Grant Jump-Starts Santa Barbara Village

Lets Seniors Stay Home

Santa Barbara Village, a program to coordinate services for seniors who wish to remain in their homes, will soon get its start-up, thanks to a grant secured by the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.

The $74,250 grant, issued on June 29, is from the Archstone Foundation, which is described in a press release as a private non-profit fund which aims to help society meet the growing needs of an aging population. It grants up to $5 million annually, according to the statement.

Santa Barbara Village was formalized over the past two years as a collaboration between Jewish Family Service (JFS), a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, and the Center for Successful Aging, which was previously a part of JFS. In an interview, Dr. Elizabeth Wolfson, JFS director, said the two organizations have long worked together on meeting the “complex” needs of senior citizens and their families. The organizations discovered that the number one request of seniors is to remain in their homes and communities.

To address this problem, Wolfson and Dr. Beverley Schydlowsky (CSA Clinical Director) researched one of the most successful village models, Beacon Hill Village, in Boston, Massachusetts. They decided that a village program such as that one would be a perfect match for Santa Barbara, which has both an aging population (15 percent of Santa Barbara’s population are senior citizens) and multiple nonprofit organizations. According to a press release, when the American Association of Retired People joined the collaboration, forums discussing the village concept drew packed crowds of interested people, cementing the conviction to begin SBV.

According to the Jewish Family Service website, Santa Barbara Village will allow seniors to live comfortably in their homes and also be a part of the greater community. In an interview, Wolfson listed services the program hopes to coordinate and provide, such as delivering meals, arranging transportation, and bringing other specialized professions, such as hairdressers and massage therapists, straight to seniors’ homes. According to Wolfson, Santa Barbara Village will direct its members to services that have been viewed, screened, and vetted in order to “guarantee satisfaction” to its members. Wolfson referred to Santa Barbara Village as “one stop shopping”: members can simply call the program instead of looking up and researching individual organizations.

The Archstone grant will be used to hire a professional coordinator who can enlist membership, evaluate potential providers, and coordinate the services needed to launch the program, which is expected to begin sometime this year. Membership will cost somewhere between $300 and $500. Wolfson has expressed hope that the program will eventually become its own non-profit organization, though for now it is under the supervision of JFS.

People are reportedly enthusiastic about the project. According to the JFS website, village programs are in place in roughly 50 areas in the country, and representatives from around 600 different communities have expressed interest in beginning their own. Locally, Wolfson remarked, many people have already asked to join Santa Barbara Village, and she expects around 200 members at the start of the program.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming years… but I know I’m going to need help,” admits Gretta Rushback, a potential village member, in a press release. “The concept of Santa Barbara Village gives me hope for the future, and a feeling that we’re all in this together.”

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