“Preparing for the future,” “Having an anxiety attack” or simply “Thinking ahead” are the thoughts that motivated two residents of Harrisonburg to begin conversation in 2007. Keith Gnagey and Paul Yoder soon discovered they were not alone as they met with others in search of a model that supported persons aging in their own homes. In fact, a national AARP survey determined that among those 75 and older, 95% say they want to stay in their homes as long as possible.
Keith and Paul explored Naturally Occuring Retirement Communities (NORCS), as well as the member-driven Village Model (first developed by Beacon Hill Village in 2001) where services are defined by the membership and a fee structure. They discovered that about 130 other “Villages” were in operation or development in the US. It was decided to create a village model in the Park View community which could be expanded to other parts of Harrisonburg, VA.
Interest grew quickly during exploratory meetings with local groups of mostly seniors during 2008-09. In May 2009, a Steering Committee was formed; later that year the group began operating under the umbrella of Valley Associates for Independent Living (VAIL).
Late in 2010, membership guidelines were drafted. Within the first three months of 2011, 30 households joined Park View Village. In January 2012, an application was submitted to obtain 501(c)3 charitable status; the status was granted on March 7, 2013. Our group joined Village to Village Network to benefit from the networking and knowledge sharing that VtV facilitates.
In 2018, the group was renamed Valley Village as part of an effort to expand membership and services beyond the Park View neighborhood. Overall, Valley Village has grown steadily, moving ahead, learning and taking steps to help members live independently in their homes.