Jean has been involved with Age Friendly Saco since former Mayor Ron Michaud presented a proclamation to the City Council early in his tenure to make the City of Saco an Age Friendly community. This started the process of creating a Steering Committee, formulating an Action Plan and engaging volunteers.
In addition to this, Jean has been a member of the UMaine Center on Aging Lifelong Communities Advisory Group. A group dedicated to help guide the Center on Aging’s work with Lifelong Communities. Lifelongmaine.org. In 2020 she was a member of the The Lifelong Fellows Program for the Town of Eliot which matches experienced community leaders with communities beginning their Lifelong Community journey, re-energizing their efforts, or launching a new program, service, or activity.
In addition, Jean is a member of the AARP Executive Committee, a group of individuals from around the State helping to guide the work of AARP Maine.
- 2018 Jean received the Midge Vreeland Service Award in recognition of her work with Age Friendly Saco.
- 2019 the York County Spirit of America award.
- 2021 Age Friendly Saco awarded the AARP Beacon Community Award
- Age Friendly Saco is awarded first Beacon Community Award by AARP
- https://states.aarp.org/maine/age-friendly-saco-is-honored-with-the-1st-beacon-community-award. The Beacon Community Award recognizes local organizations that foster bright and inclusive spaces to actively engage their community members. Age-Friendly Saco has embodied these values with their volunteer efforts to assist the residents of Saco experiencing food insecurity issues as well as social isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are thrilled to see Age-Friendly Saco recognized with the Beacon Community Award,” says AARP Maine State Director Noël Bonam. “The past 22 months have been challenging, especially for Maine’s seniors, but Age-Friendly Saco’s tireless work has made a huge impact—keeping spirits up, as well as keeping people fed and safe. They are truly an inspiration to the rest of Maine’s Age-Friendly communities.”
- Age-Friendly Saco also provided their older residents with intergenerational avenues of connection to combat social isolation during the pandemic. Partnering with Thornton Academy, students created 500 handmade valentine cards and helped fill and deliver over 100 sand buckets to guard against the icy winter. The organization also initiated a program known as HandyHelpers to provide their older residents much needed help with small home repairs and learning how to navigate new technology to stay connected with friends and family while staying safe from Covid-19.
- In response to the award, Jean Saunders, Director of Age-Friendly Saco says, “The team at Age-Friendly Saco is deeply honored to be the first community chosen for the Beacon Community Award. The mission of Age-Friendly Saco is to make Saco a “A Community for a Lifetime”. I believe the work done by our dedicated volunteers, especially during these past difficult months of the pandemic, demonstrates our commitment to helping our residents stay in their homes and in their community by helping them access services that empower them to remain in and engaged in their community.”
- 2022 Jean was honored as the recipient of the AARP Andrus Award: https://states.aarp.org/maine/andrus-award-2022 The AARP Maine Andrus Award acts as a symbol that every single person can make a difference and that each person can bring about positive social change.
- 2022 she received the Biddeford Saco Rotary Club Public Sector Award.
- 2023 she was recognized by the United Healthcare as being a New England United Healthcare Champion for her contributions in establishing Saco as an Age Friendly community. This award came with a donation to Age Friendly Saco which helped fund a volunteer recognition event for all of the Age Friendly volunteers.