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Village Connect Gathering

On Monday September 23 we gathered together for our first "Village Connect" & Third Anniversary celebration. 42 Members, Volunteers, and guests celebrated the many accomplishments of the Village of the Coastside and planned for the future.

After introductory remarks by Judy Macias, President of the Board, Joyce Logan thanked volunteers for their contributions.  We then met in small groups where four of our Teams (Membership, Volunteers, Finance and Leadership shared an overview of their responsibilities and asked:  What worked or was helpful for you in this Team' area? What suggestions do you have for this Team to help us be succeed in the future.

Introductory Remarks

Welcome Members, Volunteers, Supporters, Donors and Prospective Members.

I am Judy Macias, proud President of the Village of the Coastside. We launched the Village of the Coastside on  Oct. 1, 2016, with about 70 Founding Members. Many of you are here today. We had spent the two previous years - 2014 and 2015 -- planning, researching, and holding community meetings in various locations on the Coast . We also designed and administered an online survey - the Retirement Dilemma Survey -- which was answered by more than 350 older adults over age 50.  It was their informative and the positive feedback that convinced us that we were on the right track. We designed our programs and services around your responses to the Survey. Villages are grass roots bottom-up organizations. We're powered and led by our members and volunteers like you.

On Oct. 1, the Village of the Coastside begins our fourth year. We are growing slowly but steadily and stand today at 80 members. Welcome to our guests today.   

And a special thanks to all the people and organizations that helped us along the way. Senior Coastsiders who acted as our fiscal sponsor for more than two years while we got our own non-profit status, and to the City Council for giving us a small grant to help us get off the ground. A big thanks to the HMB Library for hosting our programs and others, like the Chamber, community members, businesses and other Villages, who have shared their time, expertise and support.
But the biggest thanks to the Members and Volunteers of Village of the Coastside. You were the early adopters who took a leap of faith and supported a new Movement with your dues and with your time and participation. When you consider that the first Village, Beacon Hill in Boston, was established nearly 20 years ago, you realize that the Village model was way ahead of its time and an important part of the Revolution on Aging which is well underway across the U.S.

Villages are in the national spotlight. I just returned from the National Village in Chicago which was attended by 140 Villages across the U.S. and by many people who are interested in creating new Villages in their community.  There was even an attendee from Auckland, New Zealand. Why?  Villages are a great model for the Forgotten Middle as we are called now. Villages offer great value to members and represent an important constituency. 40,000 people now belong to Villages in the U.S., and about 8,000 in California. We can become powerful advocates for the services we lack: Transportation, housing, health care, etc. US Public health officials have declared that social isolation is a public health emergency. Villages are an antidote to social isolation. We offer connection, safety, purpose and meaning in later life.

We help build independence and self-reliance. Communities and governments in particular are not prepared for the dramatic demographic changes that are coming. There are more people over the age of 55 now than under 18. The 85+ age group is the fastest growing age group and the economic reality for many isn't good.  Many people will be unable to afford assisted living or long-term care. Theree isn't much of a safety net out there. Aging in Place is our best bet but home can also be very isolating, if we let it!  

Villages offer social connections and access to resources like transportation. Villages are a cost-effective, scalable solution. And people are noticing and wanting to work with Villages at the National Level.  AARP was the major sponsor at the National Village Conference along with many new vendors who brought some exciting new technologies to the Conference. I have materials from the Conference that I'll display and I'd be glad to talk to you about the Conference later.

Terry Plank also attended a very interesting conference this week in San Francisco. It was the kick-off meeting for the California Master Plan on Aging which was launched by Gov. Newsom this year. A task force has been named to study what California needs to do to prepare for 2030 when half the population will be over 50. Some of the things that stood out for Terry: Aging in place is the solution;  The expression "Older adult" was always used instead of "SENIOR". Caregiving will fall increasingly on family and friends because paid caregivers are unable to live in the Bay Area. There will be a need for caregiving training. It is important to combat ageism because it relates to employment, health care and many other areas where redefining aging and advocating for older adults.    

How are we doing at the local level?  VOTC is maintaining and increasing membership.  WE continue to have more Members than Members Plus). What's the difference between a Member and a Member Plus? Members participate in all activities and often volunteer.  Members Plus participate in all social activities but may also request transportation, light housekeeping and gardening and other personal services in the home.  

