During her husband’s presidency Hillary Clinton helped popularize the slogan “It takes a village to raise a child.”
The idea is that it takes many people — parents, teachers, churches, neighbors, etc. — to provide all the safety, guidance, supervision, activity and inspiration that goes into raising a healthy child.
As it turns out, the same kind of village can be key to supporting people at the other end of their life. Villages that have been created in some other parts of the country — and that a group of local residents would like to see in Lawrence — would provide the kind of help that older people need to safely and happily continue to live in their own homes.
A meeting has been set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the East Lawrence Recreation Center to discuss the possibility of working with the Village to Village Network to create a support system for people who need a little help with yard work, transportation or other aspects of maintaining a home. The idea is to pair such residents with volunteers or affordable workers who can help them perform tasks they can’t handle on their own.
Although the villages vary widely according to the individual needs of their members, most have executive directors and charge membership fees to finance their operation. The villages oversee volunteer helpers, as well as a network of plumbers, electricians and other workers who are recommended after being prescreened to make sure their services are reliable and reasonably priced. Thursday’s meeting is intended to gauge the interest in forming a village east of Massachusetts in Lawrence, including North Lawrence.
It’s an interesting and challenging concept, although it’s too bad this kind of neighbors-helping-neighbors model doesn’t just evolve naturally in a place like Lawrence. While the efforts of local residents to establish a new “village” are laudable, we also wonder whether organizers might be able to work with an existing social service agency, such as the Roger Hill Volunteer Center or Douglas County Senior Services, rather than creating a new agency with its own expenses.
Whatever form this idea eventually takes, we wish these residents well. Most people are happier staying in their own homes, and it is far less expensive than more structured settings that often involve government subsidies. These residents deserve applause for their efforts to plan ahead and create a system that will allow them to have greater control over their own living situation as they age.