LEWISTON — When it’s for a good cause, asking for money is a pleasure to Mitch Thomas.

Every no can be cordial. And every yes is extraordinary, he said.

“I love fundraising,” Thomas said, sitting in his windowless office in the basement of the Franco-American Heritage Center. “There is a great story here and a great brand. And I’m happy to share it.”

That’s his job.

On July 14, Bastille Day, the longtime actor, singer, pianist and charity worker became the center’s third executive director.

A little more than two weeks later, he has begun a long list of lunch dates with leaders from the community, and he is starting to get a feeling for where he wants to lead the Little Canada landmark, he said.

In part, he wants the center to become a kind of beacon for other arts groups in the area.

Lewiston-Auburn ought to be an arts destination for people throughout Maine, he said.

“I think we’ve got the infrastructure,” he said, glancing upstairs toward the grand performance hall. “And it would help so many others.”

Thomas, 52, has spent a career helping folks. He served almost 14 years as the communications director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine. He worked for March of Dimes and Auburn’s Chapman House nursing home. He has also taught part time at Central Maine Community College.

On his own time, his focus has been on the arts.

He served for more than 25 years at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore, both immersed in interpreting history for visitors and as a member of the organization’s board. He’s led choirs and sung as a soloist, performed as a pianist and worked on many productions at Community Little Theatre in Auburn.

“I’ve spent 30 years in this community,” Thomas said. “I’ve said for years that I wanted a paying position in the arts in Lewiston-Auburn. I’ve finally found it.”

He replaced Louis Morin, who was on the job for almost a year and a half before he suffered a catastrophic stroke. Before Morin, the center was led by one of its founders, Rita Dube, until her retirement in December 2012.

Unlike either Morin or Dube, Thomas is not Franco-American.

“I told the board in the first letter I sent, I think in the first paragraph,” he said. “I was very up-front about it.” However, the Jay native grew up among Francos, took four years of French in school and has a deep love of the culture, he said.

“I read it,” he said. “And with the help of two dictionaries to translate, I can write it.”

And he is surrounded by French speakers at the center. “I have a board of 14 great people who speak fluently,” he said.

They’ll get him through the moments when French is needed, Chairman Ray Lageuex promised. In most cases, though, English will do.

Thomas believes visitors to the center will soon get accustomed to him. He plans to ask attendees to every concert for a donation to keep the center operating and to tackle ongoing repairs. Though about $6.5 million has been spent on the building — much of it on the center’s century-old masonry — more than $1 million more is needed.

Without help, the place cannot survive.

Thomas and staffers are working on several grant applications. Some would help fund repairs. Others are targeted for the purchase of additional fire-suppression equipment for the center.

If people cannot write a check, maybe they can donate goods or services, he said. The center is worth the effort to ask.

“I’m asking everyone,” he said. “I’m not shy.”

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