BRUNSWICK — It’s not your parents’ AARP.

Well, not wholly, anyway. The Maine chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons still advocates for issues important to those who have departed the “spring chicken” henhouse for more relaxed grazing pastures, but now they offer coffee. And beer. And conversation.

Since May, the organization has hosted a handful of “Coffee and Conversation” gatherings in Brunswick, with topics such as health-care legislation and the establishment of “age friendly communities” in Maine. Next Wednesday, Sept. 20, the organization offers “Coffee With a Legislator,” at Coastal Landing Retirement Community. It begins at 11 a.m., with seven Midcoast legislators planning to attend. Coffee and cookies will be served.

These volunteer-driven coffee events (or, “On Tap,” beer events in some communities) have offered discussions for people from Bangor to Portland. In the Brunswick area, events are organized by volunteers Sandy Jaeger and Polly Shaw, and take place the third Wednesday of each month.

Jaeger chose this particular topic. The idea is for legislators to talk about their roles in crafting legislation and how that legislation impacts Midcoast Maine. She also hopes the panel of guests discuss the more personal aspects of their work.

“My reason for doing this subject is that people have become so incredibly cynical about their government, I want Midcoasters to meet some of these men and women,” she said. “I want people to see how caring and passionate they are, and to understand how much time they devote to their work, often at the sacrifice of their family or their businesses.”

The plan for this gathering is to briefly introduce each legislator, and to allot each one time to discuss their experience. Jaeger is hoping they’ll approach the idea with an eye to humanizing their role, perhaps even sharing their frustrations, and to also talk about nuts and bolts such as current and future committee assignments. “Why they chose to run, what might have surprised them about the process … how do they deal with suddenly needing to know so much about so many technical, complex topics? To understand their caucus system?”

The following legislators are scheduled to participate:

Senator Eloise Vitelli (D – District 23) and Representatives Seth Berry (D – Bowdoin, Bowdoinham part of Richmond); Jay McCreight (D – Harpswell, West Bath, part of Brunswick); Jeff Pierce (R – Dresden, Arrowsic, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Woolwich, part of Richmond); Denise Tepler (D – Topsham); Ralph Tucker (D – Brunswick); and Jennifer DeChant (D – Bath).

Rep. McCreight says she feels it’s important to be available to the public directly, whether through events like this one, or in Augusta, or via phone or email. “It’s my responsibility to be available,” she said. “As their representative, I can be their voice with state agencies, introduce and work on legislation important to our communities, help find solutions to a range of challenges. I’ve helped solve a wide range of problems, everything from facilitating repairs of state roads to finding resources for a disabled family member.”

“We’ve been asked to talk about why we run and the challenges of running,” McCreight added. “I come from a career in social work where I considered myself to be, above all else, an advocate for the children and families I worked with. What inspired me to run was a different type of advocacy. I became involved as a volunteer, advocating in Augusta for policies such as access to health care and working to help candidates I believed in to run for office. At this meeting, I hope to encourage everyone to get involved, to speak out, to advocate.”

McCreight also hopes to discuss issues “important to Mainers who are 50-plus, such as health care and in-home support, property taxes, and continuing to push for the release of the voter approved bonds for senior housing.”

But, she notes, “I know that Mainers who are 50-plus are also concerned about quality education, health care access, workforce development, our local fisheries — issues of importance to any age group.”

As a local builder, member of several boards and a volunteer fire department (among other things), Rep. Jeffrey Pierce says he is talking to his constituents daily, and, like McCreight, was driven by similar community-minded passions to run in the first place.

“I’ve been married 28 years, raised two great kids, I’ve done well in my personal life,” he said. “I’ve always been involved in my community. My wife and I volunteer a lot. My father was a good driver for me, he was always involved in things. As a kid, we always helped out in the community. One thing he distilled in me is, if you do well, help people. Never look down on people unless you’re lifting them up. That’s how our whole family was raised.”

Pierce admits the job of being a state legislator means long hours and very little pay, and while it can be a vexing job, helping people is what drives him. He recently directed a frustrated and fearful constituent in a dire situation to the right agency.

“We got her to the right person, within two hours. She had a roof over her head, got her home life a little more stable. Now if that doesn’t make you feel good … “ Pierce is silent for a moment, and then adds, “That’s why we do this.”

Unlike some politicians, Pierce isn’t afraid to admit he doesn’t know everything. “I don’t have a wealth of knowledge about, say, health care. But if you want to know about fisheries, or trades or the environment, I’m your guy.”

While robust dialog will be there for the sharing, Jaeger says she won’t let the event “devolve into a partisan wrangle. Agree or disagree, these legislators work hard and fight for the policies they believe are the right ones.”

Attendance is open to everyone, whether or not they are members of AARP. The event is scheduled to run until 1 p.m, allowing plenty of time for discussion. According to Jaeger, past events have drawn a minimum of 20 attendees to upwards of 40.

Coastal Landing Retirement Community is located at 142 Neptune Drive, Brunswick Landing. For more information, email [email protected], or call Sandy Jaeger at 751- 4561. AARP membership is open to those aged 50 and over, and there are roughly 230,000 members in Maine.