Maryland Aging in Community

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                                    Community of Practice for Maryland Villages

                        Summary Notes from Meeting held on Monday May 12, 2014

Our Maryland Community of Practice Group gathered for the third year in a row with 36 participants attending. We were again given wonderful hospitality by the Erickson Program at UMBC and Kevin Heffner warmly welcomed our group to campus and encouraged us in our efforts.

Our meeting began with a Welcome from Maureen Cavaiola, Director of At Home Chesapeake, AHC in Severna Park. She shared a one-page summary that describes a Community of Practice for our Maryland group, and a copy of this is attached for those of you who were unable to join us. Maureen introduced Carol Cober, of Westat and part of the Sandy Spring Village-forming group, shared a new map of our state and described the variations in models noting that in 2014 we have three programs that cover entire counties, six serving specific city or town areas, and many others identified by zip code areas and some configured in group hamlets. This year we noted that there are 18 operating Villages in our state with over a dozen Village programs in the planning stages (emerging villages). It is exciting to see the diverse array of models represented. The diverse models evolving in Maryland include few programs that are connected to or affiliated with existing organizations, non-profits, religious organizations or government programs operating in configurations that include city or county areas. Other Maryland Villages are completely established by a team of dedicated volunteer consumers in specifically defined geographic neighborhood areas. All these programs are tailored to address the needs of specific neighborhoods.

Since developing community is built on interpersonal relationships our hope is that regardless of the model –those involved with a Village as leaders, Board members, or paid staff will find encouragement, creative ideas and support in this Community of Practice.

During the morning we had three presenters and announcements from new initiatives:

  1. For our first educational activity we learned about applying Appreciative Inquiry to Vision & Leadership – from Erickson school graduate and AHC Member, Bettie Farrar. Bettie emphasized the Appreciative Inquiry ( AI) principle as articulated by D.L Cooperrider’s work at Case Western Reserve University that everything has a positive core and by developing these positive aspects in how we communicate we can develop to be better. Our group learned about how this approach can build connections and foster improved relationships among Village members. Appreciative Inquiry as an approach has been applied with the Building of Age-Friendly Communities. For example, a professor at the University of Washington in Tacoma, Dr. Charles Emlet, has used it in working with Social Connectedness development.   Information on Appreciative Inquiry is available from a number of sites, for example at the AI Practitioner site:, or the Appreciative Inquiry Commons.

We were also able to try out this approach with Bettie’s coaching. Each participant was asked to pair off with someone they had not met before and interview each other to answer three questions:

  • Describe your most inspiring journey of learning about villages.
  • What is your dream of how your village will be a happy and healthy village.
  • What personal gifts do you bring to the village movement?

While there was not enough time for all participants to share the information they gathered, some of the ideas we learned included the following:

  • Inspiring journey of learning about villages: How moderate to low income people past the prime of their lives were re-blooming with the village movement—learning that they can contribute and are valued; ability to help neighbors and also get help when needed;
  • Dream of village: Have a sense of community; age together; share good health and happiness; hopefulness;
  • Personal gifts: Management experience; volunteering; leadership
  1. Next we learned about the development of a model program in Baltimore from Lane Levine of Northwest Neighbors Connecting (NNC). He described the evolution of their program, They had spent one year with a taskforce identifying the needs of the community and building interest among the grassroots (low and moderate income seniors in the community), conducting research and working with various stakeholders, They follow a hub and spoke model where the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore identified CHAI, the local community development organization, as the organization to initiate the work as the hub. The villages they develop with be the spokes and NNC is the first of many spokes. Membership is on a sliding scale of $5, $25 or $50 a month. They had about $17,000 collected this year. Additionally they receive funding from the Administration on Aging.
  1. A new Montgomery County development was presented by , Dr. Miriam Kelty of the Bannockburn Neighbors Assisting Neighbors (NAN) Program and the Montgomery County Commission on Aging (COA). Dr Kelty shared the results of the summer study of Montgomery Co Villages conducted by the COA and the resulting creation of a Village Coordinator position. The new program positon as coordinator, Pazit Aviv , was unable to join us at the last minute and additional slides about her program are enclosed. The village coordinator is responsible for helping villages organize, collecting and distributing resources, advocating for villages and publicizing the villages in Montgomery county, working with liability issues, and working to revive the Montgomery county village blueprint.
  1. Other Maryland Program developments were announced.
    • Representatives from a number of newly emerging efforts shared their announcements: Howard County has launched a new Village.
    • Carroll County, Bowie, Catonsville and Sandy Spring have all developed planning committees that are investigating next steps.
    • Another example of a city –funded and long standing program was shared. Tom Patota The Greenbelt Assistance in Living (GAIL) Program provided a review of the they operate. This first Aging in Place program in Maryland has been in existence for a long time (established in 2001) and was established the same initial year as the first Village, Beacon Hill. The program is staffed by a Community Resource Advocate and funded by the City of Greenbelt. The city provides support through several positions that assist seniors within the city to age in place effectively.

The group paused for a Lunch break and set up informal networking opportunities among participants encouraging a mingling of new and experienced programs and those sharing similar characteristics. Ideas and resources were exchanged providing inspiration and support.

In the afternoon we focused on “Tools you can use” with an example from Peter Engstrom of At Home Chesapeake. Peter shared the “Master Aging Plan” or MAP that he has also revealed at National VtVN events. His presentation provided an excellent orientation to how a community of Village members can help each other address what he calls “bumps in the road”. Peter shared insights he gained first as a caregiver for his parents supporting them as they began to age in place, and then these ideas have been refined in his work with the AHC village community. He noted how quickly health conditions can escalate changing everything that a family might have expected. The resources he and the AHC community have developed for a Master Aging Plan were discussed eagerly among our CoP members as a potentially valuable tool for getting the difficult conversations started to help Village members to develop more comprehensive plans to address “bumps in the road”. This information is so important for al lof us who wish to aging-in-community! Peter shared slides that we will send to you.)

Finally in our last session, we discussed Next Steps for our Maryland CoP. The focus on Collaboration and Communication was noted.

  • This summer we hope to arrange to have an exhibit booth at the Maryland Association of Counties “ Ideas and Innovations Conference” August 13-16.
  • We wish to identify other emerging Village projects throughout our state.
  • We are also developing a Blog resource to collect the stories that bring life and meaning to our Village programs. Attendees were all invited to begin collecting ideas of stories to either share in an interview process or to write up as a guest blogger.
  • Try to integrate more students (from the Erickson school) to make the CoP more intergenerational.

We determined to meet again in October. Mondays were identified as a good day and 9:30 as a good time. Right now we are examining the following two dates as possibilities:

Monday October 20th and

Monday October 27th of

If you have a preference please email Maureen at or Carol at

Thanks again to the Erickson Program for hosting, to the presenters and attendees for sharing their precious time and wisdom with all of us!

Attachments-We will send the attachments in two emails

  1. Attendee list & Community of Practice Definition* in this email

Separate email with the following attachments

  1. Master Aging Plan Slides
  2. List of Maryland Village Programs
  3. Montgomery County new Coordinator update

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