Vermonter of the Month: Gary De Carolis

Attorney General T.J. Donovan with Gary De Carolis

This is a monthly series in which the Attorney General will feature a Vermonter doing exemplary work in their community. Have someone you think should be featured? Email AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.

When reflecting on his 35+ year career in service to others, Gary De Carolis, Executive Director of the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County, said, “I’ve had a blessed career.” But the way we see it, Vermont has been blessed to have Gary serving as an advocate and leader in the fields of mental health and substance abuse. That’s why Gary De Carolis is our October Vermonter of the Month.

Over his career, Gary has served as a mental health counselor, children’s mental health professional, the Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Mental Health, the Chief of Children’s Mental Health at the Center for Mental Health Services within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), and a consultant focusing on how best to serve children in custody in the context of their family and community.

Today, Gary serves as the Executive Director of the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County where he has transformed the Center from a staff of three with a budget of $175,000 to its current staff of 15 with an annual budget over $700,000. Under his leadership, the Turning Point Center has expanded its footprint and broadened its scope of services to better serve Vermonters seeking recovery. On average, the Turning Point Center serves about 3,000 visiting guests each month.

Gary gave us a tour of the Turning Point Center’s new location on South Winooski Avenue in Burlington and talked with us about his work as an advocate and counselor:

  • What inspires you, or drives your passion for your work with the Turning Point Center?

I’m inspired by the people who walk through our door every day. Talented, bright, courageous people. I’m in awe of them. To know that you live with a disease that you must be perfect with—one errant drink, one puff on a joint, or one pain killer for a broken limb—can set you into a spiral that could last for years. Courage doesn’t begin to speak to the incredible strength that I’ve witnessed for some 7 years now.

  • What is the most rewarding aspect of your work with the Turning Point Center?

What I find most rewarding is to see someone walk through our doors with a sense of little hope for a better life and over the weeks and months watch as they grow in strength to the point where the light of hope glows in them. It happens almost every day here. Providing a safe space, filling it with people in recovery to support our guests, and enriching it all with wonderful services are the ingredients for miracles to happen.

  • What is the most challenging aspect of your work with the Turning Point Center?

What is hard is when someone is so overwhelmed with their life that it is hard, if not impossible, for them to focus on their recovery. Lack of housing probably is the biggest determinate in keeping someone in the cycle of active drug use. Also, trauma histories can be so difficult to work though. We constantly recommend therapy as a part of someone’s early recovery so that trauma doesn’t end up being the boulder in their recovery path.

The other challenge, that is a part of all non-profits, is raising enough funds to make all of this work! Our staff works very hard and deserves a decent income with benefits. We have come a long way from when I began 7 years ago but we still need to go further. 

  • The Turning Point Center of Chittenden County has grown under your leadership. What are some of the changes?

We’ve placed recovery coaches in the emergency department at the University of Vermont Medical Center, and created a New Moms in Recovery Program for women seeking sobriety and maintaining custody of their children. We also have a wonderful Employment Consulting Program to make sure that all our guests who want to work get a job. All these efforts have had tremendous success. We have a wonderful team of recovery support specialists that greet each guest when they enter the Center to ask them how they are doing in their recovery, what we can do to support them and make referrals to other agencies for services. Finally, we have an elite team of 15 recovery coaches that are available for anyone who wants a more intimate relationship with someone in recovery as they go through their unique recovery journey. 

  • What do you want Vermonters to know about recovery? Do you feel there is stigma that needs to be confronted?

I want all Vermonters to know that recovery is not only possible, but that it happens every day. Please take the time to get to know someone in recovery. Listen to their story. Ask questions. I know you will come to see, as I have, that people in recovery are amazing, insightful, and determined people who we are fortunate to have as family, friends and neighbors. They are gentle, but tough souls and we are better for them being in our lives.

  • What advice do you have for other Vermonters looking to make an impact in their community?

This is always a tough question for me. We are grateful for the many people who donate to our Center. It is so helpful in allowing us to offer all the services we do. Also, recently we finished a capital campaign to buy our first building and renovate our space to work as a recovery center. I am so humbled by the community response to our asking for financial assistance. When people walk through our door, they all say this space is so respectful and dignifying. That is what we were aiming for!

