Distributed to Village members, volunteers and to others who have expressed an interest. The Ashby Village Member Digest, published between newsletters, is available to members only.


In This Issue
News Flash!
Upcoming Events
Giving & Receiving
Programs & Services
What About Villages?
Member News

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Berkeley, CA 94704

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Summer 2013

Pat Sussman, Ashby Village co-founder, wins U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Aging's "Unleash the Power in Your Community
award in recognition of Older Adults Month.


Recognizing Outstanding Leadership
by Shirley Haberfeld
I was not surprised when my dear friend and co-founder of Ashby Village, Pat Sussman, WON national recognition by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Aging for her dedication and service to seniors during her brilliant career. While Pat receives daily admiration and appreciation from all whose lives she touches, this honor was a long overdue public acknowledgment of the commitment and talents she brings to her community. Competition for the award was impressive.


The Founders: Shirley and Pat
Shirley Haberfeld and Pat Sussman

When we first discussed the concept of Ashby Village over six years ago, neither of us could imagine the depth and width of such a vital organization as it exists currently. Although an incredible challenge in the beginning, we are regularly moved and awed by so many of you who have embraced the concept, rolled up your sleeves and helped to develop a strong, dynamic and supportive Village for all of us to share. I know Pat feels that each of you deserves a piece of this award.


Pat and I go way back as friends, neighbors, community activists and co-workers. I have seen her consistently do incredible work and witnessed her repeated, significant contributions. Every project she has undertaken gets the entirety of her experience, professionalism and skills. The recognition from the Department of Health and Human Services is well deserved. It has been my honor and delight to collaborate with Pat during these past six years of building Ashby Village. Congratulations to our own Pat Sussman.


Ashby Village video "premiers" at April Member and Volunteer Forum  

Finale party of the video production team.
Click image to view the video

This video, received with rave reviews, highlights a few of the ways Ashby Village supports the larger Berkeley community to continue to live independently. Initiated through a "Make A BIG Difference" grant from Coming of Age: Bay Area, a team of volunteers came together and trained in the skills of video production. Video equipment purchased through the grant and trained volunteers will allow Ashby Village to document important events and gathering and produce meaningful videos that highlight Ashby Village throughout the years. 

Neighborhood Group Leaders Complete Facilitation Training

The Ashby Village Neighborhood Groups - Midlandish, Hamlet, South of Campus, Watergate, and Kaleidoscope - are as different and intriguing as their members. In order to support the healthy development of these groups, an eight week training course in facilitating meetings was offered to group leaders.  As a result of a successful and inspiring training, the participants have committed to continuing to meet regularly. 


Thanks to the expert guidance of volunteer Judith Elise Rosenberg, 12 motivated members of five Neighborhood Groups learned how to:

  • establish ground rules collaboratively as a group
  • create a safe and supportive environment
  • draft a work plan with goals
  • give and receive assessments
  • ...and much, much more

Judith Elise Rosenberg, L.C.S.W. is the founder of Our Third Act, a business incubator for older adults. 

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Activities sponsored by Ashby Village and its members


Please see the full calendar of events on our website, announcements of upcoming interest and neighborhood group meetings, and more.  Members can log into the website to register. Events are open to the public except where specified. Following are two upcoming events for prospective members and/or volunteer.


Sunday, July 14, 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Home of Ashby Village member in Berkeley

Living Room Chat

Another in our series of Living Room Chats at which we give those who might be interested in joining our Village an opportunity to hear from our Board Members about what it means to be part of the Village. This is an excellent opportunity to ask questions and there are always lively discussions. To read more or to register, click here or call the office.


Volunteer Training, 1-22-11

Saturday, August 24, 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. 

Ashby Village Office

Volunteer Orientation and Training

Volunteers support members through transportation, home handiwork, assistance at medical appointments, home safety assessment and more. To learn more about becoming a volunteer and participating in this training, please contact the office.   

