As a CWE "Lifer," I could not imagine living anywhere else as we get older. My sisters, brother and I recently went through our 90-year-old mother's difficult decision to sell her long-time home on a quiet street in the county and move to a retirement home in Clayton (which, by the way, she just loves). That experience made it even more obvious that living in an urban neighborhood where there is age diversity and proximity to just about everything you need is, in our case, the way to go.
The "Aging in Place" movement is a hot topic across the country and one that, if all goes according to plan, will be instituted in the CWE by 2014. A group of neighbors has been meeting for the past six months to explore the formation of StL Village, a not-for-profit, grass-roots, member-driven community for people who want to stay in their own homes and remain active in their communities as they age.
The first "VIllage" model began in the Boston neighborhood of Beacon Hill over ten years ago. There are now 90 such Villages operating across the country including Washington, D. C., San Francisco and Lincoln Park in Chicago. The Villages offer a cost effective way to avoid or delay the expense and dislocation of moving to a retirement community.
I attended January's meeting of the Exploratory Committee, chaired by "Urban Farmer" Arthur Culbert, at Bar Italia. Committee member and dynamo Gloria Gordon, a self-described 97-year-old "provocateur," says she has too many connections in the CWE to move to the East Coast where her children are located, even though they are pressuring her to do so.
For a yearly fee, StL Village will provide a full range of cultural and social activities; volunteer opportunities for sharing one's interests and special talents; services such as volunteer-staffed transportation, shopping and errand service; resources for home repair and computer assistance; discounts from selected businesses; support in obtaining health services, and much more.
The Exploratory Committee meets on the last Wednesday of every month at Bar Italia from 4 - 6 p.m. If you are not able to attend tomorrow's meeting, plan on hearing more about StL Village on Wednesday, March 27. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, (314) 249-8500.