News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, January 9, 2014
Deer Isle Plus now free to join
Group seeks to expand membership beyond 50

by Jessica Brophy

Taxpayers around the island may have noticed a postcard in their mail the first week of January, announcing that Deer Isle Plus is now available to anyone at no cost for the next year.

Founded in 2011, Deer Isle Plus is a network dedicated to “independent living,” says its website,

The program doesn’t deliver services directly. It offers its members a sense of security in the case of accident or emergency. Each member has an ID card, which alerts medical personnel that they should contact the Deer Isle Plus coordinator. The coordinator, currently Helen McKinnon, can then notify whomever the member has registered to be notified in case of emergency. Plans can be put in motion to take care of pets, make sure heat is adjusted to avoid frozen pipes, and mail collected.

Often, if an event strikes without warning, a person’s friends and neighbors might not know a person is ill, and may have no way to find out, said Deer Isle Plus founder Marnie Crowell. “It’s not that our healthcare people are indifferent—legally, they can’t tell people anything.”

The program, which already has 50 members, is available at no cost for two reasons, said Crowell. “We don’t have an office or a staff,” said Crowell. The only cost is for the coordinator, Helen McKinnon. The second reason is that a benefactor who wishes to be unnamed has made money available to cover the cost of the coordinator for the current year.

During Winterfest on January 17-19, Deer Isle Plus will be hosting a tea party on Friday afternoon and have a table at the elementary school where people can find out more about the services offered by the group and sign up if interested. The time of the tea was not available by press time.

“It’s like an umbrella,” said Crowell of the services offered by Deer Isle Plus. “You wish you didn’t need it, but you need to have it with you at the time.” The program has already helped several members during emergencies, she said.

The program also tries to keep its members informed about the other resources available to support independent living.

For more information about Deer Isle Plus, visit