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 more than 15 years 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 more than 200 open Villages nationwide and another 150 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 bringing friends and services to your door. By volunteering and being neighborly, Village members expand their network of friendships close to home. We gather for coffee, walks, dining out and going to movies. Volunteers do tasks friends and neighbors might do, including transportation, household chores and assistance with technology.
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.
Villages are neighbor helping neighbor. They are networks of support that foster interdependent aging in community.