A 2006 New York Times article about the Beacon Hill Village in Boston galvanized Beverly Emmons to explore aging with dignity in New York City. She noticed many ways that society, and particularly the structure of life in New York City, was not organized to care and value the elderly. With a career in theatrical lighting design and arts non-profit management, Beverly knew she had the experience to bring this “village” model to Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. She created a pamphlet, reached out to a few friends and spent many weekends canvassing at the Fort Greene Farmers Market with this mission:
We seniors are often encouraged to leave our homes and move into retirement communities. Why move from the place you love? Our neighborhood can become a ‘retirement community’ for us. Collectively we will marshal the available resources, manage them to our advantage and maximize them by our numbers and energy. Good Neighbors will help you enjoy life and take care of yourself.
Good Neighbors aims to provide seniors with everything from sharing resources to social opportunities to hands-on help with grocery shopping. At the core, it is a vessel through which seniors can ask for help, and neighborhood connections can be activated.
To get involved as a member or volunteer, please visit http://www.goodneighborsproject.org/
Meet a few members:
Dottie is a teacher of teachers, who founded a school in Chicago for children of disabilities. She is a woman of adventure who mountain climbed into her 80s. She recently attended Soul Summit with a few other members.
Pat retired from a lifelong career with the city. She loves to have fun, and believes people live longer when they are in communication. She wants to organize intergenerational movie screenings, starting with the film Get Out.
After retiring from Kingsborough Community College, Clara put her PhD in poetics to good use and self-published a volume of poetry. She is active at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, s well as a meditation group and soup kitchen in Bushwick.
Throughout her career in biomedical research, Valerie has pursued her passion in the arts. She met Good Neighbors while selling silk-screened T-shirts at the park, and makes photographs using a microscope.