Distributed to Village members and to others who have expressed an interest.

The Ashby Village Member Digest, published between newsletters, is not available to the public.


In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Word on the Street
Volunteers & Vendors

Contact Us

2330 Durant Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704

(510) 204-9200

On the Web


March 2011  


Our New Website Is Live 


When I stepped in as Executive Director in September, one of my first priorities was to revise the Ashby Village

website.  At the time, I did not fully  grasp the magnitude of the project. Upgrading our

site meant articulating with more precision and new graphic tools both who we are and what we do, gathering images, stories and quotes that illustrate this new model of aging with which many people are not familiar. We also had to meld a wide array of opinions, perceptions and personalities. 

I  hope that our upgraded site provides the clearest, most concise presentation of both Ashby Village and the larger national movement of which we are a part.


This first phase of the Ashby Village website is our public face, available to all. On April 10,  at our second Member Forum (see Upcoming Events), we will unveil the site's member-only section. After that date, members logging in to our website will find new tools for connecting with one another, registering for events, renewing their memberships and much more.


The new website would not have been possible without the time and help of many volunteers, and I'm grateful to them all. It was truly a collaborative effort. Daniel Sabsay, our webmaster, remained steadfast in his determination to keep the team focused and bring the site online.  I was impressed daily by his ability to quickly bring less-than-clear direction to attractive form. 


Shirley Haberfeld -- Co-Founder and Board Member -- taught herself web design in order to build the initial Ashby Village website. Shirley has remained patient and persistent in crafting an upgraded website that effectively demonstrates the strength and beauty of this growing community.


I'd also like to thank:

  • Marcia Freedman for gathering information and drafting text for the site, supported by Sondra Jensen and Sylvia Russell.
  • Marlene Bagdikian for edit after edit after edit
  • Kevin Hoelscher, Thumbtack Studios, for web design
  • Leda Dederich, for oversight and assistance
  • Peter Sussman, Janet Cole and  Marianne Gontarz York for their superlative photography

We have recently refined our email publications. Now, we have reinvented our website. I'm eager to hear your reactions and suggestions so that we can make maximum use of these channels of communication to further enhance our powerful, growing Village. 

 -- Executive Director Andy Gaines

Membership Installment Plan   


Ashby Village has initiated an installment payment plan for memberships and renewals. The payments will be collected through automatic bill-pay from your credit card. A small additional fee has been added to cover processing fees. The new schedules and fees are: 


Annual Payment (unchanged) 

Individual Membership $750/year

Household Membership $1200/year


Semi-Annual Payments

Individual:  Two payments of $390, for a total of $780 per year

Household:  Two payments of $620, for a total of $1240 per year


Quarterly Payments

Individual:  Four payments of $200, for a total of $800 per year

Household:  Four payments of $315 for a total of $1260 per year  



Activities sponsored by Ashby Village

FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 9:00-11:00 a.m.


Audre and Roger Newman will be leading a stroll down Wildcat Creek Trail about a half-mile to Jewel Lake. The trail in the Tilden Nature Area is accessible, including a little boardwalk loop that goes through the thickets along tiny Wildcat Creek. Many birds frequent this area, so bring binoculars and field guides. We expect the outing to take about 90 minutes to two hours.  It will be canceled in the event of rain. Maps, directions and more information about this part of Tilden Park -- including a list of the birds that frequent the area -- are available at the

East Bay Regional Park District website.

  • Meet at the Environmental Education Center in Tilden Park near The Little Farm.   
  • To RSVP, please contact Audre at audrenew@gmailcom, or call her at (510) 548-0530.


SUNDAY, MARCH 13, 2:00-4:00 p.m.


Please invite your friends to this next in our series of Living Room Chats, at which we give those who might be interested in joining our Village a chance to hear from representatives of our Board, staff and members about what it means to be part of the Village. It is an opportunity to ask questions and often leads to provocative discussions. 

  • Home of Betty Webster, 55 Highland Blvd., Kensington
  • Wheelchair-accessible
  • Please RSVP here, or call our office at (510) 204-9200

MONDAY, MARCH 14, 12:00-2:00 p.m.


Join us for the next of our bimonthly luncheons and connect with other Ashby Village members.

  • Anchalee Thai Cuisine, 1094 Dwight Way (just below San Pablo), Berkeley
  • Attendees will have the option of choosing a fixed-price meal ($9-$11) or a la carte with a separate check
  • Wheelchair-accessible 
  • Please RSVP here, or call the office at (510) 204-9200.


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 3:00-5:00 p.m.


The Ashby Village Author Series welcomes Lucy Scott, Ph.D., who will discuss her book Aging With Grace, Power and a Plan. Dr. Scott is an educator, psychologist and author who has dedicated much of her work to helping people create a step-by-step roadmap for choosing how to age. Her book debunks the myths of aging and suggests seven key elements for building a plan. Her work with women and Wisdom Circles is known and respected  throughout the Bay Area and has been nationally recognized.

