“[Northwest Neighbors Village] ‘opened its doors’ on March 2, 2009,” co-founder and board member Janean Mann wrote in the organization’s January/February newsletter. “But there were no doors to open, as we had no office! We did have a Blackberry that four of our founders/board members passed around to connect our 22 members seeking a limited number of services.”
Inspired by Beacon Hill Village in Boston and aided by the Capitol Hill Village, they set out to create a community with this goal: to assist seniors and support the “aging in place” movement. With offices at Forest Hills of DC Inclusive Senior Living, NNV has grown from 22 members and 30 volunteers in 2009 to more than 250 members and 140 volunteers today. And they are an active community.
by Janean Mann
Approaching its 10th anniversary, Northwest Neighbors Village has expanded the programs it offers not only to our members, volunteers and donors, but to the communities we serve. NNV opened its doors in March 2009 and expanded into AU Park and Tenleytown, all of Forest Hills and Van Ness a year later. It now helps residents in six Northwest DC communities enjoy their lives in their homes and apartments as long as they can safely do so.
While we continue to provide a wide range of support including rides to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping help, decluttering and many other services, in recent years NNV has expanded its services to meet our members’ requests. When members asked for medical notetakers to accompany them to doctors’ appointments, we obtained an ANC grant and worked with Iona Senior Services to create a training program which was offered first to NNV volunteers and then to volunteers from other villages in DC.
During the past year, our volunteers have spent more than 7,800 hours providing assistance to our members – from rides medical appointments and friendly visits, to technical support for computers and smartphones. As the holidays approached, volunteers assisted members with decorating, bringing home trees and other activities.
The artistry of participants in an ongoing NNV sponsored watercolor class at Forest Hills of DC Inclusive Senior Living are on display until Feb. 28 at Iona. Both the instructor and the students have found that this program has brought new dimensions to their lives. NNV also hosts meetings with specialists on a wide range of subjects for the NNV family and the community at large. A recent program addressed coping with tax changes while another drew a standing room-only crowd to a discussion on finding qualified caregivers.
Our members also enjoy outings to various museums including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, AU’s Katzen Museum and out-of-town jaunts to such venues as the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cambridge, Maryland, Delaware’s Brandywine Valley, New England and Bermuda.
We have also also expanded our activities for our younger members and volunteers. A recent retiree group hosts walks in the community, followed by coffee to chat about transitioning from full-time employment to other activities, including volunteering. An outgrowth of this group does periodic walks in various parts of our community, including the Soapstone trail. Our walks are offered at two different paces to accommodate a range of interests and physical conditions, and are followed by a chat over coffee at a nearby venue.
NNV’s increased collaboration with other villages has enabled us to expand the programs and services we offer, including Care Management counseling for members and free AARP driving skills courses for members and volunteers (for a reduction in insurance costs).
We also have a number of member and volunteer committees that recommend and help us implement programs and services. We have launched fun fundraising “salons” featuring experts in a wide range of fields. These are open to the public. Looking ahead, NNV is currently working on a strategic plan to ensure that we can better serve our NNV family and the community in the future.