Friday, March 29, 2024

Nonprofit Spotlight: Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing

As the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing celebrates its fifth anniversary this spring and gears up for another year of working on projects helping community residents in need, volunteers are sought to put their faith into practice and become the change they want to see in this world.

The Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing celebrates
its fifth anniversary this year and is seeking volunteers to
work on this year's home repair projects for those in need
in the community. COURTESY PHOTO 
The mission of the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing remains to make a difference in the communities of Raymond, Standish, and Windham by providing safe and adequate housing repairs for those who are aging in place. The nonprofit organization is run entirely by volunteers who can sign up to volunteer and donate any amount of time to assisting in making home repairs and other tasks for veterans and seniors locally.

An affiliate of the nonprofit national Fuller Center for Housing, the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing was founded by representatives from Raymond Village Community Church, Faith Lutheran Church, North Windham Union Church, Windham Hill UCC, Unity Center for Spiritual Growth, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church and Saint Joseph’s College and provides a wide range of home repair, clean-up, and home rehabilitation services to qualified senior residents.

“I am so proud to be celebrating our five-year anniversary,” said Diane Dunton Bruni, the chair, president, and a founding member of the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing. “When 12 community members met in July 2019, I would never have dreamed that we would have the impact upon the community in the way that we have. Helping veterans and seniors age safely in their homes by volunteers repairing homes is truly faith in action.”

She said that the group’s first project was in 2020 and from 2020 to 2023, a total of 46 projects for 30 different local families were completed by 146 Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing volunteers who contributed 3,286 volunteer hours.

The national Fuller Center for Housing was established by Millard and Linda Fuller, who also created Habitat for Humanity. The Fullers and a group of like-minded partners founded The Fuller Center for Housing in 2005 as a return and recommitment to proven and effective grass roots, faith-based principles of helping others in need.

“Hope is essential in life,” Dunton Bruni said. “What we are doing is we are giving hope.”

Jim McBride, the chair of Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing’s Family Committee, said that becoming a volunteer for the group is inspiring.

“It warms my heart to serve with others from our faith community to help people in need right here in Windham, Raymond, and Standish. The families we serve are always so grateful that our volunteers not only fix their homes, but also care enough to develop deep and lasting friendships,” McBride said. “It is truly a blessing to be able to help families in need across our community. As awareness of Sebago Fuller Housing has grown over the past four-plus years, we have been able to tackle more projects with more talented volunteers and local contractors. Thank you for the very generous funding support from caring individuals, businesses, and partner churches throughout the community.”

According to McBride, Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing is currently preparing its list of projects for this year.

“We currently have 13 active projects, most of which are held over from last year,” he said. “Several of these jobs involve roof repairs or replacing the old roof, building a new roof over a wheelchair ramp, replacing an old deck with a smaller covered porch, minor electrical repairs, winterizing two doorways, replacing storm doors and windows. We do some spring and fall clean-ups, and some painting projects as well as tree/branch removal as needed. Most of our focus is on repairs to keep the residents safe and warm, rather than just aesthetic requests.”

McBride said they are planning a project day for April 27 to collaborate with the PowerServe Community Day of Service held each year and the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing will likely have at least one project day for volunteers each month right through the summer and fall in 2024.

To help cover the costs of some of the larger projects this year, the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing is conducting a $25,000 community fundraiser. Dunton Bruni said that the group will be announcing a new gala fundraising event soon but also welcomes donations at www.sebagofullerhousing.org.

"It is so important to have people be able to stay safely in their homes and to know that they don’t have to leave at a time that they just want to have the memories and feel comforted by what’s around them,” she said.

To volunteer to help with this year’s projects, send an email to sebagofullerhousinginfo@gmail.com. <

Friday, March 22, 2024

Business Spotlight: 4Health Family Medicine

Like many others in the medical profession, Dr. Su-Anne Hammond of Windham wants to return to spending more time with her patients, having the time to listen to their concerns and focusing on a direct relationship between the patient and the physician. With her new practice 4Health Family Medicine, she’s able to do just that.

Dr. Su-Anne Hammond, DO, has opened
4Health Family Medicine in Windham,
a Direct Primary Care practice.
COURTESY PHOTO
Located at 32 Tandberg Trail Unit 6 in Windham, 4Health Family Medicine offers Direct Primary Care (DPC), a more personalized approach to medicine. Through direct primary care, patients are billed directly and pay a monthly membership fee allowing for transparent pricing and no hidden fees.

“Direct Patient Care is a national movement that brings back the genuine doctor-patient relationship,” Dr. Hammond said. “4Health Family Medicine looks forward to partnering with you to be a part of an improved healthcare relationship.”

