Organizers celebrate official launch of new support program for Burrillville seniors

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BURRILLVILLE – After years of working with The Village Common of Rhode Island to create a support network for older residents in Burrillville, organizers recently celebrated the official launch of the town program with an event at Bella Restaurant.

More than 60 locals attended the celebration, along with a representative from the larger Providence-based organization. A non-profit group started in 2015 by a group of older adults living on the east side of the city, the organization aims to support seniors who wish to age in their home via a network of local villages – communities of mutual support – across Rhode Island.

The effort to bring such a program to Burrillville began in 2018 with the launch of a pilot transportation network offering volunteer rides to town seniors. The effort to transition the pilot into a full village offering multiple service – and socialization – was slowed down somewhat by the pandemic, but more recently, the Burrillville Common Steering Committee has been working in earnest to create an ongoing support program to assist seniors with needs such as household chores, getting medications and groceries, or transportation to doctor’s appointments.

At the launch party, one recipient of services received through the initial pilot program spoke about her experience and organizers answered questions from attendees. Working under the umbrella of the larger organization, the easy format allows members of the new program to call into the Village Common with a task they need help with, and the call operator sends out a message to volunteers willing to assist.

Targeted toward Burrillville residents age 50 and older, the Village volunteers will help members with things such as home organization and clean up, the set up of electronic devices and creation of, “Neighborhood Circles,” that connect members who live near one another.

And with Burrillville now an official division of a program that’s seen success in communities including Barrington, Edgewood, Providence and Westerly, starting in May, membership for those in town will now come with a small fee.

“The initial introduction of program was a pilot program at no charge but all villages have  a fee that is determined by each participant,” explained Steering Committee member Shirley Taylor. “The person or couple set the rate they can afford.”

Taylor noted that some members set the rate at $10 for the year, while others have said if they can afford it, they will send a donation later in the year.

Organizers with the Village Common will participate in the upcoming Lunch and Learn event at Wright’s Farm Restaurant on Wednesday, May 3 to answer questions and spread the word.

It’s all part of a larger statewide effort to improve quality of life for older adults. Other communities, such as neighboring Glocester, have recently started the process in hopes to join the movement.

Those seeking more information can email  burrillville@villagecommon.org  or call the central office for the Village Common of Rhode Island at (401) 228-8683 and ask about Burrillville.

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