Groundhog Karma

Groundhog Karma

From the desk of John Zavodny, President

Every Groundhog Day I think about karma. I used to teach a class called “Eastern Thought for Western People.” It was pretty much what it sounds like. The version of karma that made the most sense to my students (and me) was a lot like the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. In the film, Bill is trapped repeating the same day—Groundhog Day—until he learns whatever it is he was supposed to learn.

The lesson his character eventually grasps seems to be something like “Don’t be selfish.” He was really selfish at the beginning of the film. Along the way he uses his knowledge of what will happen to manipulate circumstances and he often ends up pretty miserable. But he also learns to make ice sculptures and play the piano. That was nice. When he grows out of his selfishness, he is released from the Groundhog Day trap. Oh, I should have said “spoiler alert” for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie. I haven’t seen it in a long time, but I bet it holds up.

Mission President John Zavodny

The lesson is some combination of compassion, trusting people and institutions who deserve our trust, and a whole lot of selflessness. Also, play music.

– John Zavodny, President

So, one version of karma—the version that doesn’t have anything to do with reincarnation—is that we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over until we learn our lesson. Then we stop the cycle of negative behavior and a better future is unlocked. 

I feel a little like our current situation with Covid-19 is like this version of karma: we’re going to have to keep living in this repetitive trap until we learn our lessons and escape. What’s the lesson? Well, if I knew that I’d be on the radio like Dr. Nirav Shah instead of on the Covid wheel with everyone else. I would guess the lesson is some combination of compassion, trusting people and institutions who deserve our trust, and a whole lot of selflessness. Also, play more music. A lot like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day

At the Maine Seacoast Mission, we are on the Covid wheel with everyone else. Just as one afterschool program shuts down, we hire a new site coordinator and reopen another one. Food comes into our food pantry and goes out to those who need it. We plan an island Christmas potluck only to cancel because infection rates get too high. Then we adjust and plan a different event. We vaccinate and boost whomever we can. We Zoom and Zoom and Zoom. Now is the hard part. Sticking with it over time. And the Mission is built for this. Having served isolated communities in Maine since 1905, it’s not even our first pandemic. 

Until we all learn whatever it is we need to learn from the pandemic and get off the Covid wheel together, the Mission will be there. It was easier to stay focused in the beginning of the pandemic. Things were scary, but they were also different and interesting. Two years into it and the relentlessness of the whole thing is obviously wearing. And yet the Mission is here for our communities on the outer islands and in Downeast coastal Maine. And we will be here, as we have been here since forever. Well, 1905. Learning together with our communities so that we can be a little kinder, a little smarter, a little more resilient, and a little more open the next time we have lessons to learn. 

Mission Provides 210 Lbs Meat to Island Food Pantry

Mission Provides 210 Lbs Meat to Island Food Pantry

Photo courtesy Terry Staples.

NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME – Two weeks into the New Year, Island Health Director Sharon Daley, RN noticed on Facebook a call for help from Terry Staples at Swan’s Island Bread of Life Food Pantry. While no one was on duty, the pantry freezer quit. “The end result,” wrote Mr. Staples, “was the loss of several hundred pounds of meat.” It will take time to replace the freezer, said Terry. Meanwhile, “if you are…grocery shopping and…could pickup a couple extra meats for us it would be a great help…,” he said.

Sharon asked Mission President John Zavodny and Downeast Director Mel Adams if the Mission could help the Swan’s Island food pantry. The answer was: Yes.

Mission Food Security and Sustainability Programs Coordinator Megan Smith partnered with Downeast Campus Facilities Manager Scott Shaw. They identified ten frozen turkeys and 210 pounds of additional frozen meats which Scott Shaw delivered 45-miles from Cherryfield to Northeast Harbor.

Meanwhile, Terry Staples told Sharon Daley the mail boat to Swan’s Island from Bass Harbor would transport the meat one hour over the water if the Mission could get the meat to the ferry by 11:00 am Monday, January 24.

On the 24th, Sharon Daley and Mel Adams received an email from Megan Smith. She said, “The frozen meat and turkeys are on the ferry heading to Swans Island…. I am so glad that we could help Terry and the Swans Island pantry.”

For more information on the Mission’s Food Security program:

Thank you Thursday to the Mission Vaccine Team

Thank you Thursday to the Mission Vaccine Team

It’s Thank you Thursday. Today’s shout out of Mission love goes to the entire Mission Covid Vaccine Team.

