By Lorraine Glowczak
According to AARP, 90 percent of older adults in the U.S. want to remain living in their homes for as long as possible. However, many homes need expensive repairs and/or may not be designed to accommodate the necessities of aging homeowners. That’s the reason why the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing was established a little over a year ago. The board members are happy to have successfully completed their first project which occurred on Friday, Aug. 28 at the home of Gerry and Pat Vigue of Windham.
“We are so lucky to be the first ones to have the much needed repairs done to our house and we are very happy about the landscape work the Sebago Fuller Center was willing to do as well,” said Pat Vigue.. “Since all our projects could be done outdoors, it made it safe for everyone [due to COVID]. We are so lucky and grateful.”
Vigue and her husband Gerry were participants in the Window Dressers event last winter. For the past two years, the Window Dresser initiative helped individuals stay warm during the winter by building window inserts that keep the warm air from escaping the home. It also saves on energy costs
Eligible families were provided with up to 10 free custom window inserts. Last winter’s Sebago Lake Region event was a combination effort between the AmeriCorp initiative based out of Saint Joseph College of Maine with help from the Raymond Village Library, Raymond Village Community Church and Age Friendly Raymond.
“It was through the window inserts we received this past winter that we heard of the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing,” Pat Vigue said. “Knowing there was some repair needed on our home that my husband can no longer do, I reached out to them.”
Fifteen volunteers from all walks of life came together last Friday to work on replacing window seals, caulking, scraping, painting, and some landscape work. Claire Crocker, Jim Staebler and Jim Gass were among the 15 individuals, and they each shared the reason they helped the Fuller Center’s first project.
“I am the Co-Chair of the Mission Committee at the Windham Hill United Church of Christ,” Crocker said. “We look for ways to actively make a difference in our community, both with funds and active manpower. This project was a perfect fit for us and our mission. We strive to help those who would like to remain safely in their homes and need a little help in doing that.”
Windham Hill UCC is one of the founding members of the Sebago Lake Fuller Center.
Staebler is a member of another founding organization, Unity Center for Spiritual Growth. He recently retired from his position with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and is looking for ways to spend his free time productively.
“It is a human desire to be helpful,” Staebler said. “Volunteering is my personal prayer in action. But also, as I was preparing for life in retirement, I was told by a friend that my last name, means ‘cabinet maker’ in German.” So, I’m starting to work with wood in a variety of ways and I’m discovering that I love it and want to gain more knowledge as a woodworker. Volunteering for the Fuller Center gives me the chance to learn this skill.”
Volunteer member, Gass from Raymond is a friend of another Sebago Fuller Center founding partner, Sheila Bourque, also of Raymond.
“I saw a post on Facebook from Sheila about this project and decided I wanted to help,” Gass said. “To be honest, I volunteer a lot because I simply want to get out of the bloody house. My wife and I refuse to get stuck at home and one way to do that is to volunteer.”
Much like Gass, many people want to escape the confines associated with COVID and the Sebago Fuller Center took all safety protocols regarding the current pandemic. This included wearing masks, standing six feet apart or more and taking temperatures prior to entry into the Vigue project.
“Our first project was amazing,” said Diane Dutton Bruni, President of the Sebago Fuller Center. “We accomplished more than we expected in one day and everyone was respectful of COVID-19 guidelines. We worked seamlessly together and when one part of the project was completed volunteers moved on to help with other parts of the project. I am amazed at how complete strangers can come together and work to accomplish something without needing to know who we are, our histories, political affiliations, or anything. We were truly faith in action.”
Dutton Bruni said that the Sebago Fuller Center is a new non-profit and while COVID-19 slowed them down, it did not stop them.
“We want to help seniors in our community feel safe in their homes. Our Board is a working Board of talented and committed individuals wanting to share their knowledge but also learn from each other as we undertake future projects. Please consider being part of our efforts and let us know what you are willing to do.”
To learn more about project eligibility, to become an active volunteer or to make a charitable donation, peruse the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing’s website at www.sebagofullerhousing.org/, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 207-387-0855. Also, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
To ensure as many older adults as possible can securely remain in their homes, the Sebago Fuller Center is hosting a virtual bike ride fundraiser. Register on their website, www.sebagofullerhousing.org/. Thank you to the local sponsors for this fundraising effort: Goodlife Market, Mulberry Farms, Gorham Savings Bank, Unity Center for Spiritual Growth, North Windham Union Church, Turner Building Science and Design, LLC, PNF and Sebago Technics.
“And thank you to all the volunteers who helped us succeed with our first project,” Dutton Bruni said. <