Augusta Age Friendly has recently passed our first anniversary and it’s been a busy year learning to crawl, walk and run.

Age Friendly now encompasses 38 communities and 21 percent of the population of Maine and remains one of the fastest growing community oriented initiatives in the state.

We need you to be a part of this effort in Augusta. Join us at Augusta City Center or on Facebook at Augusta Age-Friendly.

The eight-member advisory committee has grown to 20 and has reached several milestones. The first was to write an action plan based upon what was heard from Augusta residents through a survey, focus groups and public meetings. A plan was drafted, passed through many edits over a few months and is now being reviewed in Washington, D.C. by the AARP National Office and a representative from the World Health Organization.

Augusta became the first Maine locality to complete a comprehensive resource guide that is currently being reviewed by the AARP Public Policy Office prior to printing and we have researched and developed a Certified Age Friendly Business program based on successful programs around the country. We would encourage our businesses to review the program and see how age friendly they are and what options are available to attract additional senior business opportunities.

The sand buckets for seniors’ program has been funded for the winter 2017-2018 and with the help from Public Works and the Boy Scouts, we will get this off the ground in the fall, all the while having partnered with the city and Augusta Downtown Alliance on our senior art bench project — which is still seeking additional corporate sponsorship.

Transportation options and a home modification program are in the works as we partner with ITN America, KVCAP and the Masons.

Augusta residents named transportation as an area of major concern, so Age Friendly has joined with other communities here in Maine and in Tennessee to study a low-cost rural volunteer driver pilot program. Three committee members will be engaged in this program for the next few months as we investigate the best options for Augusta residents.

Intergenerational opportunities between our senior population and the Boys and Girls Club and Cony High School are being explored through upcoming senior focus groups in July and as a participant on the Future Search committee.

A year has passed and we have accomplished much. Onward to year two.

Bob MacDougall is a retiree, resides in Augusta and is a volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program and AARP, often on legislative issues affecting seniors at the State House. He is chairman of the Augusta Age Friendly initiative as well as being on the AARP state advisory board. This is the second of occasional updates on the program.

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