By Masha Yurkevich
No matter our age, nothing will ever replace spending time with others. While setting a time and place can be difficult, Windham Parks and Recreation has that covered. On Friday, Nov. 18, the parks department and the Age-Friendly Committee in Windham will co-host a Holiday Luncheon at the Town Hall Gym.
A committee formed and completed a public survey in October 2019. The committee is currently working to develop an action plan to make Windham a great place to live for people of all ages. It is a committee of both town staff and community volunteers that are dedicated to maintaining the independence of our town’s older residents and helping them thrive while aging at home.
The committee started when the Mills Administration announced that Maine’s final Age-Friendly State Plan, the culmination of more than a year of collaboration with AARP and more than 50 other organizations throughout the state to craft a comprehensive strategy to help Maine’s older residents live well and safely in their communities. The plan follows Maine’s designation in October 2019 as an AARP Age-Friendly State, the first step in a multiyear process to make Maine more livable for people of every age.
Maine was the sixth state in the nation to receive the coveted designation, which provided access to critical data, technical advice, best practices and organizing tools to help Maine plan for the future and learn from a global network of partners to better serve older Mainers. Today, more than 100 communities in Maine also have the Age-Friendly designation.
Once the committee completed a public survey and hosted a community forum designed to identify the strengths or challenges Windham faces in measuring up to eight areas of livability, it identified specific Areas of Focus, which is the framework the committee is working within to further its work.
It designed a logo, established a mission statement and goals, created a resource manual and established the website.
Linda Brooks, Director of Windham Parks and Recreation, has been working for the Town of Windham for seven years, and was previously the Parks and Recreation Director in Standish for 21 years. As director, Brooks oversees a year-round staff of four that are responsible for the provision of recreational activities for people of all ages and the management of the parks and trails throughout the town.
“Our department’s mission statement says it all in that we are creating a sense of community through people, parks and programs,” said Brooks. “I love what I do because it is very rewarding work, and every day is different.”
Brooks said the Holiday Luncheon will be Friday, Nov. 18 at the Town Hall Gym.
As for its purpose, one of the areas of focus for the event is social participation, she said.
“We are really hoping that adults of all ages take advantage of this social gathering and learn more about the ways they could assist in this initiative,” says Brooks. “The committee is also working with an AARP fellow, who is assisting us in further developing an action plan for Age Friendly Windham.”
According to Brooks, current goals are to establish a daily check-in program administered by volunteers to obtain assurance that the participant is doing okay and to develop a volunteer transportation program to assist people in getting to appointments if they are unable to drive.
“Two members of the committee, myself as the staff representative and Lorraine Glowczak as the community representative, are attending a six-week Age Friendly Master Class provide by AARP to further educate the committee about all the ways to establish an effective sustainable model for Windham,” Brooks said.
Jennifer Alvino Wood, Director of the Windham Public Library, oversees and promotes library services and assists community services such as Age Friendly Windham. She has been the Library Director in Windham since October 2013 but has worked in libraries since 1994.
“Anyone can join the Age-Friendly Committee,” says Wood. “There are no requirements to join, just a desire to help others.”
This can be done by contacting email@example.com or another committee member will add someone to our committee list.
“It’s a really good group of people working to support our older residents,” says Wood. “I enjoy being a member of the committee knowing that I’m meeting residents and helping them find resources.”
She said that committee members attend planning meetings once a month, assist in developing goals and action plans for each area of focus as well as participating in a senior check-in program by making phone calls, assist in home renovation or maintenance projects coordinated by organizations dedicated to keeping seniors in their homes, provide transportation to medical appointments for seniors who can no longer drive, volunteer at programs that offer a social outlet to seniors who may be isolated and assist in the delivery of programs that enhance physical and cognitive functioning for aging seniors.
The Holiday Luncheon will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a traditional meal provided by Starlite Catering. Adults of any age are welcome to attend for a fee of $10 per person. Registration and payment is required by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
For more information or to register, call 207-892-1905 or visit www.windhamrecreation.com. <