Island Connections

Covers: Bar Harbor, Maine

Start Date: May, 1997

Mission, Vision & Goals

History
Island Connections began in 1997 as the result of an informal needs assessment performed by The Mount Desert Island Senior Task Force which consisted of multiple agencies and organizations interested in addressing the unmet needs of the under-served and senior population. A $ 25,000.00 Faith in Action seed grant was awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to establish the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers project for seniors and people with disabilities (be it temporary or permanent), on Mount Desert Island. Volunteers were recruited from area faith congregations to provide basic needs such as transportation, grocery shopping and other services. As we enter our 19th year of service in our community, transportation is our top priority. We meet the needs for those needing transportation to scheduled medical appointments including: chemotherapy, radiation treatments, dialysis treatments, mental and physical therapy, dental, and eye appointments, as well as trips for grocery shopping, banking visits, exercise classes and other various trips. We began working
with the Mount Desert Island/Ellsworth Housing Authority to deliver meals to island neighbors in need. Island Connections is considered to be the “Wheels” for the Meals on Wheels program on Mount Desert Island.

In an average year, Island Connections provides 3,500 rides and delivers 13,000 meals to support approximately 300 island residents. Island Connections also owns a wheelchair accessible van and was used for approximately 100 rides in 2015.

Our Mission
Island Connections provides free transportation and other services to seniors and people with disabilities from Mount Desert Island and the surrounding islands to enhance their independence and quality of life by utilizing our core group of dedicated volunteers.

Our Vision
Island Connections’ overall goal is to continue providing free transportation, deliver meals to our island neighbors, and become a household name for generations to come. We focus on addressing the many needs surrounding transportation and mobility for seniors and people with disabilities living on Mount Desert Island and the surrounding islands. Presently, our main objective for Island Connections is to raise awareness and reintroduce our mission to a new generation of neighbors, their families and potential new volunteers to carry out our mission. It is through the big hearts and generosity of our core group of volunteers that we are able to do this good and much needed work. We are very fortunate to be able to count on these individuals time and again.

Our strategy is to develop new annual events such as the Island Connections Driving for Rides Golf Tournament, a Summer Cocktail party at the Asticou Inn for our summer residents, a 5K race memorializing a past Island Connections employee and a Fall Casino Night like Fundraiser. We are also partnering with several local businesses to support these events throughout the year.

Broad Overview

We meet the needs for those needing transportation to scheduled medical appointments including: chemotherapy, radiation treatments, dialysis treatments, mental and physical therapy, dental, and eye appointments, as well as trips for grocery shopping, banking visits, exercise classes and other various trips. We began working with the Mount Desert Island/Ellsworth Housing Authority to deliver meals to island neighbors in need. Island Connections is considered to be the “Wheels” for the Meals on Wheels program on Mount Desert Island. In an average year, Island Connections provides 3,500 rides and delivers 13,000 meals to support approximately 300 island residents. Island Connections also owns a wheelchair accessible van and was used for approximately 100 rides in 2015.

How is your age-friendly initiative structured?

Island Connections is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization with an established set of bylaws; operating with a current board of 10 members; our written mission guides our work
as do other processes and procedures to continue our good work in our community.

Describe any partnerships you have developed?

We are connected to the Healthy Aging MDI Task Force, the Hancock County Healthy Aging Task Force, AARP Aging in Place Communities, Birch Bay Village Retirement Center, Sonogee Rehabilitation Center and other partnerships such as the local Jesup Memorial Library, Maine Sea Coast Mission for the Coffee's On Senior Social Hour, MDI Hospital and multiple medical clinics on the island to support their patients, the MDI YMCA, YWCA MDI, The Neighborhood House and Harbor House Community Centers as well as local churches.

What is the role of volunteers?

Our volunteers provide direct care services to older adults. We continue to recruit volunteers to support our efforts in the community. We have recently hired a Volunteer Manager to create a sustainable recruitment program as well as training program to support the volunteers in the best way possible.

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

We rely on our volunteer base of drivers and their dedication is what helps our continued success.

Types of funding that your initiative has received

Fund raising, municipal funding, donations, and grants.

Community Initiatives

Transportation

Our organization's focus is transportation for seniors and people with disabilities.

Communication

Word of mouth
Island Connections Monthly Newsletter
Social Media
collaborations with other organizations
Island Connection events and community events such as health fairs, etc.

Region

Contact

Doreen Willet
Executive Director
Island Connections of Maine
15 Eagle Lake Road, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609
director@islandconnections.org
207-288-4457