Jean Sylvia

Board Member


Jean grew up in mid-Maine and moved permanently to MDI following her graduation from the University of Maine with degrees in secondary and elementary education. Following her years of teaching and tutoring, she worked several other jobs locally, including 18-years for the Bluenose Ferry service and later, until she retired in 2016, as Associate Director of Summer Programs at College of the Atlantic. Jean’s husband Bill will tell you that she has a hard time sitting still and spends most of her retirement either volunteering, gardening, reading good books, knitting, exercising, and most importantly spending time with her granddaughters who live close by on MDI or her grandsons in southern CA. Jean and Bill have been married for 23 years and live in Bar Harbor.


Prior to my marriage to Bill, I was a single mother for several years and worked numerous jobs to provide a good home and life for my daughter. Although stressful at times, I also knew that I had an advantage over some single parents in that I had a supportive and loving family and friends who were always ready and able to step in if my daughter and I needed anything. My father grew up without his father and had to help his mother support his six siblings from a very young age. This led to his becoming a successful businessman and a leader in his community.  He believed strongly in giving back as a way of thanking those who helped him along the way, and he passed that passion for service on to his five children. Even through my toughest years as a single mom, I always felt it was important for my daughter to learn to treat everyone with kindness and respect, to be grateful for what she had, and to give back whenever she could. Now that I have grandchildren, I feel that my most important role in their lives, is to teach them through example how to thoughtfully and compassionately serve others, and there is no better program to be a part of to do that than Open Table MDI. Healthy and nutritious food should be available to everyone – especially in a country as wealthy as ours. As our program grows, I feel that we are on the right track to help our neighbors who suffer from food insecurity and in some cases from loneliness as well. I am grateful to Mahandeva and Puranjot for starting this program and for providing me an opportunity to be a part of this important mission.