For others, I recommend that you use your talent to help broaden people’s understanding of addiction and recovery. Some Vermonters are amazing writers, some our phenomenal artists. When I’ve seen those skills unleashed in this field it has transformed people who experience their gifts. I’m thinking of Bess O’Brien’s documentary Hungry Heart or Kate O’Neil’s articles in Seven Days and the obituary she wrote of her sister Maddie who was addicted to opioids. The group Twiddle who write songs about addiction. There are so many ways to help. Serving on our board or various committees of the recovery center is yet another way of helping. I always like Dante’s quote “In times of crisis may the hottest place in hell be reserved for those that declare their neutrality.” Get involved, and make a difference. It does matter.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan with Gary De Carolis in the Maddie Linsenmeir Room at the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County
Murial outside of the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County’s new location on South Winooski Avenue in Burlington, Vermont
Community meeting at the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County

Vermonters of the Month: Lawyers Fighting Hunger

This is a monthly series in which the Attorney General will feature a Vermonter doing exemplary work in their community. Have someone you think should be featured? Email AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.


Fighting Hunger One Lawyer at a Time

For our September Vermonter of the Month, we are honoring all of those who donated to this year’s 3rd Annual Lawyers Fighting Hunger Food Drive. This collaboration with the Vermont Foodbank and the Vermont Bar Association raised over $8,000 and more than 4,400 shelf-stable, non-perishable food items in just two weeks. Overall, in the three-year history of the Lawyers Fighting Hunger Food Drive, the Vermont legal community has raised more than $35,000 and collected over 11,000 food items. Thank you to all the Vermont lawyers and law office staff who made this year’s drive a success.

A recent study by the Vermont Foodbank and Feeding America shows that one in four Vermonters (around 153,000 people) turn to food shelves and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families.  These numbers include an estimated 33,900 children and 26,010 seniors. All food and funds collected during this year’s food drive went directly to the Vermont Foodbank and over 200 Vermont Foodbank-partner food shelves and meal sites around Vermont.

Thank you to all the Vermont lawyers and law office staff who made this year’s drive a success.

Bauer Gravel Farnham, LLP

Bergeron, Paradis & Fitzpatrick, LLP

Biggam Fox Skinner, LLP

Bradley D. Myerson Law Offices

Cohen Consumer Law

Dinse, PC

Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC

Justice for Victims Legal Clinic

Maley and Maley, PLLC

McNeil, Leddy & Sheahan PC

Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Paul Frank + Collins P.C.

Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC

Sheehey Furlong & Behm P.C.

Stitzel Page & Fletcher P.C.

Vermont Bar Association

Vermont Department of Financial Regulation

Vermont Law School

Vermont Legal Aid, Inc. – Rutland Office

Vermont Public Utility Commission

Vermont Trial Lawyers Association


Chief Rob McDougall, Environmental Division, and Nicole Whalen of the Vermont Foodbank present Lawyers Fighting Hunger “friendly competition” award to Attorney Ben Traverse of Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC, winner of the large firm division.
Members of the Attorney General’s Office with food drive donations.
Rob McDougall, Chief of the Environmental Division, presents Lawyers Fighting Hunger "friendly competition" award to representatives of Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC, winner of the large firm division.
Chief Rob McDougall, Environmental Division, and Assistant Attorney General Alison Stone present Lawyers Fighting Hunger “friendly competition” award to Attorney Elizabeth Schilling of the Vermont Public Utility Commission, winner of the medium firm division.

Vermonters of the Month: Elizabeth and Alex Grimes

This is a monthly series in which the Attorney General will feature a Vermonter doing exemplary work in their community. Have someone you think should be featured? Email AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.

TJ Donovan with Alex and Elizabeth Grimes and their children
Attorney General T.J. Donovan with Elizabeth and Alex Grimes and their children

Alex and Elizabeth Grimes, our July Vermonters of the Month, describe the past six years as a “whirlwind of emotion.” May 5, 2013 is the day that forever changed their lives when their nearly 5-month-old son Tatum passed away from SIDS. While grieving his loss, Elizabeth found herself the Vermont Department for Children and Families’ website and rediscovered her purpose in life. The Grimes family decided to honor Tatum by becoming foster parents and creating their nonprofit Tatum’s Totes in his memory.  Now, the Grimes’ have seven beautiful children and support others in foster care by proving totes with essential and comfort items like blankets, stuffed animals, diapers, toothbrushes, and books.

