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In Fall 2008, inspired by a talk about Boston’s Beacon Hill Village, a group of Wellesley volunteers began to envision a new “village” of older adults engaged in our community and living in our own homes. Our vision included three main goals. The first was to provide a rich program of social, intellectual, cultural, educational, and physical activities that would foster connection and new friendships. A second purpose was to create opportunities for members to help each other when needed with rides, a listening ear at medical appointments, grocery shopping, and the like. A third goal was to collect and share member recommendations of service providers such as plumbers, healthcare agencies, cleaners, painters and others. 

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.

Wellesley Neighbors,  PO Box 812609 , Wellesley, MA 02482   (781) 283-0417