The Village Chicago is a vibrant, inclusive community of adults age 50+ who come together to have fun, make new friends, and support each other as they navigate the new longevity. Many Village members choose to stay in their own homes and neighborhoods as they age. This choice keeps them rooted in intergenerational neighborhoods, while their Village membership connects them to a community of peers that spans Chicago’s north side. Members have the security of knowing that if help is needed the staff, volunteers, and an extensive network of trusted resources are at the ready.
Founded by three couples in 2009 as a non-profit member-led organization, the Village is now more than 425 members strong. Crain’s Chicago Business described The Village Chicago as “at the forefront of the nationwide Village movement” – a movement that is now international with 190 Villages in operation, inventing a new future for older adults everywhere.
Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles
The mission of The Village Chicago is to enhance the quality of life and the well-being of individuals as we live longer, so that we remain integral, vibrant and contributing members of our communities.
The vision of The Village Chicago is to be a leader in enriching the experience of aging in our communities and a model for the nation.
We believe that strong, adaptive communities are a foundation for living well. In addition, cross-generational relationships and the recognition of community assets— including the talents, experience and wisdom of members—are fundamental to achieving strong, adaptive and vibrant communities.
The Village Chicago seeks to build such communities and be the most admired and in-demand organization of our type— a strong force for innovation and flexibility in response to changing times and new technologies.
To that end, the Village will:
- Be inclusive and compassionate
- Reflect the talents and resources of our members, promoting the ability of all to volunteer with a focus on recruitment and retention of volunteers
- Develop programs and services that reflect “bottom-up” member input and engagement, including assembling “the whole organization in the room”
- Build connections through all interactions – utilizing and developing community and member resources
- Promote sustainable growth and fiscal discipline
- Develop metrics that reflect member and community impact
- Respect privacy and confidentiality
- Nurture an engaged Board and Board/staff partnership
- Create an integrated staff, volunteer and student team
It was 2007 and a New York Times article describing Boston’s Beacon Hill Village inspired longtime friends, the Freeds, the Spocks, and the Zartmans, to establish a Village on Chicago’s north side.
Observing the start-up, Irene Frye, Executive Director of The Retirement Research Foundation commented:
“From the very outset, they did everything right. They asset mapped existing resources to avoid duplication; they researched the needs and interests of potential members and involved their local elected representatives and institutions. They built the board to provide leadership across skill sets and most importantly, they waited until they could deliver on the mission before launching.”
That’s why when the doors opened in June 2009, under the name Lincoln Park Village, it was financially stable, had in place a core of service partners and providers, a calendar of social and wellness programs, and more than 60 volunteers.
As people learned about it, the Village grew organically from its Lincoln Park origin and now has members living from the South Loop to Edgewater and everywhere in between. In 2017, with 54% of member households outside of Lincoln Park, the Village changes its name to The Village Chicago.
Guided by a 3-year strategic plan, a committed board and the interests and needs of an active, diverse membership, the Village continually performs the essential, day by day re-examining of form and function to ensure that it remains a sustaining force for living well as we live longer.
The Village Chicago Strategic Plan 2016-2019
In support of mission, vision and guiding principles:
- Address the issues created by expanded geographic base
- Develop leadership throughout the organization
- Maintain a fiscally sound organization
- Develop a comprehensive marketing and communications strategy
to broaden and deepen understanding of the Village
- Continue to be an innovative learning lab, having a positive impact on membership well-being through innovative, demographically segmented programming
- Increase impact on issues of importance to members and the community through advocacy
Life After 50
Video by Richard C. Christian, Jr. of Sedgwick Productions.