After forming a non-profit corporation, we researched and analyzed several different village models, sought grants and contributions, and began to recruit members. We decided to charge dues and seek donations. With this financial base, we could hire a part-time executive director to coordinate the many volunteer committees of the organization, such as Activities, Finance, Health, Newsletter, and neighborhood Clusters. We could also provide discounted memberships for all who needed help to join us.
We formed a relationship with Wellesley College that allows us to meet at the College Club and use the indoor and outdoor tracks, the pool, and the student center meeting rooms. We also joined the Village to Village Network, the organization that supports similar communities across the nation.
We hired Joyce Wadlington as Executive Director and opened in November 2011 as Wellesley at Home with 113 members. In 2013 Wellesley at Home changed its name to Wellesley Neighbors to reflect membership coming from the neighboring towns of Dover, Natick, Needham, and Weston. This new name also conveys our spirit of being “out and about” rather than only “at home”.
Our founders’ vision has been realized. We have two speaker series, one on a wide variety of subjects including the arts, science, and history, and one on health-related topics. There are several lunches and dinners a month (including a men’s lunch), and at least one docent-led excursion to museums, historical sites or behind-the-scenes at local businesses. We have concert, theatre, and dance tickets, affinity groups, and special events. For exercise, there are two walking groups, a yoga class, and swimming. We have filled more than a thousand volunteer support requests ranging from meals and rides to prescription pickups, dump runs, computer coaching and repair, and our data base has around 500 possible referrals to vendors and professionals.
Wellesley Neighbors is now a community of around 150 people who care about each other and enrich each other’s lives with new experiences and new friendships.