We have increased our name recognition and visibility. This is important to our expansion and credibility in the community.  I hope you saw the article in the HMB Review three weeks ago about Villagers on the Road. It was a feature written by volunteer and professional writer Deborah Harter-Williams about the friendship and travel of our two members Janet Crist-Whitzel and Maureen Szostak. We hope that the story encourages more people to seek membership in VOTC and expand their circle of friendship and support as they age in place.  It takes planning and effort to create the support we all need to age in place successfully.  The greatest gift that members bring to the Village is the relationships and friendship.  We connect at the coffee hour, at movie night, by giving a Member Plus a ride or by serving on a team together. We are building friendships by playing Pickle Ball or Bocce, engaging in the community, feeling valued, confident and in charge of our lives!  

We are striving to become the thought leaders for questions and issues about aging in place on the Coastside.  Our website contains valuable information and resources about every aspect of aging. Check out the "About Us" section. In October, a new team will start to work on an Aging in Place project. We'll define the elements that are needed to age in place successfully and will identify the resources that are available to help us during the various stages of aging. Maybe we don't need help now but most of us will at some point. We assume the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared.  We also continue to advocate for better public and private transportation for older adults, more health care options and the need for retirement housing.

The Village is the squeaky wheel for older adults in our area. We work hard to learn all we can and to be well informed and able to represent the needs of older adults on the Coastside.

The Village of the Coastside has built a social infrastructure that responds to the needs of its members, volunteers and supporters: the need to be known and recognized, to make a contribution, to teach, to learn, to ask for help, to give meaning and shape to our lives. We honor our members' desire to preserve their sense of agency and choice at a time when they may feel it is diminishing. Questions arise about care planning, maintaining mobility, acquiring technology and staying relevant in a rapidly changing world, and shifting identities. Together we're exploring the challenges and opportunities that could liberate us. We're deeply grateful for your commitment to the Village ideal and the many ways you're helping us build this life-affirming model for social change.

Let's congratulate ourselves on three great years with an ever better one to come!!

Volunteers Presentation
Volunteers are the heart of the Village. Although we tell them all the time we love them, we want to take a minute to recognize two types of volunteers (that often may overlap each other) They are Village  leadership volunteers and service volunteers.

Leadership are those who serve on the Board and the various Teams. - Please raise your hands

Now the Service volunteers are those folks - both members and non- members - who provide our  PLUS members with rides up and down the coastside and sometimes over the hill for medical appts., or they may go into our members' homes to provide various types of assistance needed to help us when we have a medical event or just to help us Age in Place - we'll talk about the specifics of those services later in our interactive segment - but we want to highlight that 275 services have been done just this past year and over 650 since our launch in 2016. Please raise your hands.
Member Ideas Shared

A representative of each team (Membership, Events, Volunteers, Leadership) gave an overview of their responsibilities and asked for feedback about: What worked or was helpful for you and what suggestions do you have for this Team to help us succeed in the future?


Membership: Friendships & Connections!!! 

Suggestions: Better connections with churches; give gift certificates as incentive for recruiting new members; provide scholarships to members.



We like walks and hikes, Happy Hour, Village Conversations, Symphony and Museum visits, Aging Discussion group, informational presentations about topics important to members.

Suggestions: More Village Conversations (geriatrics, nutrition, insurance); instruction on games, card games; book group on age related issues; interest groups to share member talents, hobbies and pastimes; include the difficulty level for  walks and hikes so members can assess their ability to accomplish it; plan a BART outing so we can learn to use it; members willing to drive a van for day trips; educational activities for mental stimulation; connect with/support local schools;   


Volunteers: We like tech help, home repairs, member-recommended referrals, gardening advice.

Suggestions: Offer home safety assessments, house check for vacationers, Online message board for members. Other service ideas included some which already exist. HICAP (Medicare) consultations, computer education, companionship, in-home visit, relief for caregivers.  Call or contact Cathy, Village Concierge, for more information. 650-440-5030 or


Leadership: Every Village member is an Ambassador; good idea to concentrate on Aging in Place issues, especially transportation, housing and health care.

Suggestions:  print on all materials; post more information on VOTC in public places.

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