In 2001 a handful of older residents of Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood 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 Chicago area. Did we miss any? Have an update to the info we collected? Email us at editors@checkbook.org. We’ll try to keep this list up to date.

 

Elder Villages in the Chicago Area


Arbor West Neighbors

  • 708-613-0152, arborwestneighbors.org, arborwestneighbors@gmail.com
  • Serves residents of Austin, Forest Park, Oak Park, and River Forest
  • Service providers, interest groups, social events, informative events, transportation, technology help, household services
  • Free to join but suggests a donation of $50 for individuals, $75 for couples

Chicago Hyde Park Village

  • 5500 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, 773-363-1933, chpv.org, info@chpv.org
  • Serves residents of Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods
  • Health and wellness activities, social events, referrals to service providers, transportation, medical appointment companions, errand help, friendly check-ins, minor outside home help, driver safety evaluations
  • Individual full service membership: $480 annually; household full service membership: $590 annually; associate membership: $100 annually individual, $180 annually household

Englewood Village

  • 653 W. 63rd Street, Chicago, 773-609-4863, englewoodportal.org, englewoodvillage63@gmail.com
  • Serves residents of Englewood
  • Companionship, snow shoveling, lawn care, help getting to appointments or shopping, help with technology, more.
  • No fee

North Shore Village

  • 1603 Orrington Avenue #1800, Evanston, 847-721-1413, northshore-village.org, info@northshore-village.org
  • Serves older residents of Chicago’s North Shore
  • Transportation, light household maintenance and chores, errands, friendly visits and phone calls, respite care, technology assistance, referrals to professional service providers, social events, interest groups
  • Individual full membership: $540 annually; household: $680 annually. Supported full membership (for those participating in Illinois Benefit Access program): $120 annually per individual. Social membership: $204 annually per individual; $240 annually per household

Skyline Village Chicago

  • P.O. Box 81334, Chicago, 312-957-6060, www.skylinevillagechicago.org, info@skylinevillagechicago.org
  • Serves residents of the Gold Coast, Loop, New East Side, River North, and Streeterville
  • Social groups, cultural activities, educational programs, technology assistance, friendly visits, grocery shopping, medical appointment companions, library book pickup and delivery
  • Individual membership: $75 annually; household membership: $100 annually

The Village Chicago

  • 2502 N. Clark Street, Chicago, 773-248-8700, thevillagechicago.org, info@thevillagechicago.org
  • Serves residents of areas between Edgewater and South Loop, including Andersonville, Edgewater, Lake View, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, North Center, Old Town, Near North, New East Side, Ravenswood, River North, River West, Roscoe Village, South Loop, Streeterville, The Loop, and Uptown
  • Technology assistance, transportation, simple repairs, discounts, educational programs, social events, friendly visits, medical appointment companions, pet care, errands, exercise programs, snow shoveling, gardening help, cultural and interest groups
  • Single membership: $540 annually; household membership: $780 annually; reduced-fee memberships available