This week's volunteer, Patrick Brough, is well known around Easthampton for his tireless efforts at bringing folks together and highlighting all that is good in our little hamlet. Not the least of which being the creator of Easthampton's popular Good News page on Facebook and spearheading a successful effort to bring back the fireworks. If you are one of his friends on Facebook, you may likely know what he's doing right now. He reveals a bit more about himself over a sundae. Hope you enjoy...
I recently got a little feedback that I should get more background on the interviewee before I get to the good stuff. So let me start with this, how did you end up in Easthampton?
I ended up in Easthampton because of my wife actually. She was born and raised here. We met through a mutual friend who lives in Southampton. I'm from Rockville, Connecticut. I met her in 1996; we met in the summer of ‘96 around the time of the fireworks. We had met earlier in the summer but officially started dating around the time of the fireworks. I came up here when we started dating. She had just bought a house over on Prospect Street. It just worked out. I loved the area, and as soon as we started dating we were pretty much inseparable, so here I am.
What makes Easthampton so cool to you?
Rockville, Connecticut, where I grew up, is very similar to Easthampton, an old mill town. Rockville is the same thing, or was the same thing - booming back in the heydays of manufacturing. Similar in population too. Rockville is a baby sister to Vernon, Connecticut, like Florence is to Northampton. Basically, we lived in the Rockville section of Vernon. I wasn't as active in the community when I was growing up there, but when I came here I just felt like I wanted to be involved. Let me back up for a second. I actually worked in Hartford, so I was one of those guys up and over the mountain in the morning, 6:30 am, back at 7 at night. I was really just here to sleep and to recover on the weekends.
In 2000, some things happened with work, and I really wasn't happy there anymore. I’d been there ten years. An opportunity opened up at Finck & Perras here in town, where I still work today. While working there, and I should add that F&P is really big on community involvement, the local Chamber of Commerce asked the owner Dick Perras about joining the Board, but he wasn't able to they asked if he had someone that could, and he offered the opportunity to me. That's how I started my community involvement here in Easthampton. From there, it's just grown. I just love being involved, doing for others, helping this community grow. I just really enjoy seeing this city prosper.
You're got quite a presence on Facebook. One could argue whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I’ve always felt your heart is in the right place there. You’re never in a bad mood, and you’re constantly plugging local businesses and happenings.
One of the things I have in my Facebook profile, and I can't recite it word for word, but it's something like 'I’m telling you now I like to share what I'm doing with you, and you may get tired of that, but consider yourself warned'. I enjoy letting people know what's going on, especially on the Easthampton Good News page. It makes me proud - the use of the ‘good news’ page. That started from a conversation I had with some people about being tired of hearing people talk about how horrible the town was and from what you read in the local newspapers. I knew there were good things here, through my work with the Chamber, Riverside Industries, and with the community in general. I thought it was a great opportunity, and even if I could get only a hundred people to listen to me talk about what is good about Easthampton, it would be worth it. Today we’re over 1100 people. That makes me really happy.
Your good news page is an accurate reflection of your personality. Your posts are rarely negative, unlike many you see. What's your secret?
I'm just generally a happy person. That's just who I am.
Care to share any advice with someone sitting next to you on the bus, metaphorically speaking?
I guess it's just one of those things that sounds silly, but 'don't sweat the small stuff'. I think people do, they worry about things. People say maybe I don't worry enough. But I think things really do work out. Bad things do happen, yes. I'm like everyone else, I do have bad days. It's funny, when I post something like that, everyone seems shocked and wonders what's going on. Stop and smell the roses. I don't really have a secret about what makes me tick.
Care to share an influential moment in your life?
Meeting my wife Gen was definitely the most influential event for me, moving up here, my two great kids, I couldn't be happier. I wouldn't change anything. I really wouldn't.
We live in a cool, ‘small town America’ town. It’s a tight community. It’s where burned out big city folk want to live.
I agree. The city really does welcome you, and anyone who says it doesn't isn't trying. Maybe you're not talking to the right people. If you need something, there are so many people you can go talk to, and you'd be amazed how willing people are to help you. No matter what it is.
I’ve always subscribed to the idea that you see what you want to see and what you expect to see. If you look for the good, you will see it all around you. There’s definitely plenty of good here.
Not to go back to the good news page on Facebook, but that's exactly why I put that together. I strongly believed people wanted to hear about the good things, but there was nowhere else to look. You can't open up the paper and expect to find good news all the time. The paper prints what sells, and unfortunately, it's bad news usually.
It’s amazing what you see in headlines on-line these days. Seems they’ll say anything to get you to click over to their site.
It’s as simple as the weather. A storm is coming! It’s a Nor’easter. Get your milk. Fill up your tank before it’s too late!
Anything to get you to watch the local news on TV all day long.
This tragedy or that tragedy, that's what sells. So I think when you have something like the good news page where people are posting good things and info, sharing about their trip to the park, or the kids from the high school that got to go to the State House to meet our public officials, those are the good things people don't hear about. I like to promote those things that people aren't getting a chance to see. Over a thousand people following that page, and not everyone follows everything every day, but I’d like to think they're there because they want to hear the good things that are going on.
It’s efforts like yours that make the world better. And if it makes you feel good to do it, not to get all Ayn Rand'y on you, why not, sounds like a good reason to do it to me.
It's the simple things, like the ‘Loch Nash Monster’ snow sculpture we did on the pond this winter. It was such a feel good thing that we wanted to do with the kids, so I put it out there on Facebook to see who would come out. We ended up getting a whole bunch of people. I was amazed at how much exposure we got for that, it was on the news for over a week. And for something good!
I remember when I first started Mt. Tom’s, I met a producer from a local TV news station. He really liked the shop and wanted to get me some exposure on the news somehow. He finally did, but it took a huge jump in dairy prices to have a ‘story’ to warrant a visit to the shop. Bad news still sells. I think your good news page is a great example that good news can sell too if you give it a chance. And it leaves you feeling good and not anxious and stressed. That’s a great thing you’ve got going there, hope this gets you a few more fans.
One final question, any predictions for the Red Sox?
They will not win 157 games. I think they'll do well. Like every Sox fan, I'm optimistic. 2004 taught us just because you're down doesn't mean you're out.
You really are an upbeat guy. Thanks for spending a sundae’s time with me.
You’re very welcome.