The Westchester Village Network is a new nonprofit organization founded by volunteer Westchester residents, with the mission of helping Westchester and Playa del Rey senior citizens stay in their own homes as they grow older, says founder and president, Pat Brubaker.
A presentation of the organization’s services, “Seniors Aging in Place,” is scheduled at 11 a.m. Tuesday, October 27th at the Playa del Rey Woman’s Club, 8039 W. Manchester Ave., Playa del Rey.
The program is modeled after several successful national programs that aid seniors in continuing to live in their own homes with the assistance of neighbors and under the direction of a staff manager, instead of being faced with living in an isolated retirement community.
“The idea is to build the project before you need it, and the program is a type of foresight policy,” Brubaker said. “Hope is not a policy. Crises, where people of any age need a lot of help quickly, cannot be predicted.”
Out of an aging population of “baby boomers,” 14 percent of 40,000 individuals are age 60 and over, and their needs can be served by the Westchester Village Network, Brubaker said.
Seniors can receive temporary or long-term assistance with a variety of services such as health appointments, grocery shopping, garden care and pet care from participating network neighbors.
Access to pre-screened vendors for other types of assistance such as in-home medical care or house cleaning is available and all services are quality checked, Brubaker said.
A consistent and reliable safety net, this service is operated “without government bureaucracy” by the Westchester Village Network membership of the communities of Westchester/Playa del Rey, according to Brubaker.
“People sell their homes, downsize and move to retirement communities isolated from their familiar surrounding, in advance of need, lest they later be too ill to be admitted,” said Brubaker.
“Westchester Village Network is intended to coordinate needed services so that its members do not have to go through the turmoil and loss of leaving their longtime homes, while providing reassurance not only to members, but also to their families. It stabilizes rather than disrupts the community.”
This is a relatively low cost program because it relies on a lot of volunteer support. Other national program models have received support through Village Network membership fees, foundation grants, individual donations, and contributions from city, county and federal government sources, Brubaker said.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the 11th District, which includes Westchester, has been involved in the project from the beginning.
“I am very enthusiastic and excited that NCB Capital chose the Westchester Village Network,” said Rosendahl.
“I will support the project wholeheartedly for the older adults in Los Angeles who want to remain in their own homes as they age. This is a simple concept of a volunteer driven nonprofit organization based in local neighborhoods and will reap huge results for the community.
“I want to especially thank Pat Brubaker for her leadership. In a recent visit to Washington, D.C., officials there were extremely pleased with her hard work, representing the Westchester community. She is truly an inspiration to us all,” said Rosendahl.
Members can choose from the possible services that will be available by phone or e-mail contact to the director for daily living needs.
Services provided by volunteers include: dog walking, garden watering, market shopping, doctor appointments, simple errands, “vexing” electronic issues, computer mysteries, phones, DVDs, and other technological issues, phone/house visits, lifestyle/wellness seminars, organizing/downsizing suggestions, preferred discounted vendor recommendations, and services of a plumber, painter, electrician, gardener, housekeeper, handyman, window washer and others.
Recommended paid services include transportation, home health care and large project home organizing/downsizing.
Founding board members, who are all long-term Westchester residents active in community life, include Brubaker, who is also the primary outreach speaker and fundraiser for the organization. She is retired from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as a major gifts officer, and with a bachelor of arts degree in interdisciplinary fine arts, she has served in an artistic capacity for various beach cities.
Brubaker is presently a member of the City Council District 11 Senior Committee, the Westchester Vitalization Corporation and the Airport Marina Mental Health Guild.
Other founding members are Laura Diepenbrock, Marcia Findley, Sheila Mickelson, Dave Pierce, Heather Barbour, Stephen Bentley and Joe Cunningham.
Diepenbrock is manager of the LIFE program of Jewish FamilyServices of LA and Findley is the organization’s secretary who retired from Loyola Marymount University after 25 years as a librarian.
Mickelson, an accountant, was a principal founding member of the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association and serves on the Council Distict 11 Tenant Rights and Affordable Housing Committee. Pierce is a retired professor of astronomy and physics.
Barbour, a registered nurse, spent 20 years at Mt. St. Mary’s College in various nursing fields and is the outreach speaking partner with Brubaker. Bentley, an independent insurance broker and financial planner, represents the Loyola Village neighborhood on the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa and is active with the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association, the Westchester Vitalization Corporation and the Westchester Senior Center.
Cunningham, the organization’s treasurer, is a real estate broker associate with RE/MAX and has 30 years of experience as a certified public accountant. He was a founding member of the neighborhood council start-up committee and is a member of the Westchester Vitalization Corporation and the City Council District 11 Senior Committee. He also wrote the Westchester Village Network budget.
Strategic partners of the organization include Loyola Marymount University, Airport Marina Counseling Service, Westchester Clergy Association, Marina Del Rey Hospital and the Westchester Family YMCA.
The organization has also received grants from the Westchester Rotary Club and the Howard Drollinger Foundation.
Information, (310) 540-5467.