Mission President John Zavodny, Island Health Services Director Sharon Daley, Island Outreach Director & Chaplain Douglas Cornman, and Mission Board member, Jill Goldthwait express their thanks during a mini-Sunbeam “thank you” cruise to the many good people who helped make a success the months long vaccination clinics on the several islands.

Maureen Giffin, RN, Peggy Akers, NP, EMTs, boat captains, pharmacists, and to everyone who said, “Yes” – we will do what it takes to get this done – thank you. With your help and knowledge 343 people were vaccinated over a three-month period.

This is what community looks like.

Sunbeam Gala 2021 – A Festive Evening of Friends

Sunbeam Gala 2021 – A Festive Evening of Friends

A view of the Sunbeam Award Gala 2021 at the Bar Harbor Club. The large tent used is partially visible.

NOTE: Thank you to Mission Director of Administration Ann Cox Halkett and Development Operations Associate Thomas Thompson for this Sunbeam Award Gala 2021 recap.

NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — The Mission’s 2021 Sunbeam Award Gala was a great success, a joy to gather in Bar Harbor to honor Sigma Kappa and Acadia Senior College. The August 12 event celebrated two extraordinary organizations — Acadia Senior College and Sigma Kappa. Both have made great contributions to strong communities on Mount Desert Island, including the women of Sigma Kappa who have steadfastly supported the Mission for over 100 years

The gala was held on the Bar Harbor Club patio, and also under a large tent on the lawn. The weather was picture perfect. After our virtual Gala last summer, guests were happy to gather together with friends to support the Mission’s work.

Mission President John Zavodny welcomed guests and introduced David B. Woodside, Chair of the Board of Directors of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, one of the Gala’s Platinum sponsors. Following an entertaining video about Acadia Senior College, former Mission President Scott Planting gave the Sunbeam award to Acadia Senior College president, Linda Dunn. In her remarks, Dunn told of the College’s start and quick success, and pointed out that the room held dozens of Gala guests who have been College instructors, supporters, and students through the years.

Next, President Zavodny introduced Tony Shurman, President and CEO of Wyman’s, the Gala’s other Platinum sponsor. After a video about Sigma Kappa, Dan McKay, Chair of the Mission Board of Directors gave the Sunbeam award to Ann O’Connell Adams, national President of Sigma Kappa Sorority, and Dawn Copple O’Connor, President of the Sigma Kappa Foundation. Sigma Kappa Sorority was founded at Colby College, Waterville in 1874. President Adams recounted the partnership Sigma Kappa has had with the Mission since 1918.

It was a festive evening of old and new friends, good food, and abundant reminders of the importance of vibrant community. The work and activities of this year’s award winners demonstrate how strong community is built and enriched.

Thank you to all who participated, and to the Bar Harbor Club, who hosted us in a huge tent near Frenchman’s Bay. From the video of older Mainers naming their superpowers to the excitement of meeting Sigma Kappa members from across the country and hearing the hearty cheers of Senior College supporters, it was a memorable evening.


Gigi Georges & John Zavodny in Conversation, 6/29

Gigi Georges & John Zavodny in Conversation, 6/29

Five Maine Girls and the Unseen Story of Rural America
‘In Conversation’ author talk with Gigi Georges

Event Location: Online
Event Date: Tuesday, June 29, 2021 – 7:00pm

The public is invited to a virtual conversation on Tuesday, June 29, at 7 p.m., when Gigi Georges, author of the just-released nonfiction book Downeast: Five Maine Girls and the Unseen Story of Rural America, talks with John Zavodny, president of the Maine Seacoast Mission.

The free event is being co-hosted by Left Bank Books, in Belfast, and The Bangor Daily News. To register for the event:

Over the course of four years, Georges followed the lives of five teenage girls who lived in Washington County in Maine’s far northeast corner. Although the villages and towns they grew up in were only an hour’s drive from the heart of bustling and famed Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, they lived a world away. The girls’ stories reveal surprising truths about rural America.

Full story.

Boat, snowmobile, camel: Vaccine reaches world’s far corners

Boat, snowmobile, camel: Vaccine reaches world’s far corners
Boat, snowmobile, camel: Vaccine reaches world’s far corners
By DAVID SHARP – April 7, 2021 1:06 am

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — After enduring 40-knot winds and freezing sea spray, jostled health care providers arrived wet and cold on two Maine islands in the North Atlantic late last month to conduct coronavirus vaccinations.

As they came ashore on Little Cranberry Island, population 65, residents danced with excitement.

“It’s a historic day for the island,” said Kaitlyn Miller, who joined a friend in belting out “I’m not giving away my shot!” from the Broadway show Hamilton when the crew arrived.

Full story

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