A board-certified family medicine physician, Dr. Hammond provides care for patients at 4Health Family Medicine with acute illnesses and offers chronic disease management and preventive healthcare.

“As a Direct Primary Care (DPC) Physician I can do these services over longer appointments, allowing me more time for personalized, individual care of each patient,” she said. “DPC also allows me the time for providing services not often done at traditional primary care offices like laceration repair, same-day sick visits, skin procedures, nutrition and exercise counseling, and osteopathic manipulation, to name a few.”

The benefits of 4Health Family Medicine include having direct access to your physician through phone, text, and email, more relaxed appointments, and more affordable costs.

“The most important thing I can share is for someone who is interested in having a more direct relationship with their doctor is they should reach out and schedule a meet n’ greet appointment with me,” Dr. Hammond said. “Insurances and costs can be intimidating, but there are a lot of benefits to DPC that make my care valuable in the access and convenience, as well as the cost. A great example is texting the office at 8 a.m. with symptoms of an infection, being seen that day and leaving the office with the medication treatment you need in hand.”

She is open to seeing patients from any geographic area at 4Health Family Medicine and pricing is competitive.

“DPC pricing is aimed to be affordable and transparent to help reduce the burden of high healthcare costs, especially unexpected costs, fees and high deductibles,” Dr. Hammond said. “My costs are in alignment with the median pricing for other DPCs in Cumberland County.”

Dr. Hammond has practiced family medicine in Southern Maine for more than 20 years and knew from a young age that she wanted to become a physician.

“I don't have a great ‘why’ story. I told my parents I wanted to be a doctor before I even started kindergarten,” she said. “My parents were very young when I was born, my dad worked for the Maine Central Railroad and my mom was a stay-at-home mother,” she said. “My best guess is the idea came from something I saw on tv. I think many people kind of chuckled at the idea that I would go to medical school since I was from a lower middle-class family, but it was all I ever wanted, and I truly spent my whole life focusing on that one goal.”

The new 4Health Family Medicine practice allows Dr. Hammond to return to the reasons she became a physician originally.

“There is a saying I've learned in DPC that ‘if you've seen 1 DPC, you've seen 1 DPC,’ Dr. Hammond said. “DPC offices are all unique to the physicians that operate them but have the common thread of removing the middleman in healthcare and focusing on a direct relationship between the patient and the physician. This lets me provide personalized care, helping people take care of themselves and educating them about their health. I’m able to do “old school” medicine here.”

Dr. Hammond said she has always taken pride in providing up-to-date, quality healthcare to her patients.

“Over the years there have been so many barriers that interfere with that,” she said. “I am looking forward to direct communication, long appointment times and really having high-quality relationships with my patients. Many of my current patients have expressed genuine support and have already registered to be a patient at 4Health.”

To learn more about 4Health Family Medicine, visit www.4healthfamilymedicine.com or call 207-544-4564. Find them on Facebook and Instagram under 4HealthFamilyMedicine.<

Friday, March 15, 2024

Business Spotlight: Hilltop Boilers

It's a magical time of year for Hilltop Boilers Maple Syrup in Newfield and as the popular business gets ready for their annual Maine Maple Weekends™ starting this Saturday, there’s never been a better time to experience what the award-winning business has to offer.

Hilltop Boilers in Newfield is family owned and operated
and provides exceptional maple products and a sugarhouse
not to be missed in Maine. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Owned and operated by the Bryant Family, Hilltop Boilers at 159 Elm Street in Newfield takes pride in its exceptional maple products and making it worth your while every time you visit. Its unique sugarhouse is worth the drive and until you’ve tasted genuine maple syrup produced by Hilltop Boilers, you’re missing out on one of the sweetest tastes in Maine.

“When we were teenagers, we started tapping trees along the roadside,” said Michael Bryant, one of the co-owners of Hilltop Boilers along with his brother Mark Bryant and their wives. “Neither of us had a license to drive but we pushed a hand dolly up and down the road with a little sap tank on it. We built our first sugarhouse in high school and added on to it in the late 1990s. In 2017, we flattened that sugarhouse and built a new modern one. Since we moved into that building, we have grown unbelievably and aren't sure what we are going to do next. Our sales tripled in 2023 from what they were the year before COVID. We desperately need a bigger sugarhouse and more space.”

It’s truly a family business as Michael and Mark’s brother, Matthew, also works a lot of hours for Hilltop Boilers. Michael's wife Jen works full-time for the business and Bryant kids, John (17), and twins Thomas and Julia (14) work as much as they can outside of school for them.

