Lisa Rodrigues’ desire to keep as much out of the waste stream as she can and her love for children has made her role as the new director of the SHAREcenter a perfect fit. 

“This is the best job that I have ever had in my life while working for someone else,” said Rodrigues. 

The SHAREcenter shares space with the Auburn School Department bus garage and donations of items from local businesses and individuals keep the center going. Things like: colorful plastic caps, recycled karate belts, science test tubes from Bates College, cups, spoons and yoga mats made from recycled foam by volunteers. 

The SHAREcenter is filled with educational tools that teachers didn’t know they needed — until they get there. 

“It (SHAREcenter) is like a gold mine to me,” said Brittiny-Rae Perron, a kindergarten teacher at Acadia Academy in Lewiston. “There are a lot of resources at the SHAREcenter that allow us to do hands-on projects that we probably would not be able to do otherwise because of the cost of me going out and buying all those materials would be too much,” said Perron.

Perron’s class recently made farm dioramas out of small wooden animals, cardboard cutouts and feed troughs made from one-gallon milk jug lids. 

All the materials were from the SHAREcenter. 

“We would not have been able to do that project or it would have been made out of paper rather than a variety of materials,” said Perron. “It would not have been nearly as hands-on.”

“Art teachers are in heaven,” Rodrigues said while walking between rolls of fabric, stacks of poster-board and small paper lobsters cut by volunteers. 

“We are mostly targeted to educators and nonprofits,” Rodrigues said, while explaining that the items at the SHAREcenter are available to members at no cost. 

The center works on a membership basis. School departments such as Auburn and Lewiston public schools, Hebron Academy, Spurwink and the YWCA in Lewiston pay a membership fee which allows staff to shop for free. 

“I have teachers come in here that are thrilled,” said Rodrigues. “I have a soft spot for teachers and I know what it takes,” she admits.

“It’s just fun,” Rodrigues said of pointing teachers in the right direction. “I try to guide them with my creativity.”

Rodrigues said she keeps a mental note when a teacher is looking for something particular. “I can’t remember my own name, but I can remember when somebody needs something.” 

“We focus on the three E’s,” said Rodrigues. “Education, the environment and economics. And you can’t get any more economical than free.”

Rodrigues said she will often go to businesses and pick up donated items herself. “I feel like a super hero sometimes whisking away a truckload of stuff.”

At least 25 business donors are listed on the SHAREcenter pamphlets. 

Jessica Person, a third grade teacher at Acadia, picked up 30 Delta Air Lines flight planners. She handed one to each of her students to be used during writing lessons. 

AJ Cotter, 8, wrote and drew pictures about the ups and downs of owning a kitty. Lila Theriault, 8, wrote about her first visit to a cousin’s house. 

“I usually find a lot of STEM things there,” said Person. “Stuff to build things or make challenges with.”

“Bates College has donated some amazing things from their science labs,” said Rodrigues. 

“The SHAREcenter is a great resource for so many teachers,” said Rodrigues. “I have some teachers tell me, ‘I can’t do my job without the SHAREcenter.'”

“Because there is such a wealth of things there, I am able to go over to get things to do a wide variety of projects,” said Perron. “Otherwise I would pay out of pocket or ask families to send things in.” 

Rodrigues said she is tickled that so many things can serve a second purpose. “Preventing all this from entering the landfill is so wonderful.”

When asked if she would like to see more of any one thing, Rodrigues said people.

“I would like to see more teachers come regularly,” said Rodrigues. “It’s all about letting people know that we are here.”

“I have a soft spot for teachers and know what it takes,” Lisa Rodrigues said of educators finding resources to fill their classrooms with supplies that they need. Rodrigues is the director at the SHAREcenter in Auburn. 

Brittiny-Rae Perron’s kindergarten students at Acadia Academy in Lewiston were able to build farm dioramas with materials Perron found at the SHAREcenter in Auburn. “About every two weeks I go over and fill up on things,” said Perron. 

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