Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Person of the Week

Shelley Braza Still Carries a Torch, If not the Mail, for the Shoreline

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After almost four decades, Shelley Braza is retiring from the Clinton Post Office. 

Photo courtesy of Shelley Braza

After almost four decades, Shelley Braza is retiring from the Clinton Post Office. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Braza)

For close to four decades, Shelley Braza has been a familiar face for 500 Clinton residents a day. That era is coming to an end on Friday, May 21 when Shelley is retiring from the Clinton Post Office.

Shelley has been working as a mail carrier for the Clinton Post Office for 36 years. Shelley got her start working at the Post Office thanks to a formula that has helped launch thousands of young people into new jobs: Her parents nagged her to apply.

“My mother forced me to go in and fill out an application,” Shelley says with a laugh.

Shelley shared a route to learn the ropes during the first few years at the job, but after about three years Shelley had her own route. Shelley was responsible for a route that took her down Route 145, out to the Westbrook border, and down the scenic roads by Clinton’s beachfront houses.

Shelley drove that same route for 32 years. The route was 16 miles and included 523 separate residences. By driving that same route for more than 30 years, Shelley says she got to know many of her customer on a personal level. That mean being a friendly face to people along the route, offers of beach rights, and friendly conversations with people she may not see every day anymore.

“That’s going to be the hardest part, says Shelley.

Shelley says once she reached the retirement age, she felt she had enough and that it was time to move on.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling for sure,” says Shelley.

As for what she’s going to do now that she’s retied, Shelley jokes, “I’m going to sit in my house when it’s snowing hard out and say ‘I don’t have to go to work today.’”

On a more serious note, Shelly says she is looking forward to being able to relax and take it easy. For example, when other people would come to the office and talk about summer plans, Shelley says all she could think about was that it was time to find summer camps for her kids so that they would be somewhere while she was at work.

“I want to enjoy my own home and my own gardens—and we just purchased chickens, too,” Shelley says.

Even though her career at the Post Office may be ending, Shelley says she’ll still be a regular along the route. One hobby Shelley has is decorating her yard with pots and hanging plants, an activity she says she would like to do for people along her old route who are interested in decorating their houses.

Shelley says she may also offer to keep an eye on the houses for the owners since many of the houses by the water are summer houses that are unoccupied for large parts of the year.

Keeping an eye out for issues at those houses is something that Shelley says she got very used to doing since she knew her route and customers so well. Shelley says she knew when some families were home and some were out of town and as a result, a handful of times over her career Shelley was able to intervene when she noticed things were out of the ordinary at some residences and alert the proper authorities to head off any more potential issues. For example, Shelley says she remembers the time she noticed a large water leak at an empty house and immediately called the water company to get the water turned off for the family.

“You kind of get in that mode where you notice things,” explains Shelley.

Shelley says she never had any ideas or opportunities to pursue a different career. Asked for her favorite part of being a postal worker, Shelley again mentions the relationships formed by mail carriers with customers and the knowledge kept about each house.

“Honestly, I think it’s the customers and the connection you have with them over the years and the trust they have in you. Everyone is very appreciative,” Shelley says.

As for the hardest part of her job, Shelley mentions ending her career during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to everyone staying home and ordering more things online, Shelley says that caused the delivery process to slow down so that parts of her trek that would normally take two hours suddenly took four.

“It was absolutely chaos out there,” Shelley says.

Shelley was raised in Clinton but now calls Westbrook home along with her husband Kevin.

Having lived in the area for so long, Shelley wastes no time in coming up with her favorite aspect about the area: “Shoreline, shoreline, shoreline,” she simply replies, remarking how important it is not to take the beach access in the area for granted.

In her spare time Shelley likes gardening, planting, and walks by the sea. She also enjoys spending time with her sons Justin Hagen, Spencer Hagen, and Kyle Braza.

As for a last sentiment to those who will miss her from her time at the Post Office, Shelley says “Thank you, and it’s on to the next adventure.”


Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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