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?

Contact Us

2330 Durant Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704

(510) 204-9200


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Spring 2014

Volunteer Appreciation Week

Take one board member, one ex-compliance officer, one volunteer coordinator, one ex-office manager and one ex-fashion executive, mix well and you will have the core of the volunteer team. Now if you want an even bigger drink of kindness and generosity, you can mix together all of the many

Irene Marcos (L) and Julie Vega (R), Volunteer Team Co-Chairs, beside 
Pat Carvalho, Operations & Volunteer Coordinator

volunteers who provide needed services to the members of Ashby Village. 


Our volunteers - now numbering 225 strong - are the backbone of our village, and we could not do what we do without them. We cannot say enough about how much we appreciate all you give out of the fullness of your hearts. We are one lucky village to have the commitment of these wonderful people, and we know it. We want to say thank you Ashby Village volunteers during national Volunteer Appreciation Week. We are blessed to have you!


-- Volunteer Team Co-Chair



Volunteer Appreciation Party

Friday, Apr 25, 2014, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Ashby Village Office, 2330 Durant Ave  Berkeley

Lots of yummy fixings for making tasty tacos will be on the menu. We know you may be thirsty so there will be Mexican beer and cold Hibiscus tea with Meyer lemon. As always, there will be prizes to be raffled off to the lucky winners. Most of all, we are looking forward to being together with you and acknowledging all of our volunteers for the valuable and heartfelt services you provide to our members.  To read more or to register,  click here or call the office.

Executive Director Gaines describes the formation of the Ashby Village at Davis Senior Center, March 25, 2014


Building the Community of Villages in CA

Along with growing its own programs and services, Ashby Village leadership is actively engaged in strengthening and expanding the village movement in California.  As part of a cohort of nine villages funded by the Archstone Foundation, Ashby Village has participated in rigorous evaluation and information sharing to define best models and practices of sustainability.  Further, it regularly consults, presents, meets with and hosts newly forming villages around the region, most recently Petaluma, Clayton, Lamorinda, and Davis.


SevenPonds Interviews Executive Director

Andy Gaines was interviewed in January by SevenPonds, an organization which describes themselves as "a group of creative and passionate San Francisco Bay Area locals who have come together to build a company around the inevitability that each and every one of us must face death." Andy talked at length about Ashby Village's organization and services, especially the volunteer experience. To read more, CLICK HERE.


Ashby Village recently launched an initiative to expand its presence on Facebook. In just five months, the social media team garnered over 250 supporters or "likes" for its page! The Ashby Village Facebook page regularly posts articles and media links that are relevant to active aging. Past posts have brought to light some of the social and cultural trends among older demographics, resources for LGBT seniors, recent changes in Medicare, and community innovations that support independent living among older adults. On occasion, Ashby Village will also make announcements about community-wide events open to all members and volunteers. If you are on Facebook take a look at our Ashby Village Facebook page, and please LIKE US! 


Board/PLT Retreat Highlights

The long-discussed Ashby Village Board Retreat was held on February 1st.  Members of the Board, the Program Leadership Team and staff attended. Facilitated by Mariana Moore, the group's focus was to look at the role of the board, its current structure and priorities. As an organization like Ashby Village matures, the board is shifting its focus from start-up and "hands on" to governance. In our case, the completion of both the business and marketing plans pointed to taking this next step in board development. It's exciting to come to this stage and to reflect on our organizational growth and maturity.


Since the fall, we have been working with our Haas Board Fellows, Casey Lord and Brandi Howard to make the shift from founding to governance. (See Spotlight section below.) Our Fellows are working to define board responsibilities and identify the skills needed as the board expands.
Pat Sussman, Ashby Village Board Chair 

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Activities sponsored by Ashby Village and its members

Please see our calendar of events sponsored by Ashby Village, as well as for announcements of upcoming interest group meetings. 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, Apr 13, 2014, 2:00 PM until 4:00 PM

At a member's home, Berkeley, CA

Living Room Chat

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.


Saturday, Apr 26, 2014, 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM

Ashby Village Office, 2330 Durant Ave, Berkeley

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. 

To read more or to register, click here or call the office.


Sunday, June 1, 1:00-2:30 PM

First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

Central Berkeley Open House

Join us for this free informational session. Learn how we enhance the quality of life of our members today, while also helping them develop peace of mind about the future. To read more or register, click here or call the office.

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BERKELEY BOARD FELLOWS: Brandi Howard and Casey Lord

By Mary Graham

Casey Lord and Brandi Howard, our two Berkeley Board Fellows, may have very different backgrounds, but they share a passion for working with nonprofits. Casey was born in England and has a degree in Mathematics from York University. She spent years working in and directing nonprofits in India and Great Britain, particularly with the "financials" and governance of organizations, before being accepted into the MBA program at the Haas School of Business. Casey's future plans include exploring how using mobile phones to make payments might help lift people out of poverty in developing countries. Brandi is the mother of four. She was born in the Bay Area and spent many years as a Doula (Birthing Coach).  Brandi went to Merritt College and U.C. Berkeley, graduating with a degree in African American studies with an emphasis on Women's Health. She is interested in the organizational development of nonprofits, especially in Maternal and Child Health, and is studying for a Master's degree in the School of Social Welfare on the Planning and Management Track. Brandi is Chair of the Maternal and Child Health Subcommittee for Alameda County's Public Health Commission.


