This column in Attraction by Amelia Blades Steward will visit the faces of those who have benefited from the generous and tireless work of the nonprofits on the Mid Shore. Amelia has been a freelance writer in our community for over 15 years and offers a glimpse into the lives of residents on the Mid Shore who she has met along the way.
As the number of seniors is growing in Talbot County, so is the need for services. In 2014, a group of local residents formed the “Village Exploratory Committee” to address the need for affordable services that would allow older adults to remain safely in their homes for as long as possible. In September 2015, Talbot Village Connections (TVC) achieved 501(c)(3) status through Mid-Shore Community Foundation. The organization serves Talbot County residents, aged 55 and above.
According to Lee Lynch Newcomb, LCSW-C, President of Talbot Village Connection, the all-volunteer group became active in February 2017. Talbot Village Connections provides affordable services to its members through its network of trained volunteers. Membership is affordable and reliable and is “one phone call” away, from access to necessary services such as local transportation, simple household/gardening chores, daily telephone assurance calls, friendly visitors, review of contract proposals for home repairs, and social/educational opportunities. In the future, the group hopes to offer help with technology issues for its members.
To date, the organization has over 20 members and the number one request has been local transportation. The organization’s first member and now also a board member, Shirley Sallet, comments, “As a member of Talbot Village Connections, my appreciation goes beyond any of my expectations . . . having transportation readily available means I can easily keep up with medical appointments, physical therapy, YMCA exercise, as well as benefit from getting household and technical help.” She adds, “The big bonus, which is the icing on the cake, is that I have enjoyed making new friends.”
Talbot Village Connections offers its members a variety of services through its network of volunteers. All volunteers are screened through reference and background checks. The organization is looking for volunteers who have energy, creativity, and a desire to make their community and the world a better place. Tasks include taking members to appointments, the store and on other small errands; and providing in-home telephone calls for members who desire a daily check-in. Talbot Village Connections is also looking for volunteers to do computer entry, mailings, staff parties, and answer phones, as well as to provide technology support, handyman services, and review contract proposals for home repairs.
Lee comments, “I got excited at our recent picnic to see the people gathered, the connections that have been made, and the relationships that have been built. We had members, volunteers and board members there. There was so much potential in the room.”
Talbot Village Connections has developed relationships with a number of partner organizations that provide support, in-kind services, referrals and resources to its members. These partners include United Fund, Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Talbot County Council, Talbot County Department of Social Services, Talbot County Health Department, University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton, Village-to-Village Network, Brookletts Place (Talbot County Senior Center), and The Studio.
Talbot Village Connections is a member of Village-to-Village Network, a national organization representing over 200 villages in the United States. Villages are designed to reflect the communities they serve, and they offer today’s seniors an opportunity to age successfully, supported by other Village members and volunteers.
According to Ilene Henshaw, AARP, Department of Government Affairs, “Villages are instrumental in helping people remain in their homes and independent in their communities.”
Lee adds that family members have been appreciative to have this service in Talbot County as it lessens the stress of meeting the needs of their aging family members.
Membership costs $45 per quarter for individuals and $60 per quarter for households. Membership includes a bimonthly newsletter and invitations to social and educational programs, four transportation requests a month, two hours a month of minor home repairs, review of contract proposals for home repairs, telephone reassurance, and home visits. In November, the organization will host a Life Transitions workshop for its members and volunteers.
“We are also looking for donations to match the funds we are seeking in the grants we have applied for,” Lee states.