Danforth businessman helps student trip

14 years ago
By Elna Seabrooks
Staff Writer

    DANFORTH — A confluence of events, generosity and opportunity turned into a winning combination for all concerned with $1,000 going toward East Grand School’s (EGS) senior trip fund.

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CLASSY CLASS PROJECT — Standing behind the completed reupholstering job that raised $1,000 for East Grand’s senior class trip are, from left, Bill Potter owner of Tri-County Upholstery with students Jordan Crone and Nick Kinney.

    The small class had big dreams for a trip to Orlando in April. And, it looks like those dreams will come true partly from four years of planning and saving with a big thrust from Tri-County Upholstery. Owner Billy Potter decided to help the students with a donation of his time and labor.
    Back in August, Potter, a life-long Danforth resident and former EGS student, suggested one way he could help. Initially, he was going to support the senior trip with the donation of a chair the class could sell, auction or raffle.
    As it turned out, a customer donated a four-piece living room suite of furniture that she had purchased at upscale NYC based-retailer Bloomingdale’s. But, the furniture needed reupholstering. Potter said he and one of the senior class students, Nick Kinney, worked for about a full week on the job that wrapped up just before Christmas. Labor alone would have cost $600 according to Potter. The buyer purchased fabric at Potter’s cost for $900. It turned into a win-win situation for everyone — Potter, his customer, the buyer and the senior class.
    Samantha Emery, now living in Houlton, is a former East Grand student who bought the furniture. She said she picked out the rich red fabric which “is very nice.” Emery is a NMCC nursing student taking classes in Houlton. “I liked doing this because I can remember fund-raisers when I was a student at East Grand and this makes me feel better knowing I helped students I used to baby-sit.” Emery said she needed a living room set and her mother, who works at the school, told her about the furniture.
    “I wanted to help the class project,” said Potter who added that good word-of-mouth for his business was a bonus. Ironically, he said he wasn’t sure of the destination for his senior trip during his time at EGS. In fact, he wasn’t even sure if there was a senior trip back in ’88. “It may have been a boat ride up and down the Penobscot River,” said Potter after discussing possibilities that may have jogged his memory.
    Potter said while it was his first time helping the senior class, it won’t be his last. “I believe we will be doing this each year. I’ll donate at least one piece of furniture or a set of chairs for each senior class.” Although he learned the craft as a young man watching his family, he only took over their 40-year-old upholstery business in August of 2007.
    As for the students, “they can look forward to a trip filled with something every day in Orlando,” according to Kristen Wittine, the senior class adviser. She said they will visit various amusement parks including Blizzard Beach Water Park, Universal Studio’s Grand Bash Entertainment Extravaganza, Islands of Adventure’s medieval dinner theater and Old Town’s turn-of-the-century amusement park.
    Wittine said the students have raised money by putting in time and effort to pay for their trip. One project involved a public service day when they performed cleaning, maintenance and repair work at Brookton-Forest City Community Center. That project earned them a choice of admission to any one of four Disney parks in Florida.

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TRANSFORMED — These before and after photos of just one chair show the skill and workmanship that went into creating a beautiful new suite of furniture that was sold to support East Grand’s senior trip to Florida.