Jason Davis and Joy Bechard, owners, Diggy’s Dogs, an Augusta gourmet hot dog and catering company (October 2019)

Joy Bechard and Jason Davis

Jason Davis: Honestly, I think it was an inner drive. It wasn’t like one person who was like: “Hey, go for it!” But actually, the people I spoke with the most, who kind of gave us a shot in the arm once we expressed interest, were Rob and Rebecca Pushard at MIKA. They were like: Go for it. If you have a dream, go for it.

Joy Bechard: They’re definitely mentors to us for sure. We like how they run their businesses. And they also have a family business that they started when they were pretty young, and they have grown it over the years.

Jason Davis: Not to mention they’re just awesome people and great parents.

 

Lisa Pohlmann, CEO of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Augusta (August 2019)

Lisa Pohlmann

Well, I grew up in the ’60s, and there was a lot of activity then on the environmental front, women’s issues front. Um, just the political front. And so I don’t know that there was any person, but I definitely knew I wanted to be a part of changing the world. Nonprofit operations allowed me to do that. I have worked in several. I worked in the battered women’s movement when I first moved to Maine. I’ve worked on poverty and health care here in Augusta, and now I’m working on the environment. So as disparate as those may seem, they all fit together for me.

I do feel like we do (influence people to work in the nonprofit sector) these days because we’re involved with a lot of college interns, and we have an NRCM rising aspect to our work, which is trying to get the 20- to 40-year-olds interested in being a part of democracy and making social change happen. And I think it is a lot about education first and foremost, but it’s also about the passion that leads you to want to make change. And I don’t know that you can engender that in somebody, but you can certainly help them make the connections between “I love hiking this mountain. Gee, if I don’t get involved in helping to protect this mountain, um, then shame on me.” So I think that’s what we’re trying to do here.

 

Michael Hall, executive director, Augusta Downtown Alliance, Augusta (November 2019)

Michael Hall

I’ve always had a passion for architecture as a kid, and I always leaned more toward historic architecture more than anything else. I have a master’s degree in communications and I got my second master’s degree in architectural conservation. So this sort of job, even though it doesn’t involve constant communication or constant involvement with historic architecture, it sort of blends both of them together along with other facets. It’s different than a lot of people that do architectural conservation. They go into actual conservation work, which is very scientific, and you’re breaking it down, using certain chemicals to do restoration work. That part of it never interested me. It’s sort of inspiring to actually be in a job where I can work with historic architecture but also see it, adapted to reuse and see the progress along the way.

 

Sean Donaghy, co-owner of Washington General Store, Washington (October 2019)

Amy and Sean Donaghy

I don’t know, we kind of jumped into this with no experience at all. My wife and I both have science degrees. I worked as carpenter and my wife worked as many different things. We opened this store, basically, because we loved the town and didn’t want to leave. The opportunity just sort of fell in our laps to try and do something with this building when it became vacant. I guess circumstances influenced us the most. We just wanted something more and thought maybe if no one else was going to do it, we can do it.

When we first moved here, we came from coastal areas and we thought we would remain there. We thought … we would move in five years and try to move closer to coast. The town just grew on us. The people are fantastic; it’s such an eclectic town. Over our time being here, the town slowly shut down. There used to be an ice cream shop and a grocery store and a book shop and an art gallery. (The general store) used to be a hardware store. It all just closed and we thought, “we’re not going to raise our kids in a ghost town, we should just get out of here I guess.” But we loved the town enough, so we thought we could move or try to fix it. It was the people in the town that made us want to stay and kind of fight for it.

 

Heidi Neal, owner of Loyal Biscuit, Hallowell (September 2019)

Heidi Neal

I don’t have a specific person. I would have to go with other small business owners. Regardless of what business it is, I think we’re all in this together, and we all, especially in downtown districts, work together to have a thriving community. I think we all pull off of each other for inspiration and want to work together to make where we live and … work a great place. What might benefit one, might not benefit another directly, but indirectly, it all comes back …

 

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