Edson R. Small Jr. has spent a lifetime doing for others, whether through volunteering with the American Red Cross, 20th Maine Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps, Winslow Music Boosters or staffing the concession stand at Winslow High School football games.

For those and other activities, Small, known to friends as “Skip” or “Ed,” will receive the most prestigious annual award given by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce — the 2021 Distinguished Community Service Award.

Small, a retired Winslow firefighter and part-time Delta Ambulance EMT who also worked many years for Scott Paper Co. and then Sappi, is to receive the award at the chamber’s 59th annual awards ceremony scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Enchanted Gables on Hussey Hill Road in Oakland.

The award is given to one who has helped better the community through leadership, initiating creativity in community service and working selflessly to help improve the economy in the region.

Edson R. Small Jr. is to receive the Distinguished Community Service Award at the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce’s awards ceremony Thursday. Small is shown Sunday at his house in Winslow. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“If I had only one word to describe Ed Small, my first thought would be busy,” said Kimberly N. Lindlof, the chamber’s president and CEO. “But upon reflection, I could also say dedicated, passionate or loyal as well.

“Ed’s commitment to the town of Winslow in various ways — Fire Department, EMT and music boosters — is how I first met him. His willingness to help, in his quiet, humble way, is what makes him stand out. His love of family and community shine through in all that he does.”

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Small, 78, said he is honored to have been chosen for the award, which he said is especially touching because it comes from the community in which he lives and works.

He gives much of the credit for the award to his late wife, Joan, who died a year ago at 82.

“I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to say at the banquet to thank everyone,” he said. “I’m going to tell everyone the person most responsible for this award is my wife — my late wife, Joan.”

The couple raised a son, Peter, and daughter, Michelle, and attended all their school events, volunteered for the Boys and Girls scouts, worked with area marching bands and the Bugle Corps, and volunteered at the Winslow High School football concession stand.

Small began working for Scott Paper Co. in Winslow in 1964, and then transferred to the company’s mill in Skowhegan in 1975. The Skowhegan mill later became S.D. Warren Co. and then Sappi. Small stayed at the Skowhegan mill until 1999, working as a lab technician.

He had also joined the Winslow Fire Department in 1967 as a call firefighter, and continued doing so for 52 years.

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“I used to give a lot of tours to kids at the fire station,” he said.

Helping Scouts earn merit badges was rewarding, according to Small.

“After you taught them something, they had to demonstrate it without any help,” he said. “They did a good job.”

A member of the Maine State Federation of Firefighters, Small received the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award a few years ago.

Thursday’s awards ceremony at Enchanted Gables comes about six months after the chamber’s 58th awards event was held. Chamber officials said the event held last November came later than usual because of delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic. They said the event this week is more on schedule.

Other awards to be presented Thursday include:

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Large Business of the Year: Huhtamaki, one of the area’s largest employers, which continues its tradition of manufacturing quality paper products, according to the chamber. The company, in existence more than 100 years, is steeped in innovation, always strives toward product and process improvement, encourages community involvement and supports many regional efforts, both financially and with manpower, chamber officials said.

Small Business of the Year: Holy Cannoli, owned by January and Jason Furchak, expanded its space and offerings, gives back to the community by supporting local initiatives and seeks to provide an exceptional experience of top-notch customer service and great food in a comfortable environment, the chamber said.

Exceptional Volunteer of the Year: M. Sawyer Boulette, who has been involved in multiple projects and committees, above and beyond her work with the Alfond Youth & Community Center, according to the chamber.

Municipal Employee of the Year: Fairfield Town Manager Michelle Flewelling, who has dealt with more than her share over the past couple of years tackling issues that include water contamination, working to help businesses and developing the town’s tax base — all while remaining accessible to the public, the chamber said.

Outstanding Professional: Erin Merrill, development director for Educare Central Maine, who works to address and expand educational programming to serve the needs of families in central Maine, and helps attract people to the area, according to the chamber.

Customer Service Stardom: Heather LeClair, who has worked more than 20 years for Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate as a loyal, fastidious colleague and employee who has a can-do spirit and maintains a pleasant demeanor in a busy environment of real estate transactions, the chamber said.

Rising Star: Sabrina Jandreau, employee of the Central Maine Growth Council, whose interest in the economic growth and development of the area and sharing of knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm have put her on a trajectory of continued success in her career, according to the chamber.

Elias A. Joseph Award: Darlene Ratte, assistant general manager at Best Western Plus Waterville Grand Hotel on upper Main Street and an instructor at Kennebec Valley Community College and Thomas College, volunteers for multiple chamber committees and events, is an ever-present source of help and is a constant hard worker, according to the chamber.

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