San Francisco Village Launch Party held at SFJCC
By Mary Beth Starzel
The official launch of the San Francisco Village–Northside, a multigenerational membership program that provides many of the benefits of a retirement community while enabling seniors to remain in their own homes, was celebrated recently at the Jewish Community Center.
About 200 attended the event, an occasion that had been in the planning for two and a half years and represented a proposition to “inspire joy in our lives this day and always,” said Rev. Mary Moore Gaines, rector of St. James Episcopal Church, 4620 California Street, one of the founders.
The group received its nonprofit status last year and a new office in the Institute on Aging, 3330 Geary Avenue. They are starting with 80 individuals as members, or 56 households, and going for a “core membership” of 500.
Memberships, which have gone down in cost since early projections, are offered for $600 annually for an individual or $750 for a couple. For this fee, members receive an interview with an assessment team to look to individual wants, needs and interests. They are then connected with a range of free and fee-based services provided by either volunteers or vetted vendors. There are also community-building activities including social, cultural and educational events; daily living assistance; health and wellness programs; and volunteer opportunities. Members can access all services with just one phone call to the San Francisco Village.
“This is really about changing the way we think about getting older,” Moore Gaines said.
Nancy Loucks, new director for the group, explained at the event that the concept was about making lives easier. There will not only be lots of help for practical things, like transport to medical appointments or fixing the broken banister, but social and cultural activities to build community and free seniors from the isolation that sometimes comes with age or physical limitations. Services will range from social and cultural clubs to dining out and theater groups, personal fitness to brain fitness, yoga and walking groups, and more, she said.
Board member Jack Herndon, speaking at the event, said it would be a group “of, by and for its members,” noting that the program would evolve to meet present and ongoing needs.
Another board member, Gladys Thacher, a longtime San Francisco nonprofit leading figure, told the gathering she had realized that “she was too old to be young, but too young to be old. We need to be taken for what we are, while recognizing we may often need support. San Francisco Village is our network,” she proclaimed.
San Francisco Village will also offer network resources that go beyond itself to alliances with other agencies and institutions, such as the Institute on Aging, Enterprise for High School Students, and the Community Learning Center at St. James Church, as examples. “All of this broadens the opportunities for individuals and the aspect of intergenerational community that is fostered by these combinations,” Moore Gaines said.
Other benefits listed by the group include:
• Being in a supportive community with the opportunity to connect with other members of similar interests and experiences.
• Access to a referral bank with a growing database of vetted and trusted resources, such as plumbers, electricians, gardeners, etc.
• Access to a members-only Web site for social connections, information about programs and activities, and links to the many organizations allied with San Francisco Village.
• Discounted rates for many professional services such as financial planning and care management.
• Opportunities for members-only events and celebrations.
• Receipt of the group’s newsletters for information on local lectures, events, and other appropriate opportunities in the community.
Those interested in the new program may visit the Web site at www.sfvillage.org or call 415-387-1375 for more information or membership.
“It’s a powerful concept in making futures as bright as they can be,” Moore Gaines said.
Mary Beth Starzel writes periodically
for Northside San Francisco as a community resident.