Creating Community Connections – Supporting New Americans in Vermont
To help aging Vermonters thrive, Age Well develops opportunities that seek to create a meaningful impact on the lives of those we serve. Our mission: to provide the support and guidance that inspires our community to embrace aging with confidence, is fulfilled many different ways – whether that be delivering nourishment through Meals on Wheels, coordinating services to ensure a continuum of care or implementing new wellness programs.
Since 2013, Age Well has supported the New American population in Northwestern Vermont. Our primarily volunteer-run, community meal program offers the chance for both Americans and New Americans, many of whom are Bhutanese, to share a meal and activities together while celebrating one another’s heritage, holidays and festivals.
Over the years, this program has expanded to due to growth in the New American population. Committed to meeting this increasing need, Age Well provides outreach and translation services to ensure that individuals are connected to their communities, have access to public benefits and are aware of available services.
Enriching the lives of those we serve often comes to fruition through the partnerships that Age Well has with local organizations. Essentially, creating opportunities for growth is a community effort. A few weeks ago, we partnered with Sarah Carter, CPRP, of Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront to plan an outing for Bhutanese seniors.
On a cool, spring morning, two buses travelled to Cold Hollow Mill. Enjoying freshly-pressed, apple cider and homemade donuts was the first stop on this tasty adventure. After an outdoor lunch, volunteer drivers transported the Bhutanese seniors to Cabot Cheese where Hot Habanero Cheddar Cheese was unanimously that favorite among the different flavors. The last stop on the outing was Ben & Jerry’s, which included a tour of the factory.
This experience fostered community connections while helping to move past challenges that New Americans often face, including navigating cultural differences, combating isolation, and lacking transportation.
Nearly everyone at some point in their lives has felt the difficulty that comes with “being new.” By creating opportunities for individuals to build relationships, we allow for greater communication, enabling us to better understand the best way to all work together and benefit from one another.