Rivers East Village celebrates launch
Kay Weaver thinks The Beatles said it best in their song lyrics: "I get by with a little help from my friends."
And she thinks all people's lives are improved by social contact with friends and the community. That's why she is an enthusiastic proponent of the village concept.
Two years ago, Weaver and a group of community members discovered there was a national movement made up of neighbors helping neighbors. They learned that a village is not a place, but is instead a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping aging adults avoid isolation, remain active in their community, and safely staying in their homes as long as possible.
Fast forward to 2020, and Rivers East Village is celebrating the launch of a new village and hopes the community will turn out at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at Rose Villa to support the organization.
At the event, attendees will have the opportunity to sign up to be volunteers or members of the village. There also will be plenty of literature describing the village concept.
"We have Jonathan Nicholas as our emcee, we'll have a ribbon cutting, and we'll recognize people who have been instrumental in making this happen," Weaver said.
The name Rivers East Village was chosen because the service area, covering Milwaukie, Gladstone and Oak Grove, is bounded on two sides by rivers, the Clackamas and the Willamette. As previously reported, a similar group called Village at the Falls would offer services in Oregon City, Beavercreek and Redland.
During the process of getting Rivers East Village ready to launch, the steering committee has engaged in community outreach. They supported activities at the Milwaukie Center, toured Bob's Red Mill, and connected with the community in local coffee shops and restaurants, said Weaver, who is chairman of the steering committee.
All are welcome to come to the launch event, including people who might become future members or volunteers or both, she said.
The biggest challenge in setting up the village has been getting people to volunteer to do the paperwork to put everything in place, Weaver said.
What has been most rewarding is meeting potential members and conversing with them in their homes.
"We learned about their lives and how they don't want to lean on their families all the time. It was pretty uplifting," she said.
There are many membership advantages, Weaver said, pointing to interaction with people as one of the biggest positives, along with the "pleasure in being part of something to support social connections."
Weaver is both a member and a volunteer and said that at her level of membership she is entitled to four services a month. These could include rides to appointments and having someone help with grocery shopping or routine tasks.
If she experiences a medical emergency, she can get 90 days of upgrades for no extra charge, Weaver said.
As for why the village needs to charge fees, she pointed out that infrastructure is expensive.
"We have a computer system to match need with a volunteer; we do background checks on all our volunteers," Weaver said.
"Our designated drivers go through training with the National Safety Council and they have to take a behind-the-wheel driving test. That's a real plus, but it costs money," she said.
Weaver also noted that Rivers East Village gives some money to the village Hub in Portland to coordinate with other villages.
"They helped us get ready in two years," when it usually takes more time to make a village a reality, Weaver said.
A full membership includes 12 services a month; an associate membership provides four services per month and access to all member events and interest groups.
"We do have discounts for hardship and a payment plan," Weaver said, adding that a whole month of services is cheaper than one Uber ride.
She also noted it is important that volunteers be called on, because if they aren't asked to provide services, they will find something else to do.
Now that Rivers East Village is up and running, Weaver said she is looking forward to "improving situations for our neighbors who otherwise might have to move away. Now they have folks who will help them."
Visit the village
What: Rivers East Village
When: 3-5 p.m. Saturday, March 7
Where: Rose Villa Performing Arts Center, 13505 S.E. River Road, Oak Grove
Details: Learn more about becoming a member of Rivers East Village. Refreshments will be served and a shuttle will be available from River Road to the venue.
Rivers East Village is a member of Villages NW and the nonprofit Hub & Spoke Network.
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 vtvnetwork.org.
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