If you’ve come by MCHPP in the last two decades, chances are you’ve met Henry Haley, 86. Always ready with a smile and a story, and known for his love of whoopie pies, Henry has diligently spent the last 17 as the organization’s custodian. He is the longest-serving member of the MCHPP staff (as he puts it: “the oldest employee and the oldest in age employee”) and he has seen the organization grow from a small operation out of the basement of St. Paul’s church into the largest hunger prevention program in the region.
Henry grew up in Topsham, attending a one-room schoolhouse, then the Cone School, before graduating from Brunswick High School in 1954.
He enlisted in the Navy after high school and served 20 years before returning to Brunswick, where he still lives. Early in his Navy service, while stationed in California, he came home for his best friend’s wedding where he met his wife, Mary. A first date at a drive-in led to “going together” and before he flew back to California, he proposed.
“I went to her folks to ask permission to ask her and they said, ‘Well, if she’ll have ya. [laughs]’”
Henry and Mary married in 1957 and spent 55 amazing years together before Mary’s passing in August of 2012. They raised two children, Deborah and Edward, and have enjoyed numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
After leaving the Navy and returning to Maine, Henry worked as an auditor and then at Bowdoin College, and retired when he turned 55. It didn’t take him long before he started looking for ways to fill his time.
Henry’s first retirement lasted less than a week before he started as a volunteer at MCHPP. When the agency moved into its new building in 2003, he offered to be the custodian, but the spot was already filled. A year later, the position opened up, and then-Executive Director Terry Howell hired him.
“I could always count on Henry,” said Howell.
He’s been a fixture of MCHPP ever since and his sense of humor and his love of whoopie pies have become legend among staff and volunteers alike.
“Oh I love my whoopie pies. Any kind. A regular old fashioned whoopie pie – Chocolate cookies, white filling in between, that’s the best one. But I like peanut butter, I like whatever.”
When Henry walks into the building, he’s impossible to miss. A chorus of “Hi Henry!” rings down the halls and multiple people pull him aside to let him know that they’ve saved a whoopie pie or two for him. The cheer he brings in is contagious.
“He always had time to say hello and see how you were doing,” said Food Bank Manager Andrew Woodring.
That is the epitome of who Henry is. He takes great joy in making people smile and laugh, and it’s what he will miss most about MCHPP.
“It’s a very tight-knit community and I’m proud to be part of it – it’s just like home to me,” Henry described. “I’ve told people that many times, it’s just like home.”
It’s also what we will miss about him.
“During his time at MCHPP he touched so many lives,” said Executive Director Karen Parker. “He was dedicated to our mission, took tremendous pride in his work and he loved to socialize with volunteers, guests, and staff. We are so fortunate for his service.”
“He is just a truly kind, compassionate person, who understood the importance of the role he played in keeping the organization running,” added Deputy Director Hannah Chatalbash. “Everyone here is going to miss him, so we made sure he knows he has to come back and visit.”
Henry, we miss you already and we can’t wait for you to visit. You will always have a whoopie pie set aside at MCHPP.