Highlights from the February 12, 2020 Whitefield Cares! meeting

We opened our meeting with an update from Teresa Magnusen, who is organizing our first cooking class at Whitefield Elementary School. The idea is to bring in a few interested community members to help a few middle-school children to learn to cook food available in the school food pantry. Teresa reported that she met with the school nurse and cook to determine who would most benefit from the experience and how to manage it. Teresa hopes to host the cooking class on March 25, on a Wednesday when the children have an early release. If anyone is interested in helping please let us know!

George Fergusson reported that he has updated the Resource List with clickable links for each of the organizations mentioned. In addition, George and Margaret Fergusson worked on the draft flier first prepared by Bill McKeen, that describes the purpose of Whitefield Cares. The idea is to prepare a copy that we can use at the table at the Town Meeting (March 21, 10:00AM at the Whitefield Elementary School). Harriet Vaughn and George also worked on refrigerator magnets that provide the contact information for Whitefield Cares; they will also be available at Town Meeting.

Lise Hanners reported that a small group of people gathered in the past month to talk about materials needed for the table at Town Meeting. Originally we planned to have a brief survey available but the group decided that people attending the meeting would not have the time to fill out a survey We will focus our time on drafting a full survey that meets our needs.

Lise introduced Patricia Oh, the Age-Friendly Community Program Manager for AARP Maine, and her intern Aviv, who works on community surveys. Patricia spent the next half hour with a great give-and-take conversation about examples of work accomplished in age-friendly communities in Maine.

Patricia reported that many communities kick off their planning with some kind of a social event like an ice cream social, to bring community members out to meet one another and provide the chance to hear what is needed in the community for support. She said that the AARP initiative began with a focus on the needs of the elderly but the program has expanded to include all community members. AARP focuses on 8 domains that make Maine communities better for all ages: outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community support and health services. Patricia suggested that Whitefield Cares! Might consider joining the AARP network to share our successes and learn from others.

It’s very clear that we need to conduct a survey of Whitefield community needs, likely sooner than later. Patricia will connect Lise to others with experience doing these surveys so we can figure out how to move forward. We will need a combination of both paper and electronic surveys because not everyone will have access to a computer and we’re still trying to get the word out there about Whitefield Cares.

Tony Marple suggested that members of our planning group might learn a lot by volunteering as drivers for people in Whitefield and taking the time to chat with people who request rides. Lincoln County FISH provides free rides for people in Whitefield so that would be a great place to volunteer. Lise Hanners suggested that another approach might be to volunteer to work at the food bank, to learn more about the demographic in Whitefield that uses the food bank and to see the project in action. Lise will check with the food bank organizers to see when they need volunteers.

Many ideas were floated about hands-on projects to engage others who might be less interested in planning and more interested in taking action. Examples were making insulated window covers for homes such as the group “Window Dressers” based in Rockland. Another idea was to provide sand buckets for seniors in the winter. A group of volunteers might form a “Handy Brigade”, with people available to fix things inside houses in the winter. Maine’s 200th birthday might provide an opportunity to engage with the Historical Society and support community members. Similarly, we could work with the Whitefield Library to plan events.

Our next meeting will be the 3rd Wednesday in March, the 18th at 4:00 PM at the Whitefield Elementary School. Please join us!