I think most folks grew up with the saying “it takes a village.” Though no one is entirely certain where the adage originated, many posit that it was noted in reference to either African communities or Indigenous ones. Wherever the origin, (and whatever age the adage refers to) the idea lives on cross culturally today.
One of the most incredible examples emerged out of the Boston area in the early 2000’s, when an online retirement service organization let its residents, near and far, come together to age gracefully surrounded by friends.
Within the last two decades, the model has expanded westward, catching the attention of Jessica Reiter-Flax, now Executive Director of San Clemente Village in South Orange County.
The Village concept which started in San Clemente in 2014 as a hope that “neighbors would help neighbors” evolved to include full services two years later. The 100% volunteer driven membership organization provides services for local seniors ranging from transportation to appointments, grocery shopping, social outings to happy hours and help around the house. The average volunteer is 65 years young – looking for ways to give back.
Help Around the House
… and More!
“Sometimes they just have some extra time on their hands now that they’re retired themselves – most just want a really rewarding volunteer experience,” says Jessica. “The majority of our volunteers forge lasting friendships with our members.”
Things like Sunday brunch or a movie matinee may not seem like they make a huge difference in the overall cognitive, physical, or psychological success rates of older adults (aged 87, on average). But more than 70% of seniors want to remain in their homes as they age “and the Village helps them do just that. They can socialize easily, which reduces isolation, maintaining a state of continuous physical and mental well-being.”
“We hope to continue our geographic reach to include more South County cities in coming years,” says Jessica. “Part of the Village Movement California, San Clemente Village is the only full-service not-for-profit service Village in Orange County. There are more than 40 such organizations throughout the state – helping older adults live their best lives, and our volunteers are always ready to welcome new members into the fold.”
After all, at this point with a full roster of wellness initiatives, grocery store, technology assistance and even fall risk reduction preparedness, it really does take a village.