The mission of the Maine Community Connections Initiative is to improve the health, wellness, and quality of life in small rural towns through service, advocacy, and community involvement.
The goal is to partner and assist towns with fewer than 5,000 residents located over 10 miles from a hospital. Resources will support local community-led initiatives, removing systemic barriers to address the social determinants of health.
Baileyville, located in Washington County, Maine, is the initial program site. Led by the town council, the Community Wellness Ad Hoc Committee is guiding efforts to address new and long-standing challenges that harm individual, family, and community well-being.
The committee conducted a community assessment in 2022, surveying students in the Woodland Jr/Sr High School and adults who live or work in Baileyville. The feedback was clear and the perceived needs consistent across age groups. This prompted a series of actions that are in various stages of implementation:
- In early 2022, Woodland Elementary and Jr/Sr High Schools launched a pilot-tele-behavioral health program that was successful. This was followed by a large grant award from the Pull Up Fund that allowed the program to be expanded to all four schools in AOS 90 and added community health worker (CHW) service navigators at each of the schools to facilitate participation. This program will serve 74 students during the 2022–2023 school year and continue year-round through July 2025.
- The school board and town council agreed to request Washington County Adult Education to re-launch course offerings in Baileyville. With agreement from other towns and funding from Point32Health, adult education began offering courses in northeastern Washington County in January 2023.
- The National Digital Equity Center supported the Ad Hoc Committee to create a digital equity plan, which the town council adopted in 2023. This will result in: making in-person and virtual courses on topics related to using online resources available; assisting eligible residents to receive FCC subsidy to reduce internet cost; creating a town-funded utility assistance fund to help low-income residents access broadband; and implementing other efforts to increase the utilization of broadband, which is available to every house and building in Baileyville.