“We are a sugarhouse that provides our customers with all things maple. We have a retail store that has been voted ‘Best of the 207’ for two years in a row. It is unlike any farm store you will find in Maine with high end cabinetry, a model train, heating and air conditioning, high ceilings, and awesome d├ęcor,” Michael Bryant said. “We see tens of thousands of visitors through our store each year. We also deliver syrup to restaurants in southern Maine, some well-known ones too. Places like Becky’s and the Miss Portland Diner get regular deliveries. We work with Goodwill stores and have maple booths in all of their southern Maine stores giving them a large share of the profits. We also deliver to many other retail and convenience stores such as the Rusty Lantern Market stores. We collaborate with many companies, such as the Maine Needham Company, Box of Maine, The Scone Goddess, and Coastal Maine Popcorn, to supply them with maple products as an ingredient for their products. We have a large online presence and ship maple products all over the United States with California, Florida, and Texas being our three largest states we ship to, outside of Maine.”

What sets Hilltop Boilers apart from other Maine maple producers is its year-round presence, highly competitive prices and an amazing sugarhouse store.

“Until you have been there, it's just really hard to imagine how nice it is,” Bryant said. “The atmosphere and building are just beautiful. The scent of maple in the air, the cows in the pasture, it leaves you begging for more. Everyone cares and will work hard to see that you have a positive experience.”

Online reviews are fantastic.

“Quality and service are absolutely the best!!!” Dyanne Brewster

“Wonderful setting, friendly folks, delicious products. Don't leave without some syrup, whoopie pies and maple mustard. You'll see why they are award winners!” Bev Giddens

“Everything they do is done 'just right' with a personal touch. High quality products created by a high-quality Maine family. I highly recommend Hilltop Boilers!” Nancy Marshall

The First Maple Event Day will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 16, with hours on Maine Maple Weekend from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 23 and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 24. Another Maple Weekend will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 30. Plenty of quiet store days for those who just want to browse and shop in the Maple Store are generally from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and noon to 3 p.m. Sundays, with the exception of Maine Maple Weekend and on Easter.

To learn more about Hilltop Boilers Maple Syrup, visit https://hilltopboilersmaplesyrup.com/ or call 207-793-8850. Find them on Facebook under Hilltop Boilers Maple Syrup. <

Friday, March 8, 2024

Business Spotlight: Standard Gastropub

Standard Gastropub may be one of the best-kept secrets in the Lakes Region of Maine but for more than a decade now it’s been delighting visitors and year-round residents with some of the tastiest food in the Pine Tree State.

Standard Gastropub is at 233 Main St. in Bridgton and draws
culinary influences  from around the world. It also offers a 
vast assortment of craft and specialty beers.
COURTESY PHOTO   

Started by William Holmes, Standard Gastropub can be found at 233 Main St. in Bridgton and features delicious high-quality everyday dishes and an enormous selection of more than 200 different craft, specialty and rare/hard to find beers, house-crafted cocktails, as well as wines, and sake on tap; all offered in a comfortable setting to gather with friends or family.

Holmes grew up locally and opened the restaurant when he moved back to Maine after living and working in Massachusetts. He’s not only Standard Gastropub’s founder and owner, but also the restaurant’s head chef.

“I’ve always been creative and I like to cook” Holmes said, and with more than 20 years of working in restaurants the proof is on the plate. “Nothing compares to the feeling of instant gratification from cooking and serving someone a meal. Sharing in the joy it brings them; becoming a small part of their life, their celebration, or simply, their comfort is an unmatched feeling of success.”

Open year-round, culinary influences are drawn from street food around the world along with the rich history of American barbecue pits in the Deep South and 60’s car-hop style burger joints out west. Holmes says that the menu at Standard Gastropub changes seasonally and some of its most popular dishes include their dry-aged smash burgers and crispy Belgian style fries, Brussels sprouts, a fried chicken sandwich, and coffee rubbed smoked brisket burnt-ends. Other rotating items like the Quesabirria Beef-Dip sandwich, Musubi Mac and Cheese, poutine, unique & flavorful salads, and specialty sauces keep everyone coming back to try something new.

Plenty of gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options are available. Don’t miss their out-of-this-world Curry Ketchup, and be sure to check out Brunch, or the Thai pop-up menu offered Sunday nights 4 to 9 p.m. and Monday for lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the Spring.

Holmes says the former chef and owner of Chao Thai Restaurant, which used to be located across the street from Standard Gastropub, now offers her authentic Thai menu to keep things fresh and fun for patrons.

“We’re really a place that is adaptable and responds to changing times,” Holmes said. “We believe in serving quality 100% scratch-made food. Some may have the misconception that we’re expensive, but we offer a wide array of affordable items and are all about having fun.”

This year the restaurant is opening a new outdoor space which will seat up to 100 and offers space for yard games and activities as well as the ability to feature live music and local bands.

