Bob Bauman and Hollie Vanderzee are a married couple and two of the leaders of Harpswell Aging at Home – a volunteer organization that helps seniors live safely and comfortably in their community.
Harpswell has an old population – even for Maine, the oldest state in the nation. More than a third of the older adults in Harpswell don’t have the resources to take care of their basic expenses.
“What we discovered is that there was a great need for home repairs because so many of the homes were over 25 years old, some over 50 and some over 100 years old,” Vanderzee said.
Bauman leads the Home Repairs program. The team’s work includes putting in wheelchair ramps, replacing rotted wood and installing insulation. Since its start in September 2016, the team has made more than 60 homes safer, warmer and drier for their low-income residents.
“Some of the conditions that we find in the homes we visit are difficult for the homeowner to live with but they’ve lived with them for a long time and are coping with them,” he said.
One homeowner told a team member that for more than two years they had to go up the stairs on their hands and knees. But with the installation of new stair rails, they would be able to go up the stairs standing up for the first time in a long while, Vanderzee said.
Vanderzee chairs the organization’s Communications Committee. She leads their efforts to let the community know about Harpswell Aging at Home and how they can help. They get out the word about the Home Repairs Programs and programs to provide meals, help with chores, transportation and opportunities to socialize.