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Older Americans Month: Communities of Strength
In tough times, communities find strength in people—and people find strength in their communities. In the past year, we’ve seen this time and again in central and midcoast Maine, as friends, neighbors, and businesses have found new ways to support each other.
In our community, older adults are a key source of this strength. Through their experiences, successes, and difficulties, they have built resilience that helps them to face new challenges. When communities tap into this, they become stronger too.
Each May, the Administration for Community Living leads the celebration of Older Americans Month (OAM). This year’s theme is Communities of Strength, recognizing the important role older adults play in fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities.
Strength is built and shown not only by bold acts, but also small ones of day-to-day life—a conversation shared with a friend, working in the garden, trying a new recipe, or taking time for a cup of tea on a busy day. And when we share these activities with others—even virtually or by telling about the experience later—we help them build resilience too.
This year, [organization name] will celebrate OAM by encouraging community members to share their experiences. Together, we can find strength—and create a stronger future.
Here are some ways to share and connect:
- Look for joy in the everyday: Celebrate small moments and ordinary pleasures by taking time to recognize them. Start a gratitude journal and share it with others via social media, or call a friend or family member to share a happy moment or to say thank you.
- Reach out to neighbors: Even if you can’t get together in person right now, you can still connect with your neighbors. Leave a small gift on their doorstep, offer to help with outdoor chores, or deliver a homecooked meal.
- Build new skills: Learning something new allows us to practice overcoming challenges. Take an art course online or try a socially distanced outdoor movement class to enjoy learning with others in your community. Have a skill to share? Find an opportunity to teach someone, even casually.
- Share your story: There’s a reason storytelling is a time-honored activity. Hearing how others experience the world helps us grow. Interviewing family, friends, and neighbors can open up new conversations and strengthen our connections.
When people of different ages, backgrounds, abilities, and talents share experiences—through action, story, or service—we help build strong communities. And that’s something to celebrate!
A message from Gerard Queally, Spectrum Generations' President & CEO
Spectrum Generations’ work to serve older and disabled adults in central Maine has spanned four decades, but the nonprofit has never experienced a year like 2020 before. As President and CEO, I’m incredibly proud to report that our staff and volunteers stepped up in truly heroic ways to serve some of our most vulnerable populations during these uncertain times.
Even at the outset of the pandemic, Spectrum Generations never closed its doors because we knew that our clients, who are among the highest-risk populations, needed us now, more than ever before. So instead of closing, we quickly pivoted our staff and resources to provide much-needed services to the community, and we’ve continued evolving as various needs have emerged.
For example, our popular Meals on Wheels program, designed to address senior nutrition and isolation, doubled in size with meal production and packaging operations producing an impressive 1,800 meals every single day for seniors in our area. To accomplish this feat, we shuffled resources from programs that we had to temporarily halt, and we utilized two area community centers so our people could safely distance while packaging these meals for seniors in need.
We also procured and geared up with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) so our staff could continue to provide consistent personal support services and community management services right at people’s homes safely, eliminating the need for these at-risk populations to travel during the stay-at-home order. Our staff also continued to assist with needs as they arose remotely from our hotline service, which operated as usual throughout the entire pandemic. Our remaining evidence-based health and prevention programs went virtual so our clients could still get the help they needed from the safety of their homes.
Then, as it became abundantly clear that our first responders needed a safe place to leave their loved ones while they bravely served our communities, we reopened our doors for Adult Day and Community Support Services. Our staff took this task on with great pride, as it was truly an honor to help those who bravely kept us all safe.
In October, we reopened our congregate dining service, with an eye towards safety, of course, to give a much-needed reprieve to those who had been living in absolute isolation for months. To this day, Spectrum Generations is the only Area on Aging to have resumed providing this important service.
Today, Spectrum Generations has again shifted its mission to assist with statewide vaccination rollout efforts by reallocating space and resources to provide clinics, in partnership with Northern Light Health and others. We held our first vaccination clinic on March 5, which was the first of its kind among Maine’s Area Agencies on Aging. For this effort, our staff has stepped up to provide screening, coordination and outreach, and now, we’re even partnering with organizations to provide transportation to clinics as well. For our homebound clients, we’ve partnered with multiple other organizations to deliver vaccinations, as necessary.
Over the last year, our mantra here at Spectrum Generations has been “Return to normal safely but quickly, because the community counts on us!” Each passing day, and week, our wonderful staff has jumped into action, taking on each new task and mission with grace. I’m truly in awe of what our team has, and continues, to accomplish in service to our community. Because of their willingness to serve during this difficult time, Spectrum Generations has been on the cutting edge, continually evolving to best serve the needs of our community. Please join me in thanking all who have been a part of this tremendous effort for bravely providing warm meals and helping hands throughout the pandemic.
Spectrum Generations is here to help!
Call 1-800-639-1553 and we can help...
• Answer general questions about the vaccine
• Provide information about where and when you can get the vaccine
• Assist you with scheduling appointments when it is your turn to get the doses you need to be fully vaccinated
• Connect you with transportation services to help you get to and from your vaccine location
We have updated our Mission and Vision statements; both remain aligned with our organizational history and goals, representing our strategic path forward. The changes are truly in semantics and the essence of the work we are doing at Spectrum Generations remains supporting older and disabled adults in the communities we serve.
NEW MISSION STATEMENT
To promote and advance the well-being and independence of older and disabled adults, with the support of their care partners, to live in their community of choice.
NEW VISION STATEMENT
To be an important and influential community partner, serving older and disabled adults and their care partners, by providing full access to both information and a network of services and supports that addresses social needs, facilitates informed decision making, and enables their most meaningful participation in all aspects of life.