The Star-Herald

‘Boomerangs’ event at Northeastland Hotel brings together new and lifelong Mainers

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — More than 50 residents of Aroostook County who gathered on Dec. 2 at the Northeastland Hotel swapped stories about why they have chosen to call Aroostook County their home.

The Northeastland Hotel hosted a “Welcome Home” event for both lifelong Maine residents, as well as those who have recently chosen to call the state home. The event was sponsored by Live and Work in Maine, Momentum Aroostook, Aroostook Partnership, the Center for Business Growth and the Northern Maine Development Commission.

Attendees were greeted upon arrival with name cards in two colors. Wearing a red name card meant that you had been a lifelong Maine resident, and having a blue name card meant that you had either “boomeranged” back to Maine, or had recently chosen to move here.

Newer faces, like Van Buren resident Juan Morales, moved to The County from Massachusetts. “I knew I wanted to end up in northern Maine,” Morales said.

Others, like Houlton resident Nancy Ketch, have been living in Maine all their lives so far. “I love Maine,” Ketch said. “I knew that if I went away to school and wanted to come back after, then that’s where I would need to be.”

After the majority of attendees arrived, Ignite PI Director of Community Innovation Clint Deschene thanked everyone for coming, and handed the microphone over to Live and Work in Maine Director of Engagement Katie Shorey. Shorey thanked residents for attending, and was excited to be able to have a presence in the county. She and her organization aim to help people build a community, and help businesses in Maine grow.

Vice President of the United Insurance Group Todd Saucier gave a brief presentation about the goals of the Aroostook Partnership, and was followed by Communications Coordinator at MMG Insurance Ginger Buck, who gave a brief presentation on Momentum Aroostook. The Aroostook Partnership aims to promote economic development in the county, and Momentum Aroostook provides residents opportunities for professional and social collaboration.

Attendees were then presented with an icebreaker challenge, as a means of getting better acquainted with one another. Papers with Aroostook County-related ice breaker questions were distributed to each person. The goal was for participants to find out the name of the person who had done a listed activity, such as skiing down Big Rock Mountain or spotting a moose in Aroostook County, and write it down.

Completing the sheet would act as a ticket to win one of the event’s door prizes, which were gift cards for restaurants in Aroostook County such as The Irish Setters Pub in Presque Isle and Par & Grill in Caribou. There were also free shirts and glasses for people to take home.

It was during this challenge, that a room full of strangers and acquaintances shifted into a community. Despite coming from different towns and backgrounds, the questions brought people together. Questions turned into stories, and those stories portrayed an engaged community, eager to share their experiences with each other.

Most people could have stopped once they had the answer they needed, but taking the extra time to listen to someone else’s story was a demonstration of how supportive and nurturing the community of Aroostook County can be.

“I am so thrilled with the people I met,” Shorey said. “This is such a great community, and organizations like Momentum Aroostook are ideal ways for people to get plugged in. It is great to see so many people proud to live and work in this beautiful part of the state.”

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