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Why Villages Are Needed

With thousands of baby boomers turning sixty-five every day, there is a growing need for new models to provide services at lower cost to seniors and people with disabilities. In fact, most people of all ages prefer to stay active and in their own communities for as long as possible. And we prefer to have a life-affirming model centered on health and well-being. A village is a reciprocal community where members can grow and laugh with and rely on one another to improve quality of life and expand choices at all stages of aging.

So groups of seniors came together to create this new “Village” model. It’s a grass-roots movement all around the country. Grassroots refers to building a movement or an organization from the bottom up—by ordinary people who decide to have a Village in their community. Grassroots Villages are run by a Board or Council elected by and answerable to members of the Village, and this is the model Village Without Walls is following.

In 2010, the senior (age 65+) population of Washington, Clackamas, and Multnomah Counties was 190,000. By 2030–less than 12 years from now—that number will be almost 400,000, with Washington County having the fastest growing age 50+ population in the region.

Village to Village Network  

Village to Village Network (VtV) is a national peer-to-peer network, formed to help their members develop new Villages and improve management of existing Villages whether these are in large metropolitan areas, rural towns or suburban settings. Village Without Walls is a member of the Village-to-Village Network through its hub & fiscal sponsor Villages NW.

•      Map of Villages in the US
PBS Feature "There's No Place Like Home: Seniors Hold on to Urban Independence Into Old Age” is a public television video about the Village concept and Beacon Hill Village in particular.

What characterizes a Village? 
  • Villages build relationships and develop community through social activities including potluck dinners, book clubs, exercise/wellness activities, and educational programs.
  • Villages tend to be “volunteer first,” which means that they prefer to use volunteers to deliver services before calling on staff or outside resources.
  • Villages provide “one call does it all” support and problem solving for their members.
  • Villages do not duplicate existing services. They make it their business to know everything being offered by other nonprofits, senior centers, government agencies, how to utilize these services and where there are service gaps
  • Volunteers provide most of the transportation, shopping, household chores, gardening, and light home repairs and maintenance for members.
  • Carefully chosen recommended vendors provide professional home repairs which the volunteers cannot handle.
  • Carefully chosen institutional & business partners provide home health care services
-Courtesy of Villages NW