College students and a worthy cause is a powerful combination. A couple of months ago, I got a call from Kevin O’Brien, professor of occupational therapy at Husson University, who was looking for an opportunity to get his students involved in the community.
As it happens, the nutrition program at Eastern Area Agency on Aging was gearing up to undertake the Feinstein Challenge, in which money raised by nutrition programs nationwide are eligible for matching money, from the Feinstein Foundation. As we are always looking for a way to raise money especially when during March and April when the challenge is active, we jumped at the chance to work with Professor O’Brien and his caring students.
It was inspiring and a little intimidating to stand before O’Brien’s class and explain what EAAA provides to seniors, as each set of eyes was trained on us as we described of the plight of our clients.
Being occupational therapy students, they are already had a keen desire to help people, so the rest was a natural. Professor O’Brien is leading his class in the fight against hunger among seniors in Maine.
“The occupational therapy students, 42 in all, decided they wanted to take their learning outside of the classroom, and that reflects Husson University’s mission statement of emphasizing experiential learning, hands on learning and service learning,” said O’Brien. “They can take their theory into the community to impact the community. We wanted to raise funds for the agency for their nutrition programs.”
It is sad to say, but Maine ranks pretty high on the food insecurity scale, meaning that many people do not have enough to eat. For seniors, there are a variety of barriers to accessing food, including a lack of transportation to get to the store, a lack of money to meet the rising grocery costs, and or the inability to cook a balanced meal.
As Maine is now ranked nationally as the most rural state in the nation, it is not hard to imagine the isolation experienced by seniors who live alone in outlying areas. They often have no support system and do the best they can fending for themselves.
Concerned by the sometimes dire situation of our elders, the dedicated and creative occupational therapy students are hosting the Greatest Generations Benefit Dinner and Auction, at Anah Temple Mystic Shrine, 586 Main Street, Bangor, from 5:30-8 p.m. on Saturday, April 28. Tickets for this event are $15 apiece, and all proceeds benefit EAAA’s nutrition program Feinstein Challenge.
Music will be provided by the Mainely Country Band, a country/country rock group that’s been providing Mainers with entertainment for more than 30 years. Dinner will be provided by caterer Jim Tabone, who generously is donating his time.
Call Professor O’Brien at 458-3646 for ticket information. Because he is a teacher and cannot answer the phone during class, you may get his voicemail so please leave a message and include your phone number.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community to be galvanized around the agency specifically the nutrition program,” said O’Brien. “[The nutrition program] is one of the best programs around that just makes Maine shine.
Hope to see you there.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Email Higgins Taylor at email@example.com. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.