Roslindale Neighbors: Former JPer starts Rozzie senior group

May 9, 2014
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A former longtime Jamaica Plain resident is creating a Roslindale senior group that seeks to keep aging residents in their home as long as possible.

Bill Allan, who has long been involved with senior affairs, lived in JP for more than 30 years before moving to Roslindale, where he began speaking with friends and neighbors about what services and support they would like and need to remain in their homes as they aged.

Those conversations spurred him to create Roslindale Village Elders. JP@Home, Jamaica Plain’s similar effort at keeping aging residents in their home that started last year, was also an impetus in establishing the Roslindale group.

JP@Home, which is affiliated with the longstanding elder services nonprofit Ethos, is planned as a co-op for a variety of social and medical services.

Allan and Susan Boyan, a member of the Roslindale Village Elders steering committee, jointly responded to series of Gazette questions via email where they discussed Allan’s background, the group and the challenges it faces.

“As the baby boomers reach their retirement years, the concept of ‘Aging in Place’ is frequently discussed,” they wrote in the email. “Bill Allan has a long history of working with elders and elder programs starting with Home Care in the 1970s and currently serving on the Ethos board of directors. He is very familiar with the philosophy of ‘independent living,’ which applies to both the elderly and people with disabilities.”

Allan is the former executive director of the Disability Policy Consortium.

Allan and Boyan said the Roslindale Village Elders is “in its infancy,” having held its first series of meetings last month.

They said the challenges the group faces include determining if enough people are interested in joining; deciding what services to offer and how to implement them; and pricing the membership so members receive value for their dues and feel invested in the association. The challenge of recruiting members is particularly an obstacle.

“People do not want to contemplate getting old, instead cherishing their personal status quo,” they said. “We’ve already heard the comment, ‘It’s a great idea, but I’m not ready yet,’ or ‘I don’t need it.’”

Allan and Boyan said they currently have an email list of 30 people interested in joining and have “great support” from the community, including Roslindale Village Main Street, Friends of the Roslindale Public Library and Roslindale City Councilor Tim McCarthy.

Despite the name, Roslindale Village Elders is not restricted to residents in the neighborhood. The group will hold a meeting May 22 at the Roslindale Branch of the Boston Public Library at 6 p.m.

“This effort is not a foregone conclusion,” said Allan and Boyan. “Roslindale Village Elders may or may not make it—but the effort is certainly worthwhile.”

For more information, visit roslindalevillageelders.org.

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