On Wed., July 20, Pine Tree Society honored the 2016 recipients of the Spirit of Pine Tree Society award. The profile below is the story of honoree Dave Johnson, owner of Kennebec Electric in Waterville. Learn more about the other honorees: Priority Learning of South Portland and Marie Preston.
“Freedom. The ability to do any activity you want. Freedom from pity. Freedom from being looked down upon.”
That’s how Carol Brunjes Weaver describes Pine Tree Camp.
Carol is David Johnson’s daughter and she began attending Pine Tree Camp when she was eight-years-old. “Pine Tree Camp restored my faith in myself.”
“What Pine Tree Camp did for Carol was amazing to me,” said David. “She came back from Pine Tree Camp a totally different person and, from that time on, she excelled.”
Carol was born with cerebral palsy.
“Coming out of second grade, I was broken. I’d just turned eight. I had a horrible second grade teacher who didn’t think someone with a disability of any kind should be in her class. That summer I went to camp and it healed me. People just treated me normal.”
For David, the spirit of Pine Tree Society is what Pine Tree Camp does for kids. “What it does for kids’ confidence levels is amazing.”
David is the owner of Kennebec Electric in Waterville. Thirty years ago he was hired to work on an electrical job at Pine Tree Society’s office in Bath. He had never heard of the organization before and when he asked what they did, he knew camp would be a perfect fit for Carol, but he didn’t think their family could afford to send her.
When he learned that no camper had ever been turned away due to their ability to pay, there was nothing that could hold them back from giving it a try and they decided to enroll her. She attended camp for the next 10 years before going to college and becoming a math teacher.
“I will always be grateful for what Pine Tree did for Carol.”
When he learned that Pine Tree Society was building two new cabins as part of its Master Plan for Capital Improvements, he jumped at the chance the help out and offered to wire the buildings for free.
“It’s my way of giving back for what they did for her.”
When asked to describe her father, Carol said, “He is generous to a fault. We were talking the other day and he said he tries to do a good thing for someone every day.”
She and her dad were very close when she was young and they grew apart when she was a teenager.
“Pine Tree Camp brought up back together. It’s something we have in common. It means a lot to me that he puts so much into something that means so much to me.”
David is very humbled by the Spirit of Pine Tree Award.
“Pine Tree Society is one of the greatest organizations in the state of Maine. I love and appreciate them and this award makes me feel grateful and honored at the same time.”