‘Burrillville Village’ in full swing, but help now needed for success

Volunteers gathered at Jesse Smith Library in September. Credit: Susan DeRita, a staff at The Village Common.

BURRILLVILLE – It took years to get a statewide program aimed at improving quality of life for older adults fully implemented in Burrillville –thanks, in large part, to pandemic-related delays.

Now, the organization known as The Village Common of RI has officially listed Burrillville’s program as one of six statewide utilizing the, “village,” concept, with neighbors help neighbors to age in place. Volunteers provide town seniors help with everything from small household chores to transportation on a daily basis, with 43 older residents regularly utilizing the available assistance.

But Steering Committee member Jim Alix noted that more help is needed to grow the program, and provide ongoing support to make the Burrillville Village a success.

“While we very much want to help as many of Burrillville’s older adults as possible, we need volunteers to help with that effort,” Alix told NRI NOW. “Volunteers can donate as much time as they have available, and there are no set hours during which they must be available.”

Alix noted that currently, 27 Burrillville residents volunteer with the organization, but only seven have signed on to be drivers, and providing rides to members is by far the most frequently requested service. Drivers use their own vehicles, but TVC provides umbrella insurance coverage.

“We would certainly like to have more people willing to drive our members,” Alix said.

The effort to create a Burrillville Village began in 2018 thanks to initiative by resident Tom Tatro and Senior Service Coordinator Andrea Hall. At first, volunteers operated under a pilot program, providing rides for older adults to get to medical appointments or to do some nearby shopping.

“Once the pandemic eased its grip, volunteers resumed efforts to better organize the Burrillville Village, and finally, in early June of this year, the steering committee signed a memorandum of understanding with the parent organization, The Village Common of RI,” said Alix. “Burrillville Village is now officially a member of TVC.”

Burrillville’s Village membership has since expanded steadily — from 18 residents in June, to 43 as of mid-October.

TVC offers administrative support with an infrastructure database, Zoom accounts, printing and more through their paid staff. Those who sign up for membership at villages in Providence, Barrington, Edgewood, Westerly, Glocester, and now, Burrillville, are asked to contribute $10, $25, or $40 monthly, depending on their means. Members then are able to call a central phone number to request services including rides, errands, technology assistance, small chores around the home and more, and a service-coordinator attempts to match the member with a volunteer who might be able to help.

Alix noted that during the first six months of this year – even before Burrillville actually became official – volunteers provided 123 services, 87 of which were rides to medical appointments or retail locations. 

Now, he said, the steering committee hopes to focus on development of social opportunities for members, such as pot-luck dinners, knitting groups, book clubs and more.

“Providing practical assistance to members is obviously important, but social activities are often just as important to older adults,” Alix said.

The group plans to develop a special social-activities committee for the task and is now also seeking people who enjoy planning events.

“Anyone who would like to join us as a volunteer — as a driver or a social-activities planner or in any other capacity — is very much welcome to do so,” said Alix.

Those interested are asked to call (401) 228-8683 or email burrillville@villagecommonri.org

Older residents interested in becoming a member can call (401) 441-5240 to speak to a service coordinator. A Burrillville volunteer will then call them to arrange an in-person meeting to discuss the program at greater length.

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  1. What happened to the existing programs that we have by and through the U.S., RI State and local governments? What happened to meals on wheels and such? More importantly, where are the families?

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