The day after the Sept. 22 fire that devastated multiple buildings and left 11 people homeless in downtown Old Town, Renee Hashey walked down to Main Street with her two daughters to see it for themselves.
“We were just kind of horrified by it,” she said. “We knew we had to do something.”
Inspired by a hashtag that had been trending among Old Town residents on social media in the hours and days after the fire, within 72 hours Hashey had contacted W.S. Emerson in Brewer about printing T-shirts bearing the phrase “Old Town Strong.”
Hashey and some volunteers sold more than 200 shirts at Old Town’s annual Riverfest, a two-day community celebration held the last weekend of September, raising around $5,000 to benefit the victims of the fires. Riverfest this year happened to be just a few days after not just the Main Street fire, but another fire on Thursday that destroyed another building on Stillwater Avenue, leaving nine more people without a home.
“I think when something bad happens, you are shocked and it’s really sad, but also it brings people together and brings out the best in them,” Hashey said. “That’s just what you do. You pitch in and help out. That’s kind of what ‘Old Town Strong’ means to me.”
Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.
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