Casey Lord and Brandi Howard

These talented young women came to the Village through the U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership Program. The Village applied for help in moving from a working board to a more formal governance structure, and Brandi and Casey were matched as intern volunteers. Casey says, "On an individual basis, Ashby Village Board members create an amazing atmosphere. Together, the Board creates an air of momentum facing really important challenges." The interns sit on the Board as nonvoting members. Brandi says, "I caught the Ashby Village bug!" Both agree that a healthy organization starts with a working board and then moves to a more formal governance structure that focuses on strategic and big picture issues. Casey says, "As part of this transition, Ashby Village will recruit more Board members." As both the Board and the Village grow, Brandi and Casey emphasize that a top priority is maintaining passion for the mission of the Village, which is embodied in the collaborative, supportive, deeply respectful atmosphere they experience on the Board. They look forward to seeing more new leaders step forward to help with this exciting transition.

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Expressions of Gratitude

It was so great meeting you and attending the party for Ashby Village members and staff last month! I can't say enough about how wonderful Ashby Village has been for my Mom. She seems to really feel connected to a community that has some meaning for her--it gives real, significant support both directly through the terrific volunteers and through the very existence of the program.

Submitted by Member Betsy's daughter, Alyssa


Once again I have to give a cheer for our volunteers. First there was wonderful Priscilla, who hemmed some clothes. Priscilla did a wonderful job, and the best part was we've discovered that we both sing in the new BCCO Women's Chorus, in the same section. Then yesterday Mark came and like a magician fixed the leak in our tub faucet, which had suddenly begun to drip gallons of water (which we saved in pails) in a day----very disturbing in these drought times. This morning, there wasn't a single drop. It's wonderful to have a community of people offering their skills to each other as well as learning and having fun together. In the process we realize that we're all neighbors.

Submitted by Member Kathy


Volunteer Michael met with us at the Berkeley Historical Society on Saturday. He saw the exhibit, and we talked at length about how to reproduce it on our website. He is so skilled and knowledgeable and knew exactly what the project is about and how to set it up. We are so grateful and excited that all this historic material that took years to research and put into a public exhibit will become available for viewing and searches for the future. Thanks for your help connecting us with Michael through Ashby Village. 

Submitted by Member Anna


Shadi (like all other volunteers) is so filled with good spirit and unbounded generosity, and we are all so lucky to have her at Ashby Village.
Submitted by Member Sue


I didn't originally join Ashby Village for the activities - I have more than enough activities to do and also I'm still working. But I've found that I've enjoyed the Ashby Village events so much, and especially enjoyed the people so much, that now I go out of my way to participate in activities whenever I can.

Submitted by Member Celeste

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MedPals - Medical note takers who help patients keep the information straight

USA Today, Susan Jaffe (Kaiser Health News)

"No matter what their age, patients can have difficulty making sense of complicated diagnoses and medical terms . . . And as patients grow older, their medical needs become more complex and demand greater understanding." This USA Today article contains a wonderful and accurate description of the MedPal services offered by Ashby Village. When visiting physicians and other health care professionals, our trained volunteers assist members in documenting their questions prior to the visit and accompany them into the meeting with their physician to take notes, which are transcribed and given to the member. There is a growing need for this service among our members, one we're prepared to meet.

Marion Anderson

Chair, Ashby Village MedPal Program

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Village Needs and Opportunities

Volunteer support given to members in the last quarter

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

  • Teaching how to navigate Facebook
  • Creating a reproduction of an exhibit on website
  • Giving a ride to the theater
  • Lifting and replanting a 7' rubber tree
  • Walking a 90 lb. dog
  • Organizing and assessing the value of a coin collection
  • Playing Scrabble

Organizational volunteers needed to support Ashby Village's vision and mission include:

  • Answering office phones
  • Serving as committee and team members
  • Conducting surveys
  • Writing and editing
  • Setting up and taking down for events
  • Project assistant to the Executive Director
  • Outreach ambassadors
  • Member support team participants
  • Newsletter Editor
  • Grant writer

Volunteers are needed in so many ways! Please consider joining us to provide your valued and needed support to our members, our organization and the larger community.

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It Takes a Village: Seniors Thrive While Living at Home

On the "Nightly News," host Brian Williams talks with his in-laws about their membership in "Staying Put," a thriving Village in New Canaan, Connecticut, in this heart-warming four minute video. Watch the video here.


Mary-Carroll Potter, 78, raised four children in Hollin Hills, near Mount Vernon, but they are spread out across the world, from Portland, Ore., to Cape Town, South Africa. Although she's been invited to move closer to them, she prefers to remain in the neighborhood that has been her home for 50 years, even if it means continuing to live alone. Thanks to a phenomenon that has swept through the Washington area at an astonishing rate in recent years, she's been able to do so. Potter is a member of Mount Vernon at Home, a "senior village" that coordinates volunteers to provide older residents with services that help them live independently. Read the article here.


Aljazeera America

Ann Pliska lives in a cabin built by her father in the mountains of New Hampshire. But she can hardly keep the wood-burning stove fed, or the snow shoveled. "It's been tough getting older because things start happening," said the 63-year-old, who broke her collarbone five years ago. "I felt myself not able to do everything I used to be able to do." Pliska isn't sick or disabled; she's simply aging. And the winters here show no mercy to the elderly. For Pliska, simple tasks like keeping the pipes from freezing are overwhelming. Watch the video on Monadnock at Home which serves seven different towns surrounding Mount Monadnock in western New Hampshire here.

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Program Leadership Team Chairs


Shirley Jowell; Mary Jo Powell -


Irene Marcos,; Julie Vega,


Roberta Pressman,; Debby Levy,


Joan Cole - joanhcole@gmail.comMarcia Freedman (Speakers Bureau)


Liz Raymer -











CHAIR: Patricia Sussman


MEMBERS: Bob Davis, Marcia Freedman, Laura Peck, Roberta Pressman, Betty Webster

BOARD FELLOWS: Brandi Howard, Casey Lord

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