2015-12-18 / Front Page

Voting begins for Great Person Award

By Molly Lovell-Keely
Managing Editor

Nominations for the Sentry’s Great Person Award are in and voting begins this week. Voting will end at noon, Friday, Jan. 1, and the winner will be announced in the next edition. The winner will be interviewed for a newspaper article.

Those who were nominated this year include Russ Lunt of South Portland, who was nominated by fellow resident Joel Cohen, who deems his friend very involved with local happenings.

“He has his finger on the pulse of South Portland,” Cohen said.

Also nominated was Karen McCue, by fellow South Portland resident Annie Lovegren.

McCue is a group fitness instructor at South Portland Community Center and Lovegren cites McCue’s role in keeping people healthy.

“Karen has been teaching fitness classes at the (recreation) center for about eight years, gaining a very loyal following of men and women with her motivating and sincere style of teaching. Her approach is focused on health and wellness; she pushes members of her classes to work as hard as they can, providing accommodations when needed, and reminds us frequently of the many physical and mental benefits of exercise,” Lovegren said. “Her classes are fun and welcoming for people of all ages, fitness levels and body types.”

McCue keeps the classes fresh and entertaining, Lovegren said.

“We laugh the whole time, all the while gaining muscle and confidence. She’s an amazing asset to this community and I believe she is a ‘Great Person.’”

Chris and Bob Murray, South Portland residents, have nominated Liz and Bill Darling, also residents of the city.

“Liz and Bill are two of the most generous people we know,” they said. “They are gracious hosts to many South Portland gatherings at their home and camp. When they host a party or an event, it is always spectacular. They exude a joy for life that is infectious when people are around them.”

The Murrays said the Darlings’ involvement ensures that those in need are taken care of and is evidenced by the annual toy drive they hold before Christmas at Evelyn’s Bar in South Portland. Many in the community and beyond donate to the drive, which invokes the true spirit of giving among those more fortunate.

“They also work with the South Portland police department as well, to make others, such as the elderly on fixed incomes, have food on their table around the holidays. Any undistributed toys will be given to the police department to hand out to children, in order to ease their fears and instill a positive relationship with them, when called to a home.”

This year Liz encouraged a group of girlfriends to adopt a few families and shop for the items on their children’s wish lists.

“Not only was it rewarding, but brought joy and the giving spirit to everyone’s hearts,” the Murrays said. “While at the Maine Mall, strangers came up to us and donated as well to this wonderful cause.”

“We are all truly blessed to have this loving and giving couple in the South Portland community. The motto ‘Pay it Forward’ is one they live by.”

South Portland resident Connie Hood was nominated by Megan Boothby, also of South Portland.

“When my elderly dog needed care a mutual friend recommended that I call Connie,” Boothby said. “For four months Connie made sure my dog was well cared for, taking her for walks, rides and even to her home to warm by the fire. Connie left me notes so that I could share a little bit of my dog’s day.”

“On the last day of my dog’s life, Connie came to say goodbye and comfort my daughter and I. Her compassion on that day was truly a gift. I only knew Connie for those few months but I can say she is a ‘Great Person.’”

Donna Yellen of South Portland nominated fellow resident Greg Curran.

“Any morning throughout the year, Greg Curran can be found riding his bike or running or walking along the streets and sidewalks of South Portland. With a cheerful, neighborly, ‘Good morning’ cast out, he always stops and asks how one is doing or walks or bikes slowly alongside them for awhile if they’re walking their dog,” Yellen said. “In a society where more and more often, people are rushed and busy, it is notable when someone takes the time just to be with his neighbor, to inquire how they’re doing and exchange pleasant conversation.”

She said Curran seems to know everyone and always takes the time to talk with them.

“Perhaps living here for as many years as he has and focusing his work in South Portland, helps makes him the popular person he is,” Yellen said.

Curran is a great listener, she said, and interested in whoever is speaking.

“He asks about their children, aging parents or sister that moved away. He is interested in your thoughts and opinions and makes note of the beauty of the morning and how lucky we are to live in such a lovely place.”

