BAR HARBOR — Island Connections, the 18-year-old nonprofit providing free transportation and other services to seniors and people with disabilities on Mount Desert Island, is growing.
“As the baby boomers boom into the senior population, we need to be prepared for the need to grow our organization along with the demand,” Executive Director Doreen Willett said. “We need to reach more people islandwide and beyond to offer our services and let them know we plan to be here for generations to come.”
Two new part-time employees have joined Willett and transportation coordinator Amy Manring in the group’s office in the Rodick Lorraine building.
Amy Roebuck, former owner of Our New England Country Store, will be the new volunteer manager. Becky Carroll, former wellness director at the YMCA, is joining the team as development and event manager.
Currently, the organization provides meals and transportation to 300 seniors every month. A group of about 90 volunteers use their own vehicles to take “neighbors,” the clients receiving the service, to doctor’s appointments or on errands. Volunteers also deliver meals prepared by the Housing Authority.
Island Connections hopes to recruit new volunteers and donors, Willett said, and work to reach residents who could benefit from their programs.
“We’re hoping to reintroduce Island Connections to the community,” Willett said. “The issue of transportation is typically the number one concern for seniors trying to age in place,” staying at home rather than moving to an assisted-living situation. Senior citizens often get help connecting to services from their adult children, she said.
Carroll, who created and managed large events during her time at the Y, will spearhead the creation of two new annual fundraising events and manage the existing Dine Around Day in July.
Roebuck will work to recruit and train volunteers and fit projects to their interests. “There’s so many great volunteer opportunities on the island,” she said, “but sometimes it’s discouraging if you contact an organization and offer to volunteer and they don’t have a way to plug you in.”
Island Connections also will pursue more grant opportunities from foundations to support their anticipated growth, Willett said. The organization currently receives support from Healthy Acadia, the Lynam Trust, the Maine Community Foundation and others.