Sharon Health Initiative

Covers: Sharon, VT

Start Date: January 2015

Mission, Vision & Goals

Our mission is to provide personal attention, assessment, advocacy and referral within the health care system, especially for our elders who need assistance “aging in place”. It is organized for the purpose of creating and overseeing the position of a Community Health Care Coordinator (CHCC) to serve the residents of Sharon, Vermont.

Broad Overview

Our Sharon Town Plan states that high quality medical care should be available to all Sharon residents, especially our elders who need assistance in “aging in place”. In response the Selectboard adopted a plan to assist community members to develop a continuing relationship with a local health care professional who can provide personal attention, and assessment, as well as advocacy and referral within the health care system.

The Sharon Health Initiative Community Health Care Coordinator is the link between someone who needs help and volunteers in a neighborhood circle of support who are willing to provide help.

How is your age-friendly initiative structured?

We are governed by a Board of Directors and operate within by-laws developed to guide us.

Describe any partnerships you have developed?

Upper Valley Community Nursing Project
Public Health Council
Lighthouse Food Shelf

What is the role of volunteers?

Volunteers from different Sharon neighborhoods join a Circle of Support to help community members in need in a variety of ways, for instance, driving people to doctor appointments or the grocery store, helping shovel or stack firewood, making meals or daily house checks.

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

We received technical support and seed money to start the Sharon Health Initiative from the Upper Valley Community Nursing Project. Having a backbone organization that supported our work even while community members decided the form and structure of our work in the community, was vital at the beginning.

We are a very rural, spread out community. Organizing the Circles of Support by neighborhood has been a successful model and has helped us to reach some of our more isolated residents.

The Sharon Food Shelf acts as our fiscal agent and provides space for our meetings. Partnering with them has saved us a great deal of time. Through the collaboration, both organizations are stronger and better able to serve the residents of Sharon.

Types of funding that your initiative has received

Fundraising, Private Donations, Grants, and Municipal Funding.

We stress the importance of private donations because it is important to keep the community engaged with the work we are doing. Private donations ensure that Sharon Health Initiative will remain a community initiative.

Community Initiatives


The Sharon Health Care Coordinator links individuals and families to community resources to help with transportation, meals, social isolation and care-giver fatigue. Volunteers form neighborhood-based "Circles of Support" to help individuals and families dealing with illness, aging, disability, or family crisis. The idea of the circle of support is to provide whatever help is needed. The most common request is for help with transportation.

Chores, Handyman & Upkeep

Our Circles of Support network has developed lists of neighbors that will be able to help older adults and people living with a disability with household chores and maintenance. This can include housekeeping when it is needed. For example, a person may need a home to be turned out from top to bottom before they return home from a stay in the hospital. If that is what is needed, the volunteers in the Circle of Support will help.

Home Repair & Modification

Volunteers who form the Circle of Support will help with winterization and small home repairs when the work is within their scope of expertise. More complicated or comprehensive needs are referred to organizations that provide the needed services.

Health & Wellness

We work with local hospitals, the Upper Valley Community Nursing Project and the Public Health Council to increase access to local health and community services.

Outreach & Resource Information

The Sharon Community Health Care Coordinator refers people to the services they need--linking to volunteers in that person's Circle of Support, to regional services or other local programs.

Social, Educational & Recreational

We inform, encourage and facilitate their attendance at local elderly centers and activities.

Food, Gardening & Cooking

Monthly community meals are scheduled. One of the things we share at the community meals are hints and tips for maintaining health.

We are planning a series of neighborhood potlucks this summer to raise awareness of our work and to recruit volunteers to join the Circle of Support in their neighborhood.

Family, Caregiving Support & Respite

Volunteers from the Circle of Support may take a person with a chronic illness, such as dementia, that requires the support of a family member or friend to live safely in their home, to a senior center for an activity or take a person shopping. We may provide meals to help an overwhelmed caregiver cope. One of our goals is for the Circles of support to alleviate caregiver fatigue.


We have created a model called Circles of Support to create networks within neighborhoods to identify and support our elderly and disabled neighbors.




Carol Langstaff
[email protected]