Current Initiatives

Universal Design Guidebook

Age-Friendly Bowdoinham has developed a guidebook to Universal Design for review by homeowners, prospective homeowners as well as builder/contractors. Click here to view the guidebook in .PDF format.


Listening Sessions

The pandemic highlighted the challenges for residents whose life circumstances—living far from family and friends, being unable to drive, coping with physical or health conditions—heighten their isolation and access to services.  To understand how the Town could better connect with and support these residents, a series of listening sessions with key stakeholders whose work brings them into close contact with at-risk residents were held in the Summer of 2022. Participants representing municipal leaders, faith organizations, emergency service providers, the food pantry, the public library, community school and others were invited to attend sessions facilitated by Kathryn Harnish, a member of the Lifelong Maine AmeriCorps Program.

Findings from the listening sessions will be used to inform the Committee’s work in the coming year:

  • There is a general lack of awareness about local services to support older residents.  For example, few participants knew of the Town’s Rides in Neighbors’ Cars, a program in existence for over 7 years matching volunteer drivers with residents needing transportation.
  • More can be done to make the village, its meetings, and social activities more accessible for all residents.
  • The complexity and fragmentation of services makes it challenging to access needed care.
  • Reluctance to ask for help due to pride or fear often means that older residents wait until there is a crisis before seeking assistance.
  • Those who live closer to the Village tend to be more socially connected than those who live in more rural areas of Town.

More about the Listening Sessions can be found in full report.


Building Connections and Partnerships

An important lesson from this summer’s Listening Sessions is that building strong connections among area stakeholders working with older residents can expedite and improve access to needed services.  For example, the EMT responding to a crisis situation can be the channel for providing information on available transportation or the food pantry. Similarly, the food pantry can be the source for distributing information on a flu clinic or the town’s medical equipment loan program.  Stakeholder groups informed about services and resources in the area assures “no wrong door” for residents seeking services.

Through staff and financial resources made available through the Maine Center on Aging, the Age Friendly Bowdoinham Committee will work to facilitate a collaborative approach across groups serving older residents during the coming year. 

  • An initial step in promoting awareness will be the publication of a Resource Directory of area service organizations providing important resources to older residents.
  • The Committee will continue to reach out to stakeholder groups, many of which participated in the Listening Sessions, to determine how together we can address the fragmentation and complexity of the service system as seen through the eyes of residents.
  • To reach residents most at-risk before the onset of winter, the Committee is assembling winter tool kits to be distributed by the food pantry and Bowdoinham fire and rescue. 

The focus of these and other activities is to reduce the burden placed on individuals to navigate through the maze of information when looking for help.  Our goal is to assure that, at whatever entry point a resident uses, there will be “no wrong door” to accessing services.


Fundamental to participation in the life of the community is accessibility.  Our ability to attend meetings, engage in social events, or enjoy Bowdoinham’s natural beauty should not be determined by whether we are pushing a stroller, using a walker, or have mobility challenges.

  • A member of the Age Friendly Bowdoinham Committee participates in planning meetings for the Merrymeeting Trail which would be a 26-mile multi-use trail in mid-coast Maine, connecting the villages of Topsham, Bowdoinham, Richmond, and Gardiner. Our participation serves as a reminder about the need for benches, trail markers indicating level of difficulty, and easily read signage so that the trail can be enjoyed by EVERYONE.
  • Public meetings are the hallmarks of civic engagement yet can exclude those unable to hear, find parking close to the entrance of the venue, or climb stairs.  The Committee is researching guidance developed by other towns and cities to assure that participation in public events is not determined by one’s ability to access the event.
  • The town has invested in sidewalks within the Village to improve walk ability but there remain obstacles to safety.  The redevelopment of the Waterfront area has brought more pedestrians and traffic to the area. The Committee continues to advocate for a crosswalk and other safety features at the intersection of Main Street and Route 24 to encourage foot traffic and avoid accidents.

In addition to public accessibility, the Committee has developed a Home Safety Checklist to help residents look at the accessibility and safety of their home environment as they age, lose sight or balance, or have mobility challenges.

Age Friendly Bowdoinham Action Plan

In 2014, Bowdoinham was designated as an “Age Friendly Community” by the World Health Organization Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.  This voluntary designation brought with it a charge for the Town to assess the wellbeing of its older population, establish strategies for improvement, and achieve measured objectives in each of following domains:

  • Support and Health Services


  • Outdoor spaces & buildings
  • Transportation


  • Civic participation & employment
  • Housing


  • Respect & social inclusion
  • Social participation & education


  • Communication & information



The 2017-2020 Action Plan was adopted by the Select Board based on a community assessment, stakeholder interviews, census data analysis, and input from the public.  In 2019, the Age Friendly Committee began a review of the 2017-2020 Action Plan to identify what had been achieved; what remained relevant but has yet to be accomplished; what had changed; and what new priorities may be emerging. The pandemic stalled the update of the Action Plan and redirected the focus of the Age Friendly Committee to strengthening outreach and support to the Town’s older population, especially those most at risk and isolated. 

In October 2022, Committee members met with the Comprehensive Planning Committee to discuss working together in areas where there was an overlapping interest between the two committees; specifically housing, transportation, outdoor spaces and buildings, and community support and health services.  There was strong support for the concept with a decision to establish a joint task force to consider the process for moving forward.