In June 2016, several local nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations and residents from across Waldo County came together to begin a discussion about Belfast and surrounding communities becoming part of the Age-Friendly Community Initiative.

The committee was formed when a group of community members working on a resource guide for older residents met with the Belfast public health nurse to discuss issues facing elders in Waldo County. Since the initial meeting, the group has met a total of six times and currently has more than 30 active committee members who represent diverse geographic, economic and social issues in Waldo County. Representatives from AARP Maine and the Area Agencies on Aging have attended meetings to help guide them. The group has named its initiative Aging Well in Waldo County, and developed the following mission:

"To mobilize our communities to identify and address the needs of our aging friends and neighbors, striving for inclusive, supportive and safe communities for all."

The Belfast City Council voted to support the efforts of Aging Well in Waldo County, and to provide a letter of support to the group when it was seeking funding to support its mission. The Waldo County Commissioners also agreed to provide the group with a letter of support.

One of the first steps of developing an Age-Friendly Community is to determine the needs of the community and then develop a plan to address the needs identified. Aging Well in Waldo County has submitted grant applications to the AARP and a Maine Community Fund to support these assessment efforts. Another important step in the process is to recruit additional members from Waldo County to be involved in the initiative. To date, the group has representation from the following towns in Waldo County: Belfast, Lincolnville, Monroe, Northport and Waldo.

The group is hosting a free community event to share the progress made to date in addressing issues related to aging well, encourage others to get involved, and begin the conversation about age-friendly communities Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Waldo Community Building, 626 Waldo Station Road.

For more information, call 338-1626 or email jan.dodge@yahoo.com by Oct. 21.