Dollar General Store Manager Manny Price, left, returned Debra Brown’s wallet after recently finding it in a shopping cart in the parking lot of the store at the Concourse in Waterville. The wallet contained $350, money that Brown needed to repair the brakes on her car. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Debra Brown’s opinion of people changed dramatically when she got a knock on her door recently.

As she acknowledges, she used to be pessimistic and thought most people were mean. Not anymore.

The 61-year-old Brown went last week to Dollar General on the Concourse in downtown Waterville to buy potting soil.

She left the store, went home about three blocks away and started working with her plants.

Then came the knock.

It was a man named Manny who works at Dollar General. He held out his hand with her wallet containing $350 in cash.


“It was three $100 bills and a $50 and they were sticking right out,” Brown recalled. “Thank God he brought that back. I didn’t even know I lost it.”

It was all the money she had left to get the brakes fixed on her 14-year-old Ford Focus. The brakes were so bad they made a grinding sound, like metal on metal.

“I have a grandson, and that’s why I’ve got to get my brakes fixed, because I haven’t been able to go get him,” Brown said. “He lives in Pittsfield.”

Brown, who survives on Social Security income, is a retired behavioral technician and certified nursing assistant who worked 12 years in the chemical dependency unit at St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston. She was so moved that the man returned her wallet, she called the Morning Sentinel to say she thought he needed to be recognized for what he did. Here, she said, was some good among all the bad news lately. Had anyone else had found her wallet in that area of the Concourse, she would never have seen it again, she said.

Dollar General store manager Manny Price returned Debra Brown’s wallet after recently finding it in a shopping cart in the parking lot of the store at the Concourse in Waterville. Brown said she was deeply touched by Price’s kindness. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“He’s such a sweetheart,” she said. “I go to Dollar General, not often, but every other week, and every time I go in there he’s just really kind. He carried the potting soil and put it in my cart. My car died in the winter during a big snowstorm and he helped me get jumper cables to start it. I was so touched.”

I decided to pay Manny a visit, so I stopped in at Dollar General recently and asked for him. A minute later, a man approached me and identified himself as Manny Price, the store manager. I explained who I was and told him about Brown and how she was so moved by his deed that she wanted people to know about it. He seemed surprised that he was being recognized for his actions.


“I always believe in karma,” he said. “It can go either way. I’m big on good karma. I don’t expect anything in return. There’s not enough kindness in the world.”

Price went on to say he deals with a lot of people who are down on their luck, and those with disabilities, and he makes it a point to be helpful.

“I try to pay it forward as much as I can. I was homeless for one particular time in my early 20s, and I understand what a lot of these people go through.”

A seemingly humble man, Price, 38, said he appreciated Brown’s gratitude. I asked him to tell me about finding the wallet and walking the three or so blocks to her house to return it.

“I just happened to go get the carts out in the parking lot and there it was, in the cart,” he said. “I checked the ID and saw she lived on School Street so I walked it up to her.”

Price has worked for Dollar General six years and managed the store in Oakland three years before coming to Waterville. He appeared proud when I asked how it felt to be the object of Brown’s gratitude.


“That’s what Dollar General’s for, we’re here for the community, so I just feel like anything I can do for people, I will,” he said. “If you have a nice heart and help people, it’ll come back to you, one way or another.”

Seeing Brown happy when he returned the wallet made him happy, he said.

“That was the best part, to see the realization on her face that, not only did she get her wallet back, but everything was intact.”

The way I see it, Brown is right. There are a lot of mean people in the world. But in little downtown Waterville, Maine, running far under the radar, is an extraordinarily compassionate one.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here weekly. She is the author of the book “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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