ATHOL — While Debbie Allain-Thomas expected a brief visit from Athol’s state legislature and city manager during the recent opening of her shop, she was unaware that she would be presented with resolutions honoring her commitment to the community.
State Senator Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and State Representative Susannah Whipps, I-Athol, each presented Allain-Thomas with a recommendation from their respective branch of the legislature, while City Manager Shaun Suhoski presented her with a similar resolution passed by Athol’s selection board. Former Lions club district governor Jeanette McIntosh also presented Allain-Thomas with a club ordinance thanking her for her work with the organization and on behalf of the annual River Rat Race.
Delivering her Senate resolution, Senator Comerford Allain-Thomas said, “I’ve been thinking about this beautiful business and the work of opening it in the middle of a global pandemic. to bring something useful to the community of Athol, that is a community center that will bring opportunity to this region by opening a business and investing here. So congratulations on starting a business in the middle of this really hard time.
“I’m glad you went on a mission,” she said. “I very much look forward to working with Rep. Whipps in support of your efforts and small businesses throughout the region.”
Located at 1485 Main St. in Athol’s Uptown neighborhood, Else Where offers UPS, FedEx, and US Post Drop offices, shipping services, photocopying, faxing, and printing services. While Else Where first opened its doors in June 2019, calls for stores to open followed by the disruptions caused by the pandemic prompted Allain-Thomas to keep postponing a grand opening event. Finally, on October 20, partly at the urging of Pam Boudreau and other supporters, the grand opening took place.
Before presenting Allain-Thomas with the House resolution, Rep. Whipps quoted Boudreau, who works with Allain-Thomas and is hosting the event, for informing her about Else Where and his services.
“You know,” Whipps said, “Pam is retired and has been looking for employment. The excitement I heard in her voice after she came here and met Deb and wanted to pitch in and give Deb a little break from business – it was just amazing.”
Speaking to Allain-Thomas, Whipps said: “During COVID we were separated from each other, we were separated from our families. To have a service like this where you could reach your family you could send your Christmas gifts, if you needed something – because a lot of us didn’t go to the big stores – you could have it delivered here.
“As a business owner and as a business owner and I see other women business owners here, Deb, I think it’s so amazing to see a woman being strong, providing a service and contributing to the community through that trade. So, I’m so excited to be here.”
“We’ve known each other for a few years,” Suhoski began, “and where else would you buy packages and delivery services? Elsewhere. Where else?
“On behalf of the city, the North Quabbin Revolving Loan Fund, which supports small businesses like Else Where. And the services you provide; I remember breaking a sweat before the holidays during the pandemic. It’s great to have a place where we can ship goods. And for private businesses, people who make sales on eBay and other sites, help them get their products out. So, thanks from the city.”
Eventually, McIntosh Allain-Thomas issued a statement that said, “The Athol Lions recognize Else Where as an official river rat registry.”
After all the presentations, Allain-Thomas said to those gathered: “Obviously I couldn’t be here without many of you. I encourage anyone who ever thinks about starting a business to seek out the amazing support I have – family and friends.
“Some days are definitely tough, but the fact that I can jump out of bed in the morning, turn up and do what we do and feel like we did our best; What else can we say? When you do what you love, you’re more than ready to do it every day.”
Greg Vine can be reached at [email protected]