There are plenty of seafood restaurants in Augusta Maine, but there aren’t many quite as remarkable as the Red Barn.
Bill and Florence Benedict opened the Red Barn in 1977, and their Facebook page says all 10 of their children have worked at the restaurant since then. But what really sets this family-run business apart is the $2 million it has raised for local charities, according to a report from NBC Nightly News.
Every week during the fall and winter months, they host a fundraising event for charitable organizations and individual causes, such as medical costs or memorial services. They’ve since established the Red Barn Cares Foundation, according to an entry they wrote for the Maine Office of Tourism. The face of these events is Laura Benedict, who rarely appears without an ear-to-ear grin.
On the Red Barn’s Facebook page, you can see dozens of photos of Benedict beaming and hugging customers. The positivity comes from a place of darkness.
Several years ago, Laura Benedict of Augusta, Maine, was at her lowest point. She tells NBC she was struggling with abuse and alcoholism.
“Anybody who knew better knew I was heading for disaster,” says Benedict.
She says that’s what inspires her to keep giving back to the community. For her efforts, she won the 2017 The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Restaurant Neighbor Award, which she accepted with a huge smile and a tissue on hand for her tears.
“The people that I’m helping now helped me,” she says. “That’s the cycle of life. That’s what we have to keep going like this.”