The inspiration to form a Cheverly Village came from some of the earliest “villages” in other communities, including nearby Capitol Hill Village. In the spring of 2014, after attending a meeting of a network of Washington-area villages, some Cheverly residents decided to build support for a Cheverly Village. They organized a public discussion of “Aging in Place” at which representatives of three area villages discussed their experiences. As a result, several more Cheverly residents joined the effort and by July, 2014, a Cheverly Village Planning Committee was meeting regularly. Conveners Diane La Voy and Laila Riazi shepherded the Committee from its inception to May 2016, when the incorporated Cheverly Village elected its Founding Board of Directors.
As a first task, Committee participants met with community leaders and members of virtually every organized group in Cheverly. They introduced the idea of a village and elicited ideas for how a future Cheverly Village might work with or complement the services provided by the other voluntary organizations. Other Committee members researched the experiences of villages across the Washington area.
The Committee grew in response to many outreach efforts. By December 2015, the Committee had a list of some 190 residents who asked to be kept informed of progress in organizing the village. Of these, some 50 engaged regularly or occasionally in the Committee’s work.
To support its deliberations and planning, the Committee formed several sub-committees, or teams, which worked in various areas, including designing and implementing a household survey, setting standards for services, developing a business plan, and preparing for incorporation and 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit. In addition, several ad hoc teams planned events and distributed materials. Early in 2015 the Committee established a temporary fiduciary sponsor relationship with a Cheverly-based nonprofit, Newspapers in Education, Inc., permitting it to receive tax-free donations until it had obtained its own status as a nonprofit organization.
During 2014 and 2015, the Cheverly Village Planning Committee:
- Researched village models in operation or in development around the U.S., with particular attention to some of the 40+ villages in the greater Washington, DC, area.
- Held discussions with over a dozen Cheverly organizations and leaders about the kind of village needed for Cheverly. In October 2014 the Committee held a widely publicized, facilitated “Collaborative Circle” at which over 60 Cheverly seniors and other community members offered their perspectives on what a Cheverly Village should look like and the kinds of services it should provide.
- Maintained community outreach through appearances at several monthly Cheverly Town Council meetings; articles each month in the town-wide Cheverly Newsletter, including “Village Voices,” features in which residents described their personal reasons and visions for a Cheverly Village; occasional “Update” reports emailed or delivered to the expanding list of interested residents; information and sign-up tables at the annual Cheverly Day celebrations and Community Market days; an open group on Facebook; and extensive use of the widely subscribed Cheverly Exchange listserv. In addition, in January 2015, articles about village planning in Cheverly appeared in three local press outlets.
- Participated in village-related organizations, including the Washington Area Villages Exchange (WAVE), the Prince Georges County Aging-in-Place Network, and the national Village-to-Village Network, and in other meetings of senior service organizations.
- Conducted an on-line and door-to-door Cheverly household survey in the spring and summer of 2015. Over 20 percent of all households in the town of Cheverly responded, providing valuable demographic information, opinions about the services a Cheverly Village might provide, and, importantly, respondents’ intentions to become fees-paying members or volunteers once it is established. The survey showed that:
- Almost all the respondents were “considering” staying in Cheverly as they age, two-thirds were “certain” they want to stay in town, and most of those want to stay in their own homes.
- Help with transportation and household chores led the list of services needed by seniors.
- Thirty-four of the 266 survey respondents said that they were “very likely” and another 49 said they were “somewhat likely” to sign up as full members of Cheverly Village within the next 5 years.
- The survey noted that individual membership in most villages in the area costs $400-500 per year and household membership (i.e., two or more persons) costs $500-750 per year. Most respondents found the ranges acceptable.
- The survey results suggested that there would be about 300 possible volunteer hours available per month from just the survey respondents.
- Held four community educational events at which expert speakers discussed topics of particular relevance to seniors: how to avoid scams and fraud, health insurance options, partnering with one’s healthcare team and empowering oneself to speak up for those one loves, and home modification for safety and comfort.
- Raised funds informally and prepared for more systematic fundraising.
- Advised by Maryland Non-profits, drafted bylaws and recruited a committed and diverse Founding Board of six members whose terms began May 31, 2016.
During its first year, May 2016 – May 2017, Cheverly Village has:
- Applied for and obtained its status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
- Recruited, trained and arranged for background checks for over 50 volunteers.
- Researched and purchased a robust package of insurance coverage for Cheverly Village, its members and its volunteers.
- Welcomed over 22 households (35 individuals) into Cheverly Village membership.
- In monthly meetings, the Board has developed and adopted policies governing a wide range of policies and practices.
- Carried out the work of the Village through Board-led teams of volunteers: Member Services, Program & Events, Volunteer Management, Development & Outreach, and Administration & Finance. (See “Organization” diagram.)
- Celebrated the Village’s launch on October 9, 2016, and held other Village events, ranging from sessions in which members told stories of their lives (See “Happenings” account of event on November 27, 2016) to Happy Hours for Volunteers and potlucks and other social occasions.
- Provided Cheverly Village members with about 150 services, ranging from indoor and outdoor chores and rides to medical appointments, to social visits, grocery shopping, and information about available commercial services.
- Welcomed two additional members of the Board, and oriented Board members to succeed those who step down.
- Approved a budget for 2017, held a planning retreat, and set May 31, 2017, as the date of the Village’s first Annual Meeting.