AARP Maine Announces Winners of Steadfast Advocate and Beacon Community Awards

Posted on 11/14/22

Honors go to long-time volunteer Paul Armstrong of Palermo and to Danforth Livable Communities in Washington County

AARP Maine is thrilled to recognize an individual AARP Maine volunteer and a member of the AARP Network of Age-friendly States and Communities as the Steadfast Advocate and the Beacon Community of 2022 respectively.

The Steadfast Advocate Award celebrates an individual volunteer’s countless and unending efforts to support the AARP Maine mission. Paul Armstrong of Palermo, the current AARP Maine Advocacy Volunteer Lead, has continually demonstrated his steadfast commitment to the betterment of the lives of older Mainers.

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“For over 8 years, Paul has played an important role in AARP Maine’s volunteer efforts,” said Noël Bonam, AARP Maine State Director. “He is a long-term champion volunteer who has persevered through challenges to serve as a resilient advocate for older Mainers. He is highly respected among his peers, in great part because he never hesitates to offer support and leadership to help others succeed and does so with a smile.”

Paul has signed dozens of letters to the editor in all major Maine news publications. He is a regular at AARP Maine’s weekly volunteer advocacy meeting and has helped recruit additional volunteers. During the legislative session, Paul frequently testifies on behalf of Mainers 50+ before the Maine State Legislature on important matters such as fair prescription drug prices, affordable housing, utility costs and access to affordable high-speed internet.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award, although I don't feel I go above or beyond what other volunteer advocates do,” said Paul. “The work isn't really work to me and the end results are very gratifying.”

Since 2021, AARP Maine has identified a community/town in Maine to recognize and celebrate each year with its Beacon Community award. This year’s winner is Danforth Livable Communities, a member of the AARP Network of Age-friendly States and Communities since 2018.

“Danforth Livable Communities in Washington County is the epitome of what it means to be a collaborative, engaging, action-oriented community that focuses on helping older adults live, and thrive, in place,” said Bonam. “It is exciting to see that in a relatively short amount of time this remarkable community has made such strides on behalf of older community residents. We are delighted to present this award to them in recognition of their accomplishments.”

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Led by Danforth’s Town Manager, Ardis Brown, Danforth Livable Communities has advanced many initiatives in the last few years. They developed a critically needed Volunteer Driver’s Program, a Handy Helper program, improved sidewalk accessibility and seating, began a walking program, and had high hopes for the development of a Community Center downtown. When the pandemic hit, they quickly pivoted to providing meals, connecting with vulnerable residents, and providing resources to ensure that no one was suffering from social isolation or lack of basic necessities.

In September 2020, the Danforth Livable Communities Committee received an unexpected gift when The United Methodist Church, which had recently closed, was donated to the town to be used to establish the Danforth Livable Community Center. Through fundraising efforts in partnership with other groups such as Danforth’s Revitalization Committee, repairs were made, and the abundance of community activities continued.

In 2022, Danforth was awarded an AARP Community Challenge grant which served to cover necessary expenses to make the building accessible. They have also received support from the John T. Gorman Foundation for transportation and meals programming as well as funding from Maine Community Foundation for center renovations.

“We are humbled and honored, as the smallest town in the Maine Age-Friendly network, to have been chosen for this incredible award. Our team has been working tirelessly and this is definitely a collective community achievement,” Ardis Brown stated. 

Both honorees were celebrated by AARP Maine on October 26th at their Annual Meeting in Augusta.

To learn more about AARP and our work in Maine, visit www.aarp.org/me and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @aarpmaine. For more information about volunteering with AARP Maine, click here.

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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