as we seek to provide assistance to Maine’s elderly population, diversity is certainly an important aspect to consider. We are now joined live by Community Services Manager MEREDITH Anderson, the Head of Diversity Equity and Inclusion Efforts and works at the agency’s South Zone Lead Agency on Aging ? I should say MEREDITH, first of all, we hear this *** a lot. Is it true that the population of Maine is not very diverse? I think it’s a common misconception that Maine is not diverse. If you look at census data, 93% of mainers identify as white or not. Hispanic, there are many other factors that define diversity. However, such as age, someone with *** disability, gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, nationality. Uh, someone being *** a member of an Indigenous group, geographic location, immigration status, sexual orientation. So those are all other important things that also define diversity. Yes. So when we’re talking about diversity when we’re having this conversation, why is recognizing all of these different aspects of your clients’ identities important for the agency in the primary southern region of aging to provide services and programs that have an impact. We need to recognize all the different aspects of the *** client’s identity to make it easier to find solutions and help individuals access available resources. You know, for *** recent widow who lives in her own house in a rural area *** and has family support. She has different needs than *** male who lives in *** more rented urban areas and has little social support and faces medical issues. Yeah, really good. Everyone’s needs are different. Right? Really good point. Something that people probably don’t consider as much. So, you know, what are some of the ways the Southern Leading Aging Agency makes clients feel welcome and safe by keeping these things in mind. We try to share information in different languages. We have some information about our programs and services in Arabic Kinyarwanda French Spanish Vietnamese and Portuguese. And we have appointments uh in person or over the phone that we can use interpreters to help with language access. Um we have food options through Meals on Wheels with halal style meals we have as you wish*** program which now includes Latin, Chinese American and Arabic restaurants. Um, we’re trying to build partnerships and relationships with organizations that have already built *** relationships with communities that were trying to engage. We work with Catholic charities, refugee and immigration services and the Equality Maine Africa Jambo African newsletter. Just different organizations to try to help build a *** bridge for us to get into the communities. And I’m sorry, carry on. I am sorry. Of course. Our staff and volunteers regularly participate in trainings that help us become more inclusive around cultural competency and unconscious bias. Um using inclusive language. And we’re working to update our hiring practices because we want, uh, everyone in the organization to feel included and welcomed. Yeah. Everyone has different needs and diversity encompasses so many different things MEREDITH Anderson, thank you so much for this information. Hopefully, you know, older people and their loved ones may find it useful and make them feel safe and you can go to the agency on aging website to find out more. You can use the link that is on your screen below. MEREDITH Anderson, thank you so much for sharing that with us this afternoon.

Maine is more diverse than many people realize, according to Agency on Aging

Race isn’t the only factor to consider when looking at diversity

A common belief is that Maine is not very diverse and in fact, US Census data shows that 93% of Maine residents identify as “white, non-Hispanic”. However, Meredith Anderson, who leads the Southern Maine Agency on Aging’s (SMAA) diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, says that doesn’t paint the whole picture. , disability, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, geographic location, membership of an indigenous group, nationality, immigration status and gender. Who their clients are is an important factor when finding solutions, assessing eligibility, and connecting with available services. She says it’s also important that clients know they will be understood, heard and respected when seeking services. The Southern Maine Agency on Aging shares information about its programs and services in six languages: Arabic, Vietnamese, Kinyarwanda, French, Spanish and Portuguese. They also provide translation over the phone and for in-person appointments. The Agency has added halal meals as an option for Meals on Wheels customers and they have a Chinese, Latin American and, for two weeks, an Arabic restaurant partner of the As You Like It program. Anderson says the Agency seeks partnerships with organizations that have already established a relationship with the communities they are trying to reach. They work with the Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services, particularly their program for older refugees, publish regularly on Amjambo Africa and advertise in the weekly bulletins of Catholic parishes. SMAA staff and volunteers regularly participate in training to help increase cultural competency in working with diverse clients, use more inclusive language, and improve hiring practices.

A common belief is that Maine is not very diverse and in fact, US Census data shows that 93% of Maine residents identify as “white, non-Hispanic”. However, Meredith Anderson, who leads the Southern Maine Agency on Aging’s (SMAA) diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, says that doesn’t tell the whole story.

She says many other factors defining diversity must be taken into account, including age, disability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, geographic location, to an Aboriginal group, nationality, immigration status and gender.

Anderson says that for SMAA to provide impactful services and programs, they must recognize that all of the different elements of their clients’ identities are important factors when finding solutions, assessing eligibility, and connection with available services.

She says it’s also important that clients know they will be understood, heard and respected when seeking services.

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging shares information about its programs and services in six languages: Arabic, Vietnamese, Kinyarwanda, French, Spanish and Portuguese. They also provide translation over the phone and for in-person appointments.

The Agency has added halal meals as an option for Meals on Wheels customers and they have a Chinese, Latin American and, for two weeks, an Arabic restaurant partner of the As You Like It program.

Anderson says the Agency seeks partnerships with organizations that have already established a relationship with the communities they are trying to reach. They work with the Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services, particularly their program for older refugees, publish regularly on Amjambo Africa and advertise in the weekly bulletins of Catholic parishes.

SMAA staff and volunteers regularly participate in training to help increase cultural competency in working with diverse clients, use more inclusive language, and improve hiring practices.