A group of New Sharon residents hope to revive a culture of neighbors helping neighbors by starting a new community group.

The New Sharon Village Elders Club wants to promote community support to meet the needs of the older residents in the community, said Spencer Thompson, a New Sharon resident and one of the group’s organizers.

The group plans to hold an open discussion about its new organization from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at the Town Office, with free dessert, coffee and entertainment. The Health Community Coalition will conduct health screenings from 4 to 6 p.m. before the event.

Thompson, 74, and a former selectman, said before he and his wife, Juniper, bought their farm in 1971, he was “a corporate guy” working at Forster Manufacturing, and he relied on neighbors who taught him about running a farm.

“Back then New Sharon was known for the ways in which neighbors helped neighbors; and knowing nothing about farming, I needed and received much help from nearby residents,” he said.

The effort is part of a $320,000 grant from Maine Health Access Foundation to fund startup costs of similar groups across the state, said Jim Baumer, of Seniors Plus, a resource center for aging residents and people with disabilities.

He said groups like the one starting in New Sharon help keep residents living at home for as long as possible, which is a goal of Seniors Plus.

Baumer said he is serving as a consultant on the group, but the residents have taken charge of the effort and are eager to be a resource in the community.

“It’s a pretty active group,” he said.

A focus group of New Sharon residents met two months ago with Baumer to see if there was interest in a group of residents helping residents and what the proposed group could accomplish.

“Focus group attendees were very excited about the opportunity,” Thompson said.

After the meeting, a group of about 10 residents have since met twice a month to further the idea. They took a phone survey of a sample of older residents in town and Thompson said “the results clearly indicated there are a number of issues where assistance might be helpful.”

Group meetings are held at the New Sharon Town Office at 9:30 a.m. every other Thursday and the next meeting will be held May 15.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 | kschroeder@centralmaine.com