Aroostook Agency on Aging updates Houlton Rotarians on purpose

5 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary Club met for its luncheon meeting at Watson Hall on Monday Dec. 3. There were two guests present. Rotarian Annette Beaton hosted Patti Hersey of Katahdin Trust Company and Rotarian Andy Mooers hosted his guest speaker Rotarian Joy Barresi-Saucier of the Presque Isle Rotary Club.

Mooers introduced Saucier as the executive director of Aroostook Agency on Aging. She is the District 7810 Foundation Committee Chair, a Paul Harris Fellow, past vice president of strategy and community benefit at The Aroostook Medical Center and serves on the County Federal Credit Union board of directors.

Barresi-Saucier thanked the club for having her since she loves to share the details of the agency’s work. Aroostook Agency on Aging was founded in 1973 and was directed for nearly 43 years by Steve Farnum who retired a year ago and whose shoes Barresi-Saucier is attempting to fill. Trained as a registered nurse Barresi-Saucier slid into community health even as she worked at the Houlton Regional Hospital and was given the opportunity to choose the furniture and set up the Community Health Education Center.

Barresi-Saucier asked the club what the word “Aging” meant to each of them. She asked everyone to reflect on whether their response was positive or negative. She then shared a video about reframing ageism. The video showed different responses to the word aging and to the word old. Individuals with bias against aging learned to treat the people they assumed were old with more respect and re-defined what old looks like. An age inclusive society is a more balanced and sharing society without implicit bias.

The mission statement for the agency is to improve the quality of life and promote the well-being of older people in our communities. The agency has served as a resource, helping people to access information and services, also advocating to assure the rights we all value are respected. There is a 16-member board of directors and it is a charitable organization sponsored in part by the Department of Health and Human Services, United Way and the Maine Commission for Community Service. In 2017, a total of 189,000 units of service were provide to around 6,500 residents. The agency is a $3.5 million organization.

Services provided by Aroostook Agency on Aging include partnering with legal services, Medicare and insurance counseling and disability resources. Wellness classes and events focus on aging, bone builders, living well with chronic conditions, Matter of Balance and Tai Chi.

Services provided to help people to stay at home include the Adult Day Services, Aroostook Regional Transportation, Caregiver Education and Support, Eldercare Personal Support, Friendly Visitors, Money Minders and Nutrition Services are provided by the agency. Nutrition services include Community Dining, Easy Meals, Meals on Wheels and the USDA Food Box Program.

Around 420 volunteers donate around 40,000 hours of time to provide these services. The agency can be reached at 207-764-3396 or 1-800-439-1789 in Presque Isle and the website for more information is