Save the Little ol’ Ladies

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By RACHEL YOUNG

11:26 am | June 11, 2013


A room full of talented people who have made it to the fourth quarter of their life met on Sunday to celebrate their first anniversary as a community. The Pasadena Village members have grown together in the past year as they have learned to use their talents to help each other.

Exactly one year from Sunday Pasadena Village celebrated its founding at Bill and Claire Bogaard’s.home. Dr. Eric Walsh came to inspire this community and congratulate them on what they are doing right so far in this first year.

Dr. Eric Walsh encouraged the Village saying “Being healthy is not about me being better, but to be able to have the stamina and strength to leave a legacy behind.”

The Pasadena Village follows a concept of villages that is sweeping the nation for retirees. The idea is to keep members in their own homes as long as possible while still having services and social benefits as they would if they went into assisted living so that they are not entirely isolated.

“I really do admire Pasadena Village, the concept is wonderful and the idea of capturing the talents of persons that have skills but might have otherwise not be given that opportunity to capture those skills to the benefit of a network is just wonderful,” Mayor Bill Bogaard said, who has been a supporter since the start.

In the room full of talented people, one of those was retired award winning documentary filmmaker Patrick Dunavan. He used his skills to create a video that captured the heart of Pasadena Village and premièred it at the birthday party.

“People are getting older and older and living longer and longer and having less and less money. So what are you going to do with them?” Executive Director Sue Kujawa asked.

The Village is not a place but a concept where people commit to being involved in other’s lives and have the opportunity to participate in activities or as a volunteer. They also have services like helping with finances, computers, changing light bulbs, and connecting people to services already established. The Pasadena Village is only one phone call away to helping each of the members to the best of their ability.

“I met people I never would have met before and am now in a community who will take care of me when I fall. That brings me relief and a great source of joy,” President Mike Babcock said.

More than half of the people in the 80-person audience raised their hand as being either a volunteer or serving on a committee. The members are active and caring and want to continue to make the world a better place.

“I don’t think anybody ever has too many friends,” member Victoria Bell said.

The Pasadena Village started because a group of retirees wanted to continue giving their efforts in some way and did not want to end up isolated at the end of their life. Too often seniors are isolated from the whole community, without help from family and thus are forced to move into a retirement home.

“I love the idea of helping people stay in their homes as long as they possibly can and on the other hand are available to help my wife and me stay in our home as long as we possibly can,” member John Hubbard said.

Executive Director Sue Kujawa told about a woman in the village who does not have any family and is slightly disabled. Village volunteers have been giving her rides, and one member realized she didn’t have a television, so he set up an antenna for her.

“It is just a little thing but it makes a big difference in the quality of your life if you are so isolated that you cannot watch the news,” Kujawa said.

The village also has smaller support groups for widows, a documentary film club, book club, an outdoors club that takes hikes together, an end of life discussion group, and more.

“We are dealing with end of life issues, and talking about the end of life. People want to have a say in how in their lives end, whether or not they want to be hooked up to a bunch of machines,” Kujawa said.

As the baby boomers reach retirement age, America will need to find ways to adapt to their needs. The Pasadena Village is one good model according to Karen Germaine.

“Those aged sixty-five an older, as any research will show, that age group as a demographic has exploded which will bring up lots of challenges for our families communities, and our country and it brings up opportunities as well,” Researcher and volunteer Karen Germaine said.

Germaine continued, “The question is, how are we going to support this growing population? This is a model for how a community can bring connections and support to help older folks stay in their homes, stay out of nursing homes for as long as possible and stay engaged with the community,” Germaine said enthusiastically, saying it would probably be the subject of her thesis.