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CHERRYFIELD, Maine — Nine senior citizens who are proving to be role models in their communities were honored Thursday by the Eastern Area Agency on Aging with the George Hale Silver Frame Award. More than 120 people attended the ceremony and luncheon at the Cherryfield Elementary School.
“You are role models of active aging,” Noelle Merrill, the agency’s executive director, told the honorees Thursday. “People are watching you and paying attention. You are something special.”
Merrill said that by staying engaged, senior citizens can dramatically increase their quality of life. “I am in awe of your work,” she said.
Hale was chosen to present the awards and they are named for him because he leads an active, energetic life. Hale is a radio and television personality, a lobbyist in Augusta and a frequent traveler both in and out of the U.S.
“My motto is: Refuse to Get Old.” Hale said.
Of the winners, who were chosen from dozens of nominees, Hale said, “They are exceptional.”
Marge Ahlin of Machias won for Artistic-Creative, age 60-75. Ahlin has written, directed and performed in musicals to sellout crowds for the Wild Blueberry Festival. She has written annual variety shows for the benefit of four food pantries, organized and performed in Follies for Fuel and has done numerous benefit shows and suppers for the terminally ill.
Jean Eula Edwards of Union won for Artistic/-Creative, age 76 and older. Edwards founded a free dance program for the youth of Appleton, where she choreographed, designed and made the costumes for an annual spring show for at least a dozen children. She also has written four Maine-based novels and four other nonfiction books.
Gary Page of Old Town won for Community Supporter, age 60-75. Page donates countless hours at Eastern Area Agency on Aging as a state health insurance assistance program volunteer, focusing on informing seniors of their options pertaining to health insurance. In 2010, Page donated 175 hours of his time to the SHIP program.
Lucille Clarke of Ellsworth won for Community Supporter, age 76 and older. Clarke holds the distinction of being the first female selectwoman in the town of Hancock. She has donated many hours to the volunteer fire department, including assisting in its initial organization. She also works at a supplemental food program, volunteers at Robert and Mary’s adult day center for people with memory loss, and drives seniors to appointments for Friends in Action, a transportation program.
Anne Smallidge of Blue Hill won for the Fitness Enthusiast-Adventurer, over age 76. When Smallidge turned 50 and joined the Peace Corps, she was assigned to Gambia in West Africa, where she was responsible for a solar panel project that provided power for a pump that sent water to the village. Under the program “Girls Eye View,” Smallidge, among others, took six girls from Hancock County to Gambia for 10 days so they could learn how people live in that area. One of her more recent accomplishments is the completion of a library for the village for which 25,000 books were donated.
A special group award was presented to Wade and Helen Dow of the musical group Wade Dow and Friends in Brooklin. The Dows have raised thousands of dollars for people on the Blue Hill peninsula. One weekend alone, Wade Dow held three benefits and took in over $25,000. The musical group also raised $1,700 for one of the musicians who had occasionally volunteered with them who has cancer.
Dave Tomm of Rockland won for Life-Long Learner, Entrepreneur. When he watched older workers become displaced, Tomm formed a company, Seasoned Workforce LLC, which has become the leading advocate for seasoned workers in Maine. Tomm uses his leadership skills to offer free Seasoned Worker Forums with adult education departments, Chambers of Commerce and CareerCenters around the state.
More than 1,700 people have had the opportunity to attend these forums from York County to Madawaska in the last 18 months.
Richard Fickett of Cherryfield won for Life-Long Learner, Entrepreneur, older than 76. Fickett is president of Fickett Property Management, with a portfolio of seven affordable housing projects and numerous family and commercial rentals in Washington and Hancock counties. He is also a selectman for the Town of Cherryfield, secretary of the Cherryfield Alumni Association, secretary of the Downeast Gideons, financial secretary of the First Baptist Church of Cherryfield, and acting Chairman of the Loan Committee, Eastern Maine Development Corp. For years, Fickett subsidized a meals program in Cherryfield so area seniors had a place to socialize and get a nutritional, hot meal twice a week.