Living Well program aims to engage all of North Yarmouth

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NORTH YARMOUTH — A project geared toward improving life for residents of all ages has been gaining steam since its 2016 debut.

The Living Well project began after its chairman, former Selectman Steve Palmer, attended the second annual Aging Well conference in Augusta.

“That got me thinking about the need to do something like this in North Yarmouth,” he said July 7 in an interview with his wife with fellow Aging Well committee member Donna Palmer.

The Palmers, along with Dick and Priscilla Brobst and Rod Duckworth, started the project last November. After they met with representatives from the Southern Maine Agency on Aging and AARP they decided not to limit the endeavor to North Yarmouth’s senior community, but to open it to all residents on the age spectrum.

“Living well in a community transcends age,” Donna Palmer said.

Since then, founding members have heard from other residents who want to get involved and help grow the project. The group in January circulated a survey to get a pulse on age-friendly elements of life in North Yarmouth. They received 545 responses of 1,800 households in town, the Palmers said.

“We were thrilled by the response,” Donna Palmer said, noting that people of a wide array of ages offered input.

Respondents expressed a desire for more social activities and a place for them to be held. They also noted that they get much of their information from newsprint, Steve Palmer said, adding he found residents who are in need of services such as food and transportation find themselves well taken care of by other community members.

“We learned that the employees of this town have a pretty sharp eye on the residents who need extra attention,” Steve Palmer said, noting that organizations such as churches also lend an essential hand.

The Living Well group hopes to work with the town to publish a monthly newsletter to keep residents up on town affairs and be available at places such as town hall and North Yarmouth Variety.

A “First Greeter” program, through which a resident of a certain neighborhood in town would make an introduction to new North Yarmouth residents there, is also in the works. That greeter would hand out a welcome bags, as well as a resource guide that Living Well has been developing, which will be ready this month in booklet form at public locations, as well as online.

“One of the things that AARP said is that you really need to organize your resources, and let people know you have them,” Donna Palmer said.

As it works to bring residents together, Living Well has also been working with other town groups. They collaborated with the Events Committee on an ice cream social in April, to which Toots Ice Cream donated the frosty treats, and the group is working with the Communications Committee on the First Greeter initiative.

A kite festival, coming Oct. 7 at Old Town House Park, will come through the efforts of Living Well, along with the Events and Parks & Recreation groups.

“(We’re) trying to get more interaction with people who have similar interests but maybe parallel tracks,” Donna Palmer said.

Living Well in May offered a daytime forum on the Wescustogo Hall reconstruction project for those who could not attend evening meetings on the matter. With a new town hall under consideration to be built at the same site at the former North Yarmouth Memorial School, a second forum could be held.

More information on “Living Well in North Yarmouth: An Age-Friendly Community” can be found at northyarmouth.org/living-well-north-yarmouth. Contact the Palmers at 829-6230.

They’d like to hear about “any ideas for the community that they think would be worthy of pursuing,” Steve Palmer said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Donna and Steve Palmer were two founders of North Yarmouth’s new Living Well initiative.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.