A group trying to show how the small bedroom community of Vassalboro is “friendly and sensitive to the needs of seniors” is holding a Services for Seniors Fair on Thursday, May 25, to spread the word about the organizations and services that are already in place to help an aging population.

The Friends Advocating for Vassalboro’s Older Residents committee, known as the FAVOR committee, formed about a year ago to find solutions for the myriad problems the town’s graying population might come to face.

The fair, which will feature 11 organizations that have spoken with the committee before, will be held on May 25 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Town Office on Main Street and is free for anyone to attend.

“The people I’ve talked to are excited about it,” said committee member Jim Schad after a meeting Monday morning. “No one else seems to be doing something like this.”

Nearly 18 percent of the town’s residents are aged 60 or over, according to U.S. Census Bureau data based on five-year estimates from 2011 to 2015.

The median age for the town is 38.6, meaning in the next few decades much of the town’s population will approach or surpass retirement age.

Vassalboro is among many cities and towns in Maine, the oldest state in the nation with a median age of 43.5, that is working on the issue of “aging in place” as residents grow older but wish to stay in the area that they’ve made their home. The American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP, is working with municipalities, including Augusta, Richmond and Readfield in central Maine, that want to become more age-friendly. Other towns have started their own committees.

Cindy Ferland, the director of the Vassalboro Food Pantry for the past 25 years and a member of the committee, said she already knew what the area had to offer because of her job.

“My whole idea is exposure,” Ferland said. “We have a lot to offer for a small town.”

Among the organizations attending are Spectrum Generations, the United Way of Mid-Maine and the University of Maine at Augusta Senior College.

Those who attend the fair will get a “passport” to fill out as they visit the different tables which they then may submit as an entry to win the door prize, which is a dinner for four cooked at their home by Lori Dumont of The Parsonage House.

Delta Ambulance is also donating a professional first aid kit as a prize and may do blood pressure tests depending on staffing, said Vassalboro Deputy Clerk Debbie Johnston.

The committee has heard from most of the organizations at its meetings.

“So now this is our attempt to share it with the community,” said Town Manager Mary Sabins.

Some of the services, like the senior college, surprised some of the members, said committee member Rachel Kilbride.

Lee Duff, a former school superintendent who has lived in the town for 33 years, is heavily involved in many of the services, but is hoping to enlighten others.

“I think that technology is not used much by seniors, so they may be out of the loop a little bit,” Duff said. “And I think we have to find ways to engage them in the activities they would enjoy and need.”

Looking forward, Vassalboro is waiting for Town Meeting on June 5 to tie up its other major project: transportation.

In a survey handed out to residents, the committee found that seniors most requested transportation to improve their quality of life.

Vassalboro worked with China to contract with the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program and its demand response services, which are available to anyone for a $1.50 riding fee.

Residents will also vote on budgeting $1,350 to share in the transportation service with China at its Town Meeting on June 5. If approved, the buses could be in the area by July.

In nearby China, where a committee on aging is just now starting, residents have already approved $1,545 to contract for the transportation services as well as $3,800 for a community needs assessment related to issues of aging in place.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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