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Preparing for the Future with Ready or Not

By Julie Coveney
Posted: 03/25/2024

When I began my journey as a social work intern at Pasadena Village, I was unsure what my role would be. I was excited to be asked to join the Ready or Not committee to help create a program for advanced life planning. 

I soon found out it is an area most Americans feel strongly about. In fact, 56% of Americans believe that having a will is important, yet only 33% of Americans actually have a will in place (, 2024). One of the issues in getting started in the planning process can be the intimidating factor that one participant called “facing their fears.” However, one of the wonderful benefits of being a Villager is that you don’t have to face your fears or concerns alone.

With grant funding from the Pasadena Community Foundation, Pasadena Villagers created the Ready or Not program in order to face these concerns together! Ready or Not is a facilitated group workshop open to Pasadena Village members. The program currently consists of three in-person meetings, where participants have a chance to explore their end-of-life and future planning options in a safe and supportive environment. 

Each participant receives a Ready or Not notebook that contains sections such as an inventory of one’s current living situation, important contacts, helpful definitions, community resources, and a to-do list. This allows participants to list “an inventory of their lives,” in areas such as the make-up and management of household tasks, finances, and health and medical issues. They can then consider any concerns or challenges in these areas. The next step is to consider some possible solutions for those concerns. If an unforeseen event happens, how could these things be adjusted? What are some options to consider? While there is no way to predict the future, this workshop may give some direction as inevitable changes occur.

The program is facilitated by two Pasadena Village members who have already completed their planning notebooks. They guide the conversation as members complete each section and answer questions along the way. Participants discuss topics, ask questions, and sometimes spark ideas that can be helpful to others in the workshop.

One of the benefits I witnessed is the group-meeting style of the workshops, which allows support from peers. Members can share their experiences and challenges with other Villagers as they go through the process. Although it can be stressful to think about one’s end-of-life plans, facing it along with others can take some of the pressure off. One member I spoke with said that knowing they would return for a second meeting made them feel more likely to continue to work on their notebook at home. They said they felt an accountability to the others in the group to complete more sections in their notebook.

Although it is a group workshop, members can go at their own pace. The program is designed to be flexible. Participants have time to fill out parts of it during the workshop and continue to work on other sections outside of meetings while at home.

Many of the attendees of our first Ready or Not workshop voiced a feeling of accomplishment for completing the meetings. They said they felt better prepared for the future as a result of the program. Overall, they felt the process of participating with others in the process was an incredibly valuable experience.

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