It Takes a Village
Lyn is the wife of any spouse’s dreams. She’s a tower of strength and full of love. Almost all of that love is directed toward her wife, Beth, who has dementia and Parkinson’s Disease.
Beth cannot care for herself, and her loving wife spends every waking hour with her. Beth is Lyn’s first and always love, and she will do everything for her. But she feels like she’s going downhill herself and needs help. If she only had a few moments to herself….
Meanwhile, Andrew has lived in his house for over 35 years, knows every nook and cranny, as the house holds most of his deepest memories. And there’s his garden where Andrew continues to love gardening. It calms him and literally provides the roots that hold him to his beloved home. But he finds it more and more difficult to cull its weeds, or to sow in spring. If he only had someone’s balance, someone’s steady hands to help….
Lyn and Andrew feel trapped in their own homes; they don’t realize they are not alone. Thankfully, they soon learn there’s help available.
The Greater Lewes Community Village describes its mission as “Volunteers Helping Older Adults Live Independently as Long as Possible.” It focuses on the importance of keeping clients living at home and providing the elderly with the resources to make their own decisions.
For the Village Volunteers, aging in place is about helping older adults live life with dignity, independence, and the certainty that there’s someone to turn to for aid. The organization helps older adults remain in control of the decisions about their life as they age in their own surroundings.
As for Lyn and Andrew, their real-life stories have seen much improvement thanks to the Village. Volunteers sit in with Beth, allowing Lyn to spend a few hours by herself, reading, running errands, even getting back in touch with her knitting group.
Andrew has a volunteer kneeling with him in his beloved garden, both of them pulling weeds and making the garden thrive again.
These volunteers allow Lyn, Beth, and Andrew the ability to keep living in their own homes, with the help of family and volunteer caregivers, respite providers, drivers, readers, and yes, gardeners.
So who arranges for these community volunteers? Jackie Sullivan, Executive Director of the Village, goes to libraries, churches, homeowners’ association meetings, and so on, to recruit volunteers and spread the word about the Village’s volunteer services.
Participating at events (with organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Rotary Clubs donating space and time) is valuable as well. For every volunteer the Village has, it can provide services for approximately 1.6 members.
The Village also has a close relationship with CAMP Rehoboth. As members of the LGBTQ community, Jackie and her wife retired here in 2014. What made this the right area for them? They found a community which gave them inspiration, comfort, kindness, a desire to help others, and welcome for all. According to Jackie, “it was entry into an accepted life.” For them, part of that community was, and is, CAMP Rehoboth.
On weekends, the couple often enjoyed the chicken salad at Lori’s Café in the CAMP Rehoboth courtyard. There, they met Salvatore Seeley, Health and Wellness Director at CAMP Rehoboth. From Sal and CAMP Rehoboth, Jackie received suggestions, guidance, volunteers, and a great deal of information to advance the work of the Village.
The relationship between the Village and CAMP Rehoboth grew in part because many elderly persons in the LBGTQ community do not have children, a partner, or a spouse to rely on to keep them aging in place.
CAMP Rehoboth works with the Village to help many CAMP Rehoboth members continue to live independently in the home they love and in the community they trust as they age.
In spite of its Greater Lewes Community Village name, the Village helps seniors not only in Lewes, but also in the Rehoboth and Milton ZIP codes, and is always looking for volunteers in each of those areas and other areas as well.
The Village builds relationships, becoming extended family to the elderly searching for a way to maintain their lives as they have always done. The organization believes people can age with dignity and stay in control of decisions about their lives for a long time, with just a little help.
According to Jackie, Medicare does not cover this type of support and local governments and healthcare systems cannot play this role. “We depend upon one another to meet the needs of our community.”
The Village is filling a need that 50 years ago neighbors would have done for older adults in their communities. The Village Volunteers are those good neighbors.
The Greater Lewes Community Village is a 501(c)(3) organization. To find out more about cost of services, or donating funds or time, please contact the Village Office, 16686 Kings Highway, Suite B, Lewes, DE, 19958 or call 302-703-2568. ▼