To establish and support local communities of members, multigenerational volunteers, and service providers to enable seniors to remain living at home with an enhanced quality of life by facilitating access to affordable support services, social connections, and enrichment opportunities as initiated by its members and in cooperation with existing programs.
In September 2014, a project was launched that aspires to develop virtual villages for seniors in the Bergen-Passaic area. The village concept, for which Village to Village Network (VtVNetwork) provides a blueprint (Village 101 Toolkit) and ongoing support, is a grassroots, not-for-profit, fee-based membership, concierge service to support seniors to age in place — but not alone — as part of an intergenerational virtual village community (www.vtvnetwork.org). Members of the North Jersey Villages' (NJV) steering committee are also members of the VtVNetwork.
The North Jersey Villages Steering Committee is continuing to explore the feasibility of developing villages in this geographic area, identifying the assets and gaps in services and establishing the necessary infrastructure. Potential pilots are towns currently participating in the Age-Friendly Communities initiative with which NJV is partnering.
VillagesNW in Oregon (www.villagesnw.org) is a model of what NJV is striving to become: a hub supporting spoke virtual villages throughout Bergen and Passaic counties. VillagesNW is sustained by a large pool of partners in addition to membership fees, and promotes volunteer time banking (accruing volunteer hours in exchange for services). There is assistance available for those who cannot afford membership cost.
Benefits of a Membership in a Village
- Assistance in accessing and augmenting existing services (i.e., local transportation, social and educational activities and trips, health and wellness programs, safety checks, home repairs and remodeling for aging in place, as well as daily living assistance as needed)
- Access to vetted and discounted service providers
- Stimulating thinking about and accessing avenues to affordable housing options (i.e., shared and co-housing), new hobbies, travel opportunities, and more
- Phone concierge service available for members who are not computer savvy to assist them in accessing information about events or services
- Access to a small paid staff and/or volunteers dedicated to a member's local virtual village of no more than 125 members (and limited by maintaining a workable ratio of staff/volunteers to members/levels of service provided within a village).
- Insurance of benefits when needed and providing a sense of belonging rather than "seeking a handout" when using benefits
- Volunteer opportunities to help other members and/or to build and maintain their local village
- Increasing contact with others within the community
- Member's volunteer hours can be banked to be used in the future for services or programs
- Levels within Membership can reflect levels of participation desired or services required
Board of Directors
Katherine A. Kuzma, President
Janet Chen, Treasurer
Terry VanDelden, Secretary
Timothy D. Luing, Director
George M. Kuzma, Director
Jay VanDelden, Director