A “village” is a group of like-minded people in a geographic area who come together to figure out and develop the resources they will need to age comfortably in their own homes. Like Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), villages embrace the strategy of bringing services to people rather than moving people to services.
The first village—Beacon Hill Village in Boston—began a decade ago when 12 older adults joined forces to create a way for them to “age at home” and remain independent as long as possible. There are now over 80 villages nationwide with over 140 more in development.
The purpose of villages is to enable people to age in place as well as they can for as long as they can for as little as they can. Villages do this by providing the services and support people need to be able to age in place, but can no longer safely do themselves. Examples include: climbing on ladders to change a light bulb, doing yard work, driving at night, spring cleaning, simple home repairs, transportation to & assistance with grocery shopping.
This kind of “village” is not a real estate development or a retirement community. Village members continue to live in their own homes and can be homeowners, renters, seniors sharing housing or living with relatives. All village members’ homes are located somewhere within the geographic boundaries/service delivery area of the village (but are rarely adjacent).
Most villages nationwide are self-governing 501c3 nonprofit membership organizations run by a Board of Directors elected by the village members. They are supported by a combination of fees, grants and fundraising.
About Village Services:
- Villages tend to be “volunteer first,” which means that they prefer to use volunteers to deliver services
- Villages provide “one call does it all” support & problem solving for their members
- Villages do not duplicate existing services. They make it their business to know everything being offered by other nonprofits, senior centers, government agencies, how to utilize and where there are service gaps
- Volunteers provide most of the transportation, shopping, household chores, gardening, and light home repairs & maintenance for members.
- Villages also build relationships and develop community through social activities including potluck dinners, book clubs, exercise/wellness activities, and educational programs.
- Carefully chosen vendors provide professional home repairs, usually at a discounted rate of 20-50% for members
- Carefully chosen institutional & business partners provide home health care services (when/if needed), usually at discounted rates of 20-40%
Villages are neighbor helping neighbor. They are networks of support that foster interdependent aging in community.