Last updated in November 2018
In 2001 a handful of older residents of Beacon Hill became concerned about how they would stay in their neighborhood and their homes into their 80s and 90s. This led to the founding of the country’s first elder village, Beacon Hill Village, a volunteer neighborhood group designed to provide social connections and practical assistance to older adults. There are now hundreds of these villages in the U.S., with many more in development. Some cover an entire county, others focus on small, often walkable neighborhoods.
Each village offers a range of services and benefits, from finding teenagers to play chess with residents to helping with grocery shopping. Typically, a small tax-deductible fee (usually $100 to $500 a year, with many villages offering scholarships for lower-income residents) lets members take advantage of benefits like rides to medical appointments, dog-walking, yard work, home fix-ups, and tech assistance. The most active villages also offer social activities like book clubs and walking groups.
If there’s no village in your area, you can help found one. You’ll need to:
- Organize a group of nearby neighbors interested in staying in their homes.
- Visit vtvnetwork.org to learn about the village model and for referrals to other resources.
- Decide on a geographic area you’d like to cover. Many active villages serve smaller walkable neighborhoods; some encompass whole counties.
- To avoid duplicating services already offered for free or almost free by local governments, talk to local councils or agencies on aging (click for a list of those resources). Also find out if your local aging agencies have policies or programs to encourage village-forming.
- Evaluate whether you’d like to operate the village as a primarily volunteer operation (lower operating costs and lower membership fees) or a staffed organization. Volunteer villages often grow into staffed villages as membership increases.
- Can you establish a brick-and-mortar headquarters, or do you want to run the village remotely? Again, both have advantages and disadvantages. Having a physical location often benefits members, but it can be expensive.
- You can sign up for a six-month Opportunity Member Trial Membership with the Village to Village Network for $125, with access to its library of documents, webinars, toolkits, and other resources. (Regular memberships cost $425/year per village.)
- Sign up with the Village to Village Network mentor program to get an experienced organizer to help you plan and develop your village (included in Opportunity Member fee).
Below, we list the active villages we could find for the Boston area. Did we miss any? Have an update to the info we collected? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll try to keep this list up to date.
Elder Villages in the Boston Area
Beacon Hill Village
- 74 Joy Street, Boston, 617-723-9713, beaconhillvillage.org
- Serves residents age 50+ from Fenway to the waterfront and from the South End to the Charles River: neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Downtown/Waterfront, Fenway/Kenmore, Midtown, North, South, and West Ends
- Service referrals, discounts, social and cultural events, day trips, transportation, errands, technology assistance, fitness and wellness classes
- Annual membership fees: $675 individual, $975 household; reduced annual membership fee by application: $110 individual, $160 household
- 93 Winchester Street, Brookline, 617-730-2777, brooklinecan.org
- Serves residents age 50+ of Brookline and other communities upon request
- Service referrals, discounts, information on social/educational/cultural/fitness events in the community, transportation, meal services, medical appointment companions, in-home help, and volunteer opportunities
- Annual membership donations: $35 individual, $55 household; discounted annual fee $10 (for households with income under $35,000)
- 545 Concord Avenue, Suite 104, Cambridge, 617-864-1715, cambridgeneighbors.org
- Serves residents age 50+ of Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Somerville, and Watertown
- Service referrals, discounts, social/cultural/educational programs, grocery shopping, health and wellness classes, transportation, friendly visits, household chores, and technology assistance
- Annual membership fees: Full service $1,000 individual, $1,300 couple; social membership $500 individual, $650 couple; reduced-fee (based on eligibility) $100 individual, $200 couple; discounts available for those who provide volunteer help
Carleton-Willard at Home
- P.O. Box 936, Bedford, 781-276-1910, cwathome.org
- Serves residents age 65+ of Bedford, Carlisle, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, and Winchester
- Service referrals, meal delivery, transportation, cultural and social events, exercise opportunities, and discounted health services
- Annual membership fees: $665 individual, $935 household
Coastal Neighbors Network (CNN)
- P.O. Box 80073, South Dartmouth, 508-556-4004, coastalneighborsnetwork.org
- Serves residents age 50+ of Dartmouth
- Transportation, cultural and social events, medical and healthcare referrals, book groups, friendly visits, and light home maintenance
- Annual membership fees: $660 individual, $900 household; social membership: $350
Greater Newburyport Village
- P.O. Box 58, Newburyport, 978-206-1821, greaternewburyportvillage.org
- Serves residents mostly over the age of 55 of Newburyport, Newbury, West Newbury, Amesbury, Salisbury, and Rowley
- Transportation, errands, light home maintenance and chores, service referrals, technology assistance, friendly visits, social and cultural events, educational and recreational activities, and volunteer opportunities
- Annual membership fees: $300 individual, $450 household
- P.O. Box 1006, Groton, 978-272-0123, grotonneighbors.org
- Serves adult residents of Groton
- Transportation, reading aloud, errands, walks, friendly calls and visits, light home and outdoor maintenance, help with paperwork, appointment making, household chores during short term recovery periods, and technology assistance
- Annual membership fee: $120 individual
- 555 Amory Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-522-9042, www.ethocare.org/jphome
- Serves older middle income adult residents of Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury, Mission Hill, Hyde Park, Roxbury, and Brookline
- Discounted rates for Ethos services, referrals to service providers, in-home needs assessments, home safety inspections, and social, health, and wellness activities
- Annual membership fees: $495 individual, $845/household, $345 individual social
Lexington at Home
- Serves residents of Lexington
- Service referrals, short-term assistance (with transportation, meals, errands, and pets), friendly visits, social and cultural events, interest groups, and volunteer opportunities
- Annual membership fee: $25 individual
Newton at Home
- 206 Waltham Street, West Newton, 617-795-2560, newtonathome.org
- Serves residents of Newton age 60 and up
- Service referrals, discounts, transportation, minor home repairs and maintenance, set out/take in trash barrels, errands, friendly check in calls and visits, technology assistance, paperwork assistance, organizing, social outings, small appliance repair workshops, interest groups, exercise activities, educational courses, absent homeowner checks, winter buddy program, gardening and yard help.
- Annual membership fees: $725/individual, $850/household, a limited number of reduced-price memberships available to those with modest incomes
- P.O. Box 231, Northampton, 413-341-0160, northamptonneighbors.org
- Serves residents in the city of Northampton age 55 and up
- Service referrals, transportation, technology assistance, friendly visits and phone calls, interest groups, organizing help, pet care, note-taking at medical appointments, simple repairs, small chores, social and cultural events, and end-of-life planning and support
- No membership dues, funded by donations
Reading Neighbors Network
- Serves residents of Reading
- Resource referrals, social events, occasional short-term support (errands and transportation), and volunteer opportunities.
- Annual membership fee: $25 individual
- 888 Worcester Street, Suite 260, Wellesley, 781-283-0417, wellesleyneighbors.org
- Open to residents of Dover, Natick, Needham, Wellesley, and Weston
- Service referrals, transportation, technology assistance, speaker series, interest groups, errands, social and cultural events, Wellesley College partnership with access to the College Club, and volunteer opportunities
- Annual membership fees: $410 individual, $540 household. Discounted memberships for anyone who qualifies for financial assistance.