The vision of the Village movement is to build communities for a lifetime. Some Villages, such as ours, choose an intergenerational model that serves all members of the community. Other Villages focus solely on supporting residents who choose to age in place – to continue to live in their homes and communities as long as possible. Regardless, all Villages are local, volunteer-led grassroots organizations for which the underlying idea is simple: neighbor helping neighbor. Click here for a map of Villages across the country: http://www.vtvnetwork.org/content.aspx?page_id=1905&club_id=691012
Each Village is unique because it reflects the character, interests, and needs of the community that creates it. A Village offers many benefits, and the volunteers who create it decide what their Village will look like and what it will offer. Villages also facilitate residents’ access to vetted professional services, such as financial, legal, medical, home repair, and renovation services.
The Village model uses a nonprofit organization to organize programs for residents in a geographically defined community; most charge a yearly membership fee to cover expenses. A key feature of the Village model is that members and community volunteers provide some of the services, such as help with transportation, light home maintenance, and shopping. Social and educational events are organized to benefit members.
In addition to helping others, volunteers are also helping themselves by living active, healthy lives through volunteering. A recent national study reported that volunteers derive great benefit from helping others, making new friends, and making a positive difference in people’s lives. A growing body of research points to mental and physical health benefits associated with volunteering, including lower mortality rates, increased strength and energy, decreased rates of depression, and fewer physical limitations.
Recipients of volunteer services receive benefits beyond the actual services they receive. Researchers have characterized those additional benefits as increased capacity to cope, reduced loneliness, and improved health status. In sum, the Village experience, which is based on extensive volunteer contributions, benefits those individuals who volunteer and the members who receive their services – and the community as a whole.
An important characteristic common to Villages is the design of services and programs based on the specific needs and preferences of the members in that community. Thus, each Village offers a unique array based on those needs, the availability of volunteers and vendors, and the revenue generated by membership fees and fundraising efforts.
Who creates a Village?
People like you! Villages are created by residents of the community – people who have a vision for an improved quality of life for all. Every new Village starts with a vision and with a dedicated core of individuals ready and willing to make that vision a reality. Creating a Village is a community endeavor.