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'Aging-in-place village' concept evolving south of Powell

by: MERRY MACKINNON - After she learned about Portlands Eastside Village PDX, north of Powell, Reed resident Fran Daggett decided to organize an aging-in-place village for Inner Southeast neighborhoods south of Powell Boulevard.Like many other older adults, Fran Daggett wants to spend her elder years living well for as long as possible in her comfortable house in a quiet Reed neighborhood cul-de-sac. So, when she and her husband first learned about “Eastside Village PDX”, they were hoping to join.

“I thought, what a great philosophy,” she recalls. "You get to stay in your own home and not relocate to a place where everyone is old.”

Founded by Mt. Tabor resident Chana Andler, “Eastside Village PDX” is Portland’s first aging-in-place intentional community. About 115 such aging-in-place villages exist nationwide, with another 150 in development. While called villages, these are actually membership-driven grassroots organizations which – through initial fundraising and then through membership fees – provide cost-effective services geared toward helping people live independently in their homes as they age.

“Eastside Village PDX” is expected to be operational in 2014. But, there is a snag for those in BEE country. Its membership is only open to residents within an area which is roughly bounded by the Willamette River, the Banfield Freeway (I-84), 122nd, and S.E. Powell Boulevard. While it does includes 13 Southeast Portland neighborhoods, its southern cut-off boundary means that residents in neighborhoods south of Powell are not eligible for Eastside Village PDX membership at this time.

When Daggett learned about that restriction, she decided to organize another village that would include Reed and the surrounding neighborhoods. “I thought, I’ve got to do something about this,” Daggett says.

So, about a year ago, Daggett invited Chana Andler to give a presentation about aging-in-place villages to the Reed Neighborhood Association. A few people expressed interest, formed a group, and Daggett planned a small meeting at her house. But before that meeting could take place, word spread, and now she expects at least 20 to 30 people to show up on November 1, which means a crowd too large to fit into her living room. As this was written, the meeting location had not yet been established.

“We have grown so big, I can’t hold it in my place now,” Daggett explains.

Other villages in the Portland metro area are also in the organizing stage, under the umbrella and guidance of the nonprofit “Villages NW” (www.villagesNW.org). These get started quite frequently when older adults meet to discuss the idea in someone’s living room, it turns out. Aging-in-place villages help an area’s older adults and those with disabilities stay in their homes, whether they are homeowners or renters. Some needed services are performed by volunteers who do the tasks aging parents might normally ask adult children to do, such as drive members to doctor's appointments, mow the grass, or stand on a ladder to change a light bulb. Other services include negotiated group discounts for home repairs by vetted vendors and caregivers, along with social activities such as outings to restaurants and movies, field trips, and lectures.

A central office staffed with a manager and volunteer recruiter responds to requests by village members for services.

With the aging of the “baby boom” generation, aging-in-place villages are expected to grow dramatically.

“I want to be a part of it,” Daggett said. For more information, and the location decided upon for the November 1st meeting, contact Fran Daggett via e-mail at: franbfd@comcast.net.

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----INFO BOX---- “Village 101” presentations will also be held at the office of the nonprofit neighborhood coalition in this area, Southeast Uplift, at 3534 S.E. Main Street (take Main west from S.E. 39th [Chavez]. Main is one block north of Hawthorne Boulevard). The upcoming presentations:

· Sunday, November 17 at 2 pm

· Wednesday, December 4 at 7 pm

· Sunday January 12 at 2 pm

· Wednesday, January 22 at 7 pm

· Sunday, February 9 at 2 pm

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