Aging in Community is (a) “a very exciting membership-based organization”; (b) a planning-stage initiative for Milwaukee area residents age 50 and above; (c) a national movement enabling aging adults to remain in their homes; (d) all of the above.
The correct answer is (d). The quotation in (a) is from Henry Monaco, 73, a parishioner of Three Holy Women, Milwaukee, affiliated with the non-profit Interfaith Older Adult Programs Inc. In a telephone conversation with your Catholic Herald late last month, Monaco, altering slightly a line from the movie “Field of Dreams,” defined “membership-based organization” as “THEY build it, YOU come.”
While Aging in Community’s slogan is “a plan, not a place,” the concept of place is a key element of the initiative. As Monaco noted in the December/January Milwaukee Rivereast community newsletter EXTRA, the initiative would “replicate a national model, which began in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston in 2001.” In the Milwaukee area, one or more “villages” – such as already exist in 50 U.S. locations, including Madison and Chicago, and are being planned in hundreds more – could be established.
“Villages are tied together by membership in a national Village to Village network, which provides an array of best practices and lessons learned,” Monaco wrote.
Retirement housing is not for everybody, Monaco said over the phone. Aging in Community villages provide services that allow men and women 50 and over to “age in place” – that is, to remain in the homes they don’t wish to vacate despite possibly experiencing the kinds of problems that often beset the elderly.
Services typical of villages include transportation and household chore assistance. Referrals to vetted health care workers, handymen and the like are provided, as are access to educational and social functions. Service providers are a mixture of paid personnel and volunteers.
According to Monaco, representatives of Interfaith Older Adult Programs, for which he serves as Aging in Community coordinator, have been meeting during the past year with representatives of the Milwaukee County Department on Aging, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and other organizations to gauge the interest in and practicality of creating a village or villages in the metro area. A key program partner is the Department on Aging’s Connecting Caring Communities project, which developed seven neighborhood partnerships to promote age-friendly communities, said Monaco, as reported in EXTRA,
The Rivereast (East Side of Milwaukee), Shorewood, and South Shore neighborhood partnerships are working toward village development. Rivereast and Shorewood each count slightly more than 3,000 older adults, while South Shore counts approximately 10,500 in Cudahy, St. Francis and the Bay View section of Milwaukee.
Aging in Community public informational meetings were held at St. John’s on the Lake, St. Ann Center For Intergenerational Care and elsewhere in the area in December; Monaco called the response “overall positive.” Asked when a village might be up and running in metro Milwaukee, he said the “plan is to have one in the initial stages by year’s end.”
Rivereast residents desiring more information or wishing to get involved in the planning process can call (414)220-8624 or email Monaco at email@example.com, while individuals living in Shorewood can contact Sue Kelley, (414) 961-7262, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and South Shore citizens can contact Marilyn Lange (414) 525-1425, email email@example.com.