Vineyard Village at Home is celebrating 10 successful years assisting elders to remain at home, safely, as they age. They have chosen to live at home and be driven when needed, for a whole range of reasons such as recovering from operations, diminishing sight, or restricted mobility. Seniors are paired with a volunteer driver to go to bingo, the bakery, the barber shop, or just call for company. These wonderful, vetted volunteers have a love for elders and are available to make sure the seniors are safe, comfortable, and living dignified independent lives.
The organization, a nonprofit membership program run by seven board members, is there to help people age with grace and assist anyone who needs to get around by day or night. The organization has grown in membership to 55, with a driving volunteer force of 72 locals.
Polly Brown, the founder and day-to-day director, explained that the Vineyard has limited assisted living spaces, and that most people don’t want to go to a nursing facility. To bridge that gap, Vineyard Village at Home provides great services to elders who want to maintain their independence.
One such member, Esther Hopkins (who will be 91 in September), entered hospice in August 2014. Ms. Brown met Ms. Hopkins in hospice, and persuaded her to attend a Tisbury Senior Center play to pique her interest and love of theater. After Ms. Hopkins’ third visit, she got a part in the play and a new lease on life. She developed a friendship with actor and volunteer driver Paul Doherty over their shared love of the theatrical life, political discourse, and intellectual stimulation. Ms. Hopkins credits her revitalization with her discharge from hospice in July 2016. “I was having too much fun, way too busy, for hospice,” she said “and I still am; it’s wonderful, Paul and At Home have given me so much life.”
Lucia Hayman, a vivacious mother of a blended family of five children, who works as a private chef and Pilates instructor, recently joined VVH as a volunteer. Lucia has come to love driving and dropping people off at their appointments while she runs a few chores. “Maybe their family is no longer on-Island,” she said, “or they are healing post-surgery, or maybe they just need to combat loneliness. I see the importance of connection, and it is so rewarding to help. We have much to offer, and the group is very special. I love round-trips; I get to see them safely home.”
Ms. Brown is one of Martha’s Vineyard’s Women of the Year, one of three recognized as such for their work in the community.
VVH is modeled on a national movement called Beacon Hill Village. Looking ahead, Ms. Brown would like to see more volunteers, and to let the community know they are available to help.
To sign up for a part in the weekly schedule and jump in as needed, call Ms. Brown. There is no long-term commitment. It’s an easy way to help with one of our most valuable Island resources, our elders.
For more details, go to vineyardvillage.org or call 508-693-3038.