AARP Maine Announces Winner of Annual Andrus Award for Community Service

Posted on 11/02/22

Honor Goes to Retired Hospital Administrator, Jean Saunders of Saco

PORTLAND: AARP Maine announced today that Saco resident, Jean Saunders, is the winner of the 2022 Andrus Award named in honor of AARP’s founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. The Andrus Award celebrates and honors those who make a difference in the lives of others, and it is the most prestigious and visible award AARP presents each year.

Jean Saunders’ extraordinary public service actively embodies Dr. Andrus’ motto “To Serve, Not To be Served.”

Noël Bonam, AARP Maine State Director, stated “The AARP Maine Andrus Award acts as a symbol that every single person can make a difference and that each person can bring about positive social change. We are deeply proud to be presenting this year’s award to Jean Saunders, whose record of achievement, service and commitment provides an excellent example of the power of giving back to others.”

A native of Winslow, Maine, Jean Letourneau Saunders RN MSN MPH started off her nursing career in Maine but spent many years in NY as a nursing administrator. In 1990 she was able to return to Maine as a hospital administrator for Maine Medical Center. Jean and her husband, David, have three children: Katie, Allison, and William.

jean photo.jpg

It was in 2013 when Jean first read about the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities and, specifically, the aging in place work that was just starting to take root. She was interested in learning more about this work and potentially helping the City of Saco become part of this Network. With her background in health care, Jean was particularly interested to learn how to help individuals stay in their own homes and age successfully with support from the community.

“Age-friendly or livable communities have walkable streets, housing and transportation options, access to key services and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities,” she explains. “It is so important to find out from each community what it is they want and what services they need. The age-friendly opportunities in any given community are going to be as varied as the community itself.”

In Saco, Jean began to solicit the help of key collaborators and formed a steering committee which included local community and municipal leaders. She initiated a project with Thornton Academy to sponsor a contest to design a logo for Saco as an Age-Friendly community which resulted in the winning entry and motto Age-Friendly Saco: A Community for a Lifetime. “The logo is a strong representation of all the history surrounding Saco,” Jean says, “but it also serves as an appropriate emblem for the exciting plans to come that will help residents age in place through a multigenerational approach. We want to work continuously to bring the different generations together to learn from each other.”

Jean continues to collaborate with fellow Saco residents and spearhead important programs, services, and resources for the benefit of residents of all ages. In February of this year, a new, on-demand transportation program was initiated. Through the support of volunteer drivers and AmeriCorps members, over 200 rides have been provided to older residents needing transportation to medical appointments. In addition, this past summer, Age-Friendly Saco implemented an adaptive bicycling program that allows older residents to once again experience the joy of a bicycle ride.  

“I am honored to receive the Andrus Award,” says Jean. “As one of many volunteers working within the AARP Network of Age-friendly States and Communities, it is thrilling to be recognized for the work being done to address the domains of livability. We will continue to strive to develop the supports and services needed that will allow our residents to age in place in their homes and communities.”

AARP Maine staff, volunteers and local members celebrated Jean during their annual volunteer recognition celebration on October 26, 2022 in Augusta.  

AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions AARP volunteers make to their communities, neighbors and the programs they serve. We welcome new volunteers to serve in a variety of roles with AARP Maine and hope you will visit our website, or call our office at 1-866-554-5380 if you would like to join our volunteer team.

PHOTO: L-R features Noël Bonam, AARP Maine State Director; Jean Saunders; Carl Bucciantini, AARP Maine Volunteer State President; Joyce Bucciantini, AARP Maine Advocacy and Outreach Volunteer

This story is provided by AARP Maine. Visit the AARP Maine page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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