Isabella Mastroianni puts her culinary skills to work for the community as a volunteer for Harpswell Aging at Home.
While Harpswell is the oldest community in Maine and Harpswell Aging at Home has “Aging” in its name, Harpswell and HAH both benefit from the involvement of multiple generations. The vibrancy that neighbors of all ages bring forth when they work together makes HAH better, so HAH wants everyone to feel welcome to join in its efforts and attend its events.
Volunteers as young as preschoolers already contribute to HAH’s mission in a variety of ways.
HAH recently partnered with the Harpswell Coastal Academy and the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust to provide lettuce, herbs and tomato seedlings to folks who need a hand to grow some fresh produce at home. Students from HCA planted and helped deliver the boxes.
Children from Brunswick’s Little Schoolhouse on Maine, as well as HCA students, have made and mailed cards to folks for birthdays and other occasions. Bowdoin College students have made food for HAH’s Meals in a Pinch program and raked leaves for neighbors this fall.
HAH’s graphic designer, Madison Shepard, is a recent graduate of Region 10 Technical High School in Brunswick. “Working with HAH has provided opportunities to utilize the skills I’ve been learning in class in a practical, professional way,” Shepard said.
HAH has been fortunate to attract other committed volunteers who are somewhere between school age and retirement. What drew them to HAH?
“We all need community,” said Maura Donovan, a local gardener with her own business. “A friend was kind enough to ask me to join them for a Lunch with Friends and I felt OK there, so I just kept going. HAH offered me a place to meet and eat with new friends, put away some chairs, help clean tables, cook (although not my forte), deliver some books and more. … And there is always the matter of wanting to make sure that HAH exists for all the days to come.”
Jane Clavet enjoys the many outdoor activities available in Harpswell and is fortunate to be able to work from home. With the pandemic, Clavet realized that older residents were feeling the strains of living remotely with restrictions on their ability to thrive, socially and economically.
“I had read about HAH in places like the Anchor and I decided it was time to see what I could do,” Clavet said. “I started by making check-in calls to neighbors who indicated they would enjoy a chat. I delivered pet food donated by the humane society to those that needed help getting food to their beloved pets.”
“I then took the leap to commit more time to a leadership role within HAH, working to align new volunteers with the jobs they are most suited to,” Clavet added. “I find that being part of an organization like HAH is a privilege and has really opened my eyes to the beauty of the people around me as much as the beauty of the islands themselves.”
Isabella “Bella” Mastroianni juggles her full-time job in travel and tourism with running the nonprofit Sanctuary Baking. Initially, she got involved with HAH because she loves to cook and wanted to use that passion as a vehicle to bless other people who don’t or can’t cook for themselves.
Once she started, she began meeting others with the same skills and passions.
“The past two years have been a strain on everyone, with our sense of community and ability to gather so disrupted,” Mastroianni said. “HAH is a terrific platform to bring generations together for the common good of our community; to show love and care and kindness. It’s also a great platform for older people to mentor younger people in both culinary and relational areas. It has enriched my life and that of our nonprofit!”
While geographically spread out, the values of caring and compassion are woven into the fabric of Harpswell and make it a place where people want to stay throughout their lives. Harpswell Aging at Home welcomes people of all ages to take part in activities, as well as to volunteer as cooks, drivers, administrators, computer helpers and more. For more information, email email@example.com.