Anne Breckenridge Dorsey
In this time of stress and sequestration, hunting for silver linings has become an Olympic level sport. Happily, there are lots of competing “athletes” in our County. Marin’s volunteer entities are in overdrive, amping up their activities and benefitting from the nationwide upsurge in volunteerism.
The Village Movement in Marin is one of the county’s most dynamic volunteer groups.
Modeled on the template created by Beacon Hill Village, initiated in Boston in 2002, there are now some 400 “Villages” throughout the U.S., with two in Marin County – Sausalito Village and Marin Villages. These organizations are community-based. Their goal is to assist older adults to stay safe, healthy, and in their own homes for as long as possible. To that end, Marin’s Villages offer a wide variety of practical support and activities to keep members active and engaged. This is an especially challenging task when this demographic is being asked both to social distance and shelter in place for an indefinite period of time. It requires new strategies about how to stay in touch and continue to entertain, educate, amuse and support. Sausalito Village (henceforth SV) has been at the forefront of devising programming for this unsettled time that is both impactful and helpful.
We recently stepped up our game dramatically by melding two volunteer pools and offering services and programming to every resident over 60 in town. Result: no Sausalito senior left behind. SV is working hand-in-hand with the City to distribute information to the home of every resident in Sausalito about services available and how to access them. We manage a Citywide volunteer transportation program called CARSS (Call A Ride for Sausalito Seniors) which is a City of Sausalito Age Friendly program.
We are shopping and delivering food and medications to members for whom it is neither easy nor advisable to shop and run errands. We have arranged a weekly dinner delivery from local restaurants. We are bringing new technologies to the organization, teaching our members how to Zoom and join communal “Zoomathons” that are growing in number, attendance, and utility. Weekly events like TED talk broadcasts with discussion, chair yoga, poetry writing, how to download books and stream content from the Marin County network of libraries, book groups, cooking classes and much much more.
Our crown jewel at the moment is our “Daily Tips” – an email filled with informative and entertaining news that appeals to all interests and satisfies multiple needs. The “Tips” is lifting spirits with links to online cultural events; virtual museum tours; exercise classes; information on local shopping and food delivery; news on changes to City/County COVID policies; and of course humor, of which there is a plethora online in the current environment. “Tips” is wonderfully researched and executed, and has earned an outpouring of kudos from all quarters. It is a “virtual” masterpiece!
But Sausalito Village is not depending on technology alone. Members receive periodic “check-in” calls to see how they’re doing, if there is anything they need. When the call went out for all Marin residents to wear masks in public, SV formed a group of “masketeers”, who sewed and distributed masks for anybody who needed one. Volunteers and members percolate new ideas about how to stay relevant, helpful, and connected – and how to continue partnering with the City to be useful to the larger community. Fortunately, we are blessed with a gang of enthusiastic volunteers who delight in turning ideas into realities.
For many of us, feelings of being in community and connecting with neighbors have actually, unexpectedly, amplified during lockdown. Sausalito Village has played a major role in facilitating this for our citizens. It is a welcome, gleaming silver lining for us during this unsettling moment in history.
If you have time, interest and energy, please consider volunteering — or joining! — Marin’s Village organizations. To find out more about Sausalito Village and its programs, you can visit their website at www.sausalitovillage.org or call (415) 332-3325. For those outside of Sausalito, Marin Villages can be reached through www.marinvillages.org or 415-457-4633. Stay well!
(Anne Breckenridge Dorsey is a resident of Sausalito. To submit a My Turn, please contact Publisher Sherman R. Frederick at email@example.com.)