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January 2021 Newsletter
January Spotlight -- Sponsored by Upscale Resale Furnishings
Happy New Year! And what a year it's been...
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we've done our best to keep our members connected, active, and independent--with help from you!
  • In 2020 we increased both our membership and volunteer base
  • Our volunteers provided over 1,300 hours of support
  • We introduced Walking Club and #WednesdaysWithUs to safely combat social isolation
  • We delivered: mum plants in collaboration with the German Village Garten Club, 9 turkey dinners from Valter's on Thanksgiving, handmade quilts this winter, Christmas dinners, and masks, hand sanitizer, and hand soap throughout the year with the help of volunteers, donors, and COAAA
A Village Connection - In Conversation with Past Executive Directors: Katie White & Kristen Schweitzer
For the LAST edition of our "A Village Connection" series, we're bringing it full circle with a conversation between the first and second Executive Directors of Village Connections.
When Katie White first heard about the Village movement, she was working at the Alzheimer’s Association. She’d stumbled across an article that lead her down a rabbit-hole. Soon, she learned about the efforts to start a Village in her own city. Eager to get involved in whatever way she could, Katie reached out to Ed Elberfeld.

When a job posting opened up for a director position at Village Connections, Katie was excited. She had reached a place in her life where she had a lot of energy and felt comfortable tackling programming and planning for a brand new organization. The interviews

were tough. At the time, Katie was 10 weeks pregnant. She called a friend in HR to see if she should disclose this during the interviews. Despite being recommended not to, Katie felt that if she were going to embark on this journey, she needed to include her family. 

Katie got the job. At the time, Village Connections wasn’t yet open. She had around 3 months to figure out the framework: lots of paperwork, policies, and procedures. She contacted different agencies to get feedback on best practices and secured funding from FCOA. There’s “So much magic to the beginning phases of a Village”, she said, with everyone dedicated to making it work.

Village Connections officially launched in January and Katie left for maternity leave in March. Volunteers and board members stepped up around the office. Barb Elberfeld babysat when Katie needed to come in for meetings. Katie says that they were all an intertwined family—she started both Village Connections and her own family at the same time. She got to know members by sharing meals on their porches.
Although she loved her work, Katie had the opportunity to move onto another position that she also had a lot of heart and soul for. Kristen came to Village Connections from the American Association of Service Workers. She says that while filling Katie’s shoes was rough at first, her main priority was to get a good grasp on every member. She got to meet people, go into their homes, and build relationships. Current Executive Director Donald Wiggins comments that he still hears members talk 
about the way Katie and Kristen would do things. He says, “They made it easy for me to come here…they set the tone for the organization.”

The three of them talk about the ways that an organization evolves over time, with different people and skillsets. There are now VISTA partners and other Villages in Columbus: a wider support system. They reiterate how much of working at a Village is about relationships—how they become part of your family and you become part of theirs. The challenge is always wanting to provide more services while making sure you have enough volunteers to be able to do so. 

When asked what she would like people to know about Villages, Kristen says that as people with Village experiences, she wishes we could share it with everyone. She wonders why Villages aren’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Now more than ever, she says there should be an emphasis on staying home and how you do it. 

WHAT'S GOING ON?
We would like to recognize the Top 5 volunteers who have provided the most support hours in 2020:
 
Kathleen Knost, Karen Stowe, Mary Jablonski, Pam Bentley, Jeanne Jacobs

Thank you for your commitment to aging adults in our community!
We've been making deliveries to members this holiday season to spread cheer and safely touch base. We received a generous donation of beautiful handmade quilts to keep our members warm + cozy all winter long. We also distributed traditional Christmas dinners on Christmas Eve to members unable to celebrate with friends and loved ones this year.
A warm welcome to our newest social members Susan & Taylon Altan, LeAnne & Gene Gompf, Susan & Jay Kasey, Marty & Steve Mishler, and Penny Reeve!


Could you or someone you know benefit from becoming a member of Village Connections? We're accepting applications and have a limited number of scholarships available based on need. Contact our office to learn more.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT VOLUNTEERING
Have you been interested in giving back? Village Connections has something for everyone!
We are always looking for volunteers and members to join our monthly Phone/Mail tree. If you're interested, please email jillian@villageconnectionscolumbus.org.
STAY SAFE + HEALTHY THIS WINTER
The safety of our members is our number one priority. All events, in-person meetings, and group activities (including Walking Club) are currently on hold at the recommendation of the Ohio Department of Health and in accordance with Mayor Ginther's "Stay At Home" Advisory.

We will continue to monitor the situation carefully. Volunteers will keep providing essential services on an individual basis.
Village Connections wishes you a safe and happy holiday season however you choose to celebrate!
We encourage everyone to pick up the phone and see how your neighbor or a friend is doing. A little conversation can go a long way!
If you shop on Amazon or at Kroger, be sure
to link your account to support Village Connections!


Have you considered a gift to Village Connections in your Estate Planning?

Village Connections
588 S. 3rd Street
Columbus, OH 43215

info@villageconnectionscolumbus.org
 614-226-6567

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Village Connections · 588 South Third Street · Columbus, OH 43215 · USA

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