Susan McWhinney-Morse, one of the founders of the Beacon Hill Village, has been honored nationally for her leadership in the ‘aging in place’ movement that is rapidly spreading across the country and abroad.
At the Fifth Annual National Conference for Villages held mid-November in St Louis, McWhinney-Morse was presented with the first Beacon Award for her extraordinary leadership in advancing the concept of the Village movement on which she has made a significant and lasting impact. The award was presented by Arnie Snyder of the Village to Village Network, an umbrella organization that grew out of the movement spurred by the Beacon Hill Village that helps people remain in their homes as they age.
Twelve years ago McWhinney-Morse and eleven determined friends – all Beacon Hill seniors – agreed that they did not want to move to a suburban retirement community when the time came that they needed more help. And so they challenged themselves to find a way to age at home, and two years later, in 2001, founded Beacon Hill Village. Now 350 people are members of the vibrant urban community of maturing adults that offers purposeful engagement, programs and support services as needed for people over 50.
In no time, word of the Beacon Hill Village spread around the country, prompting many communities to adopt its model, adapt it to their own needs and form Villages of their own. McWhinney-Morse herself logged nearly 100,000 miles of travel to more than 20 communities, spending hundreds of hours helping other Villages, educating the public and promoting the Village concept through interviews and at conferences. She has appeared on national television twice, most recently last summer in a PBS NewsHour broadcast on aging.
“We would all probably agree that, had it not been for Susan’s vision, innovation and creativity that went into developing this novel approach to aging in community and pioneering partnerships and coalitions,” said Snyder, “it is unlikely that there would be a national convention or the Village to Village Network at all.”
The Village to Village Network was created to help communities establish and manage their own Villages. It is sponsored though a joint partnership between Beacon Hill Village and NCB Capital Impact, a nonprofit community development financial institution, and was developed in response to requests from Villages nationwide. It now represents about 30,000 people in more than 120 Villages and more than 125 others in the process of opening in 39 states.