Person of the Week
Kim Esposito: Stepping up to Serve
Kim Esposito is such a fan of Christmas events, like this festival at Lyman Orchards, that she has stepped up since 2013 to help stage Westbrook’s signature parade and tree lighting. (Photo courtesy of Kim Esposito)
Whether it’s at the town tree lighting, the high school, or her church, Kim Esposito is a person who doesn’t shy away from volunteering her time to the Westbrook community.
It was 2013 and the town was looking for volunteers who would help plan the annual tree lighting and parade. Someone on the committee asked Kim to help and, “...I said ‘yes,’” Kim says.
Almost 10 tree lightings later, Kim is still on board.
“I love that it’s such a happy event that brings people together at the holidays. It’s a good thing to help with,” says Kim.
Taking place on the Town Green, the night features a parade, ice carving, food, crafts, live music, horse-drawn carriage rides, a bonfire, and, of course, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Kim says the planning begins well before Santa has even began sorting kids by naughty or nice.
“We begin planning in early September. There’s only six of us on the committee and we do everything. Everyone will always say to me, ‘Why do you begin so early?’ but there’s really a lot of work that needs to be done,” explains Kim.
Responsibilities include communicating with the parade people, discussing any new ideas for features, applying for and obtaining permits, setting up and decorating tents, getting word out to community residents about the event, and securing horses for the carriages.
“Rounding up the horse-drawn carriages is very important,” Kim says. “That’s a big draw every year.”
Her favorite part of the event is “when it all comes together and you see the whole town there. It’s really great.”
As for the hardest part, Kim acknowledges that there’s a lot more “moving parts” than people realize and that the small organizing committee is responsible for ironing out all the details.
Due to uncertainty relating to the pandemic, the tree lighting parade had to be canceled in 2020. However the event went off without a hitch in 2021 and Kim says the town was thrilled to have the parade and ceremony back again.
“This year it was the biggest crowd we’d ever seen. It was great,” says Kim.
The tree lighting isn’t the only way Kim gives her time to the community. She is also very active in the Westbrook Congregational Church, serving as a trustee, assistant finance manager, and a member of the pastoral search committee, which is working to find a new pastor for the congregation.
Kim says the church was going through some changes and realized that volunteers were needed to keep things running smoothly, so she stepped up.
“It’s a lot of work. I’ve been going to the church for 18 years, but in the last five is when I got more active,” says Kim.
One church initiative of which Kim is particularly proud is a blessing box.
“It’s kind of like those little free libraries you see around, but with food in it so that people in need can come grab food from it whenever they want,” explains Kim.
The box is located at the church and Kim says she helps keep it well stocked.
Kim also posts the Zoom recordings of the Sunday services on the church’s Facebook page and Valley Shore Community Television channel.
Ironically, the event for which Kim might be most well-known for is one that she is no longer involved in.
“I did Project Graduation every year since 2015, but this is the first year I’m not doing it,” says Kim, adding that her kids are no longer in the school system.
Kim served as the treasurer and the chairperson of that committee during her time and says she will help out with this year’s committee if they need someone to bounce ideas off of.
For Kim, volunteering is a relatively recent passion.
“As my kids got older and needed me less, I found I got pleasure from volunteering,” says Kim. “I got into Project Graduation to be involved in something for my kids. For the tree lighting, I liked it as a way to help the community, and with the church, I wanted to get involved to keep the church running.”
As for the multitude of endeavors that keep her busy, Kim says with a laugh, “I read it increases your dopamine, so that must be what’s going on here.”
Kim grew up in Berlin but moved to Westbrook in 1996 with her husband.
“We fell in love with this beautiful shoreline community and thought it would be a great place to eventually settle down and have kids,” says Kim. “I love that Westbrook has this small-town feel where everyone knows each other and that it’s on the shoreline as well as being close to Boston and New York.”
When not volunteering around town, Kim works at Pfizer and can be found skiing, reading, traveling, or enjoying time with family.