BAR HARBOR — A fund created by residents of Mount Desert Island with an aim to help Hancock and Washington County senior citizens with unexpected health and living expenses is looking to grow.
Ed Kaelber, past president of the College of the Atlantic and founder of the Neighbor4neighbor fund, along with his late wife, Ann Sewell, partnered in 2014 with Healthy Acadia to provide mini-grants to seniors living in Hancock and Washington counties who face unexpected expenses. These include things such as replacement eyeglasses, handicapped accessibility at home after an illness or even a leaky roof.
“The idea behind the foundation was actually rather simple,” Kaelber said. “There’s a lot of old people who are not necessarily impoverished, but have all kinds of little needs they can’t meet.”
“They have their money planned for their heat, their food, their basic living,” said Ellen Dohmen, executive administrator of Neighbor4neighbor. Then “the roof springs a leak. Or they break their trifocals. How many people have glasses insurance?”
Recently, the group was able to buy dentures for a man who could not afford them after losing his teeth during treatment for throat cancer.
“So many of them just break your heart,” Dohmen said.
Currently, the group has about $150,000 in the fund, following a donation of $100,000 from a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous. The fund generates 4 percent annual interest, about $6,000, for the mini-grants, usually between $250 and $500 each. Currently, Neighbor4neighbor can help from 12 to 24 people yearly.
Their aim is to raise about $1 million for the endowment, which would generate $40,000 dollars annually for grants.
“That would be significant,” Kaelber said.
The endowment fund for the group is managed by the Maine Community Foundation. The granting process is coordinated by the boards of Neighbor4neighbor and Healthy Acadia.
The group plans to fill about four more applications this year with the remaining funds. This will leave about 18 applications left unfunded.
Those wishing to donate to the endowment fund may do so by sending checks to Neighbor4neighbor, c/o Maine Community Foundation, 245 Main St., Ellsworth, ME 04605. Checks may be payable to the Maine Community Foundation with “neighbor4neighbor” written in the memo line. Donations are tax deductible.