Livable community forum to discuss aging well


WILMINGTON -- The Gathering Place Executive Director Mary Fredette says an upcoming forum will not only glean the level of interest for services within the community, but it will also see what people are most interested in creating for the future.

"There are a lot of visionary folks in the community and their ideas all center around a livable community for all ages," she said.

Wilmington Nurse Jennifer Fitzgerald and Fredette will facilitate the "Livable Community Forum" on Monday, Aug. 18, which will be split into three parts. It will be held at the Wilmington Town Offices in the second floor meeting room from 10 a.m. to noon.

Making the community a place for all ages is the focus of the forum. There will be small group discussions where attendees will talk about what aging well means and what services are needed for that to happen. Reflections from those sessions will then be discussed in a larger group. The last part of the meeting will be used for identifying next steps and recording final comments.

According to Fredette, similar forums are being held around the country.

"It's driven by the statistics of the aging numbers," she said. "Windham County is the fastest aging county in Vermont. It makes perfect sense in some of the outlying areas that communities look at these different models."

Fredette noted that Wilmington's demographics are changing and said a lot of residents who were seasonal are now living there full-time.

Another aspect of this forum involves the newly vacant building that previously housed the Twin Valley High School. There is talk of it becoming a community space with health resources and services. It was used as a shelter during Tropical Storm Irene. A facility in Whitingham is where middle and high school kids from both Wilmington and Whitingham will attend in September as part of a consolidation effort.

"The community really wanted to do something useful with the building," said Fredette.

Right now, the building is being reviewed by professionals hired using Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding to see what it could potentially become now that is no longer being used as a school. Representatives from The Gathering Place were asked if they'd be interested in entertaining the possibility of having a satellite in Wilmington.

Fredette said her group was interested in strong community partnerships in the region as the not-for-profit organization hosts the only adult day services for seniors and disabled people in Windham County.

"We've done it for 25 years," she added. "If the community was interested in an adult day in Wilmington, that could be one of their first stops."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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