At Home with Maria Pollard

By Janice Carter Levitch

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

From the early age of 14, Maria Pollard daydreamed about America. She saw a quote in the daily paper that read, “You have to visit America to realize life’s opportunities.” She cut out the words and hung them on her bedroom wall. That was the beginning of her desire to discover the world outside of her hometown in southern Sweden.

Everything American intrigued her, but it wasn’t until she was 22 that she finally had the opportunity to visit. From the moment she arrived at a friend’s home in Florida, it was apparent that her interest in the United States was much more than an infatuation. In fact, she met the love of her life, Bennie Pollard, just eight months after arriving. Six months later, they were married. That was 31 years ago.

Maria believes in the power of positivity, which led her to create Great Happens (, an online company committed to inspirational products such as t-shirts, phone covers, coffee cups and hats.  Ten percent of all sales are donated to the customer’s choices of three different charities. Maria also is a published author and has another one in the works. Maria recently invited us into her home the share her five favorite things.


“My father was in charge of a transportation company, and I remember he would get some really nice gifts around Christmas time every year,” Maria said. “As a kid, I remember this was one of those gifts, and he really enjoyed this sculpture. I brought it back from Sweden and keep it in my home as a reminder of him.”


“This map is from my second grade class,” Maria recounted. “It’s of southern Sweden, where I’m from. I even wrote my name on the back of it. My teacher made us remember all the names of everything on this map and gave us a tough test on it. I keep it in the original plastic. I have the memory of having to remember everything about it and the anguish I went through to pass the test.”


“This is a family photograph of our trip to London, England, in March of 1971,” Maria recalled. “My mother was always so chic and my father was carrying a camera bag everywhere to capture those special moments we had with his film camera. We surprised my sister, who was living in London at the time, and a street photographer actually took this picture. Both of my parents have since passed and it makes this photo even more sentimental.”


This coffee cup with Maria’s name on it is very special to her. She received it when she was about 1 year old and as a kid, she was always fascinated with it. “It’s a petite-size cup and I’ve always loved using it,” Maria said.


The Tiffany ring has understated elegance and such a simplicity that Maria fell in love with it as soon as she saw it. “Simple always wins, and I’m very much attached to it,” Maria said with a smile. “The fact that it feels circa-1970 attracted me to it. It has a little bit of that style in it. And it spoke to me. There is something about it that makes me feel great and happy when I’m wearing it.” VT