Kevin Jamison of Mexico often gathers his team of work associates at Aubuchon Hardware in Rumford and his team of helpers from the community to assist people in the River Valley area following a tragedy or financial crisis. Submitted photo

Kevin Jamison of Mexico is the manager at Aubuchon Hardware in Rumford. He grew up wanting to be a manager at that store, he says, because he always felt that the store, as well as Puiia Lumber in Mexico, were places where “people knew everyone and on top of that, cared for everyone.”

Since 2017, when he started working there, he’s taken his desire to help people beyond the store and into the community. He regularly gathers his “team” of helpers to assist in meeting the needs of friends and neighbors of the River Valley. That could be everything from he and his team gathering clothes and goods at the store for families who lost their homes by fire or other tragedies, to setting up a GoFundMe page for a friend in need of financial help after her husband suffered a heart attack, to raising money to help a family whose little girl needs heart surgery.

We talked with Jamison recently about what he does for the community, and how and why he does it.

What motivates you to help others as you’ve been doing for several years now? I think there is a whole list of reasons but one of the tenets that the Aubuchon Company holds dear to them above most others is the word community. This word drives us to make the places we live and work in a better place than when we started. That has given me the tools to do what I love and help the community.

I have been with several retail establishments over the years, but they just didn’t want to put any real effort in like I wanted. I think my key and primary motivation after you strip all that away though is just letting people know they aren’t alone and we are gonna be here to help them, whether that be from talking them through a simple sink project all the way up to collecting clothes after they lost their house in a fire.

In February 2020, Aubuchon Hardware Manager Kevin Jamison opened the store doors at 12:30 a.m. on a Monday so people could bring donations for victims of a fire in Rumford. “Donations started rolling in as soon as I walked in the door,” said Jamison, pictured with his son Bentlee. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Have you experienced your own hard times when you had to lean on others’ help, and do you think that that affected you in wanting to help others? In 2017 the year I started here at the Aubuchon Company I had one of the worst years of my life. My wife and I separated (we are together now and are very happy) early on in the year. Then mid-year I was living with my parents and my mom had been having heart trouble. On June 29th my mother’s heart troubles came to a head around 9:30 p.m. I was once a firefighter/EMT. I heard a strange noise come from their bedroom. Having the training I did, I knew exactly what was happening.


I started CPR on my mother and did so alongside Med-Care Ambulance paramedics for nearly an hour and a half before they got to the house. I had a brief moment when she told me to tell everyone she loved them and then she was gone as I continued.

That was the week I started here at Aubuchon Hardware. They showed me great empathy even though I hadn’t even worked an hour here yet. I knew I was home then. The year went on and I was doing everything I could to be positive because that is what mom would have wanted. Then November 17th changed the course of that year once again. I received a call from Kim (my wife) stating the house was on fire. I was still living away from the house at the time. I remember running out the door with no shoes and shirtless at the time.

Our neighbors Erika and Fred loaned me a pair of shoes and a jacket and they were the first of many to selflessly help. The fire and the community brought me and my wife closer that day and we decided we still needed each other. After that day though, the community support we saw was incredible.

I remember one instance specifically where Buddy Hosie, the manager at O’Reilly’s (Auto Parts in Mexico), stopped me as I was unloading a truck in the yard here at the store just days after the fire. He handed me an envelope and gave me a hug and said you need this bud. I went into my office after opening it and just sat and allowed emotions to wash over me for a few seconds.

Later that week the Aubuchon Company gave me, without asking, a $4,600 check from an employee hardship fund called the Moran Fund. All the while I was dealing with the insurance company/mortgage companies, who had caused issues and made us unaware that the house was uninsured. I was never really worried about that though, because the community stood behind us and they lifted us up and allowed us to brush ourselves off and move forward.

I made a video of the damage the fire had caused about four days after it happened and I made a promise in the video that I would pay forward the kindness we were shown by the community no less than 10-fold. I hope I can someday fulfill that promise but for now, I must work hard to do the best I can to do so.


Kevin Jamison of Mexico stands with his wife, Kim, and their children, from left, Haylee, Alee, Connor, and, in front, Bentlee. Submitted photo

You’ve mentioned having a team of people that work with you to get the ball rolling for gathering donations in the event of local disasters and tragedies. Care to drop a few names and what these folks do to make things happen? The team, well that’s easy. It’s the River Valley (community) that’s the team. It’s a group of towns that care a whole awful lot about one another. There are certainly stand-out individuals such as Katie Houghton, the office manager of Dixfield Discount Fuel. We have worked with her and the team of Dixfield Discount Fuel on multiple occasions, such as the DDF Toy Drive that benefits the River Valley youths and our Fuel the Community campaign.

Another is Mike Stanton, the owner of MJS Home Repair and Property Management. Mike is always there to help, especially if I call him (about) an elderly person (in need). In a pinch, he generally drops everything and takes care of them. We have also partnered with Gary Dolloff, director of the Greater Rumford Community Center, and who doesn’t know him?

There are so many people I could list off I could go for days with it honestly. It boils down to the fact that this is the best community in Maine and that’s just the bottom line.

You’ve said that even in your younger days you’ve always wanted to work at Aubuchon Hardware in Rumford. Why is that and how is working there helpful in your ability to help others? When I was younger, I always remember going to places like Aubuchon and, at the time, Puiia’s (Puiia Lumber Co. in Mexico) and feeling like these people knew everyone and on top of that, cared for everyone. I always thought to myself I would love to work at a hardware store and specifically Aubuchon Hardware. I saw how important they were to the communities they served.

I remember Al Richard (the former manager for 35 years) when I was in elementary school, handing out bike helmets. That is just what the Aubuchon Company does, though. We take care of people. I also saw how hardware stores of the past were places that the community was centered around, and they always took care of the community in turn.

Recently Raquel Welch, the town manager of Mexico, wrote this on my Facebook page, “You have brought back the old style of hardware that was all about the residents.” It made me feel like I was going in the right direction. The key thing about a hardware store and working here is you connect with everyone from the top tier of your community to the bottom tier of the community and everyone in between. You can either do nothing with that or you can connect all of them and make your community better as a whole.

Aside from gathering donations at the store such as clothing and food for locals who’ve experienced loss, what else have you and your team of work associates, friends, and neighbors done to help others? I always like getting involved in big events in the River Valley, such as the Roxbury ATV Club Ice Fishing Derby we have sponsored now going on for three years. We also helped raise money to get a new scoreboard at the River Valley Recreation Center in Mexico. We also enjoy helping Kris Howes of Ink Maine (in Rumford) and his team with anything they need in a pinch for Pumpkin Fest (in Rumford).

We have helped Team Hailey Hugs … I could sit here and list so many that my team has helped and I am beyond proud of them for that. One of my associates, Charlotte Welch, even shaved her head last year when we did a shave-off charity event for a young lady with cancer. The River Valley is full of people that want to help, and I am told all the time we have given them that (help) here when we make an issue known in our community.

I personally have very little to do with anything that goes on. It’s always the community that rallies together and shows the world what living in a small town is supposed to be like.

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