Thank you, Paul!
We are deeply saddened by Paul’s passing, and so grateful for all that he has done for the Albany Store project and our town.
When a group of community members started meeting in 2017 to consider what we could do to bring the Albany Store back to life, it was Paul who really helped to set things in motion. His wealth of experience working on store projects in other Vermont communities and his belief in the general store as a vital community hub, helped us to think outside of the box and imagine what might be possible.
Paul was generous in every way, sharing his ideas, his insights, his humor, his time, and his resources. In March 2018 he organized a day trip for ACT board members to visit stores in other towns that had an unconventional structure like the one we were exploring- owned by the community and leased to operators. He spent the day with us, showing us the way, introducing us to some of the people who had been instrumental in the life of the different stores and cafes.
He was a guide all along the journey of that first year as we embarked on raising funds to purchase the store and develop plans for renovation. He met with us several times, and he had a wonderful way at a meeting: he was a wise, strong presence, keenly aware of the dynamics in the room, not saying much but offering insight and leadership and humor at just the right moments.
For the first year of the project, the Preservation Trust of Vermont served as our fiscal agent at no cost to us. They received and kept track of donations on our behalf and sent out acknowledgement letters. In February 2019, ACT received 501c3 status and we fledged from PTV. But even after this time, Paul continued to support the project, checking in about details, and helping with fundraising.
At this time of remembrance and celebration of Paul and his legacy, we want to offer this very recent example of the vital, delicate work that Paul was dedicated to, and cultivated in countless communities across Vermont. We are on track to reopen a transformed Albany General Store in 2020. This would never have been possible without Paul and the ongoing support of dedicated staff, Jenna Lapachinski and Elise Seraus, he cultivated at PTV.
Paul’s efforts, his spirit, are embodied in community enterprises and preserved structures across Vermont. Soon we hope you will find him in a small bustling new store off Route 14 in Albany.