As 2017 comes to a close, it is important to reflect on how Mainers are having a positive impact on their communities each and every day. While we often focus on the challenges facing our state, there are wonderful examples of 50+ Mainers contributing to our state’s economic growth, entrepreneurial success and their local communities.  We are fortunate to work with many of these individuals on an ongoing basis and are grateful for their passion and dedication.

Last year at this time, we had 24 Maine communities participating in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities (NAFC). We have almost doubled that number and expect to reach 50 very soon. Maine continues to lead the nation in this endeavor and we are excited about all the initiatives that are currently underway in our state that help Mainers age in place in the towns and neighborhoods they know and love. Our free guide is available if you would like to learn more about this work and how you can be a part of advancing age-friendly ideas in your own community.  Just send an email to me@aarp.org to request a copy.

An age-friendly community encourages residents to remain active and socially engaged throughout their lives. One of the wonderful features of the NAFC is that success comes through the collaborative efforts of local residents, the township, local businesses, nonprofits, and community leaders. Some initiatives may take years to develop, but smaller changes can also boost a town’s age-friendly complexion. For example, the town of Bucksport has successfully focused on safe streets. Each year a local business owner is awarded a “golden shovel” for consistently keeping the sidewalk in front of their business snow and ice free. In another example, Bangor’s police department raises awareness about serious issues through positive, and often humorous, law enforcement alerts on Facebook. Both of these initiatives were featured in the latest edition of AARP’s publication “Where We Live: Communities for All Ages.”

In November, AARP Maine celebrated Augusta residents Bob and Carol MacDougall and honored them with our annual Andrus Award, named after our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. “To Serve, Not to Be Served” is the motto Dr. Andrus coined for our organization and the MacDougalls take this message to heart. Carol told me that one thing she and Bob are really proud of is the “bench program.” They approached grocery store chains in the Augusta area that did not have bench seating inside and outside for older or disabled residents to use while waiting for a ride. Both Hannaford and Shaws agreed to put out new bench seating and the City of Augusta has also started to put bench seating along the routes that seniors take to get to do their shopping. “It is exciting to see how small things like this can make us a more livable city and enhance aging in our community,” said Carol.

On behalf of our 230,000 Maine members, we thank our volunteers, partners and all Mainers who embrace these initiatives for the benefit of all generations. It is inspiring to share stories like these that remind us how great a role each of us can play in advancing positive change.  

We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season!


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