KENNEBUNK, MAINE – The Kennebunk Savings Bank Foundation’s Huntington Common Charitable Fund (HCCF) third-quarter deadline for new grant proposals is on September 30th, 2023. The HCCF seeks to improve the lives of older adults in York County, Maine. Recent programs funded by the HCCF include a transportation initiative from Age Friendly Saco, an “animal ambassadors” program from the Center for Wildlife, and a new initiative from the York County Elder Abuse Task Force to equip York County law enforcement with “PockeTalker” devices.

A $7,500 HCCF grant was awarded to the Center for Wildlife, which is developing and presenting environmental education programs for residential homes and senior centers in York County. One of the Center’s stated goals is to “Expand community outreach and provide learning opportunities to educate and inspire people of all ages to value the connection between wildlife, human, and environmental health.”

In addition, a $25,000 grant was awarded to Age Friendly Saco to support the coordination of transportation needs for older adults in and around the Saco, Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach areas. Many residents were struggling to find transportation to their medical appointments, to obtain groceries, and to attend social events at the Saco Community Center. “Our primary objective continues to be supporting our residents to remain in and engage with their community as they age in place,” said Jean Saunders, Executive Director at Age Friendly Saco.

Officer Candice Simeoni, president of the York County Elder Abuse Task Force (YCEATF) began to observe frequently that as law enforcement interacts with an increasingly older population, simple issues caused by declining hearing are slowing attempts to assist these individuals. Hence the “PockeTalkers” initiative, which provides all law enforcement entities in York County with a universal hearing headset. “During trying times in their lives when they need to seek help, this will offer those with difficulty hearing a sense of comfort knowing that people have come together to offer this device so that law enforcement can be even more helpful to them,” Simeoni said.

Three senior leaders at Kennebunk Savings have been frequently involved with the efforts of the YCEATF. Lex Meagher, Senior EVP and Chief Credit Officer, initially helped the task force organize as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, continuing on as a member of the organization because of the “incredibly important” work being done. “By that point, I had worked at the Bank for several years and saw the devastating impact of financial exploitation. It was infuriating and incredibly difficult to stop.”

Mike Moloney, SVP, Corporate Development and Training Manager, adds that “It is heartbreaking to see someone lose not just their money, but also their independence and self-esteem when they are victimized. I want to do everything I can to provide education and resources to older adults and their family members so that we can reduce and eliminate elder abuse in all of its forms.”

“My involvement with the YCEATF is to increase awareness and potentially prevent people from being victims,” said Linda Bridges, the Bank’s VP Internal Controls Specialist and Security Officer. “It’s hard to get ‘good answers’ and solve problems when the person with a hearing problem can’t hear the question.”

Bridges and Moloney delivered the devices to several police departments. “They were very happy to have another tool in the chest to help out in what can be a difficult situation,” said Bridges. “When I delivered one to the South Berwick Police Department the officer who received it was thrilled to have one available,” Moloney said. “He said his own father, who is having hearing challenges, is a potential resident who could benefit from the PockeTalker. It is a tool to increase understanding, respect, and protection for our Seniors.”

The Huntington Common Charitable Fund was created in 2006 to help older adults in York County lead complete and fulfilled lives; Kennebunk Savings has served as steward for the fund since its inception.

The next grant deadline is December 31st. Nonprofit organizations with programs focusing on bettering the lives of older adults in York County can apply here.

Photo caption: Intern Ann Vigeant and Officer Candice Simeoni pose with personal amplification (PockeTalker) devices.