On February 15th, 2022, more than 300 villages across the country – including eleven Villages in the Portland, Oregon metro area – are joining together to recognize the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Village Movement across the United States and the positive impact Villages are having on the experience of aging.
From its Boston, Massachusetts beginnings in 2002, the Village concept has grown into a thriving network. While each Village is different and reflects the needs of its members and community, Villages share many common characteristics: volunteer-based, membership-driven, self-governing nonprofit organizations; coordinate access to affordable vetted volunteer services (e.g. transportation, health and wellness programs, technology support, home repairs) as well as social and educational activities; positively impact isolation, interdependence, health and purpose, reducing their members’ overall cost of care; serve as one-stop-shopping for the services members need to age safely and successfully in their own home; and are linked with community partners to help address the challenges of aging.
The Portland Metro area is host to 11 Villages (list) operating within a single nonprofit organization, Villages NW (about), somewhat unique to our area as most Villages are stand-alone charitable entities. Each Village is an interdependent, intergenerational community of neighbors helping neighbors. Village members are individuals and couples who prefer staying in their homes and neighborhoods rather than moving into retirement communities. However, Villages are not just for those near or already into retirement. They are for people of all ages who value being part of Portland’s communities and want to strengthen their link to them, including through volunteering.
Longtime Northeast Villager Vonnie Condon was first inspired to get involved in the then newly-forming NE Village PDX after caring for her elderly mother who had relocated to Portland from Minnesota. The level of care and the social isolation that her mother experienced after leaving her community of friends left a lasting impression on Vonnie. After her mother died and she retired, Vonnie wanted to find a place to put her time and skills to good use. It wasn’t long after she began attending organizational meetings for the Village that she was hooked! She subsequently went on to serve in multiple volunteer positions and remains active to this day. When asked what it is about being a Villager that she most appreciates, Vonnie replied that it is the many wonderful friendships and the chance to serve others in times of need that have enriched her life.
The anniversary celebration will even reach the halls of the U.S. Congress with a proclamation by Congressman Stephen Lynch (MA) recognizing Beacon Hill Village in Boston and the entire Village Movement and designating February 15 as “National Village Day.”
Written by Teri McKenzie (Office Manager, Northeast Village PDX) and Peg Farrell (Member, Eastside Village)