Falmouth parish gets grant to help seniors 'age with grace'

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FALMOUTH — The Parish of the Holy Eucharist has received a $5,000 grant to support its Aging with Grace program, which is designed to support local seniors, particularly those who often fall through the cracks.

The parish, which serves Falmouth, Yarmouth, Freeport and Gray, is able to offer seminars, lectures, social events, retreat opportunities, meal support and more to area seniors whether they’re Catholic or not.

Georgette Dionne, the director of lifelong faith formation and the St. Jude pastoral leader for the parish, said the goal of Aging with Grace is “to serve the spiritual, social, physical, educational and emotional needs” of those 55 and up.

Aging with Grace covers a broad geographical area, she said, that also includes the communities of Cumberland, North Yarmouth, Pownal, North Pownal and New Gloucester.

Through the program, Dionne said the Parish of the Holy Eucharist, which is headquartered at Holy Martyrs in Falmouth, can reach those “who fall between the eligibility cracks of traditional social and government services.”

“We do not wish to duplicate the social services that already exist in our local communities,” she said, but “we (do want) to be active disciples in helping to address (the) unmet needs (of seniors) within our four faith communities.”

Dionne said the most urgent needs include transportation, food insecurity and basic day-to-day support, “which includes direct social and emotional support.”

Through its Aging with Grace program, which started three years ago, Dionne said, “We’ve learned that there (many seniors) who are not being served.”

“There are many deterrents that prevent these individuals from accessing services, which may include stigma, embarrassment, disabilities, inability to drive, financial restrictions, feeling overwhelmed or not knowing where to start,” she said. “Our ministry would like to further understand these factors and address them with sensitivity and practical consideration.”

“Connectivity among neighbors … actually cultivates the confidence, fortitude and hope (seniors often) need to develop self-care skills,” Dionne added. Therefore, “we (are called to) reach out … by building reliable, consistent person-to-person relationships.”

The grant to the Parish of the Holy Eucharist came from Catholic Charities Maine.

Kathy Mockler, the senior communications and PR director for the organization, said the hope is not only to support the work of the Falmouth-based church, but also help it “develop a toolkit for other parishes to utilize for senior programs.”

The grant is part of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which works to “empower parishioners to compassionately serve people of all faiths living in their communities,” a press release said.

“The CCHD parish grants support initiatives that aim to solve community-wide problems, empowering those in need to make ongoing life changes and to become more self-sufficient while offering parishioners the opportunity to serve those less fortunate,” the release added.

Mockler said the Parish of the Holy Eucharist was chosen to receive a CCHD grant because it worked to “really explore the unmet needs in their community and came up with a creative solution with their Aging with Grace initiative.”

“With these funds we’re excited to see this ministry grow and offer support to seniors in a way that hasn’t really been possible before now,” she said. “It’s also great to see ministries flourish that can then be replicated … and this program certainly has the potential to help many seniors all across Maine.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

The Parish of the Holy Euchirst, headquartered at Holy Martyrs Church in Falmouth, runs a senior support program called Aging with Grace.