The Bexley Community Health Action Team will conduct focus groups this summer and a town-hall meeting this fall to gauge the interest residents who live in the 43209 ZIP code have in participating in a community network.

The network would consist of volunteers who would assist residents, especially those age 50 and older, with errands and household chores.

The focus groups will complement a survey that CHAT is encouraging residents to complete by the first week of August, said Mary Gottesman, a Bexley councilwoman who is leading the effort.

"We hope to partner with churches and synagogues to host the focus groups," she said. "We will be contacting them in the next two to three weeks to talk about the village concept and plan the focus groups."

The proposed village is a collaboration among CHAT, the city of Bexley, Jewish Family Services and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus. The organizations hope to establish what would be dubbed Vibrant Village East to serve the Bexley, Berwick and Eastmoor areas.

Village volunteers would have to pass background checks and be available to assist with service requests, Gottesman said.

"It's a membership: You pay an annual fee and then when you, as a person 50 years or older, need help with tasks around the house -- snow shoveling, leaf removal -- you contact the village," she said.

In establishing the village, Bexley would join similar organizations in Clintonville, German Village and the University District.

"It's grassroots-led and -operated," she said.

Plans call for offering monthly payment plans and scholarships for participation in Vibrant Village East based on financial need, Gottesman said.

"It would make it more affordable to pay on a monthly basis than one lump sum," she said.

Village membership would also include a calendar of events listing programs and services to help older adults stay physically active and socially engaged, Gottesman said.

"We're pulling together all the social and educational resources and making it easy for people to participate," she said.

Questions included in the current survey ask participants to rate their health, list the modes of transportation they normally use to get to doctors' visits and other appointments, and the methods by which they find out about and access community services.

"We hope the survey will show what level of interest there is in the community, what services they want," Gottesman said. "Depending on that feedback, we'll shape what (services) we move forward with."

The town hall meeting is tentatively scheduled for September or early October, with a date and location to be announced closer to the event, Gottesman said.

"We want to use the survey data to hone the focus-group questions and prepare for the town hall," she said.

The survey is available online at Bexley.org/CHAT. Paper copies will be mailed along with water bills to all Bexley residents the first week in July, Gottesman said.

In addition, paper copies are available at the Bexley Public Library, 2211 E. Main St., and Jewish Family Services, 1070 College Ave., for 43209 residents who do not receive a Bexley water bill.

For more information, email Gottesman at mgottesman@bexley.org.

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