2017-11-06 / Front Page

Turnout strong for Age Friendly Saco's Volunteer Forum

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By ED PIERCE
Executive Editor

SACO — Organizers of the Age Friendly Saco Volunteer Forum and Wellness Fair believe they're on the right track following an outpouring of support from those who are making a difference in the community during a special gathering held at the Saco Community Center on Saturday.

Featuring 14 vendors offering important information and resources available to Saco residents and a luncheon prepared by Atlantic Heights Community to express gratitude to those who are volunteering in the community, the first-time event was a rousing success, said Jean Saunders of Age Friendly Saco.

"The purpose of this fair was to bring volunteers together so they can be aware of many of the services and resources in the community," Saunders said. "We're very pleased with the turnout today. There's a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm and more than 60 volunteers are here."

Saunders said that the mission of Age Friendly Saco is "A Community for a Lifetime" and the organization promotes active aging by optimizing health, engagement and safety while removing barriers that prevent citizens from remaining in their own homes as they age.

She said she's excited to spread the word about Age Friendly Saco's "Handy Neighbor Program," which will help seniors to live fulfilling lives in their own residences through a unique handyman service. That program was made available to the community through a $4,000 grant awarded to Age Friendly Saco by the Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution.

"There is such a need and as people age, they want to be in their home community and in their own homes," Saunders said.

Saturday's event helped to make volunteers aware of the vast array of services and resources that are designed to empower Saco residents to remain in the city and egaged in their community.

During the forum portion of the event, a discussion was held about the next steps needed to make Saco a more age friendly community, as well as present an overview of subcommittees that will be formed to address the needs defined by community survey results.

Saunders said some of the subcommittees include The Handy Neighbor, Communications, Social Events, Data Base and others. 

Vendors at the Wellness Fair shared information about health, nutrition, recreation, finances, food assistance, transportation and more.

Diane Cloutier-Dostal of Rite Aid Pharmacy attended and gave flu shots to anyone who needed one.

"The experts are predicting a bad year for flu so we thought it was important to be here to make flu shots available to participants today," she said. 

Bob Hamblen of Saco manned a vendor table and shared information with volunteers about the Eastern Trail Alliance.

He said that the Eastern Trail is extremely popular with residents of the area and has many benefits.

"We had counters on the trail this summer and found there were 68,000 people on the trail over a three-month period,' Hamblen said. "It's great recreation and a great way to stay fit."

Hamblen said the Eastern Trail Allinace sponsors monthly moonlight walks and other events to bring residents together in a beautiful outdoors setting.

For more information on how you can help Age Friendly Saco, contact Jean Saunders at agefriendlysaco.org or at 651-9073.  You can also follow them on Facebook at @AgeFriendlySaco.

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at editor@journaltribune.com.

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