When Director of Island Services Douglas Cornman planned this summer’s trips, he realized that one trip would be special. During a Sunbeam trip in August, each night would be spent on a different island with enough time for an evening event. So, he scheduled a movie night on Isle au Haut, a bonfire on Matinicus, and a pizza party on Frenchboro. Part of the Mission’s work on outer islands includes offering events like these as they give islanders a place where they come together as a community.
On August 29, the Sunbeam crew set off for Isle au Haut. After a full day on the island, the crew made their way to the town hall with a popcorn maker and a selection of movie theater candy. There they set up a makeshift movie theater and “concession” stand for the 25 island residents who came out. The crew spread bean bags across the floor, filled containers with freshly popped popcorn, and settled in to watch “The Goonies.” Simone Babineaux, Sunbeam Nurse, says islanders were so excited about the candy, eagerly discussing their childhood favorites as if transported back in time. Without a movie theater or grocery store, these experiences, even as simple as having multiple candy to choose from, are few and far between. While the night had been planned as a double feature, everyone started to pack up before Douglas even had time to suggest watching “Jaws.”
On Wednesday, Sunbeam set out to Matinicus for a bonfire on Markey Beach. However, the weather had a different idea. The crew shifted plans with Steward Jillian quickly cooking and assembling a taco bar. Around 15 islanders (about a third of the year-round population) came that night, undeterred by the bad weather to enjoy each others company.
The next day, the crew set sail for Frenchboro, the last stop on the trip. That night, 30 residents came out to enjoy pizza on the Sunbeam. Jillian and Island Services Program Coordinator Margaret Snell cooked 20 pizzas for residents, with pepperoni being the hit of the night. Kids on the island savored their last days of summer playing games and running around the salon.
With the last two events happening on the Sunbeam, Douglas says that those dinners were a poignant end to the summer. Islanders came aboard to eat but just stayed to chat with each other and the crew. He likened the experience to being in a beloved family member’s home, where everyone gathers to share stories and relax. These events give islanders a reason to come together and many of them look forward to Sunbeam visits as a break from their normal routines.
The Sunbeam will take one more trip later this month before summer officially ends. This fall’s Island Outreach events include attending the Inter-Island Event on Frenchboro. This very popular event brings together students from island schools for three days of fun at the beginning of every school year. Also this fall is the Eldercare Conference. The conference brings together elder care professionals on Maine’s unbridged islands for time to find support, network, and learn.