The village movement is an innovative type of grassroots organization that has emerged in the last decade in the organizational field of support services for community-dwelling older adults (Prof. A. Scharlach, UC Berkeley).
The village movement is one of the most viable options to let our society cope with the upcoming “Revolution Aging”.
Beacon Hill, the first village, came to birth in Boston (MA) and this is how they describe their inception:
In 1999, our founders, a group of friends, gathered to talk about the future. We wanted to stay engaged in our own neighborhood in this vibrant city. But we recognized that we might need support in the future.
We looked beyond conventional solutions. We wanted more freedom and control than we found in models that focus on single issues, such as housing, medical care, or social activities. We wanted to be active, taking care of ourselves and each other rather than being “taken care of.”
Beacon Hill, proved that seniors wanted to get together around local villages, help each other and be part of an active community of seniors. A model so promising, that after a few years 200 villages have sprung all across the nation and many others are in the works.
After a few years operating the most prestigious scholars in the field of social welfare (Prof. A. Sharlach in UC Berkeley) analyzed the model and this is what they found out:
77% of the village members participating in a survey agreed that they were more likely to stay in their own home as they got older but less than 30% reported that they have an easier time taking care of themselves or their home.
Therefore, members seemed to say that the village movement was helpful but had not reached its full potential yet. Similarly, here is Prof. Scharlach’s conclusion:
Villages represent a promising new model, with the potential for positively affecting seniors in ways that may reduce social isolation, expand access to services, increase well-being, and increase seniors’ confidence in their ability to age in their homes. […] However, Villages appear to have less impact for those members in worse health, prompting the need for further research […] in helping more vulnerable members to age in place.
From these lines, it seems obvious that the model is interesting but it didn’t have the necessary tools to operate efficiently. Therefore, it is time to call the Silicon Valley to the rescue and give the movement a technology upgrade.
In 2015, our Start-up built an ambitious vision HelpfulVillage.com and started developing an online tool with the 21st century most powerful technology. Our Start-up finally incorporates in 2016 and is lucky enough to integrate the University of California Start-up Accelerator program (UC Berkeley → Launch) to spread its technology across the country.
Helpful Village started serving Villages in California but we have rapidly grown and we are now proudly serving Villages nationwide. With Villages in Massachusetts, Hew Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington. For a full list of Village locations, please check out the Village Map.
You can read some more about what is Helpful Village adding to the village movement, in the next blog post I will publish here next week.
Other links for the village movement: