German Village Gazette

German Village Connections

Program gets ball rolling on hiring, services

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

After reaching a significant milestone, German Village Connections is moving forward with hiring an executive director and ramping up fundraising efforts.

The group designed to help seniors age in place, received word last month it was granted federal nonprofit status, something that had taken nearly a year to achieve.

"That was a little bit of a concern," said Ed Elberfeld, a founding member and board president of Village Connections.

Meanwhile, the group will seek volunteers, define its scope of services and establish membership fees, Elberfeld said.

"We definitely feel we ought to at least open the door by the end of the year," he said.

German Village Connections has just shy of $25,000 in seed money, all from private donations.

The formation of Connections marks another breakthrough, as it becomes the first senior "village" concept in the region, following the examples of Beacon Hill Village in Boston and Capitol Hill Village in Washington, D.C.

The Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging contributed $9,500 in grant money last year -- spent on training, seminars and supplies -- $3,000 of which was returned because it was not spent. COAAA has committed to another $19,000 for Connections.

"We felt this was a perfect avenue to explore the village concept," said Bethany Anderson, spokeswoman for the agency.

"There have been successful demonstrations across the country, but we have not had one in central Ohio.

Anderson said the village approach offers a personal touch while also being good fiscal policy for communities, which are facing a rapidly aging population.

"We're making that neighborhood connection again and helping folks get services they need in their home," she said.

Elberfeld said Connections should have an executive director in place by the end of September.

Meanwhile, officials will seek an inexpensive, permanent office for the organization, he said.

The board estimates it will cost roughly $80,000 annually to run Connections, in line with other nonprofit senior-service groups across the U.S.

"We're trying to make it a very good value and part of that is keeping the overhead very low," Elberfeld said. "The work is in the community not in the office."

The executive director will be responsible for fundraising, among his or her myriad day-to-day duties, he said. Roughly half of the annual budget will come from membership dues.

The organization will provide a host of duties for seniors who want to stay in their houses and not move to an assisted-living facility.

Most of the work -- transportation, food drop off and light home maintenance -- will be done by a stable of volunteers.

More demanding services will be done by contractors who have been vetted by the Connections board, Elberfeld said. There's also a social aspect to Connections, such as wellness programming and group activities, he said.

"If you look at the number of elderly, it grows very dramatically in the next 10 to 15 years," Elberfeld said.

To volunteer or seek additional information, go to the website: villageconnectionscolumbus.org.

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