By Rob Montana
Non-profit organizations are plentiful throughout Tompkins County, and make a big impact in our communities. Despite their contributions, area non-profits can sometimes go unnoticed or unknown. In an effort to shine a spotlight on those who are making a difference in our county, Tompkins Weekly will be showcasing these organizations on a regular basis.
This week we are highlighting Love Living at Home. Founded in 2016, Executive Director Elena Flash said the organization’s roots “began in 2014 when a group of local individuals saw a news story about the Village Movement of neighbors helping neighbors to live active and fulfilling lives. The ‘Village’ concept is based on the idea that by supporting one another as we age, much in the way that neighbors and extended family have done in the past, it becomes possible for people to remain in their homes and connected with their communities.”
To learn more about Love Living at Home, we asked Flash some questions about the organization.
Tompkins Weekly: What is your mission?
Elena Flash: Our mission is to create a community of neighbors supporting neighbors through social programs and helpful services. Any resident of Tompkins County 62 and older can be a member. Financial assistance is available so that anyone can join.
TW: How do you fulfill that mission?
EF: We provide a variety of programs and services that are geared towards meeting the interests and needs of our members.
Our programs include gathering for coffee, drinks, dinner and movies. We seek out opportunities to take advantage of the many events taking place in Tompkins County. We have attended local music and theater performances and lectures, gone on nature walks, and taken cooking classes. We have a “Behind the Scenes” program that offers an inside look at area resources, and small groups based upon members’ interests.
Our core services include transportation, “handyman” services and personal support. This may mean giving a member a ride to a medical appointment or social event, helping someone cover an air conditioner, replacing a hard to reach light bulb, help with errands or just a friendly visit or phone call. We help with the neighborly things that make life a little easier.
Volunteers are the backbone of Love Living at Home. We currently have more than 60 volunteers who provide services, do computer and office work, and serve on the committees that choose and organize all programs, services, outreach and communication. We welcome volunteers of all ages.
TW: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces?
EF: As a new organization, our first priority is letting people know we exist and inviting them to join us. We have had a great response from the Tompkins County community about our Village. However, some people feel they are “not ready yet” or they “don’t need it.” At the time of this writing, we have 118 members ages 62-90. While a large number of our members don’t need or use services, most of us are involved in programs, volunteering, making friends and taking charge of our future by building a community that will be there when we need it.
One person summed up some of the reasons why someone might consider becoming a member in this way:
— If you find yourself wishing you had more to do
— If you enjoy learning new things
— If you want to be more social
— If you could use some help lifting or moving something
— If you have something that needs fixing
— If you have avoided going somewhere because you do not want to drive or you don’t have someone to go with
— If you wish you had a neighbor to call
TW: What is something people do not know about your organization?
EF: Love Living at Home is part of a new and exciting national movement of people who are taking charge of their futures as they age. The Village Movement is an “aging in place” initiative that is at the forefront of a new approach to age and aging. There are now more than 200 Villages in in the U.S. and nearly that many more in development. While part of this national movement, LLH is a grass-roots organization run by local members and volunteers. This means that we are the people who determine the priorities of the group, what programs and services to offer, and how to do this. Everyone has a voice. We are Tompkins County’s own Village – one we hope will grow to reflect the diverse and unique character of our area.
TW: How can people best support your mission?
EF: By learning more about us and what we do, and then by joining us – as a member or volunteer. Our next public information session is from 1:30-3 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, at the Ulysses Philomathic Library in Trumansburg. All are welcome. For questions, contact us at office@LoveLivingAtHome.org or (607) 319-0162 or visit our website at LoveLivingAtHome.org.
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In addition to its website, people also may connect with Love Living at Home on Facebook at Facebook.com/LoveLivingAtHome.