United Way thanks longtime leader

8 years ago

By Anthony Brino

Staff Writer

IMG 2272 17859055Contributed photo/Jessica Ouellette
Sherry Locke, executive director of the United Way of Aroostook, with board president Luke Rossignol, retired executive director Claudia Stevens, and Dan Bagley, outgoing board president. Stevens retired in January 2016 after 16 years leading the nonprofit.  

The United Way of Aroostook held its annual meeting in Presque Isle, a gathering of donors and volunteers who are trying to address a range of community needs.

The breakfast session on June 8 celebrated 16 years of service by Claudia Stevens, who retired as executive director of the nonprofit philanthropic organization in January, and outlined the group’s evolving work for the future.

Stevens “challenged me, she enlightened me, she pleaded with me, at times she guilted me, and all along the way she inspired me,” said Daniel Bagley, vice president at the County Federal Credit Union, and outgoing president of the United Way of Aroostook board of director.

Under Stevens, the United Way of Aroostook started a regional version of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which sends one book a month to young children as a way to promote literacy. The group also started what is now the Northern Star student musical performance contest and fundraiser, today in its 13th year.

“It’s a little scary to lose someone like Claudia,” said Luke Rossignol, the United Way’s new board president, and a local attorney. “Even though we’re having this regime change, it’s going to be a new and exciting chapter. We’re lucky enough and worked hard to get Sherry Locke.”

Locke, the new executive director, came to the United Way after working at MMG Insurance and in retail stores, as well as in local service organizations like the Kiwanis Club.

Recently, Locke has started a new pilot literacy program, called the Summer Slide, at Presque Isle’s Pine Street School, offering 100 students backpacks filled with books for students to read throughout the summer.

The United Way’s income tax preparation assistance program also hit a record 500 of tax returns in Aroostook County this year. Rossignol said the group is meeting and exceeding its fund-raising goals to support those programs.