  • Where: Jewish Family and Children's Services, Suse Moyal Center for Older Adult Services, 2484 Shattuck Ave., Suite 210, Berkeley. There is 90-minute parking in front of the building and two-hour parking on Blake Street, around the corner
  • This event is wheelchair-accessible, with an elevator to the second floor
  • Please RSVP here, or call our office at (510) 204-9200


SUNDAY, APRIL 3, 2:00-4:00 p.m. 


Another in our series of Living Room Chats (see description above):

  • Home of Harriet Charney and Larry Sirott, 2720 Woolsey St., Berkeley
  • Not wheelchair-accessible (two steps, with a railing)
  • Please RSVP here, or call our office at (510) 204-9200.  
SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2:00-4:00 PM


Building on the success of our first forum last August and our holiday party, all members are invited to our spring forum.  It's a wonderful opportunity to learn about what has been happening in this launch year, to make new connections and to help shape the way our Village grows.

  • Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda in Berkeley. There is a parking lot in the rear of the building, and street parking is available.
  • To RSVP or to volunteer to help with the event, please contact the office at (510) 204-9200 or email Please let us know if you need a ride.
  • See the next Member Digest for further information.




In what might be called our largest -- albeit unofficial -- Living Room Chat, author Gail Sheehy focused on the national Village movement and, specifically, Ashby Village before an audience of more than 100 people on March 2 at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. It was Sheehy's final lecture in her series on aging, sponsored by the Osher Life Long Learning Institute (OLLI), and she featured several of our Village's members and volunteers recounting in moving detail the ways they have benefited from our community.  

Ashby Village at Gail Sheehy Class

Andy Gaines, Gail Sheehy, Tom Boyden,  Elivia Thiederman, Laura Peck,  Joan Cole and Michelle McGuinness

In the second hour of the two-hour program, during an energetic discussion on Ashby Village, Sheehy and our Executive Director, Andy Gaines, invited a group of members and volunteers to the stage to share their stories.

Volunteer Tom Boyden squeezed the hand of Elivia Thiederman as he told of repairing a unique outdoor table built by her late husband, Hal Thiederman, that had been mangled during a tree-service job. Tom told how Elivia and her husband had sat at the table on many moon-lit evenings, discussing their lives during their 62 years together.  (You can read more by going to Village Stories on our website

Member Joan Cole smiled at her husband, Bob Wendlinger, sitting in the audience as she described their request for a volunteer to help her author husband finish an autobiography he'd started before the onset of dementia. Michelle McGuinness responded to their request and spent hours interviewing Bob and reviewing notes buried in his computer. She has just presented Joan and Bob with the first chapter.


Sheehy told of participating in the recent Ashby Village Potluck and Poetry event at the home of Board member Laura Peck, who also spoke. Sheehy marveled at meeting Laura Peck's mother, Thelma, also a Village member, who continues to work well into her 80s.


All our members' stories highlighted Sheehy's earlier comment that "relationships matter more as we age."


Questions from the audience and traffic at our information table afterward were  evidence of active interest among audience members who are not yet members.   


Sheehy's presentation followed by a little over a week the publication of a story she wrote for USA Today on the national Village movement, again featuring Ashby Village, including Board members Bob Davis and Laura Peck, as well as members Merle Davis, Thelma Peck and Paul Axelrod. Sheehy had been a surprise guest at the Ashby Village Potluck & Poetry earlier in February. Her article, entitled "Sometimes it takes a village to let seniors stay at home," can be read here.     

-- Patricia Sussman





Shortly after joining the Village, I needed to rehang art after a paint job. Since I don't climb ladders anymore, I needed help. I thought about using the Village's concierge service to get a volunteer, but I found myself hesitating to do so for weeks on end. I finally made the call after struggling with myself to ask for help, and the next day member-volunteer Paul Axelrod came over and hung the pictures exactly as I wanted them. But why was it so difficult to make that phone call? What I realized is that I am of a generation that struggled for and valued our independence, particularly women. It was very difficult to ask for help. Our recent member survey revealed that many of us are not using the concierge service that the Village provides, and it may be that, like me, others find it hard to ask for help. When I joined the Village, I immediately became a volunteer, finding it much easier to give than to receive. As we age (I am now in my 70s), we need to make the shift from valuing independence to appreciating interdependence, and that is exactly what Ashby Village was established to provide. 

-- Marcia Freedman  


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Village needs and opportunities


Events Committee

We are looking for enthusiastic member-volunteers who can help plan and organize events. Areas in which the committee needs assistance are arranging our bimonthly potlucks, finding appropriate speakers on topics relevant to our community and arranging cultural events. This is an energetic and convivial committee that meets once a month. Please contact Barbi Jo Stim at or (510) 847-0298.


