CHEFS FOR THE COMMUNITY:
Tamra Veilleux and Real Castonguay
If you’ve had the happy opportunity of attending any of the 3rd Friday Free Community Lunch events at FCS, you know you can count on a delicious meal and the pleasure of lots of great friends to share it with. You also may have captured a glimpse of the two devoted chefs toiling at the restaurant-sized stove while volunteers running around, often serving “seconds” of the “comfort food” of the day. The meals are just that scrumptious!
Husband and wife team, Tam and Real, have been cooking up a storm for four years now, since signing up to volunteer as our resident culinary experts. Sharing the kitchen, working as true succinct partners, Tam and Real make meals for 60-80 guests every third Friday ten months a year, without fail. They are always regaled by applause and cheers for their efforts, Tam and Real are often forced by guests to take a bow, even though the limelight is no way near as comfortable for them as the steamy - hot kitchens.
Real and Tam are both professionals, directing their own businesses, but they always have time to volunteer and this is their fourth year doing the lunches. Here’s their story:
“Cooking, or more accurately, food, has been a passion of ours for dozens of years. From growing and canning or freezing our own food in huge gardens to past lives as restaurant owners, we find great pleasure in preparing good eats. Our menus at the old cafe read: “Interesting food and delicious conversation” and that’s truly how we choose to live.” Tam said.
“My parents told me to always fuel myself well, that if I ate I’d have strength to perform. Real’s parents were farmers. His mother made it her life’s work to prepare amazing food that could feed dozens at a time. When Real and I moved to Freeport in 2011 we knew we were settling in for the long haul. It was time for us to put down roots in a community, part of that meant giving back. Since we had read about the FCS program success we figured we should just inquire what the needed next. We knew that we wanted to fill a big need because we aren’t people who can just hang around waiting for direction. We needed something we could run with. Deb Daggett and Sue Mack both smiled when we said we could cook. The rest is history!”
We so enjoy our time in the kitchen. What’s really fun about Free Lunch Friday is the laughter and everyone who eats there seems genuinely grateful for the food whether it turned out tasty or not. It can get a little nerve wracking cooking for 60 people and not being sure about how much or how little seasoning something might need, so I’m always relieved when it gets quiet in the dining room because people are eating what we cooked.”
THE MONDAY MORNING LADIES:
“I keep coming in each week because helping the Thrift Shop helps the
community. And in helping the community, we help ourselves.” - Marjorie Perkins
A deeply devoted circle of friends, Marjorie Perkins, Sally Amory and Anita Chomyn, arrives every Monday morning, brought together by an earnest need to serve their community by preparing donations for the Thrift Shop (formerly The Clothes Tree). For 20 to 30 plus years now, these fascinating women worked, laughed and sometimes cried together as they cemented friendships and created the history of FCS.
Sally Amory holds the volunteer record for 36 years of service to the Thrift Shop. Sally initially served as Thrift Shop manager during its early days. Sally did everything from supervising volunteers to creating displays Sally even cleaned toilets! “I remember when the only bathroom was also the thrift shop dressing room, recounted Sally. “Things have certainly changed!” Some of their fondest recollections of the store include an infamous aluminum muffin tin that served as the shop’s cash register for years. Coins were held in the muffin rounds and bills were stashed under the baking pan. Anita Chomyn recalls taking the muffin tin, full of the day’s proceeds, home each night in order to prepare the bank deposit, which she made each morning. An average daily till may have reached $32 back in 1990.
Marjorie Perkins met Sally over 20 years ago. The two discovered a shared need to lend a helping hand. Sally invited Marge to volunteer at FCS, initiating her history of sorting donations for the shop. “The shop was closed to the public on Monday mornings so we could do the sorting,” Marge recalls, pointing to a large, sturdy wooden table holding stacks of clothing, books and treasures to be organized. “A whole group of volunteers gathered at this table,” she explained, “each with a pile of donations to inspect.” I’ve liked all of the people I volunteered with.” “During sorting, Nora Cooper would call out prices for articles we inspected,” Anita Chomyn, a 22 year volunteer, remembers. “She’d yell out $4, $1.50, $3 and we’d price the items. When Nora got tired, she’d just say $2, $2, $2! We all got a kick out of that.” “Nora was wonderful,” Anita, reminisces. “And so was her husband, “Coop”. “He used to bring us Dunkin Donuts – even after Nora died, he visited from time to time with a big box of doughnuts and a famous smile.”
“After over 25 years,” states Marge, “I keep coming in each week because helping the Thrift Shop helps the community. And in helping the community, we help ourselves.” What a loving legacy these Monday Morning Ladies have created for their lives, Freeport Community Services and our community. Early Thrift Shop volunteers included: Jane Averill, Ethel Bouchard, Gladys Curtis, Mary Jane Crouse, Dottie DeLoach, Cheeky Draper, Connie Edney, Joan Flaherty, Petey Fuller, Rita Gordon, Jane Hall, Terry Hutchinson, Helen Hyde, Joe Johnson, Connie Jones, Susan Kelsey, Priscilla Kochocki, Dottie Leighton, Edith Mitchell, Trudy Morrison, Anne Ordway, Dottie Soule, Edie Sweeney and Flora Wilson and Elaine Wyman. Many of these folks still volunteer today - THANK YOU!
Joan Plourde (left) and Terry Hutchinson (right) are two fantastic women who met while volunteering in the Thrift Shop, formed a quick and lasting bond and have affectionately labeled themselves “Double Trouble.”
After 48 years, longtime Freeport resident Joan retired; her short-lived retirement found her seeking a way to stay active and helpful. An ad in The Notes brought her to FCS where she volunteers in the Food Pantry and Thrift Shop. Joannie also helps with special projects and fills in as a sub. “I enjoy meeting people, having fun - and having something interesting to do,” says Joan.
Terry and her husband moved to Maine in 1991 where she was first introduced to FCS by Flora and Joe Wilson. Terry volunteered for two years, then left to care for her husband. After his death, Terry also wanted a way to keep active and contribute to the community. Believing in the purpose of FCS, Terry expanded her volunteer commitment to include the Food Pantry and creation of its pet food program.
When asked what they enjoy about volunteering together, Terry said, “Joanie is always happy, she sings and she makes me laugh.” And, Joan states, “Terry is a nice friend, and very funny.” Both helpers exclaimed, “We end every day with a hug.” Seriously, Joannie comments, “ I have never had as many hugs in my life as I get here.” Terry shakes her head in agreement.
Richard drives FCS clients to medical appointments regularly. When a volunteer recently needed medical treatment, Richard dropped everything to get him to the emergency room.
Linda has been busy this summer taking a wheel chair bound citizen and her daughter shopping a few times a week.
Two young men shoveled snow off roofs last winter. Now they are raking grass and cleaning for those same citizens this summer!