2017-03-16 / Editorial

Senior residents asset to city of Saco

From the Mayor’s Desk
By Roland Michaud

From left, Councilor David Precourt, Mayor Roland Michaud, Angeline Beland, and her sisiter, Georgette, and Ernie Merritt. (Samantha Shepard courtesy photo) From left, Councilor David Precourt, Mayor Roland Michaud, Angeline Beland, and her sisiter, Georgette, and Ernie Merritt. (Samantha Shepard courtesy photo) There is a tradition in Saco that recognizes the oldest living person in our community, which dates back to the 20th century.

Community volunteer Ernie Merritt has been instrumental in reinstating this long lost tradition. Ernie creates customized canes on behalf of the city of Saco and assists Michele Hughes and William Rankin in the city clerk’s office with the selection of the recipient. Saco’s tradition is modeled after the Boston Post Cane Award that many towns and cities in New England participate in. What is unique about the program in the city of Saco is that Ernie creates custom canes that are engraved with the recipient’s name and donates them to the program. Our tradition differs from the Boston Post Cane Award in that the custom canes become the recipient’s property instead of the municipality reissuing the same cane for each recipient, allowing the family to celebrate their loved one each time they see the cane.

Ernie donates these canes to raise awareness about chronic pain and encourages participation in the Chronic Pain Support Group that he facilitates. Ernie is passionate about woodworking and being involved in his community, but also wants to demonstrate that people who experience chronic pain can be community leaders and give back to the community they love.

On March 4, Councilor David Precourt and I had the honor and pleasure of presenting the Saco cane that recognizes the oldest person in the Saco community to Angeline Beland. Angeline will be 102 on March 22 and lives with her younger sister (by six years) Georgette. Angeline was born in Biddeford, raised in Saco, and lived in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, area for a number of years while her husband managed Gendron Lumber Yard. She returned to Saco in the mid-1960s and now lives on the Boom Road just down the road from her childhood home.

Angeline is truly fortunate to be surrounded by her family, including her sister, who ensures that her needs are met and that can she can continue to live independently.

What was witnessed Saturday is what we are hoping to achieve with the Saco Age Friendly initiative. We want to create an environment where individuals who face challenges that come with aging can continue to live in their homes with dignity and independence. The mission of the Age Friendly Saco initiative is to promote active aging by optimizing opportunities for health, engagement, and safety while removing barriers that prevent our citizens from remaining in their homes as they age. It is our hope that the services developed by the Age Friendly process will enable more and more of our residents, like Angeline and Georgette, to remain in their homes and thus remain engaged and supported in the community they love for a lifetime.

Congratulations to Angeline for her good health and thank you to her family for ensuring that Angeline can remain in her home and her community as she ages.

Roland Michaud is the mayor of Saco. He can be reached at 282-4191 or mayor@ sacomaine.gov.

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