Linda Terry: Amherst Neighbors gearing up to help older adults

  • Diane Porcella, administrator for Northampton Neighbors, visits with members and volunteers during a picnic at Look Park in Florence on Wednesday, Aug. 14. Northampton Neighbors is a nonprofit that provides volunteer services and programs to assist seniors in living independently. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 11/14/2019 1:41:57 PM
Modified: 11/14/2019 1:41:45 PM

Thank you to the Gazette for highlighting the spirit of older adults and the contribution of Northampton Neighbors to the community in an article on Oct. 22.

With their helpful sharing of experience and resources, we of Amherst Neighbors are also building a “village” to support neighbor-to-neighbor connections for older adults through social engagement, volunteer services and sharing information and resources with our Amherst and Pelham community members.

Many of us are fortunate to be able to enjoy older adult years in Amherst-Pelham, an area with many opportunities to participate in cultural, political and educational activities. As elsewhere, 90% of us want to spend these years staying in our own homes — condos, houses and apartments, as singles, couples, grandparents living with families, or other networks — while recognizing that staying socially connected can become more challenging as we get older.

Recently, three of us from our Amherst Neighbors organization held a neighborhood house party for neighbors over 60 to spread the word about our group. We became aware that, although most of us had lived here for over 10 years and within three blocks of each other, we did not know each other.

One type of connection Amherst Neighbors will be facilitating is ongoing neighborhood circles for mutual social and safety support. We believe we are never too old to make new friends! Other social events might include sharing meals, art, music, sport events, game days, discussion groups and educational presentations, and member generated interest groups.

We also recognize a need for support with practical tasks as we stay in our homes. Need a ride to a doctor? Need some boxes moved to the basement? Would enjoy some companionship while convalescing? Amherst Neighbors’ volunteers will assist. At another time a volunteer may receive services.

We see Amherst Neighbors and the village movement as offering a revisioning of aging and the growth of the older populations from a “social crisis” to aging as a dynamic and universal process lived best through interdependence and continued community engagement.

Amherst Neighbors is a nonprofit organization and a member of the Village to Village Network. We are shaped and run by and for our members and hold to the value of being a welcoming and inclusive organization. Anyone over 18 may be a member; members over 55 may receive services.

Currently we are inviting people to sign up as members and volunteers to begin piloting our volunteer service component. We also are seeking committee members with skills supporting our database and website technology development and management, newsletter editorship and fundraising.

We are committed to a no-fee membership for minimally the first year of operation and plan to launch officially in March 2020. Sustaining Amherst Neighbors with a no-fee membership for equitable access requires community support and funding from multiple sources, including donations, grants and fundraising events.

If you are interested in more information, making a donation, becoming a member and/or volunteer, and/or joining our working group, please email or call 413-345-2555. Please help us make our contribution to the village movement happen.

Linda Terry, of Amherst, is vice president of Amherst Neighbors Amherst.


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