Thursday, March 8, 2007

A Virtual Community - Beacon Hill Village

Suzanne Stark, 79, lives in a book-lined apartment in central Boston's lovely Beacon Hill neighborhood. Independent and active, the author and freelance writer nevertheless acknowledges there are times when problems arise and she needs help. Like when her beloved cat Zenobia became suddenly, violently ill, and Stark couldn't get her into a carrier to take her to the veterinarian.

"I tried everything, and then I called Beacon Hill Village," she says. "I said, 'I know this is weird, but can you send someone to help me get this cat in the carrier?' And they did."

Beacon Hill Village is a revolutionary, all-encompassing concierge service created by residents who want to grow old in the homes they have lived in for years.

I read about Beacon Hill Village in the December 2005, AARP magazine, in an article by Barbara Basler, entitled Declaration of Independents, Home is where you want to live forever. Here’s how.

The concept was developed in the MIT AgeLab. They have put together "HOW TO" documentation so that the nonprofit association can be duplicated anywhere.

Services available with a subscription to the village include: Home repair and adaptation, Household cleaning, Errands, computer problem solving, bill paying, Transportation, Weekly grocery shopping, Home-delivered meals, Regular trips and events. The association also organizes dining groups, free lecture series, and tracks opportunities for members to help each other and local non-profits, and so on.

The village can be whatever the association want it to be. They just contract for services and hire a manager.

Beacon Hill Village is hosting a two-day national conference, The Building Blocks: How to Make Your Neighborhood into a Village, designed for community leaders and professionals interested in creating and funding living alternatives. April 30 and May 1, 2007 in Boston.