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 Delaware Valley 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 Delaware Valley Area


East Falls Village

  • P.O. Box 12672, Philadelphia, PA, 267-444-4507, eastfallsvillage.org
  • Serves residents of the East Falls neighborhood
  • Social, cultural and educational events, grocery shopping, pet care, mail pick-up, exercise opportunities, service referrals and discounts, transportation, technology assistance, friendly visits and calls, minor home maintenance, light outdoor chores, and volunteer opportunities
  • Annual membership fees: $125 individual, $175 household

It Takes a Village NJ 

  • P.O. Box 241, Moorestown, NJ, 856-396-5783, itavnj.org
  • Serves the residents of Cinnaminson, Delran, Hainesport, Maple Shade, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel and surrounding areas
  • Transportation, errand help, companionship, and caregiver breaks
  • No membership dues, funded by donations

Ivins Outreach Center Staying Put in Lower Bucks

  • 80 W. Trenton Avenue, Morrisville, PA, 215-428-0500, ivinsoutreach.org
  • Serves the residents of Lower Bucks County age 55 and up
  • Transportation, errand help, service referrals, friendly check-in calls and visits, social events, medical appointment notes, elder education, technology assistance, minor home maintenance, and home safety assessments
  • Annual membership fees: $350 individual, $500 household

JFS/Brandywine Village 

  • 99 Passmore Road, Wilmington, DE, 302-478-9411, jfsdelaware.org/olderadults/jfsvillage
  • Serves the residents of Northern New Castle County
  • Transportation, bill-paying, light household repairs, yard work, service referrals, social and wellness programs, discounts, and professional care management services. Siegel JCC membership
  • Fees: $80 one-time assessment; annual membership $365 individual, $685 household; personal shopping $18/hour; transportation costs $8–$20 one-way

Northwest Village Network

  • P.O. Box 4330, 8227 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 267-571-9697, northwestvillagenetwork.org
  • Serves residents of Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, Germantown, and surrounding areas
  • Cat care co-op, transportation, technology assistance, discounts, social events, volunteer opportunities, short-term support including meals, errands, interest groups, home visits, and pet care
  • Annual membership fees: $125 individual, $175 household

Penn’s Village

  • 201 S. 21st Street, Philadelphia, PA, 215-925-7333, pennsvillage.org
  • Serves the residents of central Philadelphia between Girard Ave to the North and Washington Ave to the South, and between the rivers
  • Transportation, social, educational and cultural events, errands, service referrals, discounts, technology assistance, paperwork help, minor household repairs and chores, medical appointment help (including pre- and post-appointment assistance), friendly visits, pet care.
  • Annual membership fees: Villager level (receives volunteer services) $600; neighbor level (may sample two services per year) $200; contributor members (access to educational, cultural and social programs, plus service referrals) $100 

Ralston My Way

  • 7051 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 215-525-5470, ralstoncenter.org/programs-services/ralston-my-way
  • Serves residents age 55+ in northwest Philadelphia
  • Transportation, errands, minor home repairs, pet care, chores, seasonal yard work, and home care services
  • Fees: free membership, hourly rates for services

Senior Community Services Aging At Home

  • 1515 Lansdowne Avenue, Darby, PA, 484-534-2201, scsdelco.org/programs/aging-home.shtml
  • Serves the residents of Greater Lansdowne and Ridley age 60 and up
  • Transportation, service referrals, yardwork, minor home repairs, health and wellness programs
  • Annual membership fee: $35 individual

Surrey Services for Seniors – Broomall

  • 144 Lawrence Road, Broomall, PA, 215-307-7158, surreyservices.org/locations/broomall
  • Social, educational, and cultural events, exercise classes, trips, lunches, volunteer opportunities, access to Surrey Services including home and personal care, transportation, care management, and consignment
  • Annual membership fee: $35 individual

Surrey Services for Seniors – Devon

  • 60 Surrey Way, Devon, PA, 610-647-6404, surreyservices.org/locations/devon
  • Social, educational, and cultural events, exercise classes, trips, lunches, volunteer opportunities, access to Surrey Services including home and personal care, transportation, care management, and consignment
  • Annual membership fee: $35 individual

Surrey Services for Seniors – Havertown

  • 1105 Earlington Road, Havertown, PA, 610-446-2070, surreyservices.org/locations/havertown
  • Social, educational, and cultural events, exercise classes, trips, lunches, volunteer opportunities, access to Surrey Services including home and personal care, transportation, care management, and consignment
  • Annual membership fee: $35 individual

Surrey Services for Seniors – Media

  • 302 S. Jackson Street, Media, PA, 610-566-0505, surreyservices.org/locations/media
  • Social, educational, and cultural events, exercise classes, trips, lunches, volunteer opportunities, access to Surrey Services including home and personal care, transportation, care management, and consignment
  • Annual membership fee: $35 individual