Is There a Village on Your Horizon?

Have you heard about the movement toward "virtual" retirement villages? Although typically geographic, a virtual village allows you to stay in your own home with easier access to services and supports that can help you age in place successfully.

The movement started nearly 15 years ago with Boston's Beacon Hill Village—a member-driven grassroots organization with a mission to enable residents to age in place. Today, more than 200 village organizations are either in operation or in the planning stages. Several have sprung up in Seattle in recent years. Each village reflects the personalities of those who are involved in organizing and operating their network.  

NEST—North East Seattle Together

NEST is a grassroots nonprofit organization that marshals the talents and resources of a team of volunteers to help aging members of Northeast Seattle to remain in their own homes and in their own neighborhoods.

"Nest is a word that evokes warmth, security, nurture, values associated with our family, friends, neighbors and community," says founder Debbie Anderson. "NEST holds these values to an even higher ideal. A multi-generational base of volunteers helps aging members of the community who need some assistance in their lives—rides to appointments, shopping, pet care, gardening, computer help, and other errands that are so simple … until we reach 'a certain age.' When you join NEST you add 100 neighbors to your care team!"

NEST also provides opportunities for intergenerational exchange and an array of fun and educational events such as Congenial Conversations, NESTCafe and monthly potlucks. NEST serves residents in North Seattle neighborhoods including Bryant, Hawthorne Hills, Inverness, Laurelhurst, Maple Leaf, Matthews Beach, Meadowbrook, Ravenna, Roosevelt, Sand Point, University District, View Ridge, Wedgwood and Windermere. For more information, visit www.NESTSeattle.org, e-mail info@nestseattle.org or call 206-525-NEST (6378).

PNA Village Empowers People

Across town, the Phinney Neighborhood Association has launched PNA Village, empowering individuals living north of North 50th Street, south of North 105th Street, between 15th Avenue NW and Aurora Avenue (see map) to remain in their homes and neighborhoods while staying active and engaged as they age.

PNA Village provides a Network of Helpers that help with small and large projects like yard maintenance, minor home repairs, transportation, shopping assistance, and pet care. PNA Village members may also serve in a volunteer capacity, sharing their abilities with other village members.

The organization provides assistance in finding resources to meet residents' changing needs, including a preferred vendor list (fully vetted according to adopted standards) for services such as plumbing, electrical repair, painting, dog walking, tech support, and lawn mowing.

Community-building activities include conversation groups, educational programs, information about issues of concern to members, or book and movie discussions.

PNA Village also helps members share their time and talent as volunteers. Opportunities are available to anyone in the community, including non-members, regardless of age. All volunteers undergo a criminal background check and receive training to work with an aging population.

For more information about PNA Village, visit www.phinneycenter.org/village e-mail village@phinneycenter.org or call 206-789-1217.

Wider Horizons

A new virtual village will be launched this coming winter! Wider Horizons will serve residents of Central Seattle, including the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, the Central District, Eastlake, First Hill, the International District, Leschi, Madison Park, Madrona, Montlake and Mt. Baker.

For more information about Wider Horizons, visit www.horizonsvillage.com or contact Denise Klein (denise_klein@comcast.net or 206-650-3586).

Your Neighborhood

If you and your neighbors would like to form a virtual village, help is available. Organizers in other local villages can offer advice. Another excellent resource is the Village to Village Network website at www.vtvnetwork.org. Villages across the nation have websites, too.

But it really comes down to this … how will you and your neighbors age in place? There's power in numbers. Start the conversation!

Contributor Irene Stewart compiled this article from online sources. A planner at Aging and Disability Services—the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle-King County, Irene edits AgeWise King County on behalf of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services.