A national volunteer grassroots movement, aimed at helping seniors stay in their own homes as long as possible, has launched on Chincoteague. Known as The Village Neighbors movement, it has been spreading across the U.S., offering help with everything from rides to friendly home visits.
An island-wide survey went out in mid-November, sponsored by the non-profit Island Community House. The purpose of the survey was to assess the needs of island residents over 60, and to determine if there were enough potential volunteers to support a Village. Responses have been overwhelmingly positive.
The Village movement springs from the recognition that local government, families, neighbors, churches, and friends increasingly cannot meet all the needs of the rapidly growing senior population. One solution has been for communities to organize themselves to provide help in innovative ways.
“Each Village is unique,” explains Lisa Cannon, Board Chair for the Island Community House. “Although it is a national movement, each community decides what services are most needed and what their volunteers can provide.” She notes, “Villages are meant to add to and enhance what is available locally for seniors, not compete with or replace existing services.”
Cindy Faith, Director of the Island Community House since 2019, says she often receives calls from people who would like to volunteer in the very personal ways that a Village provides. “From the surveys, we are seeing our older residents request more social outlets and practical help in their homes, and we’ve already heard from more than 40 potential volunteers who want to be involved.”
The Island Community House, located in a renovated private home behind the Island Theater, opened in 2019, with the help of David Landsberger. The Island Community House currently hosts senior luncheons and bingo games, as well as yoga and art classes. Future activities at the Island Community House will include cooking classes in their commercial kitchen, lectures, and day trips.
Says Board Chair Cannon, “we’re encouraged by the wonderful response to the Village idea, and look forward to the next steps, including meeting with interested volunteers and focus groups. We want to make sure everyone is heard.” If you are interested in being a volunteer, a member or would like to donate or sponsor a member, visit our website at Village-Neighbors.org or contact
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