The years Nicole Desjardins Seekins worked as sales director at Hampton Inn Waterville were happy and busy. She loved volunteering on the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce board of directors for eight years, including one as board chairman and six on the executive committee.

During that time, she was chairman of the chamber’s Business Expansion and Retention Committee, the Annual Awards Ceremony Committee and the Super Raffle Committee; and she was a member of both the Taste of Waterville and Membership committees.

She attended nearly every Business After Hours event and helped organize one of the state’s largest business expositions, the Business to Business Showcase.

In addition, she was a member of the Waterville Rotary Club; took part in fundraisers for cancer and multiple sclerosis; plunged into frigid water as part of the polar bear dip to raise money for children to attend summer camp; volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, St. Francis Soup Kitchen and the Family Violence Project; served on the Lakewood Nursing Home board of directors and St. Francis Soup Kitchen; and supported Kennebec Valley Community Action Program’s Work Ready Program, which helps people who are unemployed get jobs training. The list goes on.

For all of her contributions, Seekins has been named winner of the chamber’s Elias A. Joseph Award, given in honor of Joseph, who dedicated more than 28 years as a chamber volunteer. Chamber members say that with his unselfish devotion to his community, Joseph developed, coordinated and supervised programs and projects that greatly enhanced central Maine for more than 25 years. His work included more than 10,000 hours of volunteer service to the chamber.

Seekins, of Augusta, will accept the award at the chamber’s 53rd Annual Awards Ceremony, to be held Thursday at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield.

Now 38, Seekins left her Hampton Inn job last July — just after her marriage to Joel Seekins — to take a job as scheduler for Gov. Paul LePage, and she now works in the State House in Augusta. While she no longer is a chamber member, she continues to volunteer at chamber events and serves on the selection committee for the chamber’s Joseph B. Ezhaya Memorial Scholarship.

The chamber’s president and chief executive officer, Kimberly L. Lindlof, said Seekins deserves the Joseph Award, which is given to someone who volunteers with unselfish devotion.

“Nikki is the type of volunteer that jumps in with both feet,” Lindlof said. “She’s eager to help, enthusiastic in her participation and makes the most out of every connection that she gains through the chamber. She represents her employer professionally while also executing the mission of the chamber. In fact, I cannot think of a time when we asked something from Nikki that she didn’t deliver. I can’t think of a more deserving recipient for this award.”

Seekins said she was surprised and touched to learn she was chosen for the award.

“Honestly, I really didn’t think I was deserving of the award,” she said. “The things I did for the chamber never seemed like they took that much time. It was all really a pleasure, and probably the most enjoyable part of my career at Hampton was being so involved in the community and having such a great relationship with the chamber.”

Seekins’ new job at the governor’s office is busy and high-paced, but rewarding and enjoyable, she said. She attributes her work with the chamber as preparing her well for the job.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I wouldn’t have done any of this without Kim (Lindlof). Her support, her friendship changed my life in many ways. I’m very honored to be standing with all of the people who have been honored with the same award. It’s certainly touching to think the chamber believes that much in me.”

Seekins was born in Augusta and graduated from Cony High School in 1996. She attended the Florida Institute of Technology for three years, then started her career in retail management. After 11 years, she returned to Maine and became store manager of U.S. Cellular in Augusta, where she was employed more than three years before taking the job at Hampton Inn.

At Hampton Inn, she increased room sales and corporate and group functions and was awarded the Ultimate Sales Professional Challenge, which placed her in the top 5 percent of sales directors in the U.S. Seekins also served on the Augusta Board of Education from 2012 to 2015, but resigned when she took the State House job.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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