2,238. It is often hard to quantify the impact someone has had on a community, but one number the Mission reports each year is the number of cookies Jillian bakes. While this number might seem insignificant, it carries a lot of meaning. Islanders will stop on the Sunbeam to grab a few cookies and chat with the crew. Director of Island Services Douglas Cornman and Sunbeam Nurse Simone Babineaux often bring a few small bags of Jillian’s cookies to give to residents who cannot make it to the boat. As Captain Mike Johnson explains, “The Sunbeam is not all about cookies, but the jars at the end of the counter are emblematic of our philosophy. As is Jillian. Her part in making the boat a welcoming spot is beyond compare.” Jillian will bake her last cookie for the Sunbeam on a Christmas trip this month and will officially leave the Mission at the end of year.
Jillian says, “I am grateful for my time aboard the beloved Sunbeam. It has been a wonderful experience and my honor to represent the Maine Seacoast Mission.” She adds, “Islanders have been so good to me. I will miss them.”
Jillian was a well-known fixture at the Mission’s Downeast campus in Cherryfield before joining the Sunbeam’s crew in 2014. For many years Jillian had both attended and cooked for the Downeast Table of Plenty (DETOP) at the Weald Bethel Community Center. She eventually was referred to the Sunbeam when they were looking for a new steward for the crew. Now, nine years later, her welcoming smile and calls of “Hello, matey” will be missed by both islanders and fellow crew members.
“Jillian was effortlessly welcoming and a great addition from the day she started,” Mike says. She was committed to a “farm-to-table” cooking style and cared about the food she served. She sourced many of the ingredients for her meals from her own garden or from farmers in Cherryfield.
Douglas says this care and compassion helped made the boat feel like a home. “Her meals are frequently served family style with all the food being passed from person to person. Like a ‘mom,’ she is the last person to sit down because she is making certain that everyone has what they need. I cannot think of anyone who has ever stepped on to the Sunbeam that has not been spoiled by Jillian.”
In addition to being a welcoming presence on the Sunbeam, Jillian wrote about her time on the water for the Mission. She shared everything from her experience during the first round of Covid vaccinations on the islands to her new knowledge of nautical terminology (see her articles on list and fo’c’s’le), to how she was a steward without a galley. She also shared her love of art with her creating signs on the Downeast campus, including the iconic DETOP sign, as well as countless collages. Earlier this year, she shared her collection of photographs of the marquee sign in Cherryfield that she has updated for more than six years. The marquee shared everything from inspiration messages to important town information.
These varied interests and knowledge helped her on the Sunbeam. Sunbeam Engineer Storey King says “Jillian has a unique way of connecting and communicating with people. She has always focused on community.” Mike adds, “Jillian can comfortably chat with anyone. Her infectious smile and ease with conversation transformed the Sunbeam into the hospitality model it is today.”
And for one last time, here is Jillian’s famous cookie recipe as seen in The Bulletin from Winter 2020.