2017-12-21 / Neighbors

Voting continues to determine Courier’s Great Person

Nominations are in for the Courier’s Great Person Award and voting begins now.

We’ve asked readers to tell us who has influenced their lives. There were no special qualifications for the Great Person Award nominations – it’s simply to honor those who make this community a special place to live.

The winner will be interviewed for a newspaper story.

The ballot of everyone nominated, pictured here, will be printed in the Dec. 14 and Dec. 22 editions of the paper. Votes will not be accepted via email. However, ballots may be photocopied. More than one person can vote on a single ballot as long as their signatures are included. Voting will end at noon, Wednesday, Dec. 27, and the winner will be announced in the next edition.

Nominees are:

Biddeford resident and former city councilor Bob Mills nominated Jim Godbout, also a Biddeford resident, “for his overwhelming dedicated passion to our city and schools. I personally thank him for the work he’s participating in at Waterhouse Field and other projects throughout Biddeford.”

Jeremie Sirois, principal of Biddeford High School, also nominated Godbout.

“Jim is one of the most selfless people I have ever met. His kids are grown and he still finds time to donate his time and resources to the students of Biddeford. He has spearheaded the Waterhouse Field Renovation. Without Jim Godbout the students of my high school may have been playing away games rather than continuing to play at historic Waterhouse Field,” Sirois wrote in the nomination. “He has given countless hours to see to it that Waterhouse Field will be there for many years to come. He has also been a huge contributor to the Red Ribbon Committee. Over the course of the last couple of years Jim’s passion to end substance use and abuse has been at the forefront of his Rotary work. He has helped to raise thousands of dollars which have been put to use to educate students in the communities of Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach. Simply put, Jim is a great man who cares deeply about his communities and when he sees a problem he tries to fix it. I certainly appreciate all the work that Jim has done for the students of Biddeford and feel that he is most deserving of this honor.

Sen. Justin Chenette nominated Rob Biggs, executive director of Saco Main Street, a downtown revitalization organization.

“Rob Biggs has been instrumental in reinvigorating Saco’s downtown development organization, Saco Main Street,” Chenette wrote in his nomination. “As a board member with this organization, I’ve seen firsthand Rob’s commitment to Saco’s growth and devotion to its people. From putting in late hours planning major community events, to personally decorating our downtown, to promoting the very best our small businesses have to offer, Rob goes above and beyond the call of duty to make Saco the place to live, work, and play. His can-do attitude is infectious and makes me want to be better and do more. I’m pleased to nominate him for the 2017 Great Person Award.”

The Rev. Catherine Anglea of Second Congregational Church in Biddeford was nominated by Meredith Crain for Anglea’s work as pastor, with Community Partners to Protect Children, YCCA, Joyful Harvest, the children’s Christmas shopping program and as a foster parent.

Biddeford resident Carol Roberts nominated Susan Simpson, who helped worked at the former Common Connection Club in Biddeford, a social club where those in need could go for support. Simpson was also nominated by Sonia Gardner of Old Orchard Beach.

“Susan was not only a 17-year employee of The Common Connection but the Harmony Club in Sanford, Maine. Since these disabled people have been put out on the street, Susan continues to take care of these people on a day-to-day basis out of the goodness of her heart. She takes them shopping, she gets them to appointments and genuinely gives them the day-to-day love and support they need. The state may have forgotten the homeless and needy, but Susan Simpson goes above and beyond.”

Rep. Martin Grohman of Biddeford has nominated fellow Biddeford resident Joe McKenney.

“Joe is a local photographer who never says no to an opportunity to support the community,” Grohman wrote in the nomination. “I’ve seen him doing everything from hauling tables after midnight to setup for River Jam to offering free portraits with Santa to all in the community.

“Recently, Joe dedicated a Saturday in his studio for free family portraits under a program called HELP, and five local families were able to have a family picture for the first time. He also photographs veteran’s recognition events and offers prints to veterans and their families at no charge. He’s often seen at Biddeford athletic events and is always finding ways to give back.”

Despite some challenges to his family this year, Joe has not cut back on his charitable activities, Grohman said.

“As a great example of an extremely giving person and dedicated community volunteer, I believe Mr. McKenney is very deserving of nomination.”

Bonnie and Dennis Tallagnon have nominated Biddeford resident Toni Sipka.

“With a nod of respect to the other extraordinary nominated persons because of their accomplishments and generous contributions, and for those who do not already know her, we wish to introduce Biddeford resident and talk show host, Toni Sipka.”

Sipka launched her public access show, “Toni Time,” several years ago.

“Toni brings us face to face with a variety of people young and old, from Biddeford and the surrounding area who have followed their own dreams, and how their experiences played out,” according to the nomination. “Toni brings to light their stories, their lives, their backgrounds, their careers – the startups, the pitfalls and how they overcame them, and their achievements. In a way, this dialogue amounts to a display of ideas and precious mentoring.”

Sipka’s background included time spent in the 1980s traveling the country making special appearances as Marvel Comics’ Spider Woman, often appearing with her Marvel cast at fundraisers for Make-a-Wish Foundation. What followed was a successful model and talent agency career.

“Toni understands the pain of rejection and this mission of empowering women is cathartic,” it reads.

Stanley Ruben of Old Orchard Beach was nominated by Karen Burns, also of Old Orchard Beach.

“He is a proud elder veteran who still finds time to help others. During the summer you can find him in Ocean Park, collecting donations for the ‘Buddy’ flowers for veterans.”

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