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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 Puget Sound 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 Puget Sound Area


Eastside Friends of Seniors

  • 1121 228th Avenue SE, Sammamish, 425-369-9120, eastsidefriendsofseniors.org
  • Residents of Issaquah and Sammamish age 60 and up currently being accepted
  • Transportation to medical appointments and social visits, assistance with shopping and errands, home and yard chores, and service referrals
  • Free, donations accepted

Eastside Neighbors Network

  • 425-270-8408, eastsideneighborsnetwork.org
  • Serves residents of Bellevue age 50+
  • Service referrals, social, cultural, and educational events, volunteer services including transportation, friendly visits and calls, household help/maintenance assistance, errands, technology assistance, and volunteer opportunities
  • Full annual membership: individual $600, couples $900; builder annual membership (social programs and provider directory only): $200

Full Life Care ElderFriends

  • 206-224-3790, fulllifecare.org
  • Serves King County residents age 65+
  • Friendly visits at least twice a month, quarterly social gatherings, and Thanksgiving meal delivery
  • Free

Northwest Neighbors Network

  • 15214 Aurora Ave North, Shoreline, 206-800-3009, northwestneighborsnetwork.org
  • Serves residents in Shoreline and Lake Forest Park; residents of Edmonds, Woodway, Esperance, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, and Brier may join as affiliate members
  • Service referrals, educational and social events, newsletter, volunteer services including transportation, minor home maintenance, yard work, technology assistance, and friendly visits or walks
  • Full annual membership: individual $600, household $900; social annual membership: $120; affiliate annual membership: individual $480, household $780

NEST North East Seattle Together

  • 7736 24th Avenue NE, Seattle, 206-525-6378, nestseattle.org
  • Serves the neighborhoods of Maple Leaf, Meadowbrook, Matthews Beach, Wedgwood, Roosevelt, Ravenna, View Ridge, Sand Point, Bryant, Hawthorne Hills, Windermere, Laurelhurst, and University District
  • Social events, educational programs, discounts, transportation, medical help, in-home help, technology assistance, pet care, friendly visits, interest groups, service referrals
  • Full-access annual membership (includes volunteer services and service referrals): individual $650, household $975; builder annual membership: household $350 

PNA (Phinney Neighborhood Association) Village

  • 525 N. 85th Street, Seattle, 206-789-1217, phinneycenter.org/village
  • For residents of the Phinney, Greenwood, Ballard, Broadview, and Bitter Lake neighborhoods; residents outside these neighborhoods welcome to join as builder members and volunteers
  • Service referrals, social events, minor home maintenance, transportation, friendly visits, yardwork, pet care, and health advocacy help
  • Full annual membership: individual $360, household $600; builder annual membership (includes only social events and service referrals): individual $180, household $300. Reduced fee memberships available based on income eligibility

Westside Neighbors Network

  • 2920 Alki Avenue SW #209, Seattle, 206-937-1347, westsideneighborsnetwork.org
  • Serves West Seattle
  • Social and educational events, service referrals, request help from volunteers such as transportation, light home and yard help, medical appointment help, housing options including home sharing and co-buying, workshops
  • Full annual membership: individual $400, household $600; social annual membership: individual $200, household $300; co-living annual membership (access to co-living resources only): $100

Wider Horizons

  • 1145 10th Avenue E. #306, Seattle, 206-650-3586, widerhorizonsvillage.org
  • For residents in Zip codes 98101, 98102, 98104, 98112, 98122, and 98144
  • Educational programs, social events, transportation, home maintenance, gardening help, errands, paperwork, pet care, medical referrals, technology assistance, interest groups, legal help
  • Annual membership: Individual $600, household $900