The first member-elected Board of the Androscoggin Food Co-op was chosen at the first Annual Meeting of Member-owners, held online on Tuesday, October 20th.


Materials reviewed at the Annual Meeting:


Prior to the Annual Meeting, all fully-paid Member-owners of the Co-op were invited to vote online for the 2020-21 Board of Directors.

We’d like to introduce the 2020 Board of Directors, all of whom are Member-owners of the co-op!


SARAH CLEMMITT

My name is Sarah Clemmitt and I moved to Randolph 14 years ago from the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC where my husband, Bill, and I (and our then toddler daughter) ran a hostel on the Appalachian Trail for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. I teach physics and chemistry at Gorham Middle High School as well as coordinate the advisory program. Although I grew up in the Washington DC area, my husband and I spent a several years living in Hawaii. In Randolph I have served on the Conservation Committee and the Friends of the Randolph Library. Currently I am a member of the third cohort of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund’s Community Practitioners Network. I love living in this region and can often be found hiking, skiing, or kayaking.

I believe that many people are interested in bringing a strong, healthy food market to the Berlin-Gorham area. So many people I know, myself included, keep a cooler in the back of the car so they can shop at Co-ops and quality grocery stores as they head home from places other than here. That is so sad. There is no doubt that our residents and our guests would prefer to shop nearer to home. I have both the interest and the skill set to be a part of bringing this Co-op to the next level, and as such would love to serve on the Androscoggin Food Co-op Board.


ROLANDA DUCHESNE

My husband Mitch (Michael) and I have been married for 36 years and are residents of Milan for the past 41 years.  Together we raised my two children and they have blessed us with six grandchildren aged from 10 to 21 years old.  Any time we have together as a family is always special.

Prior to my retirement five years ago I served our communities as the Executive Director of the Androscoggin Valley United Way, which expanded to the United Way of Northern NH, covering northern Carroll County and all of Coos County and finally merging with Granite United Way when I became the Community Impact Director for the Northern Region of Granite United Way.

In the 34 years of my position with the United Way, I earned the trust of my Board of Directors to expand and adjust the perimeters of my position and job description to meet the changing needs of our communities. I am a leader and a team player and my years of service have provided me with a strong history of our community needs and demographics.  I have served on numerous Boards and Advisory Boards throughout the State expanding my knowledge base, fields of expertise and contacts.  Presently, I serve as the Welfare Officer for the Town of Milan.

It is common knowledge that northern NH is an underserved area for food resources. When I was still employed by the United Way I attended many of the original meetings exploring the feasibility of bringing a food Co-Op to our communities.  Let’s say I have already tasted the Kool-aid and feel strongly that it is needed.  Our early membership in the Co-Op demonstrates our commitment.  I hope my social service experience; business management skills and financial expertise will serve to help bring this effort to a reality.  I look forward to being able to purchase quality, locally raised fruits, produce, meats and products.


PETER HIGBEE

I first came to Berlin in 1977 to interview for a job as a Head Start Teacher. That job led to a 37-year career with Tri-County CAP with positions including Head Start Director, TCCAP Deputy Director and eventually COO of the agency. My responsibilities, in addition to program support and development, included IT and Human Resource management. I retired in 2016.

Originally from Boston, I moved to Franconia, NH, in 1974, living there until buying a home in Berlin in 2005. I’ve been a member of BIDPA for 12 years, Berlin City Council for 9 years, and serve on the Nansen Ski Club Board. I am currently Vice-Chair of the initial incorporating Board of the Androscoggin Food Co-op.

Because I see the direct relationship between food and health, I am excited to be part of a growing community of folks committed to bringing high quality, fresh food, locally and regionally sourced, to the area. It delights me that this group has identified as priorities working closely with farmers and producers, operating a business that offers fair wages and excellent working conditions to employees, and affordable access to customers.

I know that all this is not simple, and takes time, but I am confident that we have identified the steps and the expert guidance it will take to be successful. Because I am retired, I have had the time to participate in two national conferences offering training from those experts, as well as dozens of in-person and online sessions with other Co-ops in the northeast and nationally, sharing questions, successes and best practices of co-op start-ups like ours. I love to share what I am learning with other AFC volunteers and Board members.


