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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 4:32 am | Fair 50º


Jewish Federation Receives Grant to Support Santa Barbara Village for Seniors

The program is a work in progress, with collaboration from the Center for Successful Aging

The Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara has received a $74,250 grant from the Archstone Foundation to assist with start-up costs for Santa Barbara Village, a collaboration created with the participation of community members and organizations who envisioned, and are now ready to launch, a “village” of coordinated services for area seniors and their families.

Jewish Family Service, a program of the Jewish Federation, in collaboration with the Center for Successful Aging has been working for more than two years to envision and prepare for the launching of Santa Barbara Village, in affiliation with AARP and United Way (with more community partners to come).

Santa Barbara Village will enable a growing and diverse group of area residents to remain living in their homes and communities as they age, by providing a complete coordination of services and support needed to make home living a comfortable alternative to moving to retirement or assisted-living facilities.

The Archstone grant will allow the hiring of a professional coordinator who will enlist membership, evaluate potential providers and coordinate the services needed to launch the program. A search committee is in the process of interviewing candidates for the position.

The village model has been utilized in numerous communities throughout the United States as an innovative solution to the needs of the aging community, especially in light of the recent economic downturn that has had catastrophic impact on the lives of older adults.

Currently, California has the largest older adult population in the country, and in Santa Barbara County it represents 15 percent of the population, “yet nobody is coordinating seniors’ complex, immense and ongoing needs,” JFS Director Dr. Elizabeth Wolfson said. “Santa Barbara is rich in resources for the needs of the large and growing senior population, and is perfectly poised for a village model that will screen, vet, coordinate and guarantee satisfaction from the providers.”

Santa Barbara Village began with the vision of Wolfson and Dr. Beverley Schydlowsky, CSA director, whose agencies each serve a large senior population. In their experience, validated by a recent United Way study, the number one thing older adults want is to be able to remain living in their homes and communities.

In 2008, Wolfson visited Beacon Hill Village in Boston, a pioneering village model. “Santa Barbara is so rich in resources that we could easily transpose the model to fit our unique community,” Wolfson said.

The two agencies convened small seminars, focus groups and professional forums to gather varying viewpoints. With the addition of AARP to help in the collaboration, the forums drew packed crowds, and it was clear that the village idea hit a nerve in Santa Barbara.

A committee formed to develop a structure and by-laws, and identify resources. The ongoing costs of the village will be provided by a combination of sliding scale membership fees, fundraising and volunteer services.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming years, how, exactly I’ll be impacted, but I know I’m going to need help,” said Gretta Rushback, a potential Santa Barbara Village member. “The concept of Santa Barbara Village gives me hope for the future, and a feeling that we’re all in this together.”

— Nancy Friedland is the communications coordinator for the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.

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