[email protected], a program for seniors who want to age well in the community, is celebrating its fourth anniversary this year.
[email protected] is a membership-based program of Ethos, a 44-year-old private, nonprofit organization that assists the elderly and disabled to live at home.
The program has attracted more than 115 members who share those goals, and it continues to grow. It opened membership to residents of the contiguous neighborhoods of Roslindale, West Roxbury, Hyde Park, Mission Hill, Roxbury and Brookline as well as JP a couple of years ago. (Sandra Storey, a Gazette columnist, helped co-found [email protected])
Like many members, JP resident David Malone says he and his wife Deborah joined “to have services available so as not to impose upon our children and to be safe in our home when we couldn’t manage parts of our lives. We never imagined the joy we have found in new friends, activities, and connections that add depth and meaning to our lives.”
[email protected] is part of what is called “The Village Movement,” a loose connection of more than 250 local membership groups for seniors that have sprung up around the country in recent years. The first one was Beacon Hill Village here in Boston.
Seniors are finding that benefits of belonging to [email protected] fall into two main categories: social and services. Members report a variety of reasons for their enthusiasm for the new local organization. More than 90 percent of people who have joined have renewed their membership each year.
Dozens of member-driven activities take place every month—including various walking groups, Climate Legacy, Current Affairs, Knitting and Needlework, Lasting Words (writing), Litera-Tour (reading and travel in New England), and Mindfulness and Meditation. A complete list with contact information is available to members on line and updated frequently.
“I love my Reading Aloud group,” says Rosemary Jones. “My fellow readers introduce me to writings I probably wouldn’t have found independently or might have overlooked at the bookstore.” She says she likes that members can propose and implement new activities.
Members can also ask for and be volunteers for tasks for one another—like driving someone to an appointment. Through the partnership with Ethos, members can also receive a free home check up as well as discounted case management and help with activities of daily living, if needed.
For people who need home maintenance and repair information or recommendations, [email protected] is an excellent resource.
Under both categories of social and support, one-time speakers and presentations are organized to help members. Some have been held on the topics of Medicare, de-cluttering and finances for retirement.
Communication consists of a monthly newsletter and a shared, closed online community as well as more informal connections made in person.
[email protected] members elect an advisory council every year that meets monthly and works with Ethos to oversee the program. The council has working committees for recruiting, social and services, one-time events and fundraising that members can join.
[email protected] began as an informal grassroots effort to bring seniors together to age well in their neighborhoods. A small group approached Ethos with their ideas, and Ethos agreed to umbrella the program on the model of Village Programs. An expanded organizing committee began recruiting members to join.
[email protected] and Village programs in general are for the large number of middle-income people who need to band together to be able to access programs and services they need as they age in community. Like other “Villages,” the program is supported by fees members pay and contributions from businesses and individuals.