During the Windham Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening, councilors were informed that the Maine Community Foundation has awarded the town a grant of $5,000 to help cover the position and transportation for Erica Bell-Watkins, Age Friendly Windham coordinator.
|The Maine Community
Foundation has awarded
the Town of Windham a
grant of $5,000 to help
cover the position and
transportation for Erica
Bell-Watkins, who has
been the Age Friendly
Bell-Watkins joined Age Friendly Windham in May and has been working so far to offer meaningful solutions for a range of complex issues affecting seniors such as building access, transportation, housing, employment, health services, mobility, and social inclusion, all while aiming to provide a rich intergenerational experience for all residents of the town.
As Age Friendly Windham director, Bell-Watkins supports the organization’s mission of partnering with local and regional organizations and volunteer groups to increase services and programs that make it possible for residents of all ages and abilities to live and thrive in Windham, providing activities geared toward keeping people healthy, active, and engaged in our community and advising the Windham Town Council about infrastructure and policy that will make it easier and safer for Windham residents to live in the community.
When she was named as Age Friendly Windham coordinator, Bell-Watkins said that citizen involvement will be key to the program’s lasting success and she hopes to recruit volunteers for the initiative.
“In order for this initiative to be successful, we need citizens to be involved. I am looking forward to meeting with volunteers to get several programs set up and sustainable,” she said. “Volunteers are key to that. My focus is to increase social opportunities, addressing safety and expanding access to transportation options.”
Her specific goals for the program include having a Morning Call Program in place to stay in touch with house-bound residents, increasing the number of weekly and monthly opportunities for socializing and education for seniors in the community, and creating a pilot transportation program to take older residents in need of a ride to and from medical appointments.
According to Bell-Watkins, she learned of the opportunity with Age Friendly Windham when she viewed a posting on a Windham Parks and Recreation Department webpage earlier this year.
“I was interested in using my various skills to support my community,” she said. “This was of interest to me because of the many opportunities and needs in Windham. I was interested in helping the town enhance the service to our citizens.”
Some of the initiatives that the Age Friendly Windham committee has been working on include the Good Morning Call-in Program with the Windham Police Department, Age-Friendly lunches co-sponsored by the committee and Windham Parks and Recreation, and additional involvement with the TRIAD programing. The committee will also be updating the resource manual that was created a couple of years ago and those printed materials will be made available at various locations around town.
Funding for the position that Bell-Watkins currently holds was through an AARP grant that ran through Sept. 30, so this Maine Community Foundation Grant came at an opportune time.
Additional funding has been provided by the town, and that included $3,010 allotted in the town’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget, along with a carry forward of about $4,000 from Fiscal Year 2023.
Just having Bell-Watkins in place as director has given Age Friendly Windham a much greater presence in the community and a more enhanced profile to help the committee meet its goals, committee members say.
For more information about Age-Friendly Windham, call 207-892-4649, visit agefriendlywindham.org. or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org <