Several years ago when living in Austin, I read an article about the Capital Village, a community of 55 plus homeowners who formed a village of support.
Each homeowner, a single person or a married couple, people living in their own house can join a network of support called “village.”
Back then in 2006, the village was a budding trend and over the years has become a popular form of a neighborhood support system. But ten years ago, the villages, of which there was only a handful, offer older adults a safety net. The members could remain at home and live independently. They can call other members for help with things like getting a ride to the doctor, to have the yard mowed. While some now have a paid staff member to run errands, many are volunteers which are the residents and members themselves.
The senior village movement is celebrating their 15th anniversary of the model and the very first village in Boston, Beacon Hill. Over the years, the model has changed and adapted to the needs of members. And now that boomers join, they’re doing more innovative programming–like creating intergenerational programming that involves kids, either children volunteer to help older members, or members provide some type of mentorship to kids in the community.
If you’re interested in joining but your town doesn’t have a village, get on the website (http://vtvnetwork.org/) to explore and learn about the model. See what resources are available, connect with a nearby village, and talk with your neighbors and friends to find out if others have an interest in your area. Then research to find a nonprofit or an organization you can partner to start a village.
Launching a village is not a one-person job, so the more support receive, the easier it is. Ask yourself, “What would your village look like? What types of support do you want to experience? Is there a village nearby and if there is, get to know what they do and what they lack?
If you cannot find interested parties, just plant a seed and see what kind of resources they could help provide. In return, see if there’s something the village can give back to them.
Senior villages offer a strong sense of community. It’s an important concept for those who want to stay at home and grow older. Living in a village people are as busy as they want or not be involved at all. AARP says aging in place is a desire of more than 85 percent of all seniors. The only problem with the concept is that it can be isolating. If you don’t have children or other family living near you, having someone to check in on you, or bring your groceries once a week, or make sure you’re getting out of the house and participating in things, can be an important piece of staying in your house.
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