Lifelong Maine Annual Conference

Building Strong Foundations for Future Growth

More than 80 Lifelong Community leaders, advocates, and "rebels" joined us for a time of sharing, learning, and laughter. Throughout the day, we heard about the success of the Year Four, Lifelong Fellows Program and were treated to brief poster presentations about the work that host communities accomplished. 

Below are highlights from each of the sessions, including handouts and presentations, when available. 

Note: Below and throughout our website, underlined text indicates an active link. 

The panel, facilitated by Kathryn Harnish (Houlton), included communities large and small. From left to right (seated): Candy Eaton (Sullivan), Elizabeth Singer, (Caribou), Jean Saunders (Saco), and Lisa Joyce (South Portland).

Organizing for Susatinability

The plenary panel shared challenges and creative solutions to develop a sustainable Lifelong Community initiative. The panel shared hints and tips to build a sustainable structure, diversify your funding base, build capacity, plan for changes in leadership, and more!

Panel participants included:

Candy Eaton (Sullivan) described the importance of engaging a broad volunteer base and keeping the Select Board well-informed about the activities and successes of Age-Friendly Sullivan. She attends every Select Board meeting and provides regular updates. To keep residents engaged and to encourage volunteers to help with their work, she makes volunteering fun and opens every meeting to all who attend ("anyone who attends has a vote").

Elizabeth Singer (Caribou) works for Cary Medical Center so reports to the hospital board, engages municipal leaders, and engages volunteers. She stressed the importance of being a little aggressive to make sure she is on the Select Board agenda to give regular updates. One of the challenges she discussed was for a non-profit to recruit volunteers. For example, the group established a sand bucket program but, when volunteers dropped out, it was Elizabeth who made all the deliveries. Her caution: celebrate your partnerships and impact with your own board, keep elected officials informed, be careful what you promise, and make sure you have the volunteers to deliver. 

Jean Saunders (Saco) leads Age-Friendly Saco, a 501c3. She shared the journey their initiative had establishing a 501c3. Not only has their non-profit status given them a strong, multi-layered structure that engages partners, but it has also greatly helped them to apply for grants. An added benefit for their partnership with the municipality is that, as a 501c3, they are eligible for grants that move City goals forward but that municipalities are not eligible to receive. Jean stressed the importance of making sure there are volunteers committed to leading their different initiatives, protecting their volunteers from burnout, regularly reporting their successes to elected officials, and collaborating with municipal departments that share their mission (without being subsumed by those departments). 

Lisa Joyce (South Portland) shared the benefits and challenges of being a city-appointed committee. The negative of being a city-appointed committee was that, at one point, the city questioned if the committee should continue. The committee fought to continue and has, since then, written successful grants and developed multiple partnerships with city and non-profits that benefit residents of all ages. She stressed the importance of developing a track record for getting work done and gaining positive press coverage. Elected officials, municipal departments, and city committees are motivated to partner with them based on the many successful projects and information campaigns launched by the committee. 

The panel, facilitated by Karen Campbell (Bangor), included established and new Lifelong Community initiatives. Presenters included: Jean Saunders (Saco), not pictured; Lisa Joyce, (South Portland), Patti Fredette (Chelsea), and Mary Beth Paquette (Monmouth)

Volunteer Engagement

Recruiting and retaining volunteers is always a challenge! Panelists shared their tips, materials, and programs for how their communities attract, train and celebrate volunteers.

Patti Fredette (Chelsea) shared concrete examples of the forms the team has developed to organize volunteer recruitment: Volunteer Recruitment Tri-Fold, the Guiding Principles for Volunteers, and Application Form

Mary Beth Paquette (Monmouth) Led an interactive discussion that asked participants to identify the roles that volunteers can play in the Lifelong Community initiative and to identify the skills needed for a volunteer to full those roles.  She stressed that volunteer retention depended on being able to match a potential volunteer's interests, skills, and passions with the needs of the committee. 

Jean Saunders (Saco) described the process Age-Friendly Saco uses to on-board new volunteers. They invite a potential volunteer to visit with them and gain some familiarity with the way Age-Friendly Saco functions and to learn about the different initiatives so they can see where they fit into the work. To retain volunteers, Jean emphasized the importance of food and FUN!  (click here to view Jean's presentation handout)

Lisa Joyce (South Portland) spoke specifically on recruiting volunteers for the leadership board. She emphasized the importance of identifying and filling gaps in expertise and community connections when they recruit a new member. Lisa also shared that their work is becoming well-respected in the community and among municipal departments, so much so that committees and departments approach them about partnering. Speaking of partnering opportunities, Lisa told us to stay tuned for a new opportunity Age-Friendly South Portland has to partner with the Solid Waste Committee. All things are Age-Friendly in South Portland!

The workshop, facilitated by Steve Palmer (North Yarmouth), included descriptions of the work headed by Sharon Kelly, in Berwick; Cindy DiBiase in Scarborough; and Dot Grady in Chelsea. Pictured, the story path in Scarborough 

Creative Placemaking

Creative Placemaking featured 3 programs that responded to social connection and collaboration.

Elsa Rowe and Cynthia DiBiase outlined the walking program in Scarborough. This school and municipal campus 2-mile walk caused 2 people, unknown to each other, to become friends. The walk program is expanding to include rest stops with benches, gathering spaces, and gardens. This effort has been a collaboration between the library and Age-Friendly program. Cindy and Elsa work collaboratively to provide this program and others, making their work inclusive of a wide range of ages.

