Raymond businesses and community members rallied last week to help a daughter present her parents with a night to remember. Just minutes after Rae-Anne Nguyen put out her plea, a plan was in place to give her parents a night on the town, including a limo ride, dinner out and tickets to the Alan Jackson concert on Saturday, January 24th.
Raymond resident Dale Southard, who owned and operated Tailfeathers Upland Store first in Windham, then in Raymond, was diagnosed with colon cancer in October of 2013. The family put their best efforts into keeping the business open and helping Southard get to treatments, but complications after a surgery in April of 2014 meant that he had to close the shop for good. “Through all that he’d made a lot of great friends,” said Nguyen. “The customers he had turned into good friends.”
Since Christmas week when Chipman Farms, where her mother worked, closed for the season Nguyen said her mother’s focus has been on taking care of her dad and making sure he’s getting to treatments and getting well. On January 11th, Southard went back into the hospital and spent nine days there. When he came out, said Nguyen, “I wanted them to be able to do something fun together, because everything they do is always focused on the hard stuff right now.”
Knowing that people in the community had been extremely supportive, and kept asking if there was anything they could do to help, Nguyen came up with the idea to put something together so her parents could get to the Alan Jackson concert. “They love country music, and they had never seen Alan Jackson in person,” she said.
In the early afternoon on Tuesday, January 20th, she sent a message to family members, old friends, and other people they have met along their journey, asking if anyone wanted to chip in and help her make this night happen. The response was immediate and positive. Within minutes, she said, someone told her they were ordering floor tickets to the concert. Then came a gift certificate to Café Sebago and monetary donations so that her parents could ride to and from the show in a limousine. “Everyone was just so excited and happy, and glad to be a part of something like that for my parents,” said Nguyen.
The night was amazing for her parents, she said. It was a chance for them to have an evening where everything was arranged for them, and they knew how much love and support they had in the community.
Nguyen said that there were many local business owners who helped make the night special. Pam Hartig, owner of Ultimate Tanning and Hair Salon in Raymond; Jessica Fay, owner of Raymond Village Florist; and Bill and Kim Hines, owners of Café Sebago all played a large role in donating towards the event. Many other individuals also donated money, even after the fact, purchasing additional gift certificates to Café Sebago, where Nguyen’s parents like to eat.
When someone is in need, members of the Raymond community band together. “That’s what’s incredible about this community,” said Hartig.
Nguyen said she could see that every day when the shop was open and people came in to lend their support. Even after the closing of the business, she said, they receive many messages and phone calls from people offering help. But seeing it first hand was special. “I think it’s great for my parents to realize that they’re not alone, they’re not forgotten because Dad’s business isn’t there anymore. The support is still there and people are still really pushing for him to get well,” she said.