Today is the birthday of a person who may not want to be written about on this blog. Some people don’t want their lives microscopically analyzed in public.
I can understand that; I’ll try to stick to the facts that have been published in the Lewiston Sun-Journal or other community newspapers over the years.
In 1974 or 1975, I played summer softball for “Faye’s Clippers”. I had two coaches, Faye Brown and Jack Cunningham. I was not a very good softball player so I got to be the catcher. Some of the other girls on the team were very good; I can remember how these young women would hit the ball into the woods like they were swatting flies. I didn’t like softball. I wanted to read books and ride my bike. I played on “Faye’s Clippers” for two years; long enough to be in a team photograph and ride on a team float in the Lisbon Frontier Days parade.
That’s how I got my picture on the wall of Faye’s Barber Shop.
Many years went by before I ran into my old softball coach again – maybe decades. Flipping the calendar forward to 2000 or so and I found myself divorced, living in New Hampshire, and starting on a volunteer career in The Junior League of Boston. It’s a fancy women’s organization and their tag line is “women building better communities.” They never asked to see my papers. They just asked me to pay my dues, raise a certain amount of money, and volunteer at a community project for a number of hours per week. I could dress up and go to Boston and that seemed important to me then.
Around this same time, Faye had started fundraising for the “Gazebo Project” in my hometown of Lisbon Falls. I ran into Faye when I stopped at The Barber Shop to make a donation to the Gazebo Project. If you drive slowly up Route 196 in Lisbon Falls today, the high school is on the left and the Gazebo is on the right. It’s a beautiful park now, just one of the many lovely community gardens in Lisbon, Lisbon Center, and Lisbon Falls.
Faye was instrumental in creating those gardens when she founded The Green Thumb Gang. The Green Thumb Gang is the only gang I’ve ever belonged to and it’s not quite The Junior League. The Gang did have a fancy dance once and I got to work with Faye on planning it. I thought I knew a lot about volunteer work, based on my Junior League credentials.
I had a lot to learn.
Organizing volunteers in a small town with no budget is hard work. Faye doesn’t have a headquarters with a staff, like The Junior League of Boston. But Faye has been trying to build a better community most of her life and she makes it look fun and easy from her headquarters at the Barber Shop.
I know it’s not always fun and it’s never easy.
My brother wrote a blog post about volunteerism, from which I quote:
“More often than not, the expectation is that someone else—an organization, government, boosters, whoever—will do what’s necessary for success—not the person complaining, or with all the advice for others. Often, these individuals are more likely to spend their evenings sitting at home in front of their TV or laptop, rather than finding a way to roll up their sleeves and become part of the solution.”
I’m glad I can stop by the headquarters of Faye’s “Junior League of Her Own” and find out what needs to be done because Faye has been rolling up her sleeves as part of the solution as long as I’ve known her. She’s managed to create a few fellow volunteers along the way, including me. I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m using her birthday as an opportunity to say “good job” and “thank you.”
Happy Birthday, Faye!