LEEDS — Friends, family, staff, board members, volunteers and community members gathered recently for the dedication of the Rural Community Action Ministry’s Gilbert A. Ward Senior Residence. Gil Ward was executive director of RCAM from 2004 until his passing in April of this year.

At the dedication, staff members Laura and Doug Zimmerman spoke of Gil’s vision of transforming the house, originally the home of Don and Janice Nason, into a residence for homeless seniors. Board members Kristin White and Larry Jewett spoke of Gil’s unwavering efforts to bring this project to fruition and how gratified he had been to see the first residents move into the building.

Located next door to the RCAM office, the building was purchased a few years ago and, after extensive renovations, opened last year. It has four private rooms, one of which is designed for a couple, private bathrooms and entrances, all opening onto handicap access decks. There is a common kitchen, living room, laundry and sun porch.

Shortly before his death, Gil was recognized by the Maine Legislature with a legislative sentiment for his decade of service to RCAM and in honor of his lifetime of dedication to serving the most vulnerable citizens in rural Maine. A copy of the Sentiment hangs in the senior residence which is one of Gil’s lasting legacies.

At the close of the dedication, the Zimmermans presented a bench which they have donated to the residence. It has an engraved plaque on it, honoring Gil. Placed near the front door of the building, residents can sit on it while waiting for a ride, while admiring one of the numerous gardens surrounding the residence or just watching the world go by.

Currently, there are two rooms available for rent to homeless, at-risk seniors, 55 years of age and older in the RCAM service area. For more information on applying to become a resident, call RCAM at 524-5095.

With offices in Leeds, RCAM has been serving the residents of rural towns in central Maine since 1970. Its service area includes Buckfield, Canton, Greene, Hartford, Leeds, Litchfield, Livermore, Monmouth, Sabattus, Sumner, Turner, Wales and Wayne. In addition to the senior residence, services include housing in two other shelter facilities, the two-unit homeless shelter and the single family transitional home. Other services include homelessness prevention in the form of fuel assistance, meals, transportation and home repair. RCAM also runs a gardening program that provides vegetable seedlings for growing and canning at home.

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