Healthy Peninsula’s service area – the nine towns of the Blue Hill Peninsula and the island towns of Deer Isle and Stonington – contains some of the most beautiful communities in Maine. We have a history of taking care of our own in these rural towns and this tradition has informed our dedication to harnessing the talents of local residents and newcomers to collaboratively address community challenges, thus creating opportunities to make all of our residents more informed, happier, and healthier.
Our Healthy Aging initiative recognizes that, as we all live longer and healthier lives, we can tap into our collective experiences to create innovative solutions for the challenges that come – individually and systemically – as we get older. With that in mind, we have created a strong network of community members, town governments, and service providers, working together to create a community where we will all have what we need as we grow up and grow older in our coastal neighborhoods.
In 2017, we concluded Thriving in Place Downeast (TiPD), a 4-year project funded by the Maine Health Access Foundation to promote innovative collaborative efforts to support older people, those with chronic health conditions and caregivers remain independent and safe in their homes and communities. Healthy Peninsula was the coordinating agency of this complex community collaboration, both during the 1-year planning process and the 3-year implementation period.
Since January 2017, with the enthusiastic endorsement of our community partners, we transitioned our TIPD project to a more sustainable community initiative, Age-Friendly Coastal Communities (AFCC). Our AFCC project is affiliated with the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities and has expanded our network of participating partners to include all 9 local town governments, the two area Chambers of Commerce, emergency responders, and even more local community organizations. In December 2017, we completed an Age-Friendly Community Assessment to gather community opinions about the strengths and challenges in our area to creating communities that are livable for people of all ages. With over 760 completed surveys, we are currently embarking on a concentrated community analysis and planning process to develop an Age-Friendly Action Plan that addresses the needs and opportunities identified in the survey.
Our latest Healthy Aging project began in February 2018, when we were awarded another MeHAF planning grant – Catalyzing Rural Health Transformation. This funding gives us a year to harness collective community goals and ideas for addressing challenges and gaps in our rural health care delivery systems. Blue Hill Memorial Hospital is our lead partner on this grant project, which also includes most of our former TiPD community partners and many of our new AFCC partners. The power of collaborative brainstorming, planning, and executing creative ideas cannot be understated!
In addition to our role as a convener and coordinator of complex community collaborations, Healthy Peninsula offers independent programming that supports older people in their homes and communities, such as:
- Magic Food Bus, offering free, fresh, local produce, health information, and books for all ages. More information about the Magic Food Bus.
- Community Garden Project, building networks for community gardening opportunities. More information about the Community Garden Project.
- “Ladies & Gents Who Lunch” Nutrition Project, providing fresh, local food preparation and cooking workshops for residents of low-income, senior housing development.
- Visit with Friends Senior Coffeehouse, offering (with co-sponsor Friends in Action) a weekly coffeehouse for older adults.
- Community Resource Guide (communityresourceguide.org), in partnership with Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, offering a digital, local and regional resource guide to health, social service, and wellness topics.
- Choices That Matter Community Conversations, a community campaign offering opportunities for individuals and families to engage in and improve decision-making for end-of-life care. More information about Choices That Matter.
As exciting new opportunities on issues of healthy aging continue to develop, Healthy Peninsula will continue to cultivate the power of collaboration to create healthy, informed, and livable communities for all.