ELLSWORTH, Maine — Friends in Action is launching a $200,000 fundraising campaign to equip and operate the new Senior Center in Ellsworth which is scheduled to be completed in fall 2014. It is called the “Friends Campaign” and a committee has been formed to accomplish its goals. Requests are being made to local residents, businesses and foundations for support. So far $18,500 has been raised toward the Campaign, and pledges, payable over 2-3 years, are being accepted.
Since 2003, Friends in Action volunteers have been assisting older residents in maintaining their independence. This has grown into a trusted resource for seniors, helping hundreds of people around the region. As a local, independent, 501(c)(3) organization, Friends in Action partners with many area civic groups, health care providers, churches and other non-profit organizations, to assist seniors and disabled adults in the community. Their mission is to offer free services to the elderly and disabled residents of Hancock County so they can live independently, with dignity and a strong quality of life. They provide the following services: transportation, help with chores, friendly visits and telephone reassurance, a resource library and Senior Center. “For the last three years the Senior Center has shared space with the Downeast Family YMCA’s child care programs. The laughter of young and old connects this multi-generational hub of activity. Having this newly renovated and properly equipped Center will help our older residents age well, staying active and socially connected,” said Jo Cooper, Executive Director of Friends in Action.
Although volunteers remain the heart of Friends in Action, the expanded Senior Center will require additional funding for staff and building use expenses. Currently Friends in Action has around 180 volunteers and employs one full time and two part time employees, serving about 400 residents annually. They operate with a modest annual budget of $90,000 funded through individual donations, small grants and fundraising events. They receive no State or Federal government funding. The Friends Campaign budget includes funds for first year operating costs, as well as equipment for the fitness room, art studio, café, classroom furnishings, and office furniture.
Those volunteering to help raise funds for the Friends Campaign include Campaign Chair Lynda Tadema-Wielandt, Sheila Denny-Brown, Sam Francis, Candy Gammelin, Leslie Harlow, Natalie Knox, Joyce Neiditz-Snow, and Cathy Planchart. “The Senior Center serves as a gathering place for older adults to socialize and exercise, to connect with others, and to find activities that inspire them and keep them active. It is a place where they can be involved and engaged in life,” said Lynda Tadema-Wielandt.
The City of Ellsworth invited Friends in Action to plan, establish, and manage the new Senior Center as part of the renovation of the historic General Bryant E. Moore School on State Street. The Friends in Action Board of Directors carefully approached all aspects of the project, creating a detailed business plan, a development strategy that included sustainability, and a conservative budget that will be monitored closely.
The Senior Center will provide special programs and activities for older adults to enjoy in a beautiful space they can call their own. There will be an equipped fitness and exercise room, and areas for classes, such as T’ai Chi and yoga. Included in the plans is an art room for creative activities such as painting, drawing, knitting and crafts. There is a resource library and computer room. People can enjoy a beverage or a light meal with friends in the café, or gather in lounge areas for conversation and board games. The auditorium can be used for presentations, conferences, and performances. The versatility of the space lends itself to countless program possibilities.
“The population of retirees in the Hancock County area is growing. It is important that there is a space where these older adults can stay engaged in life and the community,” said Jo Cooper. “The new Senior Center will help our older population, including those feeling alone and isolated, to stay socially and physically active, which contributes to overall good health and aging well.” A valuable new resource, the Moore Community Center completes a campus of sorts in downtown Ellsworth, connecting it by a walking trail to the new assisted living facility and Knowlton Park.
To provide more information on this exciting community resource, Friends in Action will hold an informational meeting at the Ellsworth Public Library River Room, on Tuesday, March 18 at 3:30 p.m. Refreshments will be available. All are welcome, but space is limited. Please call FIA, 664-6016, to learn more.
For more information about how you can contribute to the new Senior Center, call 664-6016 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can make a donation to the Friends Campaign on their website friendsinactionellsworth.org or by sending a check made payable to Friends in Action – Senior Center, P.O. Box 1446, Ellsworth, ME 04605.
For More Information Contact:
Jo Cooper, Executive Director
Friends in Action
P.O. Box 1446, 148 Bucksport Road
Ellsworth, ME 04605