LUBEC, Maine — Wanda Corey, wearing a green, flowered apron, holds a pizza peel in front of her as she wanders around the dining room of the Cobscook Community Learning Center offering slices.
There’s a plain cheese slice, one full of spinach, mushrooms and feta, and another with carmelized onions, gorgonzola cheese and mango.
“I’m the pizza queen,” she announces, explaining her volunteer role in the kitchen of the center during Pizza and Music Nights.
Held on the first Friday of each month, the events have grown from a handful of guests, to a roomful and more. There was hardly a seat to be found Friday night as the pizza was cooked and served. A local band, “O’McCrelly” provided entertainment.
Children colored at tables; friends greeted each other warmly; and a dozen volunteers piled toppings on wholewheat pizza dough in the kitchen.
Penny Guisinger, CCLC’s director, leaned against a wall and tapped her foot.
“We started pizza and music night last year as a way to raise money and have fun,” she said. “People loved it so much that we now hold it regularly on the first Friday of each month.”
But the event has evolved from just a fundraiser into a time for community gathering and socialization.
The sounds of a penny whistle, fiddle and accordion filled the air, at times almost drowned out by the laughter from the guests.
“This is a chance for the community members to come out and get together,” Guisinger said. Winter is long and many of those who work and live in the area’s fishing communities can feel a bit isolated.
CCLC provides a place for coming together, whether visitors just sit and eat pizza while listening to the music or if they get more involved, like washing dishes.
Much of the event is rooted in volunteerism: the bands donate their time, guests bring toppings and supply desserts, volunteers work in the kitchen and help clean up.
David and Debbie Wilder of Dennysville have hardly missed a Pizza and Music Night.
“I come for the music and the community spirit,” David Wilder said. “It’s a chance to meet new friends and support CCLC. They offer many programs in skills that are being lost.” Wilder recently took a song-writing class, while his wife is learning to play the penny whistle.
Bob Frazier of Lubec is taking a bread making class.
“You’ve got to do something in the winter around here or you’ll go crazy,” he said.
Founded in 1999, CCLC has a 50-acre campus on Cobscook Bay. It describes itself as “a social change initiative, created and forwarded by people.” It emphasizes popular, folk, indigenous and experiential education, and holds community organizing is a core value and goal.
“I can say nothing but positive things about their direction,” Barbara Frazier of Lubec said.
“CCLC is a great asset to our community,” Corey said. “It feels like home when I am here. It is a beautiful place full of good people who do good work.”