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Expressions of Gratitude

I am a brand new member and merely suggested some needs and/or interests at my introductory meeting. Within one week I had been contacted by five people all offering their help. I was overwhelmed by the caring and efficiency of Ashby Village staff and volunteers.

Submitted by Member Betsy


We greatly appreciate the great variety of types of volunteer support and service recommendations you have been able to provide. I especially appreciate that we can feel comfortable asking for a volunteer for assistance, while knowing you may or may not be able to fulfill the request. Sondra Jensen is one "above and beyond" volunteer who has become a good friend and has provided much emotional as well as practical support to help us stay sane and caught up with important medical and personal correspondence, financial data entry, and a variety of other projects. For the past year, she has come over to help twice a week for two hours each visit.

Submitted by Member Joan in appreciation of volunteer Sondra


I know there was lots and lots and lots of hard work behind the successful (April) forum on Sunday, and I want to acknowledge that it all came together and to thank you all!  

Submitted by Member Shirley in appreciation of the entire Staff


Let me say how much I enjoyed the Member Handbook. I read it all in one sitting and learned a lot. What a wonderful organization we have!

Submitted by Member Judy to Board Member Pat Sussman


The Ashby Village Member Handbook and Membership Directory are fantastic. CONGRATULATIONS. Thank you for working so very hard to create an organization that is so good for all of us. Many people appreciate all you do and I personally am grateful for Ashby Village.

Submitted by Member Hilary to the Ashby Village Staff 

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Gay Pride Month

gay pride flag

Ashby Village celebrated Gay Pride month in June with an

appreciation of our LGBT members and volunteers. Inclusivity is a cornerstone in building community and, as this Village grows, we want to be intentional about being a welcoming Village that reflects our whole community. Some of the ways Ashby Village is actively opening its doors to the LGBT community include:

  • Quarterly series of events and programs with an LGBT focus (look for our 1st event in the Fall).
  • Organizing a team of people responsible for reviewing Ashby Village as a whole to make sure we are an inclusive organization with our policies, events and publications.
  • Reviewing and revising printed materials to be more mindful of questions about gender identity, that we nowhere ask about sexual preference, and that we add the word "partner" along with the word "spouse" on forms and materials.
  • Add a blank line in forms where one checks "female" or "male"so people can identify their gender as they wish.
  • Include images of same-sex couples or self-identified LGBT individuals in our publications, both in print and online.
Ashby Village Listens to Its "Over 80s" Member

by Merle Davis and Debby Levy

The Ashby Village Social Services Committee recently completed a survey of Ashby Village members over the age of 80 years to learn:

  • what changes members in their 80s and 90s have experienced in their life situations since they've joined
  • what services and activities they have found helpful and would like to see developed or expanded in the future
  • what they had found satisfying and pleasurable either individually or in their engagement with others.

One of the primary motivations for joining Ashby Village is the hope of remaining in their own home as long as possible. Membership in the Village is perceived as an "insurance policy" that will support this goal. Please click the Over 80 Survey Report to read other thought-provoking results.

Home Safety Assessment

By Cheryl Crane, Home Safety Assessment Team

As part of an ongoing commitment to help our members stay in

their own homes as long as possible, Ashby Village's Home Safety and Accessibility Assessment team recently sponsored a demonstration tour of a home. This gave participants a taste of a real assessment and an introduction to what is involved when evaluating their home's safety, accessibility and suitability to their current and future needs.


A sample checklist was used during the assessment, and the home assessment report resulting from the visits contains notes on problem locations, suggestions for actions to increase safety, and the level of expertise required to make improvements or modifications - whether a homeowner, handyman or licensed contractor should do the work. To read more about the findings of this demonstration home inspection, click here


Volunteer support given to members in the last quarter

Our caring, talented and enthusiastic volunteers have answered a variety of member calls for assistance and service requests including:

  • Member requested and received help studying for her driver's exam at age 90. She passed!
  • Assembling family history, photo album and scrapbook
  • Companionship for Giants games
  • Support while babysitting a two year old granddaughter
  • Garden design/visioning to take control of an overgrown yard
  • Videography of an in-home event
  • Weekly rides to acupuncturist
  • Accompaniment to a  full season of symphony concerts
  • Assessment and light home repair
Volunteers are needed in so many ways! There are numerous opportunities at Ashby Village.