Elizabeth says, “Losing Tatum is a pain we feel every day, but every day we try to honor him.” Tatum’s Totes is dedicated to helping children in foster care one tote at a time.

We visited Alex, Elizabeth and their children at their home in Rutland to hear more about their journey as foster parents and learn more about the impact of Tatum’s Totes.

Tell us a little about yourselves, your son Tatum, and your journey to becoming foster parents.

Both Alex and I are from Rutland Town, Vermont. Our oldest child, Emma, was four years old when we found out we were expecting our second. On December 7, 2012, we were surprised to welcome a little boy into our family, Tatum James Grimes. He was 8 lbs. 2 oz., 19.5 inches long, and was perfect. Tatum looked grumpy all of the time, but when he smiled it was the sweetest little smile. He rarely cried. He liked to just sit and watch what everyone was doing. We were so proud of him and how well he was adjusting. Sleep was even easy with him. He slept perfectly in his own crib.

Our family was doing well, Emma was enjoying being a new big sister and Alex was promoted at work and landed a new day job which allowed for more time with our family. Everything changed on May 4, 2013. We had family over to help build a new deck and we were outside working while Tatum was napping. A few minutes after checking on Tatum, the crew started up the saw. Knowing this would wake Tatum, I went back in the house to get him. I saw Tatum’s hand through the railing and I knew something was wrong. Tatum wasn’t breathing. We believe everyone did everything they could that day to save Tatum, and while his heart started again, it wasn’t enough. Tatum was taken off of life support on May 5, 2013 at 11:00 AM.

Days passed. Weeks passed. I cried. I screamed. I felt like my heart was physically broken. During all of this, I stumbled on the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) website and I knew what I needed to do. I needed to become a foster parent. I needed to help children, and love them, and protect them. I called the Rutland District DCF Office and set up a meeting. I am so thankful for a supportive husband who agreed to do this with me. In his own grief he always knew how to be there for me through mine. 

Eight weeks after losing Tatum, I met with DCF and felt I may have a path in life again. It was a path as a grieving mother, but at least I had some sort of direction. Two weeks later, our journey as foster parents began when I picked up two children from the DCF Office and brought them home with me.

Why did you start Tatum’s Totes?

The idea of Tatum’s Totes came from my first experience as a foster parent. When I went to the DCF Office to meet the two children Alex and I would be caring for, we were greeted by a police officer and a case worker with two small children who had no shoes and tear-streaked faces. Between the two children, ages three and one, they had a toy fire truck and a plastic bag with some diapers thrown in. That’s all they came with.

Alex and I started Tatum’s Totes four years ago to provide children entering foster care in Vermont with essential and comfort items. The children we serve are given a backpack filled with new items, including blankets, stuffed animals, toothbrushes, pajamas, toys, books, school and art supplies, etc. We try to tailor the bags to different age groups. For babies, we provide diaper bags filled with baby items. For teens, we fill the bags with age-appropriate items and gift cards.

Has Tatum’s Totes evolved over the years?

Our hope is to be able to cover the whole state of Vermont one day, but we are successfully covering eight DCF Districts right now. We have a lot of support from the community, including some wonderful ladies covering different areas of the state, and Green Mountain United Way which covers three Districts in the northern part of Vermont. I myself cover Rutland and Middlebury. 

What has been the impact of Tatum’s Totes in the community, and what does that impact mean to you?

Tatum’s Totes is expanding each year. We run a huge Christmas program where people can buy for a child in foster care. We covered over 500 foster children this past year for Christmas. It grows every year. We have helped pay for summer camps, and have gotten cribs, strollers, and car seats for new foster parents. We have helped struggling parents with new school clothes and so much more. I am proud to be Tatum’s Mommy and proud to honor him. This has helped my and Alex’s broken hearts so much. Giving back to the community is truly our pleasure and I hope we can continue to grow bigger and bigger. Everyone’s support, donations, fundraising events, and positive thoughts are so appreciated. The community has made this possible.

What advice do you have for other Vermonters looking to make an impact in their community?

I have learned over the years that there are so many easy ways to make a difference in this world. Little things really amount to big things. Finding a passion and advocating for it, spreading the word and teaching people about it, including more people and asking for help can make any little idea a success. Whether it’s foster care, rescuing animals, supporting our veterans and so many other things, if everyone just did a little it would make this world a better place. 

