Our History

WhatcanwedoBIn 2006, Randy Reinhold of Branford read an article in the New York Times about Beacon Hill Village, the first volunteer senior community “village” in the United States. The “village” concept, a way for seniors to remain in their homes as long as they are able, appealed to him as an alternative to traditional retirement communities or nursing homes. Three years later he retired from his position as Chief of Surgery of the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven and joined forces with Stephanie Farber, a longtime community organizer, Susan Bender, Bernadette DiGiulian, Bob Jaeger, Jean Kelley and Bob Weltzein, to lay the groundwork for a “village” on the Connecticut shoreline.

In September 2010 Randy, Stephanie, and others met with members of East Rock Village (now HomeHaven) to learn from their experience. Several critical insights emerged: the organizers should expect to spend two or three years establishing their village; they should choose a broad and inclusive name, not restricted to a single town or neighborhood; they should seek 501(c)3 non-profit status in order to solicit donations; and only when at least 75 members had signed on should they officially open the village.

The organizers raised money in $100 donations to cover the legal fees ($1500) needed for creating by-laws and applying for non-profit status, which was awarded retroactively to March 2011. Also in the spring of 2011, a Founders group formed. Its members included a physician with administrative experience, a political organizer, an elder-care advisor, a clinical social worker, a marketing expert, a financial analyst, and a community leader, all of whom gathered at Randy’s kitchen table every two weeks for the next two years.

Marketing efforts included parties and other social events. A movie in 2013 about the Harvard-Yale football game of 1968, a cliff-hanger that ended in a tie, drew a large and enthusiastic turnout. The organizers solicited $100 deposits as indications of interest; when 70 deposits had been collected, the Village was launched. Thereafter members paid full dues to finance the organization: $1000 for couples and $700 for individuals.

As planned, the Founders disbanded, replaced by a Board of Directors. Randy Reinhold became the Board’s first president. Sylvia DeSantis came on as Director of Services and remains the mainstay, the glue, of SVCT.

During the next two years the Village offered opera talks, anniversary parties, and a readmission project with Yale-New Haven Hospital. Most significantly, it has expanded services for Active Members: companionable transportation (the most requested service), home visits, a list of vetted businesses for household services, computer assistance—in short whatever members requested “as long as it’s legal.”

As of October 2015, membership in all categories (Active and Supporting Members, Donors, and Volunteers) totaled 123 individuals. Because of volunteers’ generous efforts and the Board’s success in controlling costs, membership fees have dropped to $750 and $500 respectively for couples and singles. Also in 2015, SVCT, now financially stable, won the award from Community Foundation of Greater New Haven’s as the non-profit with fewer than five employees that raised the most money during the “Great Give,” a 36-hour online giving event. The Village looks forward to a growing and prosperous future for its members and the surrounding communities.

Upcoming Events

July 24 @ 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Stretch and Balancing Class

July 25 @ 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Tea & Talk

July 26 @ 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Stretch and Balancing Class

July 31 @ 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Stretch and Balancing Class

August 2 @ 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Stretch and Balance Class