Local women hope to bring Villages NW to Clackamas County
For retirees, aging at home seems too good to be true, but the mission of Villages NW is to provide a network of volunteers who help people remain in their own neighborhoods.
Termed "villages," eight groups already are up and serving members in the Portland metro area, with two more offering activities and events while they develop.
Pat Carter and Kay Weaver are eager to bring the notion to the Milwaukie/Gladstone area, so the Clackamas County residents set up a meeting March 7 in Oak Grove to explain the village concept, and 23 people attended.
Because of the level of interest, they now have scheduled a second informational meeting at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 20, at the Oak Lodge Water Services Building, 14496 S.E. River Road, Oak Grove.
Lyn Trainer spoke at the March 7 meeting, explaining the organization to attendees. She noted that a village is not a physical site, but is instead a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping aging adults safely stay in their homes as long as they can.
Trainer knows all this firsthand, as she is a member of the River West Village in Southwest Portland, which formally launched five months ago, and is the co-chair of the governing council for that village.
She also is a Villages NW volunteer, and as a member of the Villages NW Board, she serves as the managing director of the organization.
To form a sustainable village, the goal is to have about 30 residents band together, appoint a board and assess membership fees. Villages are then run by volunteers and eventually paid staff.
Village members have access to volunteers who can help with simple household and outdoor tasks and can provide transportation to medical appointments and other destinations. Members also are given a list of discounted service providers, such as plumbers and electricians.
All volunteers are subject to a background check administered by Verified Volunteers and paid for by the village.
"Everyone signs a confidentiality agreement and must complete volunteer training provided by Villages NW," Trainer said.
Helping others, fees
"This is just a wonderful concept," Trainer said, adding that the organization seeks to "fill in the gaps" for members who need help.
If members need assistance with groceries, volunteers can connect them with an online home-delivery service, or can offer to drive members to the grocery store.
"If they have no money for food, we can set them up with Meals on Wheels," Trainer said. "If they feel uncomfortable going up and down stairs to do laundry, we can help with that."
Some members join a village simply to meet people and help others, Trainer said.
All members pay a monthly, tiered fee. A social membership is $25 per month and grants access to all social events within the village.
The full-service fee is $45 per month and includes up to three round-trip rides a week and access to all volunteers who provide assistance with home, yard and technology.
"It's a small fee, for what we are," Trainer said.
Each village manages its own funds, and a central nonprofit organization helps with accounting.
"Fees sustain the village; the money pays for insurance, background checks and member and volunteer materials," Trainer said.
Most villages set up an office for volunteers to meet and answer telephones, so one of the largest expenses is rent for that facility and to pay part-time staff to support volunteers.
"Once people retire from their jobs, they don't have the same network of friends, so the villages provide a whole group of people to get to know through members and volunteers," Trainer said.
The village "supplements the friends you already have and helps you do things you don't want to do by yourself anymore."
Carter and Weaver are anxious to get the process underway to form a village in the Milwaukie/Gladstone area.
"We want to make it happen here. Next year we want to be using those services," Carter said.
She noted that a friend of hers is a member of a metro-area village and recently needed help weeding. Volunteers came over and made quick work of the dandelions in her yard and even repaired a handrail.
Her friend also called on volunteers to change lightbulbs and move a refrigerator — all free of charge.
Weaver is attracted to the social aspect of the village concept, noting that members get together for coffee or for a walk.
"It's breaking the isolation," she said.
Carter is interested in the village concept because she wants to stay in her own home and put off the expense of more serious care as long as she can.
"I'm comfortable here with my friends and neighbors, and my kids are used to coming here," she said.
Weaver has been involved with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and has helped out with Oregon City-based Father's Heart Street Ministry.
Weaver wants to help get a local village started and added, "I want to make a difference in my own community."
It takes a village
What: Learn more about Villages NW at an informational meeting
When: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday,
Where: Oak Lodge Water Services Building, 14496 S.E. River Road, Oak Grove
More: Villages NW is part of a national organization called Village to Village Network, which formed in 2010 to support the village concept. The Village Movement started with Beacon Hill Village in Boston over 15 years ago, and today there are over 230 open villages and more than 130 in development in 45 states and the District of Columbia.
To learn more visit