Beacon Hill: The First Village

“Beacon Hill Village Inc. is a private nonprofit corporation founded to give members, who are 50 and older and live in Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and surrounding neighborhoods, both the practical means and the confidence to live their lives to the fullest in their own homes as they grow older.”

Mission statement, Beacon Hill Village, Boston, MA


“Beacon Hill Village utilizes a member-driven model. “The board, and our committees are all made up of our members,” says Judy Willett, BHV executive director “There’s not a single social service provider or social workers or doctors. This is a way for people to be in control of their lives and to remain independent.””

Cooperative Villages Taking Hold for
Senior Living,” October 2009


“Beacon Hill Village is a revolutionary, all-encompassing concierge service created by residents who want to grow old in the homes they have lived in for years.

Now, they can do that, confident that even as they age they can deal with almost any contingency, large or small, without relying on relatives or friends. To preserve their independence, they can turn to the village, as the nonprofit association is known, which helps its 320 members find virtually any service they need—from 24-hour nursing care to help with a wayward cat, often at a discounted fee.

Their innovation is so appealing that a national expert on aging at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology asserts it could well change the way Americans—and the rest of the world—grow old. “The assisted living and the die-with-a-golf-club-in-your-hand communities had better take notice,” says Joseph Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab, a think tank on aging.”

AARP Bulletin, “Declaration of Independents”, December 2005


“With Beacon Hill Village you have life, you don’t have retirement,” Joseph Coughlin says. The village not only links members to carefully vetted personal trainers, caterers, house cleaners, plumbers and computer advisers, it also offers them a number of free benefits such as weekly car service to the grocery. Other free benefits include monthly lectures by notable Bostonians, exercise classes and special health clinics—all activities that take place in neighborhood churches, schools and a community center.”

ARP Bulletin, “Declaration of Independents”, December 2005


“We wanted everything you’d find in a retirement community or assisted living—but we wanted these services in our own homes,” explains Susan McWhinney-Morse, 72, the president of Beacon Hill Village, who was one of the 12 residents who helped create it. “We didn’t want to leave the neighborhood we love.”

“Village founder and member J. Atwood “Woody” Ives, 69, adds, “Even the places they call active retirement communities tend to be depressing. They’re so artificial—everybody there is old.””

AARP Bulletin, “Declaration of Independents”, December 2005

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *