Are you at the age where you’re still able to live on your own, but you need occasional help changing a lightbulb, cleaning the gutters, figuring out your computer or cell phone, or hitching a ride to a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store?
If so, the UpValley Village can help.
It’s a membership-based organization overseen by the nonprofit Collabria Care that connects paying members with pre-screened volunteers who can assist with rides and minor in-home projects, and also refers them to responsible professionals who can help with bigger jobs for a reasonable price.
The program’s goal is to help its members stay independent and live at home as long as possible.
Organizers told us it’s intended to serve seniors who don’t need or qualify for existing social services, but who do need an occasional helping hand. A series of surveys and focus groups, funded by the Gasser Foundation, determined that there was a gap in services for that segment of the population.
Fees are $50 per month for individuals and $75 per month for couples, with a discount if you sign up for a full year.
The program, run by Program Manager Myrna David, is based in the Red Cross building in St. Helena and serves seniors in St. Helena, Calistoga, Angwin and Yountville.
Its paid membership model and the type of in-home service it provides distinguish it from Rianda House Senior Activity Center – whose executive director Julie Spencer also sits on the advisory council for the UpValley Village. Rianda gives clients a place to go; the Village helps them get there and assists them with odd jobs at home.
According to census data, almost 20 percent of the Upvalley population is older than 65, so this is the kind of program that will only grow more valuable over the next few years. It’s based on a model that’s proven successful in cities around the country, including in the Bay Area: Palo Alto, Marin, San Francisco, and Lamorinda Village serving Moraga, Orinda, Lafayette. Whether it can succeed in the Upvalley is still an open question, but organizers are planning on it catching on through word of mouth.
The program just got off the ground late last year, with 30 members having signed up so far. Only 10 of those are paying community members, with the rest being donors and supporters serving on the advisory council. The UpValley Village needs to attract at least 60-80 paying members to prove viable.
At this stage the program needs public awareness, members, and volunteers who are willing to undergo background checks, TB tests and flu vaccinations.
If you want to try this program, if you want to volunteer to help seniors stay in their homes, or if you want to invite a representative of the UpValley Village to give a presentation to your service club, church group and other community organization, contact them at 244-5042, email@example.com, or upvalleyvillage.org.