Volunteers + Generosity = Eastman


The ramp-building crew, from left: Jerry Edwards, Dave Wood, John Larrabee, Phil Webber,  David Philippy and Frank Campisi

The ramp-building crew, from left: Jerry Edwards, Dave Wood, John Larrabee, Phil Webber, David Philippy and Frank Campisi

By Phil Webber

How do you get six retired men to spend three days working outside in frigid January weather?
(a) Let them use saws, drills, levels, ladders, and extension cords “just because”
(b) Promise them a lunch prepared by an award-winning chef
(c)  Identify a good cause
(d)  All of the above

Yup, the correct answer is “d.” “All of the above”

With The Center under construction, Eastman’s concessionaire, Bistro Nouveau, relocated to the South Cove Activity Center for two primary reasons: to provide food and beverage service to Eastman members as well as to the public, and to provide steady work for the kitchen and wait staff so that they are retained and ready to go when the renovated Center re-opens later this spring.

Because the commercial catering license belongs to Peppermint Patty’s snack shack located behind the South Cove Activity Center, the Bistro prepared the food that building. However, a significant distance between the two buildings required a ramp to be built to wheel carts from one building to the other; the ramp, however, was out in the open. When members of the Restaurant Advisory Committee voiced concerns about Bistro staff walking back and forth between buildings in the elements, the ramp-enclosure project was born.

Two groups of people became involved with the project: those who are skilled and enjoy building projects, and those who are better at writing checks than at hammering nails. With permission from ECA General Manager Ken Ryder, I assembled a team that worked under the auspices of both Chief Maintenance Officer Mike Gornnert and Chief Community Living Officer Leslie Moses. I first recruited John Larrabee, Dave Wood, David Philippy, and Jerry Edwards – all men who enjoy working with tools and who responded with enthusiasm. Two of the team suggested that Frank Campisi join the crew, but more on that later.

Because my knee, back, and shoulder have “issues” that prevent me from doing any heavy lifting, my task fell to raising funds for the materials. The response from Eastman Members was heart-warming, to say the least. It took only six conversations to raise the necessary funds, with each donor independently asking, “How much do you need?”, adding “Let me know if you need more,” and asking to remain anonymous.

Despite the weather, the construction team could not have had more fun. The project moved along quickly and smoothly, even without a designated “foreman.” When we finished the majority of the construction by the end of the third day, Bistro Chef/Owner Doug Langevin and Front-of-the-House Manager Krystal Mulvey, and the whole Bistro team were greatly appreciative.

And, as if it were planned, Bistro’s sold-out trivia night the following weekend came complete with wind, rain, snow, and ice. The newly covered 80-foot ramp between the buildings protected the staff not only from the discomfort of bad weather but also from uncertain and unsafe walking conditions.

Back to Frank. I knew the project would be a success when Frank walked into our second planning meeting with a 1:12 scale model of what the finished product would look like.

Old men with tools—simply awesome!

Phil Webber is a 20-year Eastman resident who spent his working life in offices but grew up working weekends and summers in his dad’s hardware store. He chairs the Restaurant Advisory Committee.

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