Harpswell Aging at Home

Covers: Harpswell, ME

Start Date: Informally November 2014. Formally April 2015.

Mission, Vision & Goals

Mission: Harpswell Aging at Home (HAH) is a community-led organization committed to fostering initiatives that help people thrive while aging at home.

Vision: Harpswell is a community where people can thrive while aging at home.

Goals: Given the agreed upon vision, mission and overarching strategy of HAH, and given the conclusions of our Community Assessment, these are our initial goals:

  1. To build a sustainable, effective and accountable HAH.
  2. To create a central communications function/network that would serve HAH’s work.
  3. To develop information and raise awareness of existing elder services and supports.
  4. To enhance the availability of home repair services available to seniors.
  5. To improve the availability of transportation to seniors who do not drive.
  6. To enhance the availability of senior social, educational and physical exercise opportunities.
  7. To expand senior access to chore and food services.

Broad Overview

In 2015, we assessed the needs of older adults in Harpswell. In 2016, we developed action plans to respond to those needs. HAH’s strategy is to provide information, promote initiatives, mobilize volunteers, create connections and foster collaboration among older adults, caregivers and organizations to strengthen existing programs. We only build a new program if a need is not being met.

Our assessment showed that older adults did not know what resources are available to help them. To address this need, we created a “Senior Resources” list on the town’s website, a “Senior Resource Guide” that is available at the town office and other public locations, and a website that also offers information about trusted home repair, home care and handyman/chores providers.

We've also created community meal opportunities, socialization opportunities, a weekly connection program, a home repair program and health programming. We have a robust communication strategy to get info about resources out to the people who need them.

How is your age-friendly initiative structured?

Harpswell Aging at Home is led by a Steering Committee and an advisory Executive Committee.  The Steering Committee is made up of 14-17 volunteer town residents who make decisions by consensus.  The advisory Executive Committee is comprised of two HAH Co-Chairs, Secretary, Communications Chair, and two Steering Committee members.

Our work is carried out through a committee structure. Some committees help organize HAH as a whole, while others define action plans, recruit volunteers, and lead projects to serve older adults. The following five Committees carry out HAH goals:

  • Communications Committee
  • Home Repairs and Resources Committee
  • Health and Wellness Committee
  • Food and Chores Committee
  • Transportation Committee

The chair of each committee is a member of the Steering Committee.

Describe any partnerships you have developed?

We have formal partnerships with:

  • Town of Harpswell: Our primary and most key partner - the town is the conduit for referrals to our programs - they screen people for eligibility into the home repair program, promote our efforts and host our "tool table" in the front lobby.
  • Habitat for Humanity 7 Rivers: They vet, train and insure our home repair volunteers, raise funds for our projects and manage the projects.
  • Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program: Provides donated food for our Cooking with Friends Program.
  • People Plus: Their Volunteer Transportation Network serves our community. We recruit volunteers for the program and promote the service broadly.
  • Catholic Charities SEARCH Program: SEARCH vets, trains, and matches companions for people who are in need of assistance of their services. We recruit volunteers to be matched with Harpswell older adults.
  • Harpswell Heritage Land Trust: We co-host walking events with them.
  • Local libraries & churches: we co-host educational and cooking events through these venues. We also have established relationships with most of the informal and formal affinity groups in our community - they serve as a conduit for information from us to their members.
  • Holbrook Community Foundation: Our fiscal agent

What is the role of volunteers?

Our initiative is 100% run by volunteers - our 75+ volunteers perform every operation of HAH that is not completed by one of our partners.

Strategies that have contributed to your success? Barriers you have encountered?

Strategies that have Contributed to the success of Harpswell Aging at Home
Harpswell Aging at Home is committed to a set of principles that guides our work:

  • We will use all of the currently available resources and assets of our community to meet the needs of Harpswell residents.
  • We will promote, support and grow services already available to Harpswell residents.
  • When resources are needed that are not currently available, HAH is committed to finding no-cost or low-cost solutions.
  • HAH Steering Committee members will be representative of the whole of Harpswell.
  • Any outreach, services or supports offered by HAH will be available to all older adults residing in Harpswell, regardless of where they live within Harpswell or their legal residence.
  • HAH will always include and engage older adults in designing and implementing our work.

In following these principles, we've successfully partnered with other organizations that serve our community - making them stronger while bringing services to our community. All of the "programs" we've created or enhanced are at no-cost and are fueled by volunteers.

Harpswell Aging at Home uses a few methods to effectively communicate within our initiative and with the larger community of Harpswell.

  • Committee Chairs report on the progress of their action plans monthly to the Steering Committee.
  • HAH holds an annual Strategic Planning Day for Steering Committee members.
  • Creating a Community Mapping Project of organizations within Harpswell willing to distribute HAH information to their members.
  • Creating a HAH website: www.hah.community
  • Creating a HAH Facebook page: Harpswell Aging at Home.
  • Creating a Master Data base for use with email blasts.

Barriers to the success of Harpswell Aging at Home

  • We are stymied about how to create a chores program that is as effective as our home repair project. We're looking for the right partner to help, but haven't quite gotten there yet.
  • Challenge:We've had to negotiate the "ours" and "yours" problem of partnering - for instance, Habitat wanted to say the home repair team was "theirs" while HAH called it "theirs" - we had to negotiate to an understanding that neither would exist but for the other.
    • Solution: We are co-branding everything we do and are establishing a MOU to assist in building a stronger understanding of the assets we each bring to the effort.
  • Challenge:We had a little conflict when we applied for grant funding from the same source as one of our partners - for different things for the same project.
    • Solution: We met our immediate need and have decided not to go after any grant funding unless our partners are not - we want our partners to get the funding!
  • Challenge:Reaching older adults who don't have access to the internet.
    • Solution:
      • A quarterly newsletter is available in print at the Town Office.
      • A monthly article is sent to the Harpswell Anchor, which is delivered to all homes.
      • We are producing a series of TV programs called "Hard Tellin', Not Knowin''" on Harpswell Community TV.
      • Event flyers are posted throughout Harpswell, and all events are listed in the calendar section of local newspapers.
      • All resource material we produce is available in print at the Town Office.
  • Challenge:People in Harpswell are proud and independent and reluctant to ask for help.
    • Solution:Older adults who have been grateful for and pleased with the home repairs done, have received rides through the Volunteer Transportation Network, and have attended cooking events have spread the word to others and encouraged them to ask for services.

