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Neighbors Helping Neighbors: A Qualitative Study of Villages Operating in the District of Columbia


Grassroots organizations called “Villages” are emerging communities across the U.S. These Villages offer an alternative to institutional care for older adults needing assistance to live independently in their homes. Unfortunately, Villages lack a “national voice” that could raise awareness about the services and benefits they offer to older adults.

Key Points

The report, based on an AARP study that surveyed five operating Villages in the District of Columbia, offers a snapshot of the Village movement and the benefits Villages offer to older adults as they age.

In addition to providing caregiving services, Villages provide an opportunity for older adults to remain socially engaged in their neighborhoods by linking members with similar interests and creating a strong sense of companionship in the community.

The study incorporates responses from current members and volunteers to gather perspectives from all sides of the Village. The best practices and recommendations addressed in this study focus on different operational aspects of Villages including fundraising techniques, managing volunteers, and recruiting and retaining members.

Other report highlights include:

  1. Services offered by Villages include transportation, meal delivery, home maintenance, and respite care.
  2. Volunteers are one of the most important assets of a Village, so it is important to understand how to keep volunteers interested by finding ways to recognize their efforts.
  3. The biggest challenges facing Villages include membership growth and member retention.

How to Use

The report summarizes the key findings of an AARP survey and provides guidance for any community looking to start its own Village, as well as a list of successful practices used by existing Villages in the Washington, D.C. area.

Local planners and government officials can use this report to gain an understanding of the concept of Villages and gather advice from existing successful Villages through the discussion on best practices and recommendations.

Research published: October 2009

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