ROC-NH staff

Guest blog: "There is a great sense of community"

By ROC-NH staff

Guest blogger Dawn Willett puts into words the pride so many in resident-owned communities feel about their neighbors and their co-op communities.

Dawn Willett is a member and board member of the Brunswick Bay Mobile Home Cooperative in Brunswick, ME. Her column about life in a manufactured-home co-op was published in The Times Record during October, National Co-op Month, and put into words the pride so many of us feel about our neighbors and our community.

Two and a half years ago I had no idea that deciding to move into a “trailer park” would have such a positive impact on my life.

Money was tight, and with our second child on the way, my husband and I needed to find a place to call home fast. We found a mobile home for sale that was within our price range and it was in a park. We went through the application process and were called for an interview.

We show up thinking that the interview is with one person who runs the park, but there are seven or eight other people in the room. They go around the room, introduce each other and explain each person’s role. They then explain to us that this is not your typical mobile home park, this is a cooperative. The question came up: “Would you come to our board meetings?” I said yes! These people were willing to take a chance on me. They were helping me build a better future for my family. If they wanted me to attend a meeting once a month, I am in. What could it hurt?

I don’t remember much from that first meeting except Jessica Pooley standing up in front of the group with flip charts, talking to us about forming committees. If we wanted to join a committee all we had to do was put our name on the chart and show up for the monthly committee meeting. The membership committee sounded interesting, I raised my hand and soon I was attending meetings on a regular basis and getting to know others in my community.

I quickly learned what being part of a cooperative is all about. We, the residents of a park, who have chosen to become members of the cooperative, run the park! We don’t have to wait around for a landlord to cut down a falling tree, or to fix the roads, or to pump our septic tanks. We, together, work out a plan to take care of these items by hiring contractors that can take care of what we need, within our budget and timeframe.

It is not always easy. Sometimes projects need to be tabled for future discussion for one reason or another. We may not always agree, but we all strive to keep our park running smoothly and keep our neighbors safe and happy to call this home.

We all do what we do for the park as volunteers. We don’t get paid for the hours spent on the phone, going door to door, or on computer. But that doesn’t matter! There is a huge reward when you see a project finish and know that you are doing something good!

The trees are trimmed so they don’t fall on my neighbor’s home. The septic systems are all pumped to keep our park clean. Our fields are mowed, the fence is washed and, best of all, our lot rent is low! Together we are all happy to call this home and that is reward enough─to know that we helped make this a better place!

In addition to the sense of pride that comes with serving on the co-op board, there is a great sense of community. We all work together. We all help each other out when someone is in need. We care for each other and take care of each other. That’s what being a community is all about.

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