The PNA Village celebrates 10 years of supporting and connecting

The PNA Village celebrates 10 years of supporting and connecting
By mattc

The PNA Village celebrated their 10th Anniversary at the Phinney Center on July 10. More than 100 Village members, guests, and volunteers honored the occasion with delicious food, live music, and performances. Click through the galleries below to see the party! All photos: Rand Peterson

By Matt Coomer, PNA Communications Manager

On March 20, 2010, a group of PNA staff, board, and community members gathered at the Greenwood Senior Center for a visioning meeting. The Village Movement, born in 2002 from a grassroots effort in Boston, was growing as more seniors formed local Villages that empower members to stay in their homes as they age.

The meeting came after two years of research and informational sessions chasing the question: what would a Village that serves Phinney Ridge and Greenwood look like?

Meeting facilitator and then-PNA Executive Director Ed Medeiros asked participants to imagine themselves writing to a friend or family member three years later about why they’re excited to be part of an ideal PNA Village.

10th Anniversary Celebration Photo Gallery (click below):

“I have made so many friends. Phinney feels like a smaller place because people’s doors are open,” wrote an attendee.

Another participant dreamed that the Village provided, “…a central place we can go to for advice, for borrowing tools and things, and when I do need to hire someone for more skilled tasks they can assure me that they are honest and reliable.”

One participant’s letter states, “I’m so relieved and so happy that I don’t have to give up my independence and freedom of choices.”

The letters helped shape the program’s vision and offer a glimpse of what the PNA Village would become after its founding in 2012. “The vision we had at the time was to build the Village around three axes: social programs, volunteer help for tasks such as transportation and handy persons, and a concierge-like referral service for vendors,” shared longtime Village Advisory Council member Jean-Loup Baer. “From my viewpoint this has remained essentially the same.”

10th Anniversary Celebration Photo Gallery (click below):

After a decade of outreach, organizing, and collaboration, the PNA Village provides those services and more to over 200 members. It’s also grown outside PhinneyWood, now serving all neighborhoods west of I-5 from the Ship Canal up to 145th Street. Volunteers have given more than 35,000 hours helping elder neighbors and enriching lives through the program.

Village Director Riana Nolet is inspired by all of the passionate people who have come together over the years to make the program a success. She believes that the most impactful part of the Village is the sense of belonging that it creates. “I often hear from Village members that they feel a deeper connection to community. For someone to feel seen and heard, and know that they have a community behind them is so powerful. It really does feel like we’ve brought the visioning letters to life.”

Village founding member Marty Chakoian also feels that the program has grown from its visioning to exceed expectations, and that it has become an essential part of the PNA. “I think the Village is fundamental because the mission of the PNA is to build community. Not much builds community like neighbors helping neighbors. That is core to the PNA mission.”

10th Anniversary Celebration Photo Gallery (click below):

Ed believes that today’s PNA Village fulfills the organizing group’s general vision as well. And, as a member himself, he takes comfort in knowing that the Village will be there for him when he needs it.

“I like knowing that when I cannot drive, I will still be able to get around with the help of my neighbors.” He enjoys the social opportunities that the Village offers, too, and feels that it’s added to how he and others connect. “Many of the people in the Village have aged in community together so it’s a matter of continuing to do things with old friends and meeting new people at the same time.”

The PNA Village continues to be built. With each fun gathering, drive to the doctor with a volunteer, and referral to a trusted business, it brings its members closer while helping them live however they wish. It’s the embodiment of hard work and hopeful letters written more than ten years ago. As one note then imagined, “It is like making a small town in a big city where I am finding the support I need as I age.”

If you’re interested in helping to shape the next 10 years of the PNA Village, join us as a member or volunteer!  Learn more at: www.phinneycenter.org/village.

All photos by Rand Peterson. Thank you Rand!