St. John Valley

Restaurant owners serve up Sunday sandwiches and soups to seniors

MADAWASKA, Maine — Local restaurant owners Helen and Lloyd Fortin have been putting their business to work to help feed those in need in the community.

Chez Helen, the Fortins’ restaurant on 12th Avenue, has been closed to in-house dining like every other restaurant across the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. Janet Mills’ measures to slow the spread. Chez Helen has been open for takeout and deliveries only.

Helen works full time managing the restaurant and Lloyd works full time at the United States Postal Service, and helps Helen at the restaurant whenever needed.

One Sunday morning, Helen and Lloyd talked about how they could give back to the community.

“We both decided to offer soup and sandwiches to some of the elderly that might need food,” Helen said. “We both were teared up with the thought. But it was easy to do because we love people and are happy to be able to do this.”

While Helen works at the restaurant, Lloyd makes the deliveries on Sundays. As a man who works directly with the community, Lloyd knew his way around and was able to help jump start the project by knowing who to help.

April 12 marked the fourth Sunday the couple had delivered the soup and sandwiches to seniors for a total of 245 comfort food lunches.

“Since then, there has been such an outpour of thank yous and appreciations and donations, along with people asking how can they help,” Helen said. “It was so heartfelt to hear all the people so happy that we were doing this, because some of their family members weren’t able to be around and they have to stay away because of the pandemic.”

Helen said a lot of people have donated money to help with the cost of food.

“Knowing that we cannot reach out to every possible family in the community, we strive to do the best we can to do our part,” Helen said. “This is what it’s about — taking care of each other in time of need, and a community uniting together to help the needy and our elderly population.”

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