The Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center's Village in the Ville isn't new, but leaders of the program are working to reintroduce it to the community with a more outward-facing focus.

On June 1, the program held its first open-house cookout at the CRC's headquarters, 3222 N. High St., with the goal of sharing its mission and members with the community.

"There's a bit of information provided, but it (was) mostly a time for members and folks in the community to come together and talk about experiences and certain issues," program director Christine Happel said. "We've talked about everything from maintaining balance to those who have family members with dementia, so it's a focus on education and health-and-wellness programming."

Village in the Ville is a "grassroots, member-driven organization" meant to bring adults 50 and older together for friendship, activities and involvement in the community.

"The Village is a really great program because it's really innovative," CRC associate director Stephanie Baker said. "It's definitely a different way of providing support and helping meet needs of older adults. The Village has a really strong volunteer component and a really strong community support network."

Members gather for events such as tai chi and yoga, have regular discussions and speakers on a variety of topics and generally spend time with others.

For a program such as tai chi, Happel said, the goal is friendship as much as exercise.

"Not only are members getting to do the tai chi and feel the effects of it, but it's also a social time as well," she said.

Beyond those regular goals, the open house signaled a shift toward a focus on being more involved and visible in the community.

In the past, Happel said, this event slot was filled by a garage sale that raised money for the program. Rather than try to raise money, Happel said she thinks an event to which everyone is invited will help inform Clintonville about the Village's mission while raising more awareness of the program.

"We shifted to something that isn't a fundraiser; it's just us being available for the day to provide information about the program to anyone who may be interested," she said.

The goal of bringing more members to the organization, she said, is to "curb isolation" of older adults and "continue to assess the different needs and interests of members," which is improved by a broader and more-diverse group.

That broadened outlook will be aided by a new focus by the Greater Columbus Network of Villages to link together Villages in a wide range of Columbus communities, including Clintonville, German Village, the Short North and the Hilltop.

Baker said the goal of that collaboration will be to emphasize the strengths of each Village while bringing members together.

"Each Village is going to look a little different," she said. "The German Village one and the services they provide look a little different than ours, but then the Hilltop's is going to look a little different from that."

For Happel, it's an exciting time to be a part of Village in the Ville.

"I think we're really going to be growing quite a bit in the next year," she said.

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