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AARP AARP States Maine

Congratulations! Steadfast Advocate and Beacon Community Award Winners for 2023 Announced

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Honors go to Age-Friendly Sullivan and Long-time Volunteers Deb Alford and Ruby Parker

AARP Maine is thrilled to recognize a member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities as the winner of the AARP Maine Beacon Community Award and two AARP Maine volunteers as the winners of the Steadfast Advocates Award for 2023.

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Steadfast Advocate Award Winners Deb Alford and Ruby Parker

AARP Maine’s Steadfast Advocate Award celebrates individual volunteers’ countless and unending efforts to support the AARP Maine mission. Deb Alford and Ruby Parker of Scarborough have continually demonstrated their steadfast commitment to the betterment of the lives of older Mainers. In 2023, Ruby and Deb overcame physical hardship and never stopped engaging and fighting for the people of Maine throughout the legislative session and beyond.

“We were surprised and honored to receive the Steadfast award,” said Deb and Ruby. “We see many people volunteering with AARP who certainly contribute as much, if not more, than we do. Receiving this award humbled us.

“We both enjoy the fun activities that AARP provides, helping where we can at functions, but we also have found the advocacy work to be rewarding. Being able to get to know our legislators, making a difference to life in Maine, and better understanding how the state government works has been great. Tracking bills, attending committee meetings, and chatting with everyone at the statehouse is quite interesting. We are thankful to AARP Maine for all the work they do, and happy to play our small role.”

Since 2021, AARP Maine has identified a community in Maine to recognize and celebrate each year with its Beacon Community award. This year’s winner is Age-Friendly Sullivan, a member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities (NAFSC) since 2018.

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Age-Friendly Sullivan in Hancock County

“Age-Friendly Sullivan in Hancock County is the epitome of what it means to be a collaborative, engaging, action-oriented community that focuses on helping older adults live, and thrive, in place,” said Bonam. “It is exciting to see that in a relatively short amount of time this remarkable community has made such strides on behalf of older community residents. We are delighted to present this award to them in recognition of their accomplishments.”

The University of Maine Center on Aging Program Manager, Patricia Oh, Ph.D., MSW, coordinates its Lifelong Maine initiative, which includes providing technical support and programming for the NAFSC in Maine. She said “Age-Friendly Sullivan exemplifies the power of older residents to spark changes that benefit residents of all ages--from a nationally recognized birthday card program to a clean-up day that brings the community together and promotes civic pride. Under the leadership of Candy Eaton, the Age-Friendly team has transformed the community for aging and has inspired other communities to follow Sullivan's lead. As part of the Lifelong Fellows program, Candy mentored two other Age-Friendly Communities and continues her mentorship now as a member of the Lifelong Maine Advisory Group.”

As Chair of Age-Friendly Sullivan, Candy Eaton accepted the award and said “We are so honored to be recognized by AARP Maine with the 2023 Beacon Community Award. The framework of Age-Friendly Livable Communities has given me a special purpose and lifelong learning opportunities throughout this adventure.”

AARP Maine celebrated both honorees at their Annual Meeting held earlier this year in Lewiston.

For more information about volunteering with AARP Maine, click here.

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