‘Villages’ help seniors remain in their homes, communities

To learn about villages here in Central Texas, check out Capital City Villages, a fellow St. David’s Foundation community partner.

‘Villages’ help seniors remain in their homes, communities

Nonprofit support groups in Boston and across the US offer services for seniors

Ten years ago, Susan McWhinney-Morse had no desire to leave her longtime Beacon Hill home and neighborhood just because she and her husband were retired and growing older.

The expectation then, as it is now, was that retired people sold their homes, then moved to Florida or some other retirement-like community where they would be surrounded by other senior residents.

“But my little slogan was ‘No, no, I won’t go!’ ’’ said McWhinney-Morse. “I love where I live, and I felt strongly about a society that takes the elderly and warehouses them.’’

Today, McWhinney-Morse, 78, still lives at her Temple Street home, partly because she and other neighborhood residents helped start “Beacon Hill Village,’’ a nonprofit support group designed specifically to help older people stay in their homes and communities.

Beacon Hill Village has grown to nearly 400 members throughout Boston. Their annual dues – $925 for a household, or $640 for a single person – get them a wide variety of support services, from drivers for doctor appointments to hiring screened repairmen. It has spawned 78 other “village’’ groups across Massachusetts and the United States, and similar organizations overseas, in Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands.

And a recently formed national organization – the Village to Village Network – is also in talks to open 150 more villages across the country.

“This is a common sense movement that comes from elderly organizers themselves,’’ said Judy Willett, the former director of Beacon Hill Village and the new national director of Village to Village, which is based in Newton. “Ultimately, it’s elderly volunteers who organize each village, and every [group] has roughly the same values and same core goal of helping people stay in their homes.’’

Read more here. 

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