Over the last several years, leaders in our state have recognized that it is a wise investment to find ways to help seniors “age in place” in their own homes as one piece of the larger effort to create age-friendly communities. No matter your political sensibility and affiliation, these efforts transcend the usual political divide and deserve your attention and support.

Towns and cities all over the state are wrestling with the idea of what it takes to create an age-friendly community. Our very own Midcoast community of Harpswell has many initiatives in place to truly accomplish just that. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, and every town in Maine should look to Harpswell to gather an integrated package of good ideas.

Harpswell benefits from the leadership of attorney and resident Jessica Mauer. Jess is the executive director of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the Maine Council on Aging. She works on the national level and tirelessly within our state as a powerful voice for all Mainers on senior related issues.

Proving that “all politics is local,” Jess gathered with residents to create Harpswell Aging at Home, an organization that has made a number of efforts to make Harpswell an age-friendly community.

One amazing accomplishment is that HAH has organized a team of home repair volunteers that have completed work on 25 homes, helping those seniors stay safe, warm and dry. Repairs included the installation of safety-related equipment, fixing leaks, improving insulation and weather stripping, repairing stairs and installing ramps, and more.

Citizens qualify for this service if they are a Harpswell resident at least 60 years old, own their own home, and have an income less than 80 percent of the median income. Typically, about $1,500 in materials, in addition to the free volunteer labor can improve a home with long-standing deferred maintenance to highly livable for many years to come.

One of our good friends, Sam Powers, is on the volunteer team. He loves it, and says, “All I have to do is show up with my bucket tools. I have fun working with great people, and do a lot of good for seniors whose homes need a little love and repair.”

Harpswell resident Bob Bauman manages the Home Repair Program. HAH promises complete confidentiality for every person who applies for assistance. If you want to know more about the program, contact Linda Strickland at the Town Office at 833-5771.

You can see an interview with Jess Mauer on the Home Repair Program at https://vimeo.com/198230717.

The Home Repair Program effort is accomplished through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity/7 Rivers Maine. Habitat Executive Director Mark Primeau is prioritizing these types of home repair efforts, and organizing volunteer work teams in Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties.

Mark can do this best with local partnerships. Whether you live in Alna or Waldoboro, Arrowsic or Woolwich, all it takes are a few people to begin a conversation about how you can create similar benefits for the older citizens of your town. You can see an interview with Mark Primeau at https://vimeo.com/219108216, and for more information, call 504-9333.

On Oct. 12 between 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., you can meet volunteers of the Harpswell Aging at Home committee at the Dolphin Marina and Restaurant, 515 Basin Point Road. Volunteers will be staffing an information table, providing resource material they developed to help older adults age in place and describing the services they created. You can also enjoy a meal at the restaurant and benefit Harpswell Aging at Home because Oct. 12 is a fund-raising day. The restaurant is donating a portion of its proceeds to benefit Harpswell Aging at Home.

Learn more about this fantastic grassroots community organization at www.hah.community. We hope that the engaged citizens of towns all over Maine copy, borrow and steal the many excellent ideas from Harpswell Aging at Home.

Jill Wallace is the owner and director of Elm Street Assisted Living in Topsham. Steve Raymond is director of community outreach at the Lincoln Home in Newcastle, and the producer and host of the television show “Spotlight on Seniors.”