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Village Needs and Opportunities

Seeking Marketing and Communications Consultant

Our strategic and business plan will be completed this month. This will provide us with a clear view of how we want to proceed as we, like villages nationwide, build a sustainable village. We are seeking a highly skilled and motivated professional to assist us in design and implementation of a marketing plan to increase our recognition and visibility in the greater Berkeley area. If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please contact Andy Gaines.


Seeking Office Space

Do you own, work with or know of a building with extra space? Ashby Village has outgrown its current space and is seeking a larger office. We would like three or more rooms (750-1,000 sq. ft.) and, ideally, access to a large meeting room. We would like to be located in an easily accessible site in our service area. As a small nonprofit, cost is a strong consideration. Please contact Andy Gaines with any leads or with an offer to help with the search.


Seeking assistance with program design and budgeting

We are looking for someone with experience in designing program services who can help us design a pilot program that addresses the incidence of re-hospitalization within 30 days of a discharge from the hospital. This is a major piece of national health care reform, and we want to be sure that Ashby Village can help our members should this situation arise. This issue of "re-hospitalization" is of critical concern to health care providers (i.e. Kaiser, Sutter). There could be an opportunity for Ashby Village to work collaboratively with these health systems to minimize re-hospitalizations of AV members. The short term project design will need someone who has developed services and related budgets - preferably in health care. If you have experience in this area and would be interested, please contact Andy Gaines.  
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Lincoln Park Village

This year, Ashby Village has established a valuable partnership with Lincoln Park Village in Chicago (LPV).  LPV, launched in 2009 and now has over 360 members. The mission of LPV is to "enhance the quality of life and the well-being of individuals as they live longer, so that they remain integral, vibrant and contributing members of their communities."


LPV has developed a new program in which "Ambassadors" assist prospective members to discover the village and determine if village membership is right for them. When that person joins the village, another Ambassador welcomes the new member and introduces them to the community -- providing connection and personalized attention. Ashby Village has begun incorporating some of these practices into its outreach and inreach activities and will actively be seeking Ambassadors. Give us a call if you're interested in helping us develop this program.


It's the "70 somethings" who are most attracted to joining Ashby Village. In its intention to build a vital, engaged multigenerational community, AV has partnered with LPV to examine how we can both attract and engage its younger members. This summer, interviews and focus groups will be conducted to speak with current, prospective and "not-ready-yet" village participants to learn more about what would be most compelling to younger villagers. This topic, like sustainability, is of interest to villages across the country. Findings will be presented at the national Village to Village Network Conference in St. Louis in November.  

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SPOTLIGHT - Sondra Jensen

Charter Member and Volunteer

Sondra has spent her entire working life, from age 21 to 60, at U.C. Berkeley in administration/management, largely in the human resources area. A year after retirement, she and a friend started a business called "Smooth Moves" which they continue to operate as move coordinators and packers, especially serving the needs of the elderly.


Sondra and her husband, Paul Clinton, became charter members of Ashby Village when they joined in January 2010. Sondra had read about the first village, Beacon Hill in Boston, and thought the village was a fantastic idea. Besides supporting the concept, she wanted to join because her husband became disabled five years ago and has been in a wheelchair ever since. Although they have not needed any support services yet, they will likely have needs in the future.


Besides being a member, Sondra volunteers because, as she says, "I'm still full of energy, have a few skills, lots of compassion, and am pleased to be able to help when needed." She feels strongly about living a full and busy life while she still can and has volunteered to do many things for Ashby Village members including organizing home and office spaces, driving to appointments and various home projects. For the past year she's been working several hours each week with a member who requested someone to take dictation and type e-mails, business reports and letters and now also with another member who has macular degeneration and needs someone to help with paperwork and reading articles aloud from magazines. In Sondra's words, "I have become friends with both of these women, and I'm sure I take away far more than I provide to them in terms of inspiration, courage, broader horizons, strong new bonds with wonderfully strong women and, frankly, for several hours each week I am relieved of my own concerns and stresses."


