Unity Barn Raisers bid farewell to executive director
Unity — After dedicating 11 years to serving as the executive director of the Unity Barn Raisers, Tess Woods is moving on to the next chapter of her life.
Woods came to the area to attend Unity College, which attracted her because she was looking for an “environmental-based, hands-on experience” close to her home in Bucksport. After college, Woods started teaching at an alternative high school in Bucksport before joining the Maine Conservation Corps.
During her time with the Conservation Corps, Woods had the opportunity to work with Unity College and was offered a job working in admissions. It was while she was working in admissions that Woods heard of a position opening up with the Barn Raisers.
Woods joined the community-focused Unity Barn Raisers after learning a position was available May 1, 2001. She spent five years working as the programming coordinator before being offered the executive director position — a move that Woods was initially hesitant to make.
She said her mom, who served as an executive director, spent a great deal of her time handling the myriad responsibilities of the position, and Woods didn’t see herself following a similar path.
However, despite her initial reservations, Woods said her experience has been “amazing," and she is especially impressed with how much the organization has grown over the years. When she first started working, membership was sitting at about 100, but now the group boasts over 400 members.
When asked what her what stands out most to her during her 11-year tenure, Woods paused while considering it, before answering that creating more collaboration between Unity College, the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry, the Waldo County Trails Coalition and other groups is what she considered some of the best work by the organization.
She also credited the Unity Barn Raisers Board of Directors as playing an important role in helping the organization grow.
“The Board of Directors are super-dedicated people,” she said.
Although her experience working with the nonprofit has been a positive one, Woods acknowledged that keeping everything running smoothly wasn’t without its challenges.
“Funding is always challenging. There were many sleepless nights figuring out how to make it work,” she said. “I think one of our strengths is that we don’t have a single focus, but that’s also a challenge.”
As she prepares to depart to New Hampshire, Woods said she is going focus on getting her family resettled, but she said she is going to miss Unity and the people who make it such a special town.
“This community is so embracing of every individual. People know who you , they care about you,” she said.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.