“One call to the village is all it takes!” claims the motto of the 100-plus-member Pasadena Village (www.pasadenavillage.org), the local organization that sprang from the national village movement. The village movement—also called the virtual village movement—is a grassroots effort to build communities that support aging at home, without feeling isolated. Modeled after the Beacon Hill Village in Boston, there are over 90 virtual villages across the country, with hundreds more in the making. Pasadena Village members join other Boomers across the country in wanting to belong to communal families, partly as a resurgence of the commune spirit of the 1960s and as a throwback to the villages of a pre-urbanized America—where people looked out for one another through good times and bad.
Pasadena Village’s Executive Director Sue Kujawa states, “We’re a group of friends—new and old, over 55—who get together to enjoy each other’s company, often at social events, so we can then help each other. Meeting as friends leads us to develop the trust we need to ask for and receive support.”
Accordingly, the Village maintains an office where members call to obtain household and other services that make it easier to live independently in their own homes.
Sue was the Executive Director of the Mothers’ Club Family Learning Center for 25 years. After retiring, she was recruited by the Pasadena Village’s Organizing Committee to lead the newly incorporated organization as its part-time, volunteer Executive Director. She is now full-time and paid.
Sue is proud that Pasadena Village members can join at all income levels: “Our Village has received a grant to offer scholarships to qualifying applicants. About 15% of our members are on scholarship. Our goal is 25%.” Regular annual fees are $720 per person or $960 per household.
New member Sid Gally, who writes for the Pasadena Star-News, joined the Village after reading about the group in Larry Wilson’s column and following a big kickoff event at Mayor Bogaard’s garden. Sid says, “I have met some very talented members at their gatherings—they have a monthly coffee gathering, pot luck dinners, a book club and occasional lectures.”
“Pasadena Village provides references to good craftsmen,” Sid adds. “I called for a referral to fix a couple of broken windows and two Pasadena Village members actually came out and took care of the problem. And I referred a gardener to the group.”
Clearly, Pasadena Village provides first-rate social events and services to its members…but where does the Village look when it needs services?
Where Jericho Road Comes In…
“We don’t have the budget to spend on consultants,” says Sue. “My experience with Jericho Road Pasadena has been so productive that now I always think of Jericho Road when I need extra help.”
Sue continues, “Melanie Goodyear and JRP volunteers are a great resource and therefore a great comfort.”
Pasadena Village has bridged with several JRP volunteers whose professional know-how enhances the Village’s work, for example:
- JRP Volunteer and Software Developer Cameron worked with a Pasadena Village board member to set up their website. Cameron asserts, “It was a great experience for me. I enjoy sharing knowledge, and to assist a non-profit in my local community is a wonderful way to do so.”
- CPA and auditor Yuli designed and implemented the chart of accounts for PV’s new QuickBooks accounting system and helped develop their set of financial policies and procedures. Yuli stated, “I had a wonderful experience working with Sue! It was truly a collaborative approach, as we worked through Pasadena Village’s objectives and constraints as a newer non-profit, but we walked away feeling great about the deliverables. Pasadena Village is such a wonderful cause that I am also very proud and glad to be able to help, through Jericho Road.”
- Recently, JRP volunteer Heather helped Pasadena Village with board development—transitioning from the founding board to a more structured one—including revitalizing its by-laws.
JRP volunteers have helped make it possible for Pasadena Village to grow and expand programs, including the “Staying Connected” program, where members volunteer to visit or deliver food to other members, drive them to a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store, or make repairs. Sue explains, “It is very moving to see how people never lose the need for friends and connections.”
In that vein, a widowed person who recently joined Pasadena Village says, “My new friends at the Village know me for me—not as half of a couple—which helps me to move on.”
236 Mountain Street, Suite 109A
Pasadena, CA 91101
Thanks to volunteer Lee Wherry Brainerd for writing this article! Lee is a freelance writer living in Altadena. She is a Boomer who hopes to work and volunteer until she kicks the bucket.