Alex Grimes with two of his children
Alex Grimes with two of his children
Elizabeth Grimes holding her daughter
Elizabeth Grimes holding one of her children
TJ Donovan getting a tour of Tatum's Totes
Attorney General T.J. Donovan getting a tour of Tatum’s Totes
TJ speaking with Grimes kids
Attorney General T.J. Donovan with Alex Grimes speaking with one of the Grimes’ children

Vermonter of the Month: Julia Birnn Fields

This is a monthly series in which the Attorney General will feature a Vermonter doing exemplary work in their community. Have someone you think should be featured? Email AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.

Julia Birnn Fields speaking with Attorney General T.J. Donovan at Birnn Chocolates of Vermont
Julia Birnn Fields speaking with Attorney General T.J. Donovan at Birnn Chocolates of Vermont

Julia Birnn Fields, 4th-generation owner of Birnn Chocolates of Vermont and our April Vermonter of the Month, didn’t always know she would take over the family business. She felt called to service when her father and uncle considered retirement.

Now, almost ten years later, it’s clear that she and her husband Mel found the right path: Her love for what she does shines through in her words.

Perhaps most inspiring, she has prioritized helping her employees grow. Why? She says, “Our employees are the heartbeat of our company and we would not exist without them.”

Birnn Chocolates hire many new Americans. Because English is a second language for those employees, they started offering English lessons during the work day. It all started because they “noticed that some of the most veteran employees for whom English was a second language weren’t being promoted as quickly as native English speakers.” Now, they work with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program to continue the lessons indefinitely.

Julia Birnn Fields exemplifies a connection to family, community, diversity and investing in employees. We’re proud to honor her as our April Vermonter of the Month.

Tell us a little about yourself (What is your official title? What has been your career path? How did you get to where you are?):

I am President and 4th-generation owner of Birnn Chocolates of Vermont.  My degree is in Elementary Education, so the family business was not my chosen career path early on.  After I graduated from college I taught skiing at Sugarbush Resort, gave tours and repped events for Magic Hat, worked summers for Appalachian Landscaping, and managed a seasonal restaurant.  Each of those jobs taught me great life lessons on how to deal with people both internally and externally in a wide variety of businesses.  Four years after graduation, when I was skiing 100+ days in the winter and caretaking a private island on Lake Champlain, my dad asked me what my plan was.  I was a bit taken aback, as I thought I was living a pretty darn good life, but from my father’s eyes it didn’t seem like it was my forever path.  My dad and uncle co-owned the family chocolate business, and they were beginning to think about retirement.  My uncle doesn’t have kids and I’m an only child so their plan was quite simple: if I wasn’t interested they were going to sell.  I honestly had never even considered working for my family; it was always my dad and uncle’s thing.  However, the thought of them selling the multigenerational business didn’t sit right with me, and I wanted to at least explore the option before it was gone.

In 2010 my partner, Mel, and I made the life-altering decision to try the family business on for size and agreed to work for a year to see if it was a good fit for us.  We knew we wanted to work together, whatever we did so this seemed like a logical option.  Now, nine years later we are still here.  Year one flew by, along with year two.  We started in production, learning each job from the best, seasoned employees.  I worked in the business in high school, so I did have some basic knowledge, but we still took the time to learn each position. We felt this step vitally important to truly understanding the business as a whole.  Our roles evolved organically. We’d see an area that needed improvement and then help implement things to make people’s jobs easier.  In doing so we not only gained respect from our coworkers, but also helped the company become more efficient.  Year three we began talking about the future.  It was clear we were quite happy in the business and were ready to talk seriously about succession.  It took a couple of years to come up with a plan that felt really solid for all four parties involved.  Mel and I became the 4th-generation owners in 2016 and simultaneously my dad and uncle retired.  It was quite a big step but we all felt it was the right move for the company, our employees, and the bright future ahead.  We’re now expecting a baby next month, the first of the 5th-generation!

What sets Birnn Chocolates of Vermont apart from other truffle makers? What’s your mission or motto?

