Why a Village for Lamorinda
The older models of nursing homes and assisted living facilities are essentially designed to take care of us as we age, to make safe and wise choices for us, and to oversee where and how we live. “They” make the decisions. The Village concept is based on empowering people, giving us options and choices, giving us control over our lives, and allowing us to create how and where we wish to age.
Villages are Grassroots, Membership Organizations
Villages are designed at the local level by people who want to create better ways to take care of themselves. They are designed by and for all people over a certain age – in our case it is 55 – not just the frail, the very old, the poor, or the very rich, but all of us. We believe that we all need a little help now and then, and as we age, we will probably need more help. Secondly, we know that membership is a powerful tool. Being a member of an organization can give one a sense of ownership and involvement that is constructive and engaging.
Villages are Self-governing
The board of directors is drawn from the local community, not from professional caregivers or the social service sector. In consultation with committees of Village members and the community, board members set policies, create activities, and are responsible for the health of the organization. The staff executes policies and carries out the day-to-day operations of the organization.
Villages are Self-supporting, Nonprofit Organizations
Each Village obtains its own nonprofit status and creates its own governing documents. Funds to establish the Village come from private sources, individual contributions, community organizations, and in the case of Lamorinda Village from the Joseph and Vera Long Foundation.
Villages are maintained and sustained by three sources: membership fees, community support, and foundations.
Villages are Consolidators of Services
A basic operating principle in the Village movement is to use the resources that exist already in the community. Generally everything one needs to be healthy, safe, and connected is a telephone call away – if you know where to call. The Village creates a highly centralized and personalized referral system. Village members need to call only one number, the Village’s, to access a world of information and services. All providers are thoroughly screened and many providers offer to members discounts, arranged by the Village.
Villages Care for the Whole Person
Villages are designed to promote healthy aging across the board: socially, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. They are not hindered by the restrictions of their funders or limited in the types of service delivered. Villages strive to honor every request for help; nothing is too frivolous, too unimportant, or too much. Hence, the Village is completely consumer-driven
Villages have Strategic and Community Partners
Lamorinda Village has formed partnerships with institutions and organizations that provide substantial backing and services: St. Mary’s College, the Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda Libraries, John Muir Health, and Senior Helpline Services to name just a few. The relationships between the Village and its partners may be contractual, informal, or constantly evolving, but they are always mutually beneficial.
Villages are Driven by Volunteers
The work of establishing a Village, of directing a Village, and of sustaining a Village is all done by volunteers, members of the community who take on the responsibility for executing this new paradigm. Volunteers form the board of directors and committees, volunteers coordinate community outreach programs, and are the critical component that provides services to members.
These seven elements are key factors in the development and operation of Lamorinda Village. But a Village exists only to give its members what they want. Members define the activities by serving on the program committee, signing up (or not) for events, and by offering suggestions. Members define the services we offer by their requests and by suggesting new providers.