The Arlington Neighborhood Village (ANV), a volunteer-driven non-profit organization, celebrated its five-year anniversary with a volunteer recognition celebration last Friday, May 3, at the NRECA headquarters (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association) in Arlington.
The catered event was a way to thank its volunteers and featured opening remarks from John Vihstadt, master of ceremonies; comments from Christian Dorsey, chair of the Arlington County Board; thoughts from ANV Voices – John Richardson, George Ruppert, Pat Burke and Marissa Lorenzetti; and closing remarks from ANV President Donna Pastore.
Formed in 2014, the group serves about 220 senior members in the Arlington area with about 240 volunteers. To join, you have to be 55 years old, but most of the members are older than 70 and about two-thirds are women who are living alone after having lost a spouse.
According to Donna Pastore, ANV president of the Board of Directors: “Arlington Neighborhood Village opened its doors in 2014 after the founders spent two years engaged in a labor of love to create an organization in Arlington that was dedicated to helping seniors age in place in their own homes for as long as they can.”
If you join ANV, you can receive free transportation services to doctor’s appointments, shopping assistance, rides to exercise classes or anything you want to attend, said Pastore. They have senior health and wellness classes, a Tai Chi class; Spanish conversation group; and social events such as a ‘Dine Around’ at a local restaurant once a month. In addition, there’s senior holiday events like the Thanksgiving Potluck and Holiday Party; and coming in June they will be hosting a summer picnic. All of the services are performed by volunteers and the ANV committees and its board are completely volunteer-run.
She continued: “As you grow older, sometimes you become socially isolated. And one of the main purposes of ANV is to help people remain engaged, so they don’t become too lonely and they don’t become withdrawn, because that defeats the purpose of them living in their own homes as they age in place.”
Added Wendy Zenker, executive director of ANV: “We help seniors to age in place. The simple way to put it is that for all of us there comes a time when you can’t live at home independently as you would have done for the past 70 years of your life. And you need help. You can’t drive as well as you used to; you can’t go up on a ladder to change a light bulb; you can’t get boxes out of the attic; and maybe you need a few home repairs done.”
She continued: “Well, we have 200 volunteers who are ready to come to your house to take you on rides; to take care of you so you can stay in your home as long as possible. And our volunteers love what they do; they’re passionate and committed to help seniors stay in place.”
Arlington native and volunteer Pat Burke said she “got to meet these wonderful, interesting people” when she started driving them around in 2017. That wasn’t enough so she started helping on the IT Committee and she now goes into the office every Thursday to lend her support. “I just love it; I don’t know what I would do without Neighborhood Village,” she said.
Arlington Neighborhood Village is located at 2666 Military Road, Arlington, VA 22207. Call 703-509-8057. To join, visit www.arlnvil.org. Sign up to become a volunteer and initiate the process of joining as a member. Once you sign up as a member, they will send someone to interview you in your home. They have volunteer training and all volunteers are vetted.