Sharon Kelly, librarian for Berwick, has offered numerous activities for folks to be together. The Meet and Bleat demonstrated "creativity" in Creative Placemaking. The goats brought all ages together for a fulfilling social activity that also had the benefit of an outreach for more volunteers. Click here to view Sharon Kelly's  presentation on the work in Berwick

Dot Grady of Chelsea detailed the restoration of Butternut Park along the banks of the Kennebunk River. This program involved the Chelsea Historical Society and the Conservation Commission and ultimately engaged the girl scout troop members. Together new butternut trees were planted, a cleanup occurred, hiking trails were refurbished and picnic tables were added. Dot also shared the work the Age Friendly Committee has been doing to sponsor concerts and interestingly, got the booster club to use the events to fundraise for the booster club. A win for the community on several fronts. Click here to view Dot Grady's presentation about the work in Chelsea

The programs offered in these three communities demonstrated varying approaches to engaging the community. Each program promotes a sense of place, of belonging, of engagement, of ownership, and the opportunity to show how members of a community can make a difference.  The collaboration required to make each of these programs of value was clearly evident in the communities.  

Nancy Davis led the workshop on Regional Age-Friendly Community Initiatives. Pictured here, the leaders of two regional efforts--(from right to left: Dr. Chris Morin, Aging Well in Waldo County and Anne Schroth, Lori Johnson, and Betsy Armstrong, Age-Friendly COastal Communities

Stronger Together:
Regional Lifelong Communities

During the Stronger Together workshop, Nancy Davis described how she collaborated with other regional Age-Friendly leaders to develop the Stronger Together Guide to Developing a Multi-Town, Regional Lifelong Community. Regional approaches include anywhere from 2-26 towns that share a commitment to Lifelong Community development. 

Nancy distributed a handout summarizing factors to consider when launching a regional approach and encouraged people to read the advice from current leaders of regional approaches in Maine and New Hampshire. 

Graphic Design introduction,  
led by Pat Saunders 

shine with design

This workshop, led by Pat Saunders, provided an introduction to four key design principles–typography, color, white space, and hierarchy–to help fledgling designers begin to create readable, effective, and engaging promotional materials (with examples provided).  

The workshop also addressed the importance of branding, touched briefly on some common design pitfalls, and stressed the importance of “roughing out” an idea or design before using a design program.  

Click here to view Pat's presentation handout

Facilitated by Candy Eaton (Sullivan), the panel included the perspectives of municipal employees, volunteers and local non-profits leading Age-Friendly. From left to right, Steve Palmer (North Yarmouth), Nate Rudy (Twon Manager, Gray). Anne Schroth (Age-Friendly Coastal Communities), and Linda Weare (Office of Elder Affairs, Portland)

Working with your municipality

The purpose of the session was to explore building alliances with your municipality, who to approach, framing your message, keeping your elected officials engaged, no matter if you are the City of Portland, a smaller community, or an itty-bitty rural community.

Anne Schroth - Executive Director for Healthy Peninsula, a private non-profit agency. In 2016-2017, she helped launch the regional AF initiative - Age-Friendly Coastal Communities, which includes the 9 towns of the Blue Hill Peninsula & Deer Isle. Anne has experience in collaborating with many municipalities - the first of their Age-Friendly Coastal Community 9 towns joined in 2016, and all 9 had become members by the end of 2017: She collaborates strongly with some, and not so closely with others. Anne spoke about the challenges in community engagement with small communities, her collaborations with municipalities, and partnerships with other organizations. 

Linda Weare - Director, Office of Elder Affairs, in Portland. She has worked as a geriatric social worker, elder advocate, and community leader in the City of Portland for 33 years. Linda has facilitated the city’s Age-Friendly Community Initiative since 2014, which was the first Maine community to join AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities. Portland is the only town in Maine that owns and operates a large nursing care facility and provides other direct services and advocacy through a municipally-funded Office of Elder Affairs. Linda spoke about the challenges and benefits of communication with the various departments throughout the municipality, along with keeping community partners, department heads and the City Council informed of their needs and successes. Linda's comprehensive list of tips and hints for working with town leaders, especially elected officials, can be found here.

Steve Palmer - Chair, Living Well in North Yarmouth. In 2017, Steve and Donna Palmer became immersed in the Age-Friendly network which continues today. Their program was officially adopted by the Select Board in October 2015, and Living Well has maintained a steady and positive contribution to the community over those years ... until there was a change in administration at the municipal level. Steve spoke about the challenges of being on a municipal committee, contingent upon reappointment by the new Select Board. The future for Living Well in North Yarmouth is unknown, despite the many successful projects and programs sponsored by LWNY. Click here to view Steve's presentation handout

Nate Rudy, Town Manager, Gray - recently served as Hallowell City Manager and the Director of Planning and Development for the City of Gardiner. Nate has been active with the AARP Network of AF Communities since 2016. He spoke about the responsibilities in managing the Town of Gray, all of their residents, resources, and answers to the Town Council for the community. Nate provided recommendations for appropriate communication from citizens and committees. Click here to read his "pro-tips". They have a very informative website,; which highlights municipal committees, businesses, volunteer opportunities, upcoming events, etc. Their comprehensive plan speaks volumes about where they are going - “turning HOPE into ACTION”. Click here to view Nate's presentation handout

The workshop was facilitated by Transportation Fellows, Mary Beth Paquette and Barbara Wentworth

Volunteer Transportation

The Volunteer Transportation workshop allowed Barb Wentworth and Mary Beth Paquette (Transportation Fellows) an opportunity to let people know about the process of designing the provider listing and transportation manual that are now on the Lifelong Maine Volunteer Transportation page

We are deeply grateful to our funders, the Maine Community Foundation and AARP Maine, 

and to the Age-Friendly Lifelong Communities who came together to enjoy a day of networking, learning, and fun.