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Village Neighbors

Helping residents over age 60 in Shutesbury, Leverett, Wendell, and New Salem
stay connected and age independently at home.

413-345-6894, PO Box 501, Shutesbury, MA 01072

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 Village Neighbors Launch Party October 2018

It all began in early 2016, with Shutesbury resident Susan Rice’s reading of the book “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. This was the book featured in a town- and area-wide public library read. Touched by the book’s wisdom of intentionally cultivating meaningful connection to our neighbors as we age, she began getting to know her neighbors better-- and discovered she loved the process.

Susan’s warm enthusiasm sparked the imagination of David Dann, a neighbor and also Chair of the Shutesbury Council On Aging. Soon 6-10 neighbors began getting together regularly to consider the realities of growing older in our rural and sparsely- populated towns: what might we need to put in place to support ourselves and our elders growing older at home?

This group soon became formalized into the Aging-In-Place Taskforce, a sub-committee of the Shutesbury Council On Aging. Residents in the neighboring towns of Wendell, Leverett and New Salem were invited to join the exploration of what community-based program models were working well in other rural towns across the country.

In April 2016, a gentleman from the Monadnock-at-Home organization in New Hampshire was invited to a taskforce meeting. He presented a compelling case for the Village-to-Village model, a national non-profit network that offers practical resources for starting-up new “villages”. His heartfelt stories of the ways people in his area were connecting to help one another inspired the taskforce to actually begin the work of starting-up our own local version.

A series of very many in-person meetings and discussions ensued. With the help of the Village-to-Village network website materials, a program infrastructure was assembled, a mission statement was crafted, and the name “Village Neighbors” was chosen.

In March 2017, Village Neighbors was invited by Lifepath, the Area Agency on Aging, to apply for a Community Services Special Projects grant. In April, a grant of $15,000 was awarded to Village Neighbors to cover the start-up costs of setting up a 501c(3) non-profit organization.

During the next year and a half, thoughtful volunteer residents in all 4 towns met for more conversations around kitchen tables and town hall tables. A shared sense of care and concern for the ongoing well-being of our elders and of one another sustained a vibrant spirit of collaboration. These relationships became the heart of the organization.

October 2018 saw the formal, public roll-out of Village Neighbors. This new connecting hub kindled great excitement for everyone present. Now we had organized new ways for good-hearted, capable neighbors to offer caring assistance to our elders living at home. Brochures and membership packets were distributed. People signed on to become members and/or volunteers. The work of building practical, volunteer support for growing older in our beloved rural towns, had begun. We are a member of the Village to Village Network, linking it with over 200 open Villages and more than 150 Villages under development across the United States.

ISigning up at Village Neighbors Launch
New members signing up at Village Neighbors launch