There is a new take on the saying “it takes a village”. Villages are a new community model designed to keep people in their homes longer. Instead of moving to senior housing or assisted living, residents form or join a non-profit village. This organization provides access to necessary, non-medical services. If you or someone you know are looking to remain independent, consider joining a Village. We’ve gathered some information to help you decide if a Village is right for you.
What Is the Village Movement?
The concept is simple: an organization that provides access to service to support the goal of allowing residents to remain in their homes. Villages can span a few blocks in an urban neighborhood or rural areas within a specific radius. The Villages operate independently of each other, each offering services tailors to its members.
The Village Movement began in the Boston community of Beacon Hill in 2002. It has grown into a large network of over 250 villages spanning across the country with another 100 in development. Villages are grassroots, nonprofit organizations that operate on the needs and interests of the community.
Villages are not just helping people survive; they help you thrive. Beyond offering support services for daily needs, they promote social connections and interactions. This is particularly vital to avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation decrease our longevity. Villages help members continue to be productive, healthy, active, and vibrant.
They also promote life-long learning and growth. Members share their knowledge and skills and give back to the community. The St. Louis Village, for example, has a Community Engagement Committee. This committee works towards social change in neighborhoods impacted by long-standing inequalities. Village members are collaborating, using their professional skills, and learning and growing together.
Why Should I Join A Village?
Villages are a creative answer to the question of how to remain in your own home safely and successfully as you age. Instead of selling your home and moving to a senior housing community, villages are alternative options. When you are considering this important decision, a Village may provide the means to stay at home.
A Village is run by trained and vetted volunteers and paid staff. These volunteers are not strangers, but rather friends and current neighbors who are willing to help. Village members not only provide a service, but they also help expand friendships close to home. They typically provide transportation, social and educational programming, simple home repair, yard work, and other non-medical services. In addition, they often gather for coffee or take walks with the other members of the Village. They also coordinate access to affordable services, local resources, and service providers. Simply put, they are neighbors helping neighbors.
Villages are also a hub of diversity. The community aspect supports a wide variety of interests, political spectrums, holiday celebrations. Additionally, some people join a Village long before they need services themselves but fill the role of the volunteer. Then, when the time comes where they need support, they have set the president for others to volunteer as well.
How Do I Find A Village to Join?
So how does one join a Village? Simply check the Village to Village Network website and look for a village near you. The Village to Village Network’s mission is to “enable community members to build and sustain thriving Villages”. To that end, the Network connects Village members with resources, education, and expertise. Don’t see a Village in your area? With the assistance of the Village to Village Network, you can work with your neighbors and community to build one. You can also learn how to identify local businesses to partner with for resources that help with the challenges of aging.
Each village has membership fees, some on an income-based sliding scale. Villages aim to be inclusive of all income levels and ethnic groups in their area.
Whether joining a Village, volunteering for a local Village, or creating one in your community, you can change how aging is valued and lived.
Other Aging in Place Resources
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