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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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The house that generosity built

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As I walked through a newly-constructed post and beam house on Mount Desert Island, I was struck by two things: the incredible views of Frenchmans Bay from every window and the incredible craftsmanship. I would love to be able to tell you I was checking out this house to buy it. Unfortunately, my bank account can’t afford that view. But I was fortunate that the contractor who built the house reached out to me because he knows I’m committed to growing and supporting Maine’s business community and he wanted to tell me the story of this house.

Just down the hill from this new house lives a woman with a large bank account and an even larger heart. Through a series of unexpected twists and turns she found herself with a decision to make: to build or not to build that house on the lot that she owns. She doesn’t need a house, and she doesn’t need to sell it for money. She decided to build it for the sole purpose of providing jobs for people in her community. Five years later, I had the privilege of seeing the result of Maine workers who because of her generosity were able to put food on their tables in spite of the challenging economic times.

The contractor who worked with her to direct the project and hire the subs gave me a tour and shared the stories behind the granite countertops, the light fixtures, the wash tub in the laundry room, the hardwood floors, the paint on the bedroom walls, the built in shelves, the native stone fireplace, the sunken tub and the landscape. The stories were not about the work; they were about the people behind the work and their commitment to excellence, to customer service and to getting it right.

He told me about the woman who finished the wooden doors on the closets and how she did them over and over again until she got it right. The landscaping guy who went above and beyond to make certain the land around the house made the best use of native stone and worked until he got it better than right. The craftsman who crafted shelves behind the washer/dryer to allow easy access to the plumbing and useful space to store laundry supplies. The carpenter who built in shelving units and made certain they were built to outlive him. With every step through this post and beam beauty, the contractor beamed with pride about a project that was much more than a house. This is truly a project that showcases the best of Maine - our beautiful natural resources and our hard working people who take great pride in doing their best work. It’s also the story of one person who made a difference by selflessly investing in a project to provide opportunities for others.

This house will soon be rented to a young gentleman who grew up in Maine, left, and is now returning with his wife and two children to take a position in education to give back to the state he calls home. What a perfect family to occupy this Maine house as they begin their future of making a positive contribution to this place that I and so many others are so proud to call home.

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