Senior citizens living in Georgetown soon might have a new way to stay in their homes rather than moving to retirement communities or assisted-living facilities, thanks to a nonprofit co-op called a "village."
Eighteen such villages have sprung up in the Washington area over the past several years, making it a hot spot for the movement that started in Boston a decade ago.
Villages provide volunteer services, discounts for local businesses, social activities and transportation to members who pay monthly fees. Whether a senior needs computer training or a ride to the airport, volunteers can help, say village organizers.
Now Georgetown is expected to get its own village through the efforts of Sharon Lockwood, a 69-year-old Georgetown resident and retired World Bank economist.
Lockwood, who has lived in her Georgetown home for 42 years, first learned about the concept at a community meeting two years ago. She signed up for an e-mail list, became a member of the Capitol Hill Village to learn more, then started work on a village for Georgetown.
"I love Georgetown. I want to stay. Where else do you have the better restaurants?" she said. "Everybody wants to stay in their home. Nobody wants to be shipped off."
The Georgetown village has an advisory board, a board of directors and four committees, all composed of volunteers. Lockwood hopes to open to members within a year.
Nearby Capitol Hill Village is focusing on answering calls for help with volunteers, not just offering discounted services.
"We encourage our members to ask for anything ... ," said Capitol Hill Village director Gail Kohn. "It's not need-based, it's want-based, in terms of what people can ask for."
Capitol Hill Village has 360 members. Membership fees are $800 per year for a household, or $530 per year for an individual.
Lockwood did not yet know what Georgetown's membership fees would be.