Meeting attendees age 39 to 76 talk about creative living options

Money issues and fear of isolation were on the minds of two dozen people who showed up at the Forest Grove library Saturday afternoon for an informational meeting on Village Without Walls.

The nationwide "village" movement aims to resurrect old-fashioned community networks in order to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible. Village Without Walls is western Washington County's attempt at the model and is still in the early planning stages.

Board Members Kathy Foldes and Anne Dale spoke Saturday to a crowd of people aged 39 to 76 about what this new, creative assisted-living concept might mean in their lives.

On a practical level, such a village would help seniors with everything from gardening, shopping and transportation to household chores or tasks such as climbing up a ladder to change a light bulb.

According to the village model, fitter and healthier members help older, more frail members until the able ones began needing help themselves.

On a social level, the village would provide interaction and stiumlation from events such as book clubs, lectures and other programs.

The concept appealed to the people who gathered at the library Saturday, drawn by their own personal concerns.

One couple told a story about refinancing their home and then facing the reality of never being able to pay it off, even as old age approaches with added financial worries. A female audience member spoke of her father “outliving all his money,” leaving his estate in serious debt in his final years. She doesn't want her sole child placed in a similar situation.

Physical isolation was a concern for Sally Wentz and Tim Howell, who want to remain in their rural single-family home with their pets but see transportation as one of many issues they may face as they age and possibly become unable to drive. Two other couples shared similar thoughts and liked the idea of “aging in place” while sharing community.

“Hang together or hang separately,” another attendee quipped.

Len Grover said life in his mobile home park has changed as swelling numbers have transformed his neighborly community into “a bunch of strangers” who no longer rely on each other — causing him to experience emotional isolation.

Maintaining options while aging was a goal expressed by many attendees. After her children leave home, said Ann Olson, “It's a no-brainer to hook up with people for the greater good.”

John Hock said he viewed the Village Without Walls concept as a kind of resurrection of the commune ideas of the 1960s.

One woman in her 70s said she never thought she'd live this long and that she now must consider her future, while a couple sitting near her said they have longevity in their genes, along with a scattered family.

Common themes during the two-hour meeting included the desire for options, empowerment for people to live on their own terms, and the need to stay engaged with friends, neighbors and relatives — ideally in multi-generational neighborhoods.

Within the next few months Foldes and the board hope to spark interest through more information sessions like this one. They also want to conduct needs surveys and raise seed money. Eventually the nonprofit will form partnerships with businesses and other organizations.

It takes two to four years to launch a village and Village Without Walls is aiming to start sometime in 2015, according to the website.

Another informational meeting will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Hillsboro Library.

For more information or to volunteer, go to or or email Kathy Foldes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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