County Faces: Virginia “Ginny” Joles of Mapleton
Virginia “Ginny” Joles of Mapleton has built her life on four things: family, friends, faith and making a difference in her community. She credits those values with helping her blaze a rewarding career path for herself while also helping others.
In 1966 Joles enrolled in the Aroostook State Teachers College, now the University of Maine at Presque Isle, to major in physical education. But after she got a summer job with Maine Public Service, now Emera Maine, she left school to focus on work.
“I first went to college right after high school and I don’t think I realized after I left how important education would be to my career,” Joles said. “My colleagues at Maine Public Service encouraged me to further my education.”
When Joles returned to UMPI in 1982, she had been married for 10 years and had recently given birth to her daughter, Joleen. She studied part time for five years before earning her associate’s degree in business management, and another five years until she earned her bachelor’s degree in business management and journalism.
Throughout her college years Joles continued to work for the electric utility in various positions. She spent some time as a consumer services and information representative and held community demonstrations on how to use electrical appliances, including what was at that time the latest invention: the microwave oven.
As she gained more formal education, she became the company’s director of economic and community development and later the senior communications specialist.
“Everything that I learned in college and at Emera taught me how to communicate with the public and build a network of people to help get the company’s message out into the community,” Joles said.
Joles has also formed close bonds with numerous colleagues, friends and family members who have impacted her life. She remembers that in 1971 she met her husband, Jerry Joles, in a way that was unexpected for both of them.
“He was a state trooper at the time and he pulled me over for speeding on the Caribou Road in Presque Isle,” Joles said. “He had gotten my contact information because of that and so the next week he just showed up in my driveway. We got married nine months later in 1972.”
In her professional career Joles has been committed to serving her community by being a member or board member of many organizations such as the Presque Isle Rotary Club, Rotary International, United Way of Aroostook and Aroostook Partnership. Even though she retired from Emera in 2013, she became the philanthropy lead for The Aroostook Medical Center and later helped secure a major grant to purchase a Varian linear accelerator, which delivers radiation to tumors, for the hospital’s cancer treatment center.
Some of Joles’ fondest memories have come from her years in the Presque Isle Rotary Club, which she joined in 1987. She considers the creation of the dialysis center in Presque Isle and fundraising efforts for Mantle Lake Park, Quoggy Jo, the Sargent Family Community Center and the new playground at Riverside Park as ones that truly taught her about how much teamwork plays a role in forming positive community change.
“Nobody does anything alone. One or two people might have an idea, but pulling people together is how we have been able to make a difference in people’s lives,” Joles said about Rotary.
Joles also served as the Rotary International district governor for 40 clubs in northeastern Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, from 2016 to 2017. Although her schedule as kept her just as busy as she was during her professional career, she would not change anything.
“I don’t plan to slow down nor do I want a rocking chair just so I can stare into space,” Joles said. “I don’t mind change — I look forward to it.”