Four small organizations with big plans have been selected to receive Community Action Grants from AARP Vermont supporting their efforts to make Newport a more “Age-Friendly” city. In partnering with AARP Vermont, Newport has committed to embrace the changing demographics of an aging population by focusing on safe, walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services and community engagement opportunities for all ages. These Community Action Grants support that direction by funding small, grassroots organizations that are working to advance the Age Friendly movement.
After a thorough review process, the following projects were selected:
I Mentor Program - $2,000
Now Playing Music - $1,000
Newport Free Bike Committee - $2,000
Journey to Recovery Community Center - $1,000
I mentor Program: A strong partnership between the UU church and the elementary school will deliver a three part mentoring program with seniors who volunteer at the church and with youth in the school to focus on reading, sharing of historical knowledge and landmarks, along with technological learnings. The mentors will be both the seniors and the students. It’s an exciting program that will provide 36 seniors and 36 youth with mentoring opportunities. The focus is to build intergenerational learning opportunities and foster relationships to build social inclusion.
Now Playing Newport: The grant will provide the resources to expand the Newport Music Series (now in its second year) to bring fine musical performances to the greater Newport area. The focus of the funds from this grant will allow the program to build a special addition of music programs with a healthy meal to senior citizens at no cost – 4 music concerts are planned beginning in May through the summer. The focus of the program is to address isolation and provide social and community engagement opportunities.
Newport Free Bike Committee: An ad hoc neighborhood group has coordinated with the police department, recreational department and the local bike shop to begin a free bike share program for Newport City residents. With over 200 bikes provided by the police department, the bike shop will restore the bicycles along with tricycles and make them available for residents to use in the city and on the extensive bike path network in Newport. The effort also includes the installation of bike racks around the city. Providing free access to bicycles and tricycles in Newport’s commercial district allows residents of all ages to ride freely to stores, the cinema, bowling alley, restaurants, and human service providers as well as for recreational use. The grant will provide funding for maintenance, restoration of existing bikes and marketing and outreach materials – ultimately expanding the multimodal opportunities for an age-friendly community.
Journey to Recovery Community Center: The community center will train two steering committee members in the art of Peer Recovery Coaching to provide cross generational recovery for substance abuse addicts. The two trained coaches will facilitate and supervise recovery meetings in community group settings and in informal circles. The NEK has high rates of addiction. The training will provide the skill base to allow the coaches to reach older adults suffering from addiction. The focus of this grant is on addiction and the recovery process to improve caregiving practices to ultimately improve health and quality of life.
AARP Vermont officials and community representatives conducted the selection process and AARP is partnering with the Newport City Renaissance Corp. to administer the grants.
“We are very pleased to extend support to these projects as a way to foster local community development initiatives in Newport,” said Greg Marchildon, state director at AARP Vermont. “We received a broad range of proposals to consider this year and we hope these modest grants will inspire and support dedicated grassroots groups that have a vision for Newport as an Age Friendly city and how it can be enhanced. We are committed to working with our partners and officials in Newport as they develop future plans and we expect to continue this program going forward.”