Online reviews are nothing less than exceptional.

“What an extraordinary spot within idyllic Bridgton – high end ‘pub’ fare (absolutely delicious every time) with a broad and exciting beer selection (draught, bottles, and cans). An exciting adventure for foodies and beer connoisseurs! The wait staff is always excellent, friendly, and helpful, and the atmosphere is both inviting bustling, and hip--a must-visit if you're in the area!” Steve Michaud

“Not that there are a lot of choices for exceptional food in Bridgton, but the Gastropub has the best food I've had in town. The Burnt Ends and Crispy Sprouts (Brussel sprouts) are exceptionally good. On top of the excellent food, the beer selection is really good as well.” Joe Mineo

“Omg the food here is amazing!!! Get the Brussel sprouts as a side and it will NOT disappoint! The fries were also delicious. Great beverages of all kinds too. Can't say enough good about the food! 5 stars is not high enough!” Karyn W.

“We stumbled upon Standard Gastropub while visiting Bridgton for the day. The food was excellent, and their assortment of beer was vast and extensive. I highly recommend the brussels sprouts, the smash burger, and the fries. The servers were all very friendly and the food was delicious. Great vibe all around.” Kaye K.

This Spring Standard Gastropub is open from noon to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays; with expanded hours to be expected for the summer season.

To learn more about Standard Gastropub or place a takeout order, visit them online at standardgastropub.com/ or call 207-647-4100. Find them on social media at standardgastropub <

Friday, March 1, 2024

Business Spotlight: Square One Contracting Services

With more than three decades of experience and a solid reputation of quality work, Square One Contracting Services is a general contracting company that performs all types of home remodeling and custom home building.

Square One Contracting Services can help transform home
remodeling projects dreams into reality no matter how
large or small and within budget. Here's a before and
after photo showing a project from studs to completion.
COURTESY PHOTO  
Owned and operated by Jason Lamprey, Square One may be new to the Lakes Region and based in Casco, but they are not inexperienced in construction. Jason started his career working in plastering in the 1990s and over the years has grown to know all aspects of construction and developed the expertise to help his customers realize their project dreams.

“We’re focused on building strong relationships with our customers, building strong relationships within our own teams and performing exceptional work,” Jason said. “All your home improvement projects should start at Square One.”

As a contractor, Jason is responsible for managing all vendors and trades working on Square One projects and serves as the focal communications point between all parties. He coordinates the projects, which involves evaluating project documents or determining the site for renovation projects. He submits fixed price bids and considers the costs of construction materials, equipment, and labor and he applies for permits, providing temporary on-site utilities, ensuring that the property is secure, managing anyone working at the site and is responsible for maintaining accurate records and monitoring cash flows for the project.

His ability to communicate effectively, attention to detail and knowledge of the business are exemplary.

“Our professionalism and organization are the major thing that sets us apart from competitors,” Jason said. “The planning and scheduling stage of a project is one of the most important. Keeping all the subcontractors and homeowners informed and updated on the project status is crucial to a successful project.”

Jason said that Square One Contracting Services pricing is based upon what a customer needs for any given project.

“If the project has a tight budget, then we give the customer options based within their price point,” he said. “If it’s a unique custom finish that they are after, then we can provide those options as well.”

Starting out in the construction business right after finishing high school, Jason said that he found the physical work and the ever-changing atmosphere of construction projects to be enjoyable and it led to eventually owning his own company and then a career in overseeing many different types of construction projects.

“To this day, the physical work and the changing project sites are two of my favorite things about construction,” he said. “The best thing about what I do is that I simply like working with customers. It’s an awesome feeling to see their excitement when the project starts to evolve and to see their faces when the project is finished. I also love the fact that I’m never in the same spot for very long.”

He says the most challenging aspect of his work is scheduling and coordinating all the different subcontractors to complete projects without significant lapses.

“It’s not easy, but I to try stay on top of things and try to mesh everything together,” Jason said. “It’s a juggling act sometimes trying to get all the personalities and skilled trades on board.”

With locations in Maine and Dudley, Massachusetts, Square One remains guided by basic expectations that project customers have come to rely on, Jason said.

“Our customers expect prompt recognition when they call or email us,” he said. “They can expect a return phone call or text that day. We believe in timely communication to keep everybody informed of every step of the process. It’s their money and their home, so we do our utmost to keep them involved so they know what’s going on.”

Square One also uses convenient Houzz Pro software in a single, easy-to-use online platform that provides updated project details to everyone involved.

For further information or to see how Square One Contracting Services can help you realize your goals, call 207-544-3183. Visit them on Facebook at Square One Contracting Services or online at www.square1cs.com <