If anyone knows what’s happening in Castine, it’s Alyssa Radcliff.
Born in Castine, Radcliff “mostly grew up in St. George” and ran track and cross-country while at Georges Valley High School. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Southern Maine, she worked at different jobs.
“Eventually I moved out to Michigan and lived in the Detroit suburbs for about 10 years” while working for mortgage brokers, she recalled. “I met my husband (Chris); he was living in Texas at the time.”
After their wedding, the Radcliffs lived in the Fort Worth area, and Alyssa started working as a freelance writer for businesses and magazines. Then his job led Chris to transfer to Maryland, and there Alyssa had twins: a daughter, Casey, and a son, Cole.
The Radcliffs lived four years in Maryland, until Chris was diagnosed with an early form of dementia called frontotemporal degeneration (FTD). They moved to Castine in 2012 “because I wanted some help,” Alyssa said. “It was a community where he could have some freedom” to move about as he grew sicker.
“My kids were little, and they needed a lot of attention, too,” she said. “That time was difficult.”
Chris eventually died. Alyssa had thought about leaving Castine afterwards, but several factors, including “that sense of community,” led her to stay.
“The [Adams] school is great,” she said. “The kids love the school.”
Radcliff joined the local parent-teacher committee in 2014 and was elected to the Castine School Board in 2016. In spring 2018 she was hired as director of the Castine Visitors Center, then approaching its fourth summer of operation.
Open Memorial Day to the end of September, the visitors center lies at the entrance to the town dock, popular with visitors coming by land or sea. “It’s in a really good location,” Radcliff said. “Seventy to 80 people come through there daily in July and August,” with more than 5,000 visitors stopping by in the 2018 season.
The center “is staffed 95 percent of the time by volunteers,” Radcliff said. “Most of our volunteers are retired people who live here year round or are summer people. A lot of things that happen in Castine are supported by volunteers.”
Busy “behind the scenes” with projects for the Castine Merchants Association, she helped the town design some 2019 tourism ads, including one appearing in Maine Invites You. Radcliff posts on the Visit Castine Facebook and Instagram accounts and maintains an online calendar that lets Castine residents and visitors know what’s going on
Recalling when she moved to Castine, Radcliff said that “it can take a while to feel a part of the community. Then you walk in some place,” like a Main Street bookstore, “and the people know you.
“There is sort of a reasonable pace of life here,” she said. “Life doesn’t need to be that fast. You have the space and the time to enjoy life.”
For the last two years, Radcliff has volunteered with the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration to manage a monthly phone-based support group “for people who have a spouse with FTD and children at home.
“People all over the country can join in. I facilitate the conversation and keep it going,” she said. “It was a really difficult time in my life, when Chris was sick. It is important to me to help other people going through it.”
Working on starting her own business to sell women’s clothing online, Radcliff relishes spending time with her children. Right now “we are busy with the puppy that we have,” an Australian shepherd named Finn, she said.