There’s a movement afoot. Across the country. Around Tucson. Some call it the “village” concept. Some speak of “aging in community.” It means neighbors organizing to provide services for their elders and disabled friends, services that prolong their ability to stay at home and in our community. “This is not rocket science,” says Robin Landers, Director of the Armory Senior Center. This is doing and caring for friends and relatives just like we’ve always done. What has been added is that a neighborhood or religious organization gets its members together to aid those folks living alone who were formerly being overlooked.
Neighbors Care Alliance is an organization that has a format for groups that want to create a local village. Four months ago Gladys Miller of Neighbors Care Alliance presented to the Armory Park Board an outline of how NCA could help Armory to organize. The Board endorsed the idea.
A program description was posted on line where neighbors could read of a proposal that would bring together clients and volunteers who would help with light housekeeping, errands, doctor visits, even just a social call if one was feeling lonely. Comments were sought; then a steering committee of Fred Eisele, Kate Ervin and George Mairs advertised for interested volunteers to attend an introductory presentation.
Miller returned on the 25th of September, this time to address 17 residents of Armory Park and Angie Quiroz, president of the Board of the Santa Rita N. A., where neighbors are also interested in the village concept. Among the attendees were Landers, representing the Armory Center; Liz Burden, President of the Neighborhood Association; and members of the Armory Park Del Sol Home Owners Association and the Neighborhood Association.
NCA is not a glove that fits all sizes. If anything was apparent from Miller’s presentation, it’s that whatever Armory Park wants, Armory Park can create. What Armory residents will receive from NCA is detailed guidelines on organizing, recruiting, training, searching out neighbors in need, delivering services, program evaluation, fund-raising, and more. Because more than a dozen neighborhoods are already using NCA, fitted to their own needs, Armory also gets the assurance that this is a blueprint that works.
The next neighborhood meeting will be held at the Armory Center on October 9 at 1:00. At that time the steering committee hopes to enlarge itself. Any attendee who wishes to take more of a part in shaping this program is invited to join the committee. But above all attendance and input at this and subsequent meetings is critical to the program’s success.