Building a Village of Support

village-logo-for-websiteApproximately 8 months ago Village Santa Cruz reached out to the Volunteer Center and a new partnership was born.  This is a natural fit; let me tell you why.

Village Santa Cruz members help each other to remain living in our homes and connected to our community as we age. Based on a national model, Village SC promotes member volunteerism and connects people through social and community engagement, in order to decrease isolation and loneliness.

Within Village Santa Cruz we’re forming Community Circles so neighbors can support neighbors. We want to debunk the notion that as we age we stop being useful; that our lives become meaningless. Typically, about 70% of Village members volunteer.

We share the Volunteer Center’s value for engaging all individuals in community transformation and their senior services programs align with our goal to keep seniors connected to their community in a meaningful way. The Volunteer Center’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) connects seniors age 55 and older with non-profit agencies that need volunteers.  Our volunteers can join RSVP and get the training offered to RSVP folks.

Additionally, we can point our members to Volunteer Center programs like Helping Hands Senior Home Repair Program, while Village SC members can volunteer to extend their services, such as at our Work Party groups, where members tackle an elder’s deferred home maintenance list, checking off several items, in an upbeat atmosphere of comradery.

Not surprising, transportation is a big issue for elders. Driving becomes harder as some natural aging processes kick in. Our pupils shrink and are less responsive to light, making night driving difficult. We lose some of our peripheral vision and our reaction time slows. Many seniors struggle to have their transportation needs met through our county public transportation system.  So if you can’t drive how do you stay independent and connected?

Village SC will connect our members with the Volunteer Center’s Transportation Program.  If a ride need is beyond the capacity of  the Transportation Program, our members can step in to expand a person’s options. Additionally, we plan to set up a carpooling system, so volunteers can drive others to all our activities.

We’ve held several ‘Meet & Greets’, so people can get together with folks who live in their area, and discuss what we each want and need in order to age in place. For example, aside from needs for home safety and transportation, we’ve heard from folks that they are looking for ways to remain connected and companions to attend outside events, like the Symphony or Shakespeare SC.

Our goal is a vibrant, caring community, with neighbors of all ages helping each other and we are proud to partner with the Volunteer Center in this shared goal. They are currently serving as our fiscal agent as we establish ourselves as a new non-profit in Santa Cruz County.

Want to know more about Village SC? Check out our website and join us at one or all of our upcoming events.

FUNraising Dine out at Cafe Cruz_August 9th

Presentation & Discussion: Sharing Housing as We Age, Aug. 17

FUNraising: AgeofLove film, Sept. 10

Villages-Mary-howeBlog post written by Village Santa Cruz Co-Founder Mary Howe. After working for 26 years at UCSC   maintaining and repairing instrumentation, Mary  found a new passion in retirement: Village Santa Cruz. When she is not working and playing with ‘The Village People’, she and her husband Don enjoy road trips in their RV and hanging out with their two marvelous granddaughters. 

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