SPOTLIGHT - Betsy Hess-Behrens

New Member 

Betsy Hess-Behrens is a member of the Great Generation. She was born in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1923 during the jazz age, and developed a life-long love of great musicians like BIx Beiderbeck and, later, Bill Evans. Growing up during the Depression, she couldn't afford college right away. During World War II, she was a factory worker and saved her salary for tuition at the University of Chicago where she earned her Bachelor's degree and began graduate work in Philosophy. To help with finances, she took off a year and traveled from Maine to Maryland performing in elementary schools as a puppeteer in an educational show. Her education was interrupted by family life as a professor's wife. She now has a daughter, three sons, and an extended family with seven grandchildren and three great granddaughters.


As a single mom in the 60's, Betsy returned to school and, at age 50, won her Ph.D at U.C. Berkeley in the field of cognitive development and the arts. She won a National Distinguished Research award, a Fullbright Senior Research Fellowship to Germany, and taught at various Bay Area colleges. A life-long volunteer and member of choral groups, she has worked for the U.C. Berkeley Young Musicians Program, school arts programs, hospitalized children's needs, recording for the blind, and - with the Multicultural Institute in Berkeley - preparing meals for day laborers. At age 90, she now spends her mornings doing creative writing, mostly short stories, and has self-published a novel.


When asked about the impact of Ashby Village on her life, Betsy noted that, within the first two weeks, seven remarkable volunteers responded to service requests, "They are people who have a specialty at which they excel and which they generously want to share with others." She feels she has a whole neighborhood of people at the ready to lend a hand.


Betsy was initially referred to Ashby Village by a neighbor. Living alone in an area of busy, young, two-career families, she felt cut off from the world and missed a sense of community. Friends her age, she said, were either "dead, cognitively limited, or have moved away," and none of her family lives nearby. She, herself, has some limited mobility, but now she feels in touch with people from all walks of life and varied interests. With the help of Ashby Village volunteers, Betsy says her social calendar "is so full, I barely have time to do the dishes." She took her dog to Ashby Village's Happy Hour and says "even my dog was happy to be there."


Betsy believes that the main purpose of Ashby Village is to help people continue their independent living as part of the larger society instead of in lonely isolation or by retreating to a retirement home where it's created artificially for a self-contained group. After reading Ted Roszak's book, The Making of an Elder Culture, she was impressed by his vision of a society in which older people continue to be vital members by recreating and nourishing the important values of the '60s. Not only does Ashby Village offer potential for this much needed change, it's a way to maintain our sanity as human beings -- a sort of senior protest movement to help people regain human contact in meaningful interactions. Betsy believes there is an "electronic roboting of society - a generalized alienation present in our culture" - and that the village movement brings people together on a very giving and receiving human level. 

Welcome New Members

Schyuler and Susie Bailey

Judy Bertelsen

Priscilla Camp

Terry Colvert

Anne Donaker

Shelley Errington and Leo Goodman

Betsy Hess-Behrens

Joseph & Jeanne Klems

Frank and Ildiko Lewis

Mary Regier

Pamela Robinson

Janet Tressel

Mary Jo Powell



Committee Chairs


MEMBERSHIP:  Betty Webster,
DEVELOPMENT: Andra Lichtenstein,


SOCIAL SERVICES:  Roberta Pressman, 

NOMINATING: Patricia Sussman,


VOLUNTEER: Irene Marcos and Pat Carvalho,













Patricia Sussman (CHAIR)

Shirley Haberfeld (VICE CHAIR)

Andra Lichtenstein (SECRETARY/TREASURER)

Bob Davis

Marcia Freedman

Laura Peck

Roberta Pressman  

Betty Webster


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