The Village Movement
Bring Villages to Your Central Ohio Neighborhood
Village Connections serves the Columbus neighborhoods of German Village, Schumacher Place, Merion Village, The Brewery District and parts of downtown. We would like to see every neighborhood have their own "Village" so we wrote a one page guide to get interested folks started.
Who We Are
Village Connections is an urban, community based non-profit organization that empowers members to lead an active and engaged lifestyle in their own homes as they age. By providing a network of high quality volunteers and resources for members’ evolving needs, this grass roots organization offers information and referrals to cost effective services and activities designed to enhance members’ health and wellness, support their social, educational, and cultural interests, and foster member to member volunteer support.
Village Connections in Columbus, Ohio mobilizes residents of several historic, urban neighborhoods who wish to stay in their homes as long as possible as they age. It also activates neighborhood volunteers who assist members with transportation and minor household chores and screens vendors who provide discounted home maintenance, home care, and other services. In addition, Village Connections develops strategic civic, corporate, educational, and health alliances to deliver services and programs, to stretch resources, and to rigorously evaluate its program outcomes. Volunteers and vendors are carefully vetted by Village Connections staff.
Spearheaded by long term German Village residents, Village Connections is an innovative program and the first of its type in Ohio. However, the village’s strategic plan and initial budget are informed by a systematic review of the best practices of a growing number of other successful Villages. With considerable help from the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging, the members of the German Village Society’s Long Range Planning Committee extensively researched the best practices of successful villages across the United States.
All members receiving services are at least 50 years of age and pay annual dues of $500 per person or $750 annually for a two-person household. As funds allow, annual dues are reduced to $100 for members with documented financial need. Because active villages have not supported all operating expenses with membership income, fundraising is important for village sustainability.
The success of Village Connections depends on a sustained and satisfied membership, delivery of quality, affordable services, maintenance of strategic partnerships, successful fundraising, careful selection and oversight of vendors and the recruitment, training, and retention of many volunteers.
How We Started
In 2012, the oldest of the Baby Boomers turned 65 and many more are quickly approaching senior citizen status. Even though many individuals would like to avoid facing the reality of aging, communities must prepare for the 72 million, approximately one out of every five people in the U.S., who will be at least 65 years old by 2030.
According to a 2011 AARP report, seniors are facing retirement challenges their parents did not. They have more debt and fewer pensions, and many have no savings. Moreover, following the 2008 recession, their housing values had decreased, interest rates are low, and government and non-profit resources were dwindling. There is also significant uncertainty about the future of Medicare and the Affordable Health Care for America Act. In 2010, the Kaiser Foundation reported that only 10% of seniors have long term care insurance. In addition to the economic challenges, many aging boomers do not have the support traditionally provided by extended families, since fewer family members live near one another.
In surveys of older adults, 90% strongly wanted to stay in their own homes and communities. Current seniors, as well as those who will soon be seniors, want to "age in place.” Village Connections is part of a movement of Villages that has developed across the country to help achieve that goal. While each Village is different, all focus on providing a rich array of services and programs. Villages also represent a welcome, cost-effective way for citizens to take personal responsibility during an era of declining public resources. The best known "Village" is Beacon Hill Village, started in Boston in 2001. Beacon Hill Village has now grown to more than 300 members, serves four neighborhood communities and has served as a catalyst for the national Village Movement.
The inspiration that led to a groundswell of support for Village Connections came from long term residents of German Village and the German Village Society’s Long Range Planning Committee. Many long term residents told Village founders that they strongly want to age in their historic homes in their special neighborhood. They also want to stay connected, engaged and healthy.
In February 2010 one such resident asked the German Village Society to consider establishing an aging in place community program modeled after the successful Beacon Hill Village. Nationwide, more than 65 Villages are operating and over 120 are in various planning stages. Many Villages have been recognized as exemplary community collaborations helping older Americans remain in their homes as they age, improve the quality of their lives, and save money in the process.
The German Village Society’s Long Range Planning Committee carefully researched the national Village movement, reviewed local census data, surveyed residents, conducted roundtable discussions with interested neighbors, and consulted with Village directors in similar communities. During project planning, two of the Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.) Village founders visited German Village as consultants. To establish best practices, planners studied the business models and operations of a number of existing villages. The German Village group also joined the national Village to Village network and participated in statewide Village development activities organized by the Ohio Department on Aging.
In February 2012, the German Village Society’s trustees extended support by agreeing to act as the 501 (c)(3) fiscal agent for pilot grants and donations while the Village Connections secured its own tax exempt status. The Society has also graciously provided office and meeting space.