Village to Village Network
In 2010, the Village to Village Network – a national organization that collaborates to maximize the growth, impact and sustainability of individual Villages and the Village Movement – was formed. The Network provides expert guidance, resources and support to help communities establish and maintain their Villages. It acts as a “village common” for developing villages as well as older more established villages. The Village Movement started in a neighborhood in Boston over 18 years ago and today there are over 250 open Villages and more than 150 in development in 45 states, District of Columbia and four countries. Village to Village Network and the Village Movement will not only impact Villages and their members, but the lives of countless families, caregivers and members of the broader community they serve.
Villages have emerged in an era of self-organizing networks. They are grassroots membership driven nonprofit organizations that connect older adults to the community, programming and expertise they need to continue living life on their own terms in the places they call home.
Why the Village Movement now?
The majority of older Americans do not qualify for publicly funded programs and really can’t readily afford the high costs of long-term care and institutional housing. Villages are filling the gap between what people need and what they can afford to age in place. Villages coordinate access to affordable services, provide volunteer services including transportation, inspiring health and wellness programs, home repairs, social and educational activities. Many villages offer access to vetted and discounted service providers. Villages over time evolved to be consistent with the communities they serve. Villages positively impact isolation, interdependence, health and purpose of their individual members to reduce overall cost of care as they age.
Across Virginia there are currently 12 villages in operation or development. Click this link to see if there is a village in your community!
The Village Model
There are multiple examples of village models. There is an expression in our network, “if you have seen one village, you have seen one village.” Meaning, no two villages are the same. Models include, paid staff, all volunteer, parent sponsored and hub and spoke. Older americans are the diving force behind the village success. Not just for services, but also to have purpose in life and a sense of connection in our communities as we retire. Each village is unique and although they are focused on older adults, some are intergenerational and all accept people with disabilities.
In a recent study done by UC Berkley and Mather Lifeways, 62% of villages are working to help or impact the communities that they live. Advocacy in changes in services and programs, input on public policies, public awareness campaigns, improving accessibility/transportation and housing.
Villages are staking a claim in the aging services network. The network is ready for the next level of collaboration with health care providers, aging services agencies, faith communities and local, state and federal governments. Most villages started out as grassroots organizations, with heartfelt neighbors with a vision for a better way to age. Ten years into the movement we are discovering the need for long term strategic planning, operational support, marketing strategies, expanded revenue sources and a larger context for how villages contribute to the future of aging, locally, statewide and nationally. As Village Movement California claims, “In an age of self-organizing networks, Villages are a revolutionary idea whose time has come.”
Author --- Barbara Sullivan, Village to Village Network