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Friends of Downtown Continue Story Gathering for Heart & Soul Project

L to R: Lee Burnett, Mary Hastings, Cat Ingraham, Ayn Hanselmann and Al Getler. Photo Credit Al Getler

by: Mary Hastings

Members of the Friends of Downtown gathered on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, to review its progress on the Community Heart & Soul project with staff members from the Community Heart & Soul Foundation, one of whom is familiar with Sanford. The group met at Frannie’s on Main Street.

“The weather was so beautiful we decided to sit at tables on the sidewalk,” said Ayn Hanselmann who owns Frannie’s with her husband, Jeff. “We enjoyed a treat Jeff baked with fresh blueberries picked the day before.”

The group first reviewed the success of last weekend’s car show. Kimberly Stewart of Partners Bank reported that all participants and those in attendance were very happy with the event.

“It was so much fun to see the reaction to the cars,” said Stewart who is also a car enthusiast. “And there were some really great cars.”

Story gathering is a major part of the Community Heart & Soul process, and the car show was used to both make people aware of the process and to gather stories.

Lee Burnett, who has volunteered to gather residents’ stories, updated the group on his activities. The group agreed more stories needed to be gathered and discussed ways to include more community members under 40 years old. Community Heart and Soul coach, Cat Ingraham, suggested approaching the high school.

“In the past, I have had high school students use this as a project,” said Ingraham. It was suggested by Burnett that students could interview their grandparents and then the grandparents could interview the students. The group is hoping to connect with a teacher who will want to take on this project.

Also in attendance at the meeting was the national Community Heart & Soul’s new vice president, Al Getler. Getler considered his visit to Sanford a homecoming as his family used to visit each year when his now 30-something daughters were little.

“Our friends lived on Bauneg Beg Pond where they built a home,” said Getler. “We stayed at the Sanford Inn as we enjoyed the pond and days at the beach. Sanford was our yearly vacation destination.”

Mary Hastings, Small Business Advocate with the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council, gave Getler and Ingraham a walking tour of Main Street and discussed the façade grants available to businesses that want to improve their business frontage.

“These grants are available right now,” said Hastings. “They are there for downtown businesses to take full advantage.”

The Community Heart & Soul process is still in need of volunteers to gather stories and lead events. Contact for more information.

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