Since September 2014, a planning committee led by Fran Randolph has been working on helping seniors age in place, and the pilot program for The Village at Kentlands is set to start in the fall.
“The older population is skyrocketing,” according to the AARP Public Policy Institute, which cites a 2008 Federal Interagency Form on Aging-Related Statistics that stated that the U.S. population of adults, 65 and older, will nearly double (37 to 71.5 million) between 2006 and 2030. AARP’s conclusion is that this “demographic trend presents major challenges for meeting the needs of the older population who overwhelmingly prefer to receive services and supports within their homes or communities.”
And that is where a nationwide movement, known as the Village, comes in. In fact, Montgomery County has its own Village coordinator, Pazit Aviv, under the auspices of the county’s Health and Human Services’ Aging and Disability Services. The county now has 20 Villages, and another 10 in development, said Aviv, who described her role as an as-needed consultant.
“Fran and I have been in constant contact,” Aviv said. “She is proactive about learning what I know, and making use of it, then reaching out to additional community organizations and establishing cooperative relationships.”
The Kentlands group, which has been meeting twice a month since its inception, is planning to launch the pilot program at the end of September or early October. Its network of volunteers will “provide support so that seniors can live healthier and safer lives in their own homes,” Randolph said. Kentlands residents, ages 55 and older, as well as individuals of any age with special health or physical needs will be eligible for services including transportation, social visits, help with minor chores and access to service providers.
“We have been very busy,” Randolph said. Foremost among their accomplishments, she announced having found “a wonderful person who has agreed to be the volunteer program administrator during the pilot.” That person, Jean Mocarski, is a Kentlands Manor resident with “a strong management background, but also knows the target population.”
“For most of my career, I have been involved in the areas of compliance, training, and administration/operations at the management level, working for a staff augmentation organization that specialized in the IT arena,” said Mocarski, who retired at the end of 2013. “My strong organizational, analytical, and communication skills should be extremely useful as we get this pilot program underway. Also, I do live in Kentlands Manor, and am very much aware of the somewhat unique situations that this particular location might present.”
Mocarski became involved with the Village “through a dear friend who told me about this proposed project and the concept appealed to me. I have always believed in volunteerism and giving back.” She pointed out that the goal is not only that residents remain in their own homes, but also that they “continue to feel connected to their communities and neighborhoods. It is my hope that by providing basic services, such as transportation, social visits, help with simple chores/errands, we can accomplish this goal.” After meeting with the planning committee members in May, Mocarski said she was “extremely impressed with the professionalism and dedication,” and “agreed that my skill sets could be useful as the program administrator, especially during this pilot program.”
Filling that pivotal position is not all the planning committee has accomplished, Randolph said. They have found office space in Kentlands Manor, set policies and procedures for services that will be provided during the pilot, and enlisted experts to conduct formal training of volunteers. They are working with Senior Connections to develop an agreement that will help coordinate the transportation services and vet volunteers. In addition, the committee is designing an evaluation for the pilot and considering possible fundraising avenues—so items such as a laptop, software and cell phone service may be purchased.
Additional volunteers for two committees are needed, Randolph said—on the communications committee “because we need to ramp up the information on our Village using multiple mediums” and the partnership committee because we need to get support from local businesses.”
Learn about “The Village at Kentlands” at an informational forum on Monday, July 18, 7 to 9 p.m., at the Kentlands Clubhouse, 485 Tschiffely Square Road. For more information, contact Fran Randolph at 301.330.7776 or firstname.lastname@example.org.