BY RAMONA DU HOUX
June 16th, 2013
Governor John Baldacci hosted a spaghetti supper at the Lewiston High School, on June 12, 2013 for the Lewiston Fire Relief Fund. Thousands of dollars was raised as the community came to bond together and help their neighbors.
“We’re pleased to see a great turn out. There were over 275 people here tonight enjoying each other’s company for a good cause,” said Governor John Baldacci.
Devastating fires on April 29, May 3 and May 6 in downtown Lewiston displaced nearly 200 people and destroyed nine apartment buildings. After the fires Governor Baldacci contacted the United Way of Androscoggin to help create a community gathering that would also raise funds for the victims.
“Folks came out tonight and came together to help rebuild their community, we just supplied a place for it to happen, with a good meal,” added the governor.
The United Way of Androscoggin is the agency in charge of the relief effort. While many of the immediate needs of the fire victims have been met there are still numerous items the charity has yet to buy, like school supplies and cloths for Maine’s upcoming winter season. It’s a continuous effort until all the victims are safe and sound in new homes.
“The community outpouring for the relief effort has been great. But it’s an ongoing relief effort. We’ll still need backpacks, shoes and winter supplies,” said Joleen Bedard, United Way of Androscoggin Executive Director. “People really came together, as they have done so tonight. I can’t say enough about this great community.”
It will also take time for families and the community to heal.
Ashley and her son, Jacoby just three years old, and daughter, Liana age six, were victims of a Lewiston fire. They were all smiles after Governor Baldacci filled their plates with his homemade spaghetti and posed for photos with him.
“We’re doing a lot better,” said Ashley. “It’s great to have the governor here. All this help and support has made it easier for us.”
Governor Baldacci was in the kitchen all afternoon preparing the spaghetti personally, and adding the Baldacci family secret ingredients to the sauce.
“In Maine neighbors help neighbors, it’s what we do. The supper was our way of saying we are all in this together. We’re all here to help,” said Baldacci.
Donations of $5 were suggested but contributions of all sizes came in. All the proceeds went to the United Way of Androscoggin County Lewiston relief effort.
No matter how patrons tried to get the former governor to give out the secret to his spaghetti sauce they couldn’t. However, many complemented him on how wonderful it all tasted.
“It was great,” said Emily Cooke, an attorney from Peirce Atwood who volunteered and brought her family along. “It’s a fun family event and we wanted to help the families of Lewiston. “The girls loved the sauce.”
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 sate the Baldacci’s started charity spaghetti dinners.
When John Baldacci ran for office he started to hold spaghetti suppers around the state, and all proceeds went to help a local charity. Throughout his years in congress and as governor he continued to hold the dinners for communities and causes in need.
His team from the Momma Baldacci’s restaurant helped out at the Lewiston Fire Relief dinner, along with fourteen volunteers from Pierce Atwood, where John Baldacci is now the senior advisor of economic development and government relations, and staff from the United Way.