Revolutionizing Aging in Door County

As the United States grapples with a rapidly growing population of older adults, innovative solutions are needed to support their changing needs. One such solution gaining traction and making a significant impact is the “Village Model.” This model is not just transforming the lives of older adults but also inspiring communities throughout the United States to follow suit.

The Village Model is a unique approach to aging in place, community building, and providing comprehensive support to older adults. The concept is simple but powerful: a group of older adults in a specific geographic area comes together to form a “village” that operates as a non-profit, member-driven organization. This village helps seniors stay in their homes as they age by offering various services and fostering a strong sense of community.

The village services can vary depending on the specific needs and resources of each community. However, there are several common services that are typically offered:

  • Transportation: Many older adults may face mobility issues, making it difficult to get to medical appointments, grocery stores, or social events. Villages often provide transportation services to address this need.
  • Home Maintenance and Repairs: Villages may organize volunteers or contractors to assist with home repairs and maintenance, helping seniors keep their homes safe and functional.
  • Social and Recreational Activities: Loneliness and isolation are common challenges for older adults. Villages organize social gatherings, clubs, and events to foster connections among members.
  • Health and Wellness Support: Villages often offer access to health and wellness resources, including exercise classes, health screenings, and assistance with navigating the healthcare system.
  • Information and Referral Services: Villages can provide valuable information and connect members with local resources and services, such as legal aid or financial counseling.

Founded in 2001, Beacon Hill Village in Boston Massachusetts was one of the pioneers of the Village Model. It offers a variety of services, including transportation, social events, and access to vetted service providers. This model has been a template for numerous villages nationwide.

There are now over 300 villages throughout the United States.  Perhaps one village that is most akin to our community is Nauset Neighbors Village, located in Eastham, Massachusetts.  Established in 2011, Nauset Neighbors Village serves the Lower Cape region and provides services such as transportation to medical appointments, grocery shopping assistance, minor home repairs, and friendly visits to combat social isolation. This organization is entirely volunteer-based and is a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives.

Here in Door County, village initiatives are already in the works.  Community members of the Sister Bay/Liberty Grove area have formed a steering committee and begun the planning process of implementing the village model.  A steering committe of residents of the Sturgeon Bay area, zip code 54235, are also in the planning stage. 

Both planning groups are looking to have more residents participate in the conversation and be a part of the implementation of this important community action.  We are also looking for residents in the Gibraltar, Bailey’s Harbor and Southern Door areas to form steering committees to serve the older adults of their area. 

The long-term vision of this initiative is to have a county wide “village”, one organization that can bring economies of scale to each of the community villages, giving them shared access to the village software (web-based tools that help organize and run a village), insurance, and other supports.  More importantly, it allows each village to focus on the needs in their area while operating in sync with other established villages, serving all Door County residents.

The Village Model offers an innovative approach to aging in place, focusing on services, community building, and fostering a sense of belonging. Door County’s local efforts and the successes of other villages across the United States illustrate the transformative potential of this model. 

Contact us today to learn more about these endeavors and join in the conversation!