As well as drinks, cookies, pastries, bread & more – all part of annual July 4 weekend event in Lewiston
By Joshua Maloni
The third year of a rapidly growing giveback campaign will once again see military members treated to free … well, whatever they want, at three participating Lewiston locations this holiday weekend.
Joel and Maryjo Erway are picking up the tab for any active or former U.S. military member visiting The Orange Cat Coffee Co., The Village Bake Shoppe and/or DiCamillo Bakery from July 1-4.
Troops and veterans will pay nothing, while each business will deduct between 10% and 15% off the Erways’ bill.
Last year, more than 400 orders were placed over the same time frame – an increase of 100% from the initial effort in 2021.
Joel said he’s hopeful that growth will continue.
“Year two was awesome,” he said.
“After year two, we started to see that the message started to spread just by word of mouth. It’s not like we promote this all year. It was really just kind of like a week or two before the event we started promoting it. But what was happening was the attendees from the first year were already talking about it – and telling all their friends from across the country, from the West Coast, ‘Hey, come meet us over the Fourth of July weekend.’ Their Army buddies or military buddies. And so, they were flying from across the country.
“And (Orange Cat owner) Michael Broderick shared a whole bunch of stories from year two that were just – it was incredible. It was very touching. And so, year three, I wanted to keep expanding it because, not only do we support the military, but I love Lewiston. I love Center Street. It's just near and dear to my heart. I want to expand this initiative now to not only support the troops, but also support as many local businesses as we can. And so, reaching out to Mike Fiore, Matt DiCamillo and, of course, Michael Broderick, they were an absolute ‘Yes’ in supporting the initiative.
“I’m excited for us to now support the village and local businesses, along with the troops. Hopefully, we keep growing each year.”
Broderick said, “Orange Cat is fortunate to have a lot of customers that are veterans. This is a nice day to recognize them, and bring their families together. The last two years were amazing events for us. So, we’re hoping to continue that.”
Matt DiCamillo said, “DiCamillo Bakery is very proud to participate in something like this. Anything that's important to our troops and our community is important to us. Our whole family is supportive of it. We also have quite a few military veterans in our family, so it's personal, as well.”
Mike Fiore said, “The Village Bake Shoppe has been blessed tremendously. So, it is our privilege and honor to be able to bless those who have laid their lives down for our country, and for those who have served – and we appreciate them so much. This is a little token for us to say thanks.”
Erway noted, “We're fortunate to have the sponsors to help contribute to it, as well, and we don't want it to be limited to just coffee, or just pastries. It's our time to really give back and just say, ‘Thank you for your service’ – and also to support the local businesses. It's a nice initiative that we're able to tie in a few different benefits.”
Response has been positive – or so Erway has heard. He has yet to attend a giveaway, not wanting to draw the spotlight away from the military members.
Nevertheless, he understands the reactions have been “probably about 10 times more than what I expected.”
“I’m fortunate in my business,” The Webinar Agency, which, Erway explained, works primarily with online business owners. “I've also published a book called ‘High Ticket Courses.’ We serve the coaching market, the online coaching and course creation market. We serve those clientele. We help them publish, create and market their own online courses and coaching programs.”
Erway said, “One of the reasons why I want to support local businesses is because I own a business in Lewiston. But it's not local – meaning, we've served only online businesses. And so, I wanted to find a way to help give back to Lewiston, and help contribute to Lewiston, while also supporting a cause that I believe in.
“And so, in 2021, our inaugural year, I had a feeling it was going to feel good. It felt right just to do it. But, until you hear the stories, you really don't understand how much of an impact it can make. Just something as simple as, ‘Hey, this Fourth of July, we’ll buy you a cup of coffee. Just come in and enjoy – it's on us.’ And then you hear the stories.
“Michael (Broderick) was telling me, last year, they had a family come in – because they knew it happened the year before – so they brought in their grandfather. The entire family – I think it was three or four generations – showed up. They sat down, they had a meal, had coffee, whatever. You know, it wasn't a huge, huge thing. But, what happened was, the grandfather sat down and, because it was such a special event for everyone, the grandfather started sharing stories that he had never shared to his family before.
“It was stories like that. It allows them to bond, and we can operate in the background and just say, ‘Thank you.’ And if we can help facilitate that, it's really cool. It's really special. And so, I’m glad that we are able to keep doing it every year.”
Those looking to participate in the Erways’ July 1-4 military appreciation event are encouraged to bring some form of military identification when stopping into The Orange Cat, The Village Bake Shoppe and/or DiCamillo Bakery. Be sure to mention the military promotion when placing an order.