Publications Committee 

We are looking for several experienced writers and editors to work with Peter Sussman and Elaine Jackson on our Monthly Newsletter and Member Digest. It would also be helpful to have someone assisting who is familiar with Constant Contact or other web-writing software (similar in some respects to blogging software). Please contact Peter by email at

Staffing Tables at the Farmers' Markets

Join us in spreading the word on Ashby Village at the Berkeley Farmers' Market.  Past volunteers have enjoyed talking with community members about our innovative organization. We're seeking volunteers to help during March and April. Email Karen Miller or call her Tuesdays or Fridays at our office, (510) 204-9200.


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SERVICE SPOTLIGHT:  Bolognese, the Best Medicine

One of our members is undergoing treatment for cancer. She had just returned from a particularly depleting medical procedure, too exhausted to prepare dinner for her and her family.  She called our office to ask if we could find a volunteer to make a special dinner for the following evening -- special because she is allergic to wheat, and because of her treatment was not allowed any dairy products, iodized salt, fish or shellfish, or processed food of any sort. The husband of a member-volunteer who is known as an "off the chart" gourmet cook rose to the occasion. Our volunteer delivered to her door a big pot of dairy-free bolognese pasta. The next day our volunteer found on her own doorstep an empty Tupperware container and a bouquet of flowers. "I love being part of this village," wrote the grateful member. 


SEEKING VOLUNTEERS: Home Safety and Accessibility Pilot Program

Having a physically safe and easy-to-use home environment is crucial to our being able to live at home in the community. Installing or checking the newer home fire alarms, eliminating home hazards and making both kitchen and bathroom easier to use can extend our ability to live safely and comfortably at home.


For the past several months, volunteer Walter Park has been meeting with Ashby Village members and volunteers to start a member home safety assessment program.Executive Director Andy Gaines worked with Walter in the late 1980s at Independent Housing Services, a community nonprofit that ran a home accessibility renovations program. Later, Walter founded the San Francisco Mayor's Office on Disability.


Ashby Village will hold a members meeting in the third week of April featuring experts on home safety. We are preparing home-safety materials, including a self-assessment checklist. In the next month we hope to have trained volunteers available to help members do assessments in their homes.


If you would like to be trained as a safety and accessibility volunteer, please contact the office. Volunteers will do home visits in pairs. Each visit will take about an hour, and we expect to schedule two visits per day.


If you wish to help us develop the program by hosting a pilot assessment in your home, please let us know.  We would like to do four or five trial runs before we make the program available to all members.


APPRECIATION: Joann Sullivan and Judy Boe
Joann and Judy

Several years ago, Judy Boe and Joann Sullivan volunteered to be on the Member Services Committee. They agreed to set up a system for finding and vetting local service providers for Ashby Village members.   


Since that time, Judy and Joann have worked tirelessly, compiling and vetting a list of more than 150 service providers for Ashby Village members.  The list of service-provider referrals a very high rate of member satisfaction.  It is a pleasure to have them as a team and as part of the larger Ashby Village team.  Their contributions have been enormous.


Judy has been a real estate agent at Red Oak Realty for 24 years, and Joann, also in real estate, has been at Thornwall Properties for seven years.  Together they founded the Realtors Resource for Seniors group at the Berkeley Association of Realtors and currently are cochairs.


Judy lives in Berkeley with her husband, John, a retired UC Davis lecturer. They have three married daughters and one granddaughter, Stella, who is in the first grade. Joann. also a Berkeley resident, lives with her husband, Jon and has two daughters and a son.

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Retirements, book publications, art openings . . . 


NEW POSITION: Janis Brewer signs on at a sister Village

Janis Brewer, formerly Interim Executive Director of Ashby Village, has been selected to step in with the same title at San Francisco Village. Christabel Cheung, our San Francisco counterpart's current Executive Director, will be taking a six-month leave of absence for health reasons. As many of us know, in early 2010 Janis was instrumental in helping Ashby Village build a strong, solid administrative foundation  that continues to serve us to this day. We are pleased for Janis and pleased that this personal connection will provide opportunities for these two Villages to build connections.   


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Committee Chairs


MEMBERSHIP:  Betty Webster, 


                                                                             Barbi Jo Stim, 

MEMBER SERVICES:  Joann Sullivan, 

SOCIAL SERVICES:  Roberta Pressman, 

OUTREACH:  Marcia Freedman, 

FUNDRAISING:  Andra Lichtenstein, 

PERSONNEL: Patricia Sussman,

PUBLICATIONS: Peter Sussman,












CHAIR:  Patricia Sussman, 

VICE CHAIR:  Shirley Haberfeld, 


Bob Davis, 

Laura Peck, 

Jane Selby, 

Barbi Jo Stim, 

Betty Webster, 


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