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Virtual Villages Support Seattle’s Aging In Place Lifestyles

“Something really exciting is emerging in the aging community,” NEST (North East Seattle Together) executive director, Judy Kinney said, brightening as she described NEST’s services for people aging in place and Seattle’s broader network of innovative aging support programs. “People in NEST are laying a path [for aging services] with the idea ‘let’s do this differently-something with a creative bent,’ she explained. NEST and the PNA Village, a similar program run by the Phinney Neighborhood Association, draw resources and modeling from a national movement of virtual retirement villages. NEST and PNA Village, like villages in communities across the nation, charge a modest annual fee in exchange for providing volunteer help with practical household needs, trusted professional referrals, and life enrichment activities that bond members.

 

A Nest volunteer helps a member with a computer question

Need a ride to the store? Need help changing a lightbulb? Local villages respond to a range of requests for support in daily living. More than that, NEST and the PNA Village provide relationship infrastructure that’s there to rely on when needs arise. “I feel so relieved since joining NEST,” a recent member, Ester, said, “I now feel confident calling and asking NEST for help.” Villages vet vendors and volunteers so members don’t need to worry about figuring out whom to trust. When needs exceed the capability of volunteers Village staff refers to reliable professionals. “Members can access a pool of helping services by calling a single number at NEST,” Kinney said. “That assurance leads to higher confidence, greater peace of mind, and longer lives spent comfortably at home.”

 

The Village concept is new in Seattle. Word of Village services is still spreading through neighborhoods and across the city. NEST was conceived and seeded by a small passionate board in 2009. This year the organization celebrated its second “nestiversary.” Originally an all volunteer organization, NEST now includes Kinney and her staff of Americorp students and interns. “We have 90 NEST members,” Kinney said, and “120 volunteers donating about 100 volunteer hours each month.” In the Phinney area, need prompted 2,000 volunteer hours logged in PNA Village during the first year!

 

Local villages, powered by neighborhood volunteers, are changing old models of aging. They connect neighbors and expand the world for elders choosing to age in place by creating a framework for “aging in community.” NEST and PNA Village unite generations, honor deep roots, promote cooperative work, and increase sense of community. For most village volunteers, giving is reciprocal. By giving practical help to elders, volunteers bring security to their lives and strengthen neighborhoods. By helping, they gain new experiences and learning in relationship with elders who’ve lived in the area for many years.

 

Nest Members at the monthly Nest Cafe

Help with daily living is a key function of each village but it’s the social gatherings and life enrichment that facilitate bonds between members. Book clubs, knitting groups, movies and classes bring joy and learning into the equation. The NEST café meets monthly at Magnuson park for coffee, tea and a community presentation and discussion. Guests have included lifetime walker Peggy Burns and a short workshop on developing one’s memoir from award winning local writer and teacher, Marilyn Smith Layton. “I didn’t realize I was going to meet such nice people,” a Nest member, Rob, said after attending the NEST Cafe.

 

NEST and PNA Village are the first communities in Seattle to demonstrate that the power of neighborhoods can create local success with the Virtual Village model. Watch for service in your neighborhood soon or start a village. The need for community and for support of aging in place lifestyles exists across the metro area. If you live in the service areas of NEST and would like to volunteer or receive help please contact Judy Kinney or telephone: (206) 525 6378. To contact PNA Village call 206 789 1217 or email

On Sunday, March 30th, With A Little Help is sponsoring NEST’s presentation of Steve Scher and Nancy Pearl at Faith Lutheran Church 5-8 p.m. All proceeds benefit NEST! Tickets are still available.

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