In July 2019, AARP announced that they awarded 1.6 million dollars to fund 159 Challenge Grants inan extremely competitive process. Of the 1660 applications nationwide, six were selected in Maine. As part of the livable community’s initiative, the program is intended to help communities make immediate improvements and jumpstart long-term projects in support of residents of all ages.
One of the grants awarded to Maine was for Aging Well in Waldo County, which is the organization working to make Waldo County more livable, and a member of the national network of age-friendly communities.
AWWC Board members Betty Johnson and Wendy C. Kasten wrote the application in the category of “Creating vibrant public places that improve open spaces, parks, and access to other amenities.” They were awarded nearly $5000 for the purpose of creating more “vibrant spaces” in two rural libraries in Waldo County.
The Ivan O. Davis Library in liberty is using their funds to add lighting to increase public safety at the entrance, and to enhance an outdoor area to be inviting for patrons to relax, play chess and checkers, and congregate. As such the area needed enhanced lighting and is defined by an array of planters with colorful flowers.
The Carver Library in Searsport, housed in a gracious historic building, will be using its funds to increase lighting as well. One room, where the collection is normally lit by sconces, currently has few of them in working order. Another under-illuminated room will be enhanced by a period-appropriate chandelier. As a result, both seniors and all patrons will be better able to read in the rooms. Lastly, an alcove with large-print books will get permanent custom-made shelving.
AARP Challenge grants are for short term projects which must be completed by November 30, 2019. AWWC members will be assisting libraries as needed to satisfy the grant’s intentions for improved livable spaces.
Aging Well in Waldo County appreciates the opportunity to help two local libraries and thanks both the National AARP for offering this grant and the State of Maine AARP for their guidance in preparing the application.