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Three decades later, Healthy Island Project continues to help Deer Isle-Stonington community

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 5:32 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2022 at 5:40 PM EST
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DEER ISLE, Maine (WABI) - The Healthy Island Project is a non-profit organization focused on enhancing the broad health of the Deer Isle-Stonington community since 1991.

The organization offers a number of programs for all ages and is almost 100% volunteer driven.

”It’s hard to say the exact number of people that we touch, but it’s pretty much everyone on this island in some capacity,” said René Colson Hudson, HIP executive director.

There is never a moment when the Healthy Island Project isn’t doing something for the Deer Isle-Stonington Community.

“We have a lunchbox program where we are making a homemade meal and delivering it to seniors. We have a program called ‘Edible Island,’ expanding the local food system. We also have ‘Farm Drop,’ which is an online farmers market,” said Colson Hudson.

Those are just a few of the many programs under the umbrella of enhancing the broad health of Deer Isle-Stonington.

Barrett Gray grew up on the island and took part in Healthy Island Project’s Peer Support Program when he was in high school.

Now, he’s the coordinator for HIP’s Age Friendly Programming.

“It really helped me become more community minded. Most of the seniors now are people that were either my school teachers, grandparents, whatnot. It just feels good to be able to give back to them after they’ve helped me out for many years,” said Gray.

HIP had more than 80 volunteers last year for the Lunch Box program for Seniors, and that’s just a fraction of the total number of volunteers that make the organization possible.

“You meet people who are so committed. It’s really incredible the number of volunteers we have and the number of hours they spend working with us,” said Hallie Lartius,” Island Institute fellow.

The Healthy Island Project has been doing work in this community for more than three decades, and its impact it’s had on Deer Isle-Stonington can’t be overstated.

“That’s really the strength of island communities like Deer Isle-Stonington, is the sense that we have to take care of each other. We at least have a bridge, but we’re still rural, we’re still remote. There’s a lot of resources around the state, a lot of different programs, but very few people are going to come down and ‘save us.’ We have to kind of find our own way and look out for ourselves,” said Colson Hudson.

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