Saco resident. McGeachey has been president of SMHC for 30 years; Descoteaux is his executive assistant.

“He has done extraordinary things (in 30 years) and has seen the hospital through many changes, some of them very challenging (e.g. building a new hospital, mergers, expansions, etc.),” she said. “As his assistant, I see the effort and tireless devotion that he gives to his job each and every day.”

She said he encourages the staff to find a good balance between their work and home life but he doesn’t practice what he preaches.

“Instead, Ed often works from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is in meetings constantly here and in Portland at MaineHealth. He schedules and then cancels his vacations because he’s needed at the hospital, so he rarely takes time off. And in his so-called spare time, he devotes himself to the community by serving on local boards for Creative Work Systems and Hospice of Southern Maine.”

She continued.

“His job and dedication to this community have always been a priority in his life. Unless you work in this office and see how extremely busy he is working to ensure that the communities we serve have the best health care services we can possibly give them, you would not understand what goes into that daily effort.”

Running a hospital has become more complex and challenging with every passing year and has intensified the daily demands on his time, Descoteaux said.

“For Ed, 2017 will be his last year as president/CEO of Southern Maine Health Care because he will finally retire at 70 years of age. I know his retirement will be bittersweet. Ed has given his heart and soul to this organization and saying goodbye will be very difficult and sad for him and the staff who love and respect him.”

Descoteaux said although the average person in the community takes for granted the fact that there is a hospital, physicians and a multitude of health care services available to them 24 hours a day, a great deal of behind the scenes effort goes into making certain that happens.

“Ed has done that for the past 30 years and has been a strong, tireless and gifted leader for this organization which has benefitted this community in more ways than we can imagine. I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving, although I know there are many worthy individuals in our community, to be acknowledged for all that he’s done for our community at this point in his career. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to nominate Ed for this very meaningful award.”

Saco resident Alberta Varney has nominated fellow Saco resident Marjorie Oates.

“She is an amazing lady,” Varney said. “She is 99 years old and works two days a week at the hospital and does coffee hour at Paul Hazelton House every Wednesday. She also still drives.”

Biddeford resident Mike Bolduc was nominated by Saco residents Jerry and Patricia Frechette.

Bolduc, who works with the church to provide meals to the poor, is also involved with Knights of Columbus and fundraising for the needy.

“He is always there to provide help in several efforts to make life better for many,” Patricia Frechette wrote.

Jerry Frechette adds that Bolduc should be commended for his leadership in Knights of Columbus, and for being a good father and husband.

Susan Simpson, supervisor of the Common Connection club in Biddeford, and Harmony Support Center in Sanford, was nominated by membership of the Biddeford club.

“Sue has been nominated continuously over the years by many people for the recognition and dedication she displays to her position and people she works with every day.”

According to the nomination letter, during the last four years, Simpson does the work of several staff members with assistance from volunteer members.

“She goes above and beyond.”

The club is for adults with mental illness, physical disability and socioeconomic issues, and Simpson treats each person with dignity and respect. She gets to know each member and builds a trusting relationship with all. Simpson also ensures members have transportation to appointments, grocery stores and job interviews. She also works holidays and weekends.

Saco resident Bryan Litchfield, a school social worker at JFK School in Biddeford, was nominated by Biddeford resident Claire Boucher.

“Bryan began food distribution four years ago, with Good Shepherd Food Bank, at John F. Kennedy Kindergarten Center, which is held every third Wednesday of the month, year round,” Boucher wrote in the nomination.

Litchfield has been a school social worker for the past 10 years, according to the nomination, and also runs a small pantry out of his office.

“There are a lot of families who are in need of food, not everyone is comfortable going to the soup kitchen. Call it pride,” Boucher wrote in the nomination. “Bryan welcomes anyone, even if your child doesn’t attend the school or if you live in Biddeford. He reaches out to anyone in need, young and old. No questions asked, no papers to fill out, his motto is, ‘Please take what you need.’”

Litchfield also runs a backpack program available to students every Friday, Boucher said. He packs snacks for the kids to take home for the weekend.

“Bryan’s goal is working to end food insecurities in Biddeford and beyond, and he is very worth of this year’s Great Person Award.”

Marjorie Oates was nominated by Alberta Varney, both of Saco.

“Marjorie is a sweet lady who will go out of her way for anyone,” Varney wrote. “She volunteers at the hospital two days a week.”

According to the nomination, she also distributes homemade bread and coffee every Wednesday.

Biddeford resident Sandy Stevens was nominated by his wife, Sandra Stevens of Biddeford and according to the nomination, is the best husband and stepfather to Sandra’s son, Matt.

“We share two funny dogs, Ringo Star and Jake, that make us laugh every day,” she wrote. “He accepted by proposal of marriage three years ago – how cool our wedding was on Quaker Ridge Mountain with our family.”

He is caring and has cared for Sandra during many surgeries, she wrote.

“His biggest love are his residents at Gorham House where he works as a houseman,” according to the nomination. “He especially loves the Alzheimer’s residents and they love him. He makes them smile and laugh every day. The staff there also just love him.”

Sandy also started a Clynk program to donate to a families in need, including Community Animal Watch, which provides food for animals.

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