Five communities have joined together in the Age-Friendly Community Initiative in order to make the most of the resources of our area. Residents of Gilead, Greenwood, Newry and Woodstock travel regularly to Bethel for area services like pharmacy, health center and shopping.All five towns are cooperating on a Heart & Soul Initiative, supported by the Orton Family. The five towns are also in the same School Administrative District #44. These examples of cooperation among the towns make it reasonable to work toward becoming age-friendly communities together.
Residents of the area take advantage of the many social and educational opportunities that tend to be centered in the town of Bethel. Among them are programs offered by the Mahoosuc Land Trust, the Bethel Historical Society, and Western Mountains Senior College, a life-long learning institution. The brand new Maine Mineral and Gem Museum will showcase the geological history of this region with its displays of Maine minerals and gems. Both Gould Academy, a private 4-year prep school and Telstar, the public junior-senior high school, offer programs to the public.
Outdoor recreational opportunities are available year-round. Well-maintained hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobile trails abound throughout the area. Two downhill ski areas cater to every level of skier. Many lakes and ponds and the Androscoggin River provide fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Several businesses exist to cater to both residents and visitors.
Demographics data reveal other factors the communities have in common. The median age ranges in the forties, higher than the median for the U.S. as a whole - 37.8, but in line with the median average for Maine - 44.1. As more retirees move here to enjoy the many outdoor recreation and cultural/educational opportunities, and younger people move away to find more secure, full-time employment, the median age is likely to rise, putting pressure on health services and transportation needs in particular.
The survey carried out in the fall of 2015 demonstrated that attitudes and areas of concern about the problems faced by Seniors are shared across the region.The vast majority of respondents (92.2%) said it was somewhat or very important to remain in their community as they age, with almost two out of three (64.8%) saying it was very important.