Types of funding that your initiative has received

We have the following revenue sources:

  • Small grants for targeted needs (funded purchase of a tool trailer, trailer insurance and tools)
  • Private donations (we've only done one solicitation and received more than $10,000 in donations)
  • Fundraisers (we just completed our first fundraiser - a lasagna dinner hosted by the Harpswell Democrats that yielded more than $4,000)
  • Town funding: $1,000
  • Event fees - we haven't yet captured any revenue from this source.
  • Our partners raise grant funds for our programs.

Community Initiatives


The Transportation Committee worked with People Plus to expand the Harpswell services offered by its Volunteer Transportation Network, recruiting 13 drivers and 28 resident riders in 2016 (up from 0 on both fronts). In 2016, our Harpswell drivers provided 162 rides for more than 2,500 miles, and Harpswell riders used 73 rides for more than 1,500 miles. We’re also working with the town on a long-range plan to increase transit options.

Home Repair & Modification

Our Goal: keep older adults safe, warm, and dry.

The Home Repairs and Resource Committee developed a list of trusted local contractors to help older adults find reliable contractors if they can afford to pay. They also collaborated with Habitat for Humanity 7 Rivers Maine to provide volunteer home repair services to eight lower income home owners in Harpswell in 2016. They are committed to repairing 25 homes in 2017. Habitat, the town and HAH partnered on a successful application to secure Community Development Block Grant funding for this effort. Funds will go to Habitat.

Our home repair effort includes an initial assessment of the home owners needs conducted by a volunteer social worker or nurse. The assessment only asks questions that can result in a referral to one of our partners or programs. We ask about food needs, falls, isolation, finances, medication, and safety.

The team uses a tool trailer and tools we've purchased via grant funding. All materials are paid for through Habitat if the home owner qualifies for their program. Our team is vetted and insured through Habitat. If the home owner doesn't qualify, we will perform the work if the home owner pays for materials, but cannot afford labor.

Health & Wellness

The Health and Wellness Committee created a list of service providers and organized a Senior Health Fair, attended by about 40 participants, with speakers, flu shots and blood pressure screening and an adaptive tool table.

The Committee produced two adaptive tool tables - one is portable and is used at events, the other stays at the town office.

The Committee will host health-related educational programming in 2017, including caregiver support.

Our Resources Team of healthcare professionals does in-home assessments on each homeowner who receives home repairs and provides information to them on available resources to meet those needs.

Outreach & Resource Information

Harpswell Aging at Home uses every means possible to reach out to the community--articles in local papers, Facebook, Web Page, Newsletter, Posters, and word of mouth. See more in our communication strategy (below).

A Seniors Connecting Program was created in January of 2017 to help combat social isolation for older adults who live alone, have recently lost a loved one, no longer drive, or are isolated due to an illness or the illness of a family member. A trained volunteer makes a weekly call to socialize and provide information on available resources and upcoming HAH events.

We have created an online Senior Resource Page on the Harpswell Aging at Home website that includes:

Social, Educational & Recreational

We hosted an older adult hike in cooperation with the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust. We will do additional programming in 2017.

Food, Gardening & Cooking

Currently, the Food and Chores Committee:

  • works with partner agencies to promote and enhance food truck visits at the Town Office,
  • hosts “Cooking with Friends” lunches for 15 older adults and a potluck supper for volunteers, and
  • developing a data base they created of available chores services for Harpswell residents.

The Committee launched “Lunch with Friends” in early 2017 - a weekly winter lunch program that recruits volunteer groups (knitters, vol. fire, library, etc.) to cook a community lunch. Harpswell Aging at Home volunteers serve the lunch and HAH provides beverages and materials. The first lunch drew 15 and the last one eleven weeks later was up to 40! Meals are brought to people who cannot attend. We're expanding this program to two other areas of Harpswell next winter.

Family, Caregiving Support & Respite

We attempted to host a caregiver support group, but only found one caregiver who could attend. We'll keep at this!

Fraud, Abuse & Exploitation

Harpswell Aging at Home posts Fraud Alerts on our Facebook Page

Accessibility & Walkability


The Communications Committee has developed HAH promotional materials, created a database of volunteers and community groups, and built a communications strategy that uses articles, emails, bi-monthly TV program (Hard Tellin' Not Knowin'), newsletters, a website and Facebook to get the word out about services and events.

The Communication Committee also publishes a quarterly newsletter. As part of our initial work, we mapped "community gossip" channels - informal groups that meet regularly - and share information and the newsletter with them.

Other responsibilities of the Communication Committee include:

  • Writes monthly article in local paper
  • Creates flyers for events
  • Sends email update blasts
  • Writes quarterly article for Harpswell Heritage Land Trust Newsletter
  • Created and maintains master photo file
  • Created and maintains master data bases
  • Updates HAH website
  • Maintains HAH Facebook page
  • Develops presentations for speaking engagements
  • Develops promotional material




Jess Maurer
Harpswell Aging at Home
PO Box 25, Harpswell, Maine