AUGUSTA — Economic forecaster Laurie Lachance suggested members of the Senior College at the University of Maine at Augusta could improve life for themselves and others in Maine by volunteering to work with youngsters and teens and various civic groups, including historic preservation efforts.

“Seniors in particular have an opportunity to intersect with younger people,” she said. “They can offer wisdom, guidance and perspective. Younger people aren’t always open to their parents as much.”

She talked of the value gained when seniors volunteer in pre-kindergarten and other elementary grades, at story hours and when working with children on basic alphabet and reading skills.

“At least 20 percent of kids below age 5 are living in poverty and not exposed to as much enrichment,” she said. “All you need is a caring adult to get involved.”

Her remarks came during a break in Sunday’s session on “Making Maine Work” part of the Forum on the Future, presented by the UMA College of Arts and Sciences and the UMA Senior College.

About 75 people attended the session at UMA’s Jewett Auditorium that included a presentation by Lachance, president and chief executive officer of the Maine Development Foundation, which works to strengthen communities and guide public policy, and Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and a former commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation.

The foundation and the state chamber had collaborated on the “Making Maine Work” report issued in July 2010 when, as Connors described, “state government was under going a monumental shift” to Republican control after more than 30 years of Democratic majorities.

The report concluded that top concerns of Mainers were heath care costs, energy costs, state regulations, personal income tax and transportation infrastructure.

State Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, who participated in a discussion following the presentations by Connors and Lachance, said the problems have to be viewed in a national and international perspective.

“Our country has become a little like the Red Sox,” Katz said. “Since 2004, we’ve come to believe being winners is our right and not something to be earned every day.”

The “Making Maine Work” report, available under “Publications” on the Maine Development Foundation website www.mdf.org, is serving as the basis for this year’s “Forum on the Future” which will include five more sessions in the lecture/panel series.

* Nov. 7: a 7 p.m. presentation by T. R. Reid on his book “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.”

* Dec. 2: a 2 p.m. “Energy, Economic Growth, & Jobs” presentation by Habib Dagher, University of Maine professor and founding director of the Advanced Structures & Composites Center.

* Feb. 3: a 3 p.m. presentation on “A Blueprint for Education Reform in Maine” by Yellow Light Breen, senior vice president of Bangor Savings Bank and chair of the Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education.

* March 4: a 2 p.m. presentation on “Homes, Cities, & Sustainable Energy” by Paul Kando, a founder of the Midcoast Green Collaborative.

* April 6: a 1 p.m. panel of all the speakers and panelists in a session on “The Creative Economy” directed by Libby Mitchell, former Speaker of the House and President of the Maine Senate.

All sessions are free and open to the public.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]


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