We exclusively make chocolate truffles, no other products.  We also only sell in bulk to the wholesale market and do not have a retail store of our own.  Our number one focus is our wholesale customers and therefore our focus is on customer service and ensuring that our customers are getting what they need in a timely manner.  We ship the same day that orders are placed, which is pretty unique in our business.  We also ship year-round and cover the cost of extra insulation and ice packs during the warmer months.  We’re family owned and operated so when you call you always get a person and we’re always willing to listen to customer requests and make a sincere effort to accommodate them.  We are extremely efficient in what we do which helps tremendously with producing a high-quality product for a very competitive price.

Our mission: Above and Beyond – Every Day, Every Way, Everyone.

Our motto: We make truffles, for people who sell truffles, to people who love truffles.

What inspired you to offer English classes to your New American employees?

Mel and I noticed that some of the most veteran employees for whom English was a second language weren’t being promoted as quickly as native English speakers.

How did you promote the opportunity to your employees? How did you ensure that these classes were utilized?

We originally tried offering English classes before and after work and no one signed up.  We were discouraged but understood why.  We then met with the Vermont Department of Economic Development and received a grant for English lessons during the work day.  The grant paid for half of the expense of hiring a teacher and paying our employees to attend the classes.  Once the grant was completed, we wanted to continue offering this benefit to our English Language Learning employees so we made arrangements with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program to continue the lessons.  We’ve offered English lessons for two years now and plan to continue them indefinitely.

What impact did offering these classes have on your business?

With just two hours a week (plus some voluntary homework) we’ve seen a significant increase in confidence and English usage in the workplace. This also creates a more inclusive environment for others that don’t speak another language.  Previously there were a few different languages being spoken and it could feel isolating to some when a group of people spoke freely next to them in a language they did not understand.  We’ve really tried to get everyone involved with our efforts and have asked our native English speakers to help others with their vocabulary and pronunciation.  We’ve worked hard to create a safe and trusting space where people feel comfortable asking for help and guidance with the English language. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. 

Would you recommend this to other small businesses? What advice do you have for other small businesses looking to create organizational change or empower their employees?

We feel that empowering our employees is the single most important thing that we can do.  Not only does it tell them that we’re invested in their well-being, it’s very rewarding watching them learn and grow in an environment we’ve helped to cultivate.  We also hope that this will carry over to interactions with communities outside of the workplace, and to further that aim, we’ve encouraged a curriculum that isn’t solely based on chocolate or manufacturing vocabulary.  We would most certainly encourage any and all businesses to develop their own programs.  The rewards are priceless.  Our employees are the heartbeat of our company and we would not exist without them.

Birnn Chocolates of Vermont
Birnn Chocolates of Vermont
Julia Birnn Fields speaking with Attorney General T.J. Donovan at Birnn Chocolates of Vermont
Julia Birnn Fields speaking with Attorney General T.J. Donovan at Birnn Chocolates of Vermont
Birnn Made in Vermont

Vermonter of the Month: Monique Priestley

This is a monthly series in which the Attorney General will feature a Vermonter doing exemplary work in their community. Have someone you think should be featured? Email AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan with Monique Priestly at The Space On Main in Bradford, VT

Driven by her “love for community in every sense of the word,” our March Vermonter of the Month, Monique Priestley, founded The Space On Main in 2017 as a nonprofit community-based coworking, maker, conference, event, and gallery space in the heart of rural Bradford, Vermont.

Monique grew up on a back road in Piermont, New Hampshire, just over the river from Bradford. From a young age, her parents fostered a love of the arts, learning, hard work, and volunteerism. Monique says that as far back as she can remember, her mom always volunteered in the community and brought her and her sister along to help. In her view, the community was always there to help them in return. Because of this, Monique believes there is strength, energy, and hope in community.

As a teen, Monique moved across the Connecticut River to Bradford. She went on to graduate from Northern Vermont University – Lyndon and then the University of Washington’s Master of Communication in Digital Media program. After completing graduate school in Seattle, Monique returned to Bradford and bought a house. Since then she has served on numerous boards, committees, and commissions, and was recently recognized as the Cohase Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year.

Today, Monique continues to demonstrate her dedication to community by founding The Space as a way of fostering entrepreneurship, collaboration, creativity, and innovation in the Vermont/New Hampshire Cohase Region. We recently had the pleasure of touring The Space and learning more about the work Monique is doing and what drives her passion for community:

How did you come to understand the need in your community for a space like this? What made you start this program in a rural place like Bradford, Vermont?

