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Virtual Retirement Villages

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By : Lauren Kline    99 or more times read
"Welcome to Beacon Hill Village...where city living just got easier. A membership organization with a world of services and your own the neighborhood you love."

This is a quote from the website for Boston's Beacon Hill Village, not a place, but an organization. Founded in 2001, its members consist of a group of residents facing the decision of relocation to retirement communities. They loved their homes and were looking for an alternative to moving, but they needed someplace safe that provided the services they required.

For a non-profit fee of $600 per year for individuals and $850 for household memberships, Beacon Hill Village provides members with many of the services they would receive in a retirement community. The Membership Plus program subsidizes memberships for those who are unable to afford the regular fee. Beacon Hill also depends on funding from various independent and corporate donations. Many of the services are provided by a dedicated group of volunteers.

Types of services offered at Beacon Hill Village include:

- Referrals and information
- Grocery shopping, gardening, dog walking, house sitting, minor household maintenance, tax expert, the list goes on.
- Walking groups
- Exercise classes such as Tai Chi and Stretching
- Members only events and programs
- Discounts for various service providers
- Rides to and from doctor's visits or other errands

Basically, you name it, they have it. If it's not something they offer, they will try and find out how to get it. If you need a light bulb changed or a picture hung, it is all covered under their Concierge service.

You don't have to live in Beacon Hill to join, as they also service Back Bay, West end and surrounding neighborhoods. The minimum age for members is 50, but most are in their early 70's. They are, however, starting to see more Baby Boomers in their membership.

Virtual villages such as Beacon Hill fill a definite need within the community and this concept is catching on across the country. A few of these village networks include, Avenidas Village in Palo Alto, CA, Gramatan Village in Bronxville, NY, Lincoln Park in Chicago, Washington Park Cares in Denver, CO, and Vineyard Village in Martha's Vineyard, MA., a group out of Berkley, California organize workshops that assist communities in creating their own social network. The group is promoting the concept of more age-friendly communities where people can maintain their independence, yet still enjoy their golden years in the comfort of their own homes.
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