Carol Higgins Taylor
Easter Area Agency on Aging
The more things change the more they stay the same. While the world, economy and ability of government and organizations to continue and maintain services for elders may be changing, one thing has remained the same — Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s commitment to follow your lead, as seniors, and to listen carefully to your stories. These stories help us do our jobs.
However, we have changed how we gather your thoughts and opinions. For decades, Eastern Area Agency on Aging had an advisory council composed of volunteers eager to advise the board of directors on senior issues. This system worked well for many years, but it occurred to Noelle Merrill, executive director of EAAA, that, while the advisory council was dedicated and effective, perhaps it was time more voices were heard.
She approached the board of directors with an idea to take her meetings, newly named Friends and Neighbors Community Conversations, to the streets of the many communities EAAA serves and to make all the attendees of these gatherings honorary advisory council members.
This is just an example of how change can be good. And now it’s your turn to tell your story. Eastern Area Agency on Aging is holding a Friends and Neighbors Community Conversation 10 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Roe Village, 113 Western Ave.
“This is a great opportunity for community members to give us their perspective on what services are available and what gaps, if any, in services exist, which will help EAAA serve them better,” said Merrill. “Hearing people’s opinions right from them is the best way to fully understand what their lives are like and then how we may be able to help make them better. Everyone’s voice matters.”
The Hampden Friends and Neighbors attendees will have the opportunity to share their stories with more than Merrill. A representative from U.S. Sen. Angus King’s office will be a special guest.
Sen. King has a new program, called Your Government, Your Neighborhood that dispatches constituent service representatives to communities throughout Maine every month.
Many of these communities have previously had little local access to congressional offices, but King’s plan to provide alternative outreach to Mainers complements that of the well-established congressional delegation offices.
“Maine’s congressional delegation has always prided itself on providing the best constituent services,” Sen. King said. “My goal is not only to continue that longstanding tradition, but to enhance it by introducing this new concept, which will allow us to be in more communities throughout the state. I’m excited by the great potential this opportunity holds and look forward to continuing to offer exceptional service to more Mainers than ever before.”
If you can’t make the Friends and Neighbors meeting, you still have an opportunity to reach out to Sen. King. Constituent outreach hours are held to offer a chance for Mainer’s to meet directly with a staff representative to discuss problems or concerns. No appointment is necessary and you are encouraged to drop by to say hello. For information, call 800-432-1599.
And if you’d like to come to the Friends and Neighbors event in Hampden, think about staying for a delicious lunch. At only $4, you can’t beat the price. Reservations for lunch are required by Monday, Oct. 21, so please call 862-8102 to reserve your spot today.
Your opinion has never been more important to more people. Want to help facilitate change? Now’s the time. Make your voice heard.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. For information, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812 or go to eaaa.org.