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Park Theatre, FPU building bridges through volunteers

JAFFREY: University student from Rindge campus often help with the heavy lifting

  • Members of Franklin Pierce University's Brother's Reaching Out, including senior Noah Phillips, left, carry a Wurlitzer organ out of Connie and Richard Porter's home in Jaffrey. The couple donated the organ to the Park Theatre.<br/><br/>Courtesy photo
  • Volunteers from Franklin Pierce University's Brother's Reaching Out help Caroline Holister, president of the Park Theatre's Board of Trustees, right, carry large items out of the Main Street theater to prepare for its future renovation.<br/><br/>Courtesy photo

JAFFREY — An old conversation Caroline Hollister of Jaffrey had with former Gov. Walter Peterson is one she told the Ledger-Transcript last week that she’ll never forget.

“I was encouraged, inspired and somewhat cheered on by Governor Peterson, who told me, ‘There is no need for anyone to set term limits on anything,’” Hollister smiled. “He told me, ‘I was president of Franklin Pierce College for 20 years and that’s because I felt it was where I needed to be.’”

A question raised by the Park Theatre’s Board of Trustees a couple of years ago was who would spearhead the theater’s restoration project when Hollister, president of the board, feels it is her time to step down. But Hollister said in those moments she remembered Peterson’s advice.

Hollister said the Park Theatre is at a threshold, as the trustees moved forward with plans to refurbish the theater and restore it to its former glory as Jaffrey’s go-to location for movies and local productions.

“Once I know with certainty that we are going to walk through this door that will take us to construction, and that the theater will reopen, that’ll be a great time to pass the torch to the next generation,” Hollister said.

Who will take the torch, though, is uncertain. But the volunteerism Hollister said she’s seen in the early stages of the restoration project encourages her.

Every time the theater needs someone to help with heavy lifting, prepare for an open house or movie event, Hollister said members of Franklin Pierce University’s male community service group known as Brother’s Reaching Out have expressed a willingness to take part.

“They have so many good ideas and have an inclination to help,” Hollister said. “I would love to talk about maybe having one of them join the board as a trustee.”

Brother’s Reaching Out members FPU junior Mike Husson and senior Noah Phillips said their group’s mission is to give back to the local community, and the Park Theatre is a great place to carry out that mission.

“I am hoping to bridge a connection between the theater and Franklin Pierce,” Phillips said, noting that the partnership would benefit both.

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