An increasingly popular way for people over 50 to spend the rest of their lives where they already live has come to the Beehive State.
Utah Senior Village, an outgrowth of the "village model" that started 10 years ago in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, officially launched on Tuesday.
The group plans to establish neighborhood villages throughout the state as paid membership organizations that would provide direct support services to members so they might live independently as long as possible.
The nonprofit's organizers Richard Starley, Jan Tyler and L.B. "Butch" Jentzsch said they would like to establish Utah's first village in the 84103 Zip code, which includes the Avenues, Capitol Hill and Marmalade districts of Salt Lake City.
Starley said these neighborhoods have the highest concentration of seniors in the capital city, with more than 25 percent of residents age 50 or older and about 4 percent over 80.
The grassroots "village model" allows seniors to belong to a dues-supported member organization as an alternative to moving out of their homes when they grow older.
Starley, an Avenues resident and veteran nonprofit manager who formerly directed AIDS Project Utah, said 50 villages already are operating in the nation just 10 of them in the West and hundreds more are forming.
Utah Senior Village proposes a single umbrella group in the state to provide economy of scale. Starley said village dues would cover only about 40 percent of the ultimate costs. Other funding could come from foundations, corporations, local businesses or individual donors, which might include more affluent village residents who could take tax deductions on donations. "It is not free," he said. "It doesn't work well in low-income communities."
Beacon Hill Village, however, decided to expand into less affluent areas and subsidize low-income members. According to its web site, people 60 and over whose incomes fall below a certain threshold would pay a fraction of the regular annual dues.
On Tuesday, Utah Senior Village pulled together a focus group that includes AARP, state and Salt Lake County aging services, Jewish Family Service, the University of Utah and the Greater Avenues Community Council to explore the programs and services they think should be part of Utah's model, how much the dues should be, and what would motivate seniors to join.
Ellen Silver, Jewish Family Service's executive director, cautioned that for the village model to work, caregivers have to be part of the mix. Adult children, she said, might pay the village dues as a way to make sure their aged parents get certain services.
The 'village model'
Villages are membership organizations that, through both volunteers and paid staff, coordinate access to affordable services including transportation, health and wellness programs, home repairs, and social, educational and other activities aimed at allowing seniors to age in place and stay connected to their familiar communities. For more information: