Former Governor John Baldacci’s fundraising dinner to help 95-year-old Auburn woman who fell victim to professional scam

Baldacci Spaghetti Supper to raise awareness about scammers and help victim— 5 p.m., January 8 at Auburn Middle School

 UPDATE: The dinner was a sucess with over 400 people attending and $18,000 raised for Barbara Hinckley - that's $2,000 more than she lost to the con man. Gov. Mills, and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Congressman J. Golden attended.

 By Ramona du Houx

Some professional scammers are trained in deception to such a degree they could fool any of us, at any age. They target seniors who live at home alone, like Barbara Hinckley. Three days after hearing she had won a Publisher’s Clearinghouse contest Hinckley received a false copy of a check for $2.5 million in a package. It was all part of a professional scam. Unwittingly, Hinckley was taken in and gave away more than $16,000 to the con man. After reading a Sun Journal story detailing the con that stripped the 95-year-old Auburn woman of her life savings former Governor John Baldacci jumped in to help.

“I thought I could soften the blow if we put on one of our spaghetti dinners. She’s such a lovely lady, what happened disgusted me. No one would want this to happen to their mother living independently in her trailer. Her golden years should be full of light, not darkness,” said Baldacci.

The fundraising dinner will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8 at Auburn Middle School, 38 Falcon Dr, Auburn, ME 04210. To buy tickets and/or donate beforehand please go here: 

The Baldacci family will provide spaghetti, garlic butter, salad, rolls while generating community warmth. See the Facebook page HERE.

“We want people with hearty appetites and open wallets who care about their community. Stealing from the elderly is not the Maine Way. Let’s turn something bad into something positive by showing the world our true Maine character,” said the former governor.

The cost will be $5 a person. Everything collected will go entirely to Hinckley, so larger donations are very much appreciated. Anyone who wants to help Hinckley immediately is welcome to send her a check through her church. Please make the check or money order out to Barbara Hinckley and send it Hinckley c/o The First Universalist Church of Auburn, 169 Pleasant St., Auburn, ME 04210.

 Baldacci admires Hinckley’s willingness to speak out about her experience. “She’s a brave lady with more get up and go than people half her age,” he said.

Her daughter Marsha Donahue, owner of North Light Gallery in Millinocket, was surprised that her mother fell prey to a grafter.

“She was a lifelong bookkeeper, fastidious in her money habits and thrifty, but a confidence man gained her trust. It can happen to anyone,” said Donahue. “It was with great courage that she came forward and, with the help of our former Governor John Baldacci, this event may be able to help save someone else.”

Barbara Hinckley isn’t bitter, as most in her shoes might be. Instead, she’s determined to help ensure her neighbor’s safety. She wants more people to be aware of how dangerous soft talking scammers work.

“It’ll be a teachable moment,” said Baldacci. “We’re having the Auburn police department give some tips to the community. AARP, local banks, the business community, the Boys and Girls Club and legal services for the elderly are all involved.”

The Central Maine Country Music Association will perform.

The Auburn Police, AARP, and others will provide vital information about how to help our seniors navigate the many scams that assault them on a daily basis. 

If you would like to donate a service or an item to be bid on that night, please let us know. We’d like to encourage you to bring the service in an envelope or item with you on January 8th. If that’s not possible please drop off items with Karen at Hinkley’s church office: The First Universalist Church, 159 Pleasant St., in Auburn. Please note that the office is only open on Monday and Friday from 9:30 to 1:30.

Governor Baldacci will be cooking the spaghetti sauce from their family’s secret recipe that became famous at Momma Baldacci’s, the former family restaurant of Bangor. The two-term governor will also be serving the meal.

“Helping those in need is second nature for people of Maine,” said Former Governor Baldacci. “Our dinners have become a family tradition, one where we’re proud to help out when and where we can.”

For years the Baldacci family ran an Italian restaurant in Bangor. Momma Baldacci’s became a meeting place known for its food, conversation, and community atmosphere. To highlight and help issues in the community and around the state the Baldacci’s started charity spaghetti dinners. They’ve held numerous charity dinners over the years, from helping the homeless to victims of Hurricane Katrina to helping the homeless. 

The restaurant closed in 2008 but the Baldacci’s still have a catering business, which Paul Baldacci runs. As it says on his website it’s, “A legendary restaurant in Bangor, Maine 1933-2008. Reincarnated as an eclectic fast casual Italian food truck.”

Learn more about Paul’s food truck go here