- Daily activities for Elders (currently on hold due to pandemic)
- Elder Meals provided Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00 am (Currently providing no-contact meal deliveries due to pandemic)
- Fall Risk Prevention and elderly exercise program offered
- Collaboration with other programs including CHR & Safety, Aroostook Agency on Aging
Elder Center Coordinator: Danya Boyce
Elder Center Assistant Cook: Mark Lewis
A tribal community is only as strong as its elder community. That is why taking care of the tribal elders is at the forefront of everyday activity for Danya Boyce, director of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Elders' Center.
Whether it is preparing a home-cooked meal, sharing a friendly board game, engaging in arts and crafts, or simply just lending an ear to those who need it, the Elders' Center is the hub for the tribe's most sacred group.
That group numbered between 25-30 strong before the pandemic, and the Elders' Center was often bustling with regular activities each and every month. Boyce said when they cooked meals twice a week, she was sure they always went home with enough leftovers for at least one more meal.
But when COVID-19 brought gatherings to a screeching halt, Boyce said she had to get creative with ways to provide continue providing support to the elders. That creativity included delivering meals, particularly those who were shut-ins, and making regular telephone calls to make sure everything was OK.
The global pandemic essentially knocked out our ability to have meals at the Elders' Center, Boyce said. Before COVID, they would gather twice a week to provide not only food, but camaraderie to the community. When those gatherings had to be put on hold for more than two-and-a-half years, pre-made - and sometimes frozen - meals were purchased, but the connection just was not the same.
Boyce said it is her hope that the worst of the pandemic is behind them and she will soon be able to resume regular gatherings at the center. Her goal is to start doing meals at the center once a week, to give their new cook a chance to become accustom to what meals the elders like and dislike.
During the summer and fall months, fresh vegetables from either the food pantry or those grown on tribal lands are included in the regular deliveries. Also, once a year, a large meal is traditionally held in the gymnasium for the elder's and their families.
Beyond food, the center also serves as a hub for activities like Bingo and arts and crafts. Boyce said for many, those simple interactions are key to maintaining connections to the tribe's cultural past.