SHAWN MARQUIS

My name is Shawn Marquis and I am a native of Berlin. After graduating from Berlin High in 1992, I lived in Boston for 25 years playing music and working as a fraud investigator for a popular travel website. With the desire to live closer to family, I returned home to Berlin in 2018 and have thrown myself into serving my community.

Aside from presenting music, art, and history projects in the area, I am involved in the community as the Vice President of the Nansen Ski Club and as a student in the Tillotson Fund’s “Community Practitioner’s Network.” I have worked over the last year and a half with the Androscoggin Food Co-op board.

What inspires me about creating a co-operative grocery store is that we will be fortifying and strengthening our community on a number of fronts. Local farmers and producers will earn more for their goods by dealing directly with our store. Quality, enjoyable jobs will be created. Local residents will enjoy fresh, nutritious produce; and our grocery shopping dollars will go back into our community. I think it is important that we transform the food source for the North Country from relying on products being flown and shipped to us from various countries, into a network of local farmers and producers with whom we work directly.


TOM MCCUE

Hello, I’m Tom McCue. I grew up in the Greater Boston area and graduated from Boston College in 1977. In 1988, I decided to make a career change and attended Franklin Pierce Law Center (n/k/a University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law) earning a Juris Doctor degree in 1991. Rather than return to Boston (my original plan,) I “hung out my shingle as a small-town country lawyer” based in Loudon, New Hampshire.

In 2006, I moved to Berlin where I continue my law practice and have been involved in community activities. I serve on the Berlin Planning Board, the Board of Directors and as Treasurer of the Berlin Main Street Program and on the Board of Directors of Androscoggin Valley Hospital.

During our lives, we realize the importance of a healthy diet. Here in the Androscoggin Valley, we find ourselves with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. We live in a “food desert.” The coronavirus pandemic has suddenly and acutely made all of us aware of the fragility of our food supply system. The Androscoggin Food Co-op will provide quality, locally-sourced food for sale at a local business run by its member-owners. Also, just as the pandemic has provided an opportunity to band together as a community to help each other, so, too, will our food co-op provide a chance to come together and solve a problem. Thank you.


JOAN MERRILL

I am a retired English and ESL teacher with more than 30 years in education, teaching in middle schools, high schools and colleges in NH, ME, and MD. I received my M.Ed. from Antioch University.

My husband, Dick, and I moved to Berlin 23 years ago, as this is where we wanted to retire. I currently volunteer at AVH and the Response Domestic & Sexual Violence Support Center. Since moving to Berlin, I have been a Berlin City Councilor, past President and Board member of Coos County Family Health, past Board member of United Way of Northern NH, former Commissioner of the Berlin Water Works and the Berlin Housing Authority. I am currently on the AVH Board of Directors.

I grew up in Keene, NH, and my husband and I raised our two children in South Berwick, ME. I have two grown grandchildren, one in college and the other in grad school.

I have been a member-owner of the Androscoggin Food Co-op since its beginning. I joined because here in the North Country we don’t have many choices when it comes to groceries, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. We can always travel a little to get what we need, but many don’t have that option. An area Co-op is the perfect solution, especially since it is owned and operated by its consumers. Member-owners have a vested interest in what they and their families put on the table. Shop locally has never meant more.


MEAG POIRIER

I recently made my return to the Androscoggin Valley after 14 years away. I love hiking and trail running and was drawn back to the mountains and the potential in our unique community. I’m very happy to be back!

I studied business administration and accounting in college and gravitated toward marketing, management, and tourism soon after. I immersed in the community of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, for several years working with a major camping resort, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Town of Old Orchard Beach. I started a company called Wild Roots and began freelancing for clients in 2018 while traveling and writing online about tiny living.

I’m passionate about health and cooking. I enjoy photography, gardening, writing and a bit of beginner-level piano playing in my free time! I also volunteer for the Botanical Garden Club.

Why a co-op?! This challenging year has brought to light that food insecurity is a substantial issue worthy of our effort and attention. A local co-op that provides affordable and nutritious food options year-round for our community would be an incredible step forward. I also believe it would serve to strengthen our sense of community overall in the Androscoggin Valley — we matter and we deserve better. Supporting local farmers is a bonus too! I love this area and want to see it thrive.