“Though we all know people who are doing great things in our city and state, there are too few people that are being great neighbors simply by always taking the time to say hello, to always ask how you are and always taking the time to listen,” Yellen said.

Herman Melville wrote, “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow being.”

“That is why Greg Curran is nominated for the Sentry 2015 Great Person Award. Greg lives this connection in the beauty and simplicity of day-to-day life in South Portland. He makes and keeps connections daily and in doing so, helps keep us all connected to each other and our community,” Yellen said. “Greg, with his wife and children, are the kind of people that makes South Portland a wonderful place to live.”

Couple James and Pamela Plunkett, owners of and bakers for Little Bigs in South Portland, were nominated by South Portland resident Elyse Tipton.

“First off, I think James and Pamela are great persons for taking a chance three years ago on a modest little storefront in Cash Corner to create their bakery. It’s an amazing little place with extremely high-quality, unusual, yummy goods.”

No matter what time of day you go into Little Bigs, and even though they’ve been there since about 4 a.m., you find James and Pamela greeting customers with enthusiasm and smiles.

“If you ask about what they’re making – because their work space is easy to see, in front of you – they are happy to explain ingredients, how they make their foods, where their ideas come from, whatever you want to know. James will even talk about what music is playing and why he’s in the mood for it,” Tipton said.

“Pamela’s beautiful designs on her cookies and pastries lift her customers’ sprits. She creates and decorates baked goods that range from cute and funny to exotic and even ghoulish for Halloween. And she is kind,” Tipton added. “For example, one morning, I called Little Bigs in a panic because I had forgotten I was supposed to bake something chocolate to bring for my coworker’s office birthday party that day. Pamela, who was probably very busy, checked her supply and flew into action: she used some of her amazing flourless chocolate torte batter to bake three yummy little tortes she had ready and waiting for me in a half hour. Saved the day!”

“Please note that I am not an investor in or publicist for Little Bigs, but I am a customer who enjoys seeing James and Pamela in action and appreciates the joy and sweetness they have brought to their little corner of Cash Corner.”

Mary Robin Guthrie, owner of the House of Frames on Broadway in South Portland, was nominated by South Portland resident Pamela Thomas.

“Since 2004, when my husband and I started our company, ARTiPLAQ, Mary Robin welcomed us to the South Portland business community and embraced our product to sell to her customers. Her shop is the first stop on my Tuesday delivery route and a visit with Mary Robin is a highlight in my day. She greets everyone she meets with a smile and is genuinely interested their lives, as well as their art,” Thomas said.

Thomas said Guthrie’s customers know her well and many stop in to chat even when they aren’t bringing in business.

“She always gives them her warmest smile and her sincere attention,” Thomas added. “She has become the mother of this community in the ways that she lends her ear and offers her genuine concern. She supports her community by donating to local fundraisers and auctions, shopping locally and helping her customers find the price and the perfect frame that works with their budget.”

Guthrie has been the sole proprietor of House of Frames for 42 years. Along the way, she raised four children and has employed at least 35 picture framers and artists, including each of her children, and her grandson.

“She’s one of the few people I know who still does math in her head without the calculator and is always right on,” Thomas said. “At 82 years old she is very active, out and about at her favorite restaurants, movies, plays and art shows, making personal customer deliveries, and at the House of Frames working every day building fabulous custom picture frames, yet still finds time to talk and text friends and family regularly.”

“The House of Frames has been a staple for this community since 1970. In that time we have seen several other frame shops come and go, none with the staying power of the House of Frames. During this time of year, all of the residents and many others wait patiently for the trees in front of her shop to be lit, by now a community monument and testament to the kind of commitment Mary Robin has shown,” Thomas said. “We know House of Frame’s hours by the sign on the door announcing she’ll be there by 10ish and closing at 5ish, or when we see the Texas flag flying out front, her way of remembering her home state and answering that all too common question that new customers always ask about her southern accent.”

“She is an inspiration to me, a precious gem to her family, and a sparkle in our community.”

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