Four hundred people – staff members, volunteers, donors and community partner organizations – gathered for Preble Street’s annual meeting and buffet dinner June 18 at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, recognizing the work the nonprofit does in serving 5,000 Mainers a year living in poverty.
Preble Street Teen Center resident Moriah Beaudette sang “A Change Is Gonna Come,” gaining confidence as the crowd cheered her on. She was accompanied by Maine Academy of Modern Music instructor Ahmad Hassan Muhammed, who teaches at the teen center, encouraging residents to express themselves through music.
“This event always has the feeling to me of a revival meeting,” said Herb Janick, who led the Preble Street board of directors for the past three years.
The issues are serious and complicated, given that Preble Street works with people who are experiencing homelessness and hunger. But at its heart, the annual meeting is a love fest, recognizing the people who make change come – whether it’s for one person at a time or when an influx of asylum seekers arrive.
“Preble Street does a tremendous amount across a wide spectrum,” said incoming board chair John Roberts, touching on emergency services, finding permanent solutions and advocacy at the city, state and federal levels.
“This is important,” said Lisa Gorman, whose late husband Leon Gorman was president of L.L. Bean and a regular Preble Street volunteer for 13 years.
“When he retired, my father started his Wednesday mornings cooking breakfast at Preble Street,” said Jennifer Wilson, one of Gorman’s children and a member of the Preble Street board of directors.
“I took his spot on the grill,” said E.J. Lovett of Cape Elizabeth, attending the dinner with his wife, Lynne. “We were fishing buddies, and when he got sick, I took over. We work the breakfast shift on Wednesday at the community center and Friday at Florence House. I cook; Lynne serves.”
Tyler Technologies received the Leon Gorman Volunteer of the Year Award for bringing 60 or more volunteers to the Preble Street kitchen each year – and for donating 10,000 pairs of socks, a result of departments competing against each other.
“It’s the best win-win,” said Tyler Technologies President Chris Hepburn. “It pulls the departments together, and we’re a better company because of it.”
Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at: