Aging Well in Waldo County

Covers: Waldo County, Maine

Start Date: June 2016

Mission, Vision & Goals

Mission
The mission of Aging Well in Waldo County is to mobilize our communities to identify and address the needs of our aging friends and neighbors, striving for inclusive, supportive and safe communities for all.

Goals

  • To promote ideals and principles of AARP Livable Communities for Waldo County persons age 50 and over.
  • To encourage and maintain participation and unity toward positive actions.
  • To provide leadership to, and coordination with municipalities in Waldo County for Age-Friendly initiatives.
  • To initiate and support solutions to Waldo County issues using the AARP SMART goals format.
  • AWWC shall be a non-discriminatory, non-profit organization.

Broad Overview

Aging Well in Waldo County is a regional age-friendly initiative that covers all of Waldo County, Maine. Located in the mid-coast region of Maine, Waldo County is home to 38,786 people. The City of Belfast as the county seat; other towns include Belmont, Brooks, Burnham, Frankfort, Freedom, Islesboro, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Lincolnville, Northport, Monroe, Montville, Morrill, Palermo, Prospect, Searsport, Searsmont, Stockton Springs, Swanville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity, Waldo, and Winterport.

The group that became AWWC began meeting in June 2016 out of concerns in Belfast about our aging population and a desire to improve community life for them. Meetings were initiated, and invitations made to interested people and organizations by the then City of Belfast public health nurse, Samantha Paradis, who later became mayor! The early group contained only one individual from outside Belfast. Through preliminary conversations, however, the group realized that older people faced common problems across WC and decided these needed to be addressed at a county level.

This decision immediately posed organizational challenges. Many WC towns are too small to provide volunteers or other resources to an organization serving the entire county. Without a representational structure, however, how could a group be organized that wouldn’t end up burdening just a few people and spreading itself too thin?

From 2016-2017, the founding group began developing a Board of Directors, working to create and adopt a charter, and drawing up an organizational plan to move forward.

Aging Well in Waldo County is currently in the implementation stage. Areas of focus include communication, developing partnerships to tackle the challenge of social isolation, and transportation.

 

How is your age-friendly initiative structured?

AWWC is governed by an elected Board of Directors for two-year terms.  They meet monthly and have an annual meeting event each October. AWWC became a 501c3 in May 2019.

Describe any partnerships you have developed?

In creating this organization, AWWC has sought to include constituent members that share similar or complementary goals.

To date, the organizations represented include:

  • The Maine Center for Disease Control – A local representative, Drexell White serves on our Executive Board.
  • The Waldo County Sheriff’s Office – Our current elected Sheriff, Jeff Trafton, serves on our Executive Board. Jeff is also a member of TRIAD.
  • TRIAD – TRIAD is a partnership of seniors, law enforcement, and local organizations dedicated to improving the safety of people 50 and older in their homes and communities through education and service. Joyce Fenner and Evie Tinker are two other members of TRIAD who serve on our Executive Board.
  • Waldo County Government- County Commissioner Betty Johnson serves on our Executive Board.
  • Waldo Community Action Partners – Waldo CAP is working with AWWC on a transportation workgroup to improve some aspects of Mid-Coast Transportation, and to address various other needs of seniors during the holidays.
  • Waldo County YMCA

Additional partners include all of the town libraries in Waldo County.

In 2020, Aging Well in Waldo County will be working to create partnerships with spiritual organizations in Waldo County.

What is the role of volunteers?

AWWC is an all-volunteer effort. Volunteers do everything from administrative tasks to organizing events and developing new programs.

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

Aging Well in Waldo County has struggled to maintain volunteers from the older age groups, who encounter new or ongoing health challenges for themselves or loved ones. We have given talks at many kinds of community events, and had tables at a wide variety of community events, and placed pieces in local newspapers of our needs. Our younger, employed Board members have been steady and consistent from our partners. This challenge is ongoing.

One of or better successes has been to engage the community librarians. Our grant monies have helped them. They have placed signs in some of their libraries about AWWC and the work which benefitted them.

Grants

A small grant from the Maine Community Foundation included some funds for combatting social isolation. AWWC proposed to our rural and poorly funded libraries to enhance senior programming, and if there were costs, we would cover those costs between $150-300. Six libraries responded. As a result, 6 programs are running during daytime for seniors that did not previously exist.

Types of funding that your initiative has received

AWWC is primarily grant-funded.

In 2019, we were awarded an AARP Challenge Grant to create more vibrant spaces in two libraries--Searsmont and Liberty:

  • The Ivan O. Davis Library in Liberty used their funds to add lighting to increase public safety at the entrance and enhanced an outdoor area to be inviting for patrons to relax, play chess and checkers, and congregate. As such the area needed enhanced lighting and is defined by an array of planters with colorful flowers.
  • The Carver Library in Searsport, housed in a gracious historic building, used its funds to increase lighting as well. One room, where the collection is normally lit by sconces, had few lights in working order. Another under-illuminated room was enhanced by a period-appropriate chandelier. As a result, both older people and all patrons are better able to read in the rooms. Lastly, an alcove with large-print books got permanent custom-made shelving.

 

AWWC also received a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. Both grants were used to support town libraries in Waldo County that are developing programs and services to increase opportunities for older residents to make social connections.

In 2020, we will be using grant funds awarded to us through the Maine Community Foundation's Maine Chairty Fund to develop a volunteer transportation program.

Community Initiatives

Transportation

AWWC will launch “Gift of a Lift” in April 2020. Using two geographical areas – Belfast and Liberty/Montville, volunteer drivers who have been vetted and trained will offer rides to seniors who register for the program (and are also vetted). The program expects to expand to at least one other area by the end of 2020. A part-time administrative assistant will help manage the program.

Home Repair & Modification

Aging Well in Waldo County developed a "Help for Homeowners" handout with information on:

  • home repairs
  • weatherization
  • heating assistance

Aging Well in Waldo County wrote and article with information on the website about home-sharing.

Outreach & Resource Information

An Outreach Committee is attempting to meet with selectboards in the rural communities to discuss joining the “Age-Friendly Network” and offering help to those Board with the paperwork associated. The resulting grant should stimulate something new in the community to assist senior citizens.

Resource Guide

Aging Well in Waldo County has developed a Resource Guide (updated in 2019), which is on our website.

Two thousand complimentary copies of the updated resource guide were printed by J. Black Printing on Rt. 1, in Belfast.

Copies are disseminated in all holiday baskets that are given to older residents by Waldo CAP (over 1000 copies).

Additional hard copies are delivered to each of the 26 town offices in Waldo County and to medical offices, the Hutchison center, VOA subsidized housing units for older people, Penobscot Shores, YMCA, etc.

Social, Educational & Recreational

Educational

Aging Well in Waldo County teamed with the Waldo County Sherriff's Department to offer "Online Dating for Mature Beginners" at the Belfast Senior College.

Social Programming in the Communities of Waldo County

In Liberty, Maine AWWC sponsored a luncheon for older residents in the area that was help in a local diner.

Social Programming, Partnering with Area Libraries

Background: In 2019, AWWC began meeting with library leaders county-wide to have conversations about the role of libraries in alleviating social isolation for seniors. With a little grant money, libraries were invited to propose something that could be started or expanded that would invite senior citizens into the library. The following ideas were generated and implemented for little or no cost.

  • Mahjong Groups – The Lincolnville Library had gotten requests for Mahjong. Grant monies bought 3 Mahjong sets and paid for a temporary instructor. Currently, three card tables serve regular Mahjong get-togethers.
  • Book Clubs/Groups – Book groups are a natural for any library. But offering a group during the daytime is more likely to attract seniors. While a librarian might meet the first time with a group to help them get going, mostly groups meet independently, set their own meeting and reading schedules, and manage their own discussions. Another kind of book group is simply to have people bring in a book they recently read and enjoyed and tell others about it. This helps people find that next good book they may want to read. Grant funds bought some multiple copies of books for one library in Monroe (an all-volunteer library).  In one instance, one set of 8 books paid for by AWWC is traveling from library to library to instigate reading groups around a current bestseller of interest to seniors.
  • Game Times – One library in Frankfort, decided to offer game times during the day. They kicked off the idea with a cribbage tournament. Game times are help regularly in the library schedule. Grant funds bought some games.
  • Movies – Most libraries own some movies. One library began showing afternoon movies when the library is less busy. Grant monies could be used for a subscription to Netflix or something similar.
  • Saturday Morning “Old Coot” Program – This summer program is a regular in one community, where at a set time in the late morning, one community elder is invited to sit around and give advice. The sign warns patrons that the advice “may not be good advice, but at least it’s free.” Grant monies bought refreshments, mostly coffee and donuts.
  • Tea at Three.” – The Searsmont library now offers “Tea at Three” monthly. People come to drink tea, eat snacks and chat. It has become very popular. Grant monies bought teapots, teas, cups, etc. Some items were also donated.
  • “Crafternoon” – Thursday from 3:30-5:00pm are “Crafternooons” in Searsport. People gather at a big table in a room with an electric fireplace, bringing along their knitting, crocheting, quilting, or whatever. In this case, grant money helped improve lighting in the room, and bought an electric insert for a defunct fireplace to create some ambiance. But generally speaking, this activity has no costs.

Food, Gardening & Cooking

AWWC recently had a presentation from the Board president of the Belfast Soup Kitchen, which at the time of this writing (12/2019) is amidst the building and opening of a dedicated building on Route 3, designed to serve 90 people at one sitting. We will be exploring partnerships with the Belfast Soup Kitchen.  Patrons may become riders for “Gift for a Lift.”

Family, Caregiving Support & Respite

Presentations about Advanced Care Planning were sponsored by Penobscot Shores and presented at the Waldo County YMCA. To view the videos, click on this link: Advanced Care Planning Videos

  • Legal and Financial Considerations in Advance Care Planning, presented by Attorney and Counselor, Randolph A. Mailloux
  • Healthcare Decisions: The Considerations, the Conversations, the Forms…and why it matters, presented by Lauren Armstrong, LSW
  • Funeral Burial Options, Memorial Services and writing your own Obituary, presented by Gil Mackey
**The videos were produced by Belfast Community Media

 

Fraud, Abuse & Exploitation

Aging Well in Waldo County has partnered with TRIAD to host shred events and drug take-back days.

TRIAD also developed a series of Fraud squad videos, which were produced by Belfast Community Media.

 

Accessibility & Walkability

Palermo is one of the communities in Waldo County. Connie Bellet represents Palermos and is president of the Palermo Community Center. Over time, the ramp leading to the entrance of the Palermo Community center had decayed and was no longer safe to use. The center partnered with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild the ramp.

Accessibility has also been a focus of Aging Well in Waldo County's work with the area libraries.

Communication

AWWC volunteers communicate through email distribution lists. In January 2020, AWWC is launching a quarterly digital newsletter. Columns in the newsletter will include: News from the Sheriff’s office, especially about scams; news from the County Commissioners and Waldo County issues; An Update on AWWC activities; a Column from the medical doctor on our Board with a topic important to older adults; a column from the local CDC rep with information that need to be disseminated; a feature that will highlight a person or program in the county; a recipe column for a healthy recipe.