ROBBINSTON, Maine — When Peter Garland, 66, of Robbinston was diagnosed with throat cancer in October 2015, he had to have several teeth pulled out.
But the cost for the extractions and replacement dentures was more than $1,500, and Garland didn’t know how he would pay for them.
That’s when the Neighbor4Neighbor Fund, a program administered by Healthy Acadia, intervened and paid the first $500.
“I paid $300,” said Garland, who expects the dentures to be ready in a couple weeks. “I’ve got to come up with another $800 or $900.”
Still, he’s grateful.
“It’s a wonderful program,” he said. “I appreciate everything they’ve done.”
Neighbor4Neighbor provides mini-grants to seniors in need across Hancock and Washington counties, said Nina Zeldin, community outreach coordinator for Healthy Acadia, which coordinates the Neighbor4Neighbor program in conjunction with the Maine Community Foundation.
“Many seniors in our region are struggling to meet their basic needs and to stay healthy,” said Elsie Flemings, executive director of Healthy Acadia. “This is a critical initiative, and we at Healthy Acadia are honored to be a part of it.”
Mini-grants can be used for expenses such as glasses, dentures, insurance deductibles and equipment such as wheelchairs and wheelchair ramps, Zeldin said. Essentially any need that is not met through other programs is eligible.
“If their need can be met elsewhere, we’ll try to connect the applicant with that source,” said Zeldin.
“I’m really glad that this fund got started,” she added.
To be eligible, applicants must be 65 years old or older with an economic need. There are no income guidelines.
The Neighbor4Neighbor Fund was initiated in 2014 by Ed Kaelber, Maine Community Foundation founder and founding president of the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor. The donations are invested so that grants can be made from the interest, Zeldin said.
“That means it’s going to be there over the long term rather than just a one-time thing,” she said.
Zeldin said that so far, the fund has awarded only three grants, though a couple more are in the works. She wants to get the word out about the fund not only so that more people will apply for grants but also so that more people will donate to the fund.
For more information on the fund grants, call Zeldin at Healthy Acadia at 667-7171 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To make a donation to the fund, call the Maine Community Foundation at 877-700-6800 or visit www.mainecf.org.