I’m a founding member, board member and volunteer for Capital City Village (CCV) in Austin, Texas. CCV is not a place, but a virtual community helping seniors age in place successfully. This means we choose to stay in our homes and thrive, rather than having how we age decided for us.
We’re part of the nationwide village movement, started in the Beacon Hill area of Boston by a group of like-minded seniors who wanted to “stay put” back in 2001. We’re Texas’ only village so far, but that’s changing. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit, membership organization serving seniors in the Austin area with key services like volunteer assistance (requests are often for transportation and household maintenance), events throughout the month to get people out and socialized and stimulated, and a list of professional service providers available for referrals. We were founded in 2010 by folks who read about the movement and thought that the prospect of aging in place sounded just right.
A number of long-time friends and I had discussed how we would live as we aged. We considered buying land and building townhouses or moving into some type of “senior complex”. We realized we wanted to remain in our homes as long as we were medically able. Studies have shown people live longer, happier and at much less cost if they can remain in their homes as long as possible. Some of us were already retired and others, like myself, were still working, but we believed that a “virtual village” should be in place in Austin for the rapidly increasing senior population. We wanted it up and running before any of us really needed it!
It really comes down to choice. Having the option to age the way I want to age. I don’t have to be limited in thinking that I’m bound by preconceived ideas of where I live or the community of friends and family I build (don’t want to have to rely on/burden my family). That’s why our motto at CCV is “Keep Aging Weird!”
Plus, I can embrace the way the world is now and use technology to my advantage. Having a virtual village means staying in touch with others and connecting to services in a way that wasn’t possible 10, 20 or 30 years ago. We’ve just taken the ageless concept of living in and building a village into the modern era. And who knows where it will go from here. But it’s clear that it works and it’s catching on. There are now over 140 villages around the country, and we regularly get calls from around the state looking to develop villages.
I wanted to support the creation of this organization just as I do other non-profits, but have the opportunity to help create the unique Austin version of this concept. By donating both time and money I hope to help make it a self-sustaining and on-going enterprise – for those who need it now, and so CCV will be there if/when I need it.
Austin is an absolutely great fit for the village concept. We’re an incredibly diverse and progressive city, plus we have the fastest growing senior population in the nation. That means Austin is aging, but not slowing down. The possibility to continue living at home may seem overwhelming, frightening, or just impossible for many seniors. That’s why Capital City Village has stepped forward to help seniors age in place successfully. We view membership as something that must be accessible, so we’ve adapted our membership levels to be based on income with 6 affordable options. All members are equal, and each member has access to the same services.
We’re excited to keep growing, to keep connecting to other villages around the nation to learn and try new things, and to keep reaching out to seniors to offer choice in aging.