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
Upcoming Events
Giving & Receiving
Programs & Services
Stories We Tell
2013/14 Donors

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Berkeley, CA 94704

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Summer 2014

New Horizons

Next week I celebrate my 50th birthday, and I'm happy to be doing so within our Ashby Village community. We're all living longer, determined to continue vital, active engagement far beyond retirement. Ashby Village creates a whole new way of being, moving beyond the American dream of independence and building a more useful (and I believe more powerful) experience of interdependence. The Village allows us the opportunity to both give and receive - building a larger community of care, friendship and fun.


As I turn 50, Ashby Village also proudly celebrates its fourth anniversary. Our Village has come a long way - a full calendar of social events, active interest and neighborhood groups, members receiving support from carefully screened and trained volunteers, vendors and resources. It has been a true pleasure, and honor, to serve as Ashby Village's Executive Director since its launch in July 2010, and to work with the wisdom, talent and commitment of our Board, staff, members and volunteers.


Organizationally, Ashby Village is moving from "startup" to "stability." We are clarifying who we are, what we offer, and how we can sustain our community for the long-term. As with all growth, this opportunity will require skill, determination, and commitment. I'm excited to share this journey with you, as Ashby Village continues to unfold and expand in the years ahead.


In preparation for my birthday I reached out to some Villagers to share their insights and wisdom about the second half century of life. Some of their responses are shared in "Stories We Tell", a new column for our Newsletter.


Andy Gaines

Have a wonderful summer!






Andy Gaines

Executive Director

for helping us build Ashby Village and make it more accessible 
Kristina Holland, Kris Welch, Andy Gaines and Walter Park at KPFA
Ashby Village on KPFA 94.1 

Friday, June 27, Kris Welsh interviewed Andy Gaines, Kristina Holland and Walter Park on her "Living Room" program. To listen to the story, CLICK HERE.


Volunteers Come Like Fish to Water

Written by Peggy Havey, Volunteer Screening Coordinator

Now that Ashby Village's volunteer corps is 240 strong, the question has been raised, "How did we achieve this?" The answer, in large part, can be found in the motivations of the volunteers themselves. Many people seek to use their professional interests in service of the community. They may be or have been computer programmers, scientists, or math teachers who want to assist with data collection, analysis and the projection of trends; or they may be former librarians, published authors, or editors seeking to contribute articles to the newsletter, while commercial artists may wish to help with layout and design.


Volunteer Appreciation (4/25)

Retirement seems to prompt people to contribute in ways which may broaden their past experience. Nurses, medical doctors and social workers seek to join auxiliary committees such as MedPals, whose volunteers attend consultations with members and their doctors, or our Social Care Team, whose volunteers are trained to assist members with particularly difficult and, on occasion, unexpected events.


Every volunteer is not a former professional or retiree. Ashby Village has plenty to offer younger volunteers as well. Several are attending colleges in our area, majoring in psychology, social work and geriatrics. Their motivation is usually to meet people of different ages, as well as to gain a more communal understanding of the field they wish to enter.


Quite a few of our volunteers have come to us with many years of volunteering experience. They usually adapt to Ashby Village like fish to water. Maybe they have helped a neighbor in the past, volunteered at a food kitchen or a religious organization, at their local library, or at a fire department. Whatever their previous experience, they have their sleeves rolled up when they arrive at our door.


Volunteers come to Ashby Village seeking a connection to the community, hoping to meet people who might share their interests or those who just need a helping hand. What they bring is a desire to assist, whether it be reading aloud to a member, caring for a pet, or weeding a garden. Enrichment and the desire to be useful are the twin motivating factors behind our large and ever-growing number of volunteers.


Photo Exhibition

Thanks to member Russ Ellis, Ashby Village has access to the LightRoom, a gallery at Fifth Street and Bancroft in Berkeley, for an exhibit of photographs taken by our members. Ashby Village members are welcome to inform us of their interest in submitting a photo for the exhibition. The Exhibit will be mounted on September 8th and will run to October 10th.


We are pleased to announce the willingness of three distinguished Berkeley photographers Judy Dater, Russel Keihn and Robert Reiter to serve as jurors for our exhibition. They will select the photos to be displayed in the Lightroom, as well as a smaller set to be displayed on the walls of Cafe Tomate, located in the same courtyard. 


There will be an Ashby Village community reception at the LightRoom on Sunday, September 21st. A generous number of photos that are not selected for hanging will be shown on electronic slide-show loops at the gