LUBEC, Maine — Debra Ayala-Kasunic, owner of Northern Tides Art and Gift Gallery in Lubec, recently was presented with the Maine 2011 Downtown Achievement, Community Spirit Individual of the Year Award for her contributions to the area.
The award was presented earlier this month by Roxanne Eflin, senior program director of the Maine Downtown Center/Maine Development Foundation. Ayala-Kasunic received the only Maine Downtown Achievement award within the coastal counties of Washington and Hancock for her promotion of the town of Lubec.
According to the nomination application, Ayala-Kasunic is an active member of the Lubec Comprehensive Planning Committee, Cobscook Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Lion’s Club, board of trustees for Lubec Memorial Library, and APPLE — the Association to Promote and Protect the Lubec Environment. She was far ahead of the recent revitalization curve in downtown Lubec when in 2006 she purchased a 100-year-old, distressed building for her business, Northern Tides Art and Gift Gallery.
New to retail sales and the area, and using her own funds, Ayala-Kasunic developed and implemented Northern Tides’ microbusiness plans: to represent local artists, to manage renovation and restoration, and to develop an art and environment community analysis of Lubec.
“The award came as a complete shock to me,” Ayala-Kasunic said in a recent interview. “I had no idea that I had even been nominated. I am still amazed, but tremendously grateful.” Ayala-Kasunic said she felt a deep commitment to the resurgence of downtown Lubec.
“Since I undertook this project in 2006, it has been gratifying to see the gradual development of a revitalized business community, the opening of several new restaurants, inns, gift shops, an active Community Garden Club, and, I believe, an increased sense of pride of place,” she said.
Ayala-Kasunic and her husband, Jerry Kasunic, recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of their business. Northern Tides now represents more than 80 Maine and Canadian Maritime artists, artisans, and authors.