By James Bash
For the Hollywood Star News
It is probably fair to say that most people would like to stay in their homes as long as possible. But that desire might conflict with reality when seniors begin to have difficulties doing ordinary tasks. It’s a relief for them when a trusty relative or friend can bring the recycling to the street or put a box of Christmas ornaments in the attic. Fortunately, there’s a movement underway across the country that will help the elderly remain a little longer in familiar surroundings, and it’s starting to get traction in Northeast Portland. It’s called the Village movement, and it seeks to build a community of services that will help seniors age in place.
“The Village movement started about 15 years ago in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston,” explained Margaret Lovejoy Baldwin, who lives in the Rose City Park neighborhood. “A group of neighbors decided to provide services for each other so that they could live in their homes longer, the kinds of services that adult children would do, little chores like change the light bulbs, flip the mattress or provide some transportation. Those are things that become difficult to do when you might have balance issues.”
Baldwin, a retired school teacher, is careful to distinguish between services that a neighborhood Village might supply with the help of its volunteers, and services provided by other licensed agencies.
“The Village won’t duplicate services that are already available through the state, the city, the county or other non-profits,” added Baldwin. “But we would partner with some groups like Ride Connection. They only provide services until 4 p.m.”
Baldwin and Grant Park resident Joan Malling are spearheading the Village movement in Northeast Portland. They have given several presentations to local groups and already have a list of approximately 100 people who are interested in the concept.
The process would be initiated when “someone calls a Village resource person with a list of needs,” said Malling, who is a retired college administrator and businesswoman. “The resource person will know how to get the caller’s needs met through services provided by Village volunteers and references to licensed providers.”
“All of the volunteers and licensed providers will have background checks,” said Baldwin. “We will be confident that we won’t be ripping off our seniors.”
There will be a fee for anyone who joins and receives services. Baldwin and Malling estimate the cost at approximately $50 a month.
Each Village is defined by a geographical location so that volunteers don’t have to travel too far to pick up someone, for instance, and take them to the store. Baldwin and Malling think that the borders of a Village for Northeast Portland would extend from the Banfield Freeway to the Columbia River and from I-205 to Northeast 15th Avenue. They have proposed the name of Northeast Village PDX and have been working with Villages NW executive director Chana Andler.
One huge factor that leans favorably toward the Villages model is the Boomer generation. “Some people don’t want to move to a retirement facility,” said Malling. “Some don’t have the money, and there will probably not be enough retirement communities for all of the Boomers. So the idea of ‘aging in’ is resonating with a lot of people who are thinking about the future.”
Besides giving presentations, Baldwin and Malling are working on an assessment of the available services for Northeast residents plus an assessment of needs that local seniors have.
“Before Northeast Village PDX can become a reality, we have to do some fundraising,” remarked Baldwin. “We have legal things to get into place. We need to set up partnerships and get financial sponsors. We will be a non-profit and will need a board or affiliate with a current board. This is a grassroots effort, and it will probably take a couple of years before we are ready to go.”
For more information: Contact Margaret Lovejoy Baldwin at moc.l1511567368iamg@1511567368niwdl1511567368abyoj1511567368evolm1511567368 or Joan Malling at ten.t1511567368eerts1511567368ysae@1511567368gnill1511567368amj1511567368. Planning sessions take place every second Wednesday of the month at Rose City United Methodist Church, Northeast 57th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard. (See Calendar.)