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Joining the Village..

By Richard Myers
Posted: 09/15/2020

Contributed by Leni Fleming

I came into the Village as a volunteer about 5 years ago, with no intention of becoming a member. I was a Home Health RN/Case Manager, and Mike Babcock told me they could really use a volunteer with that particular background “at the Village.”

“What’s the Village?” I said, picturing some quaint, old-English mini-town.

“Have you heard of the Village Movement?” was Mike’s reply. I had not, but the word “Movement” caused the old hippie in me to prick up her ears.

 Mike proceeded to explain the Village concept (older adults continue to live in their own homes, forming a community together with the sole purpose of mutual support and friendship). I don’t think I actually levitated, but close to it: I was instantly enthralled, imagining what something like this could do for the seniors I visited in their homes for my job — many of whom were on their own. “I’m at that age when a lot of your friends are gone,” was a common statement. Or “I lost my only sibling last year.” Or “My kids want me to move to be near them, so I’ll have somebody.”

“We have a book club,” Mike told me. “There’s a women’s support group, and one for men. We have art exhibits, walking groups, pot luck dinners at people’s houses. A birdwatching group. Political discussions.”

“Stop, you’re killing me!” I yelled. Ok I didn’t, we were in a nice restaurant, but I was sold.

When I arrived soon thereafter to volunteer, I was added to a committee that gives special attention to Village Members’ well-being: if someone is going through a hard time, we try to find ways to support them. In pre-Covid days we made lots of visits to Villagers’ homes; now we make even more phone calls, we e-mail, we write letters. And this Committee is just one of many at the Village, keeping folks engaged with each other.

Did I say I had “no intention of becoming a member” when I began volunteering? That was true: I volunteered for 3 years before joining. What finally decided me were two things: first, I realized that every time I stopped by the Village I ended up in the most wonderful conversations with whatever random people happened to be there, which invariably improved my day. Second: my mother died, and the outpouring of kindness and affection I received made it clear that these were not just nice, interesting people I volunteered with…but true friends.

And that’s why I joined the Pasadena Village.

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