Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What’s Pam Been Up To Lately?

As you know, we both spend a lot of time not only with our customers in the store, but also collaborating with folks in many Colorado communities. Pam writes today about one of the many interesting and engaging groups she has been involved with over the past year. They are developing a model that will become increasingly more common as people look to stay in their homes regardless of age and ability. Please let us know if you are involved in any similar activities in your community. Contact Pam with your questions or if you would like to get involved, too.

Washington Park Cares

Last year I got involved with an innovative neighborhood group, Washington Park Cares, a group whose purpose is to support the idea of “aging in place.” The Washington Park neighborhood here in Metro Denver is what is now called a NORC, Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. There are many other examples of NORCs across the nation, so it is an idea coming into its own because of the aging Boomer population. Many of the so-called “silent generation” also express a desire to “age in place,” that is, to stay in their homes safely as they age.

Washington Park Cares is the result of hard work from two very active members of the community, Bill and Pera Beth Eichelberger. They recognized the difficulties that seniors face as they try to stay in their own home and decided to find ways to overcome the obstacles. Over the past year they researched, had community meetings and gathered a group of like-minded neighbors to establish an organization that has as its mission to “Help neighborhood seniors connect with services and resources to continue life on their own terms, with dignity and independence, in their own homes.” Washington Park Cares is modeled after a successful organization in Boston, MA, Beacon Hill Neighborhood, a membership organization that provides a variety of services to its members, ranging from routine home maintenance and upkeep to cultural events to home health care services.

We began Washington Park Cares with an organizing committee and now have an energetic board of directors. We work with groups from non-profits, such as churches, recreation centers, and governmental agencies to set up the services that will help people stay in their homes rather than having to move to retirement communities or nursing homes. Our goal is to provide volunteer services, referral services and access to social events.

Through a continuum of volunteers, service providers, and community groups, we are establishing a network of support for the residents of the Washington Park area to help stay at home. Washington Park Cares will have a one-call system that will get the services you need whether it is as simple as helping change a light bulb or bigger services such as adapting a home to make it safe and accessible. We are building a group of volunteers; it is our intent to certify vendors for other services.

Our kick-off party for Washington Park Cares will be Tuesday, June 10 from 4 to 7 P.M. at the Boathouse in Washington Park on Franklin St. in Denver, CO. We hope to educate the community about Washington Park Cares and to sign up charter members. There are many opportunities for Washington Park residents to volunteer as well as to request services. If you are local, please plan to join us on June 10th to learn about WPC and other types of NORCs.

As we follow the boomer generation and their journey through the aging process, this type of organization will become even more popular. People of all ages want to stay in their homes. What better way to do that than by bringing back the friendly neighborhoods where neighbors help each other!

Please post your thoughts about this concept or give us details if you are involved in any similar activities in your communities.

Photo credits: MicheKerr, ZenobiaJoy.

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