I am involved in quite a few local community groups and nonprofits. Before working on The Space On Main (also referred to as The Space), there weren’t many meetings that happened without someone asking, “How do we engage the young professionals here?” I was always the youngest person in any room (often by a few decades) so this question was often directed at me. At the same time, several of Bradford’s most beloved businesses had closed or moved and there was palpable desperation in the air. I started wondering whether I should move back to Seattle (I went to grad school at University of Washington and work remotely for a company there).

At one particularly hard meeting, a mentor and friend of mine asked me to share an idea I had only told a handful of people. I wanted to create a space where people could gather to work, create, teach, and learn side-by-side. I knew there were people who wanted to engage with the community but did not really need or know how to. I wanted to bring them together.

That meeting turned into an instant buzz of ideas. I went home, sent out an online survey to gauge community interest, and got 85 responses that weekend. That was a lot for rural Vermont. I started meeting with those people one-on-one in their homes, in coffee shops, in their studios, at their offices – figuring out exact needs, desires, prices, challenges, vibe, etc.

What is something that has been a welcome discovery? What is something that has been a challenge?

I am inspired every single day by the people who reach out to find out more about The Space, but more importantly, they reach out to find out how they can become an active member of their communities. They just need someone to listen to their story, to their ideas, and to help talk through the questions that are holding them back. It energizes me, it helps awaken something in them, and it makes me appreciate humanity.

In terms of challenges, the whole process has been one big series of challenges. I did not know the first thing about most of the tasks I needed to complete. Luckily, I have always been a lover of problem-solving, unquenchably curious, resourceful, and stubborn.

What has been the community response?

Honestly, mixed. There are people who understood what The Space was from the beginning and have been amazing – and who really made the entire thing possible by providing guidance, funding, and support. There are people who come in, sit down, and talk through what The Space can mean for them. There are the people who do not understand The Space – or really even the spark that happens when people from diverse backgrounds interact with each other. Then there are the people who just have not heard of it yet. The first few keep me going. The latter few present opportunities to practice marketing and storytelling skills.

You’ve said that about 2,300 people have been to The Space on Main since it opened. Are you drawing just from Bradford or surrounding areas? How do you get the word out?

We are definitely drawing from Bradford and the surrounding areas. We have regular members and attendees from up to 45 minutes away on both sides of the Connecticut River. We have had quite a few people stop in that are visiting family or friends. We have requests from people who want to be members while their kids attend local summer camps. We have had a few people become members for a few days at a time while they scope out housing in the Upper Valley. And our Event Space and Conference Room are being booked all the time by local nonprofits and businesses that need a place to hold meetings, classes, and retreats.

We have mostly focused on social media, Vital Communities listservs, and Google. Features on television networks, in Seven Days, and in local papers have really helped. Word of mouth is the biggest driver. We plan to put more of a focus on print advertising.

What are some lessons you’ve learned about starting a small business? Do you have any advice for other Vermonters starting this?

Have patience, appreciation for timing, and listen to everyone and everything. There have been so many moments when I just could not get through to resources that I was advised to pursue. That was frustrating at first, but then I realized that opportunities to connect were presented to me later, in drastically better circumstances. At this point, it happens so much that it is entertaining to see how someone, or something will end up circling back around.

I think my advice would be to be open to any and all ideas and connections. I say yes, to a lot of things that seem pretty random – a person I should talk to, an idea someone wants to brainstorm, an event someone wants to go to, an article I need to read, but I never walk away from anything without having learned something from it. Those lessons increase my awareness for later discoveries and connections.

You are located right on Main Street in downtown Bradford. Are you working on bringing any other new businesses like yours to the downtown? Any long-term goals for The Space?

The cool thing about The Space and being personally engaged is that people reach out all the time with business or community ideas they need help with. As I connect with various people and organizations, it broadens the resources I can help point others towards.

Along with growing membership and rentals to sustain the nonprofit, our goal right now is to develop and fund programming that can provide support and opportunities to remote workers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and community members. We are also working on funding for equipment that will expand the types of programming that can be offered. We have ideas for using the third floor of the building and have been asked about potential satellites, both of which are longer term goals.

For right now, we are pretty excited for the number of people we have been able to serve in the first five months and cannot wait to see how The Space adapts and evolves over the coming year.

TJ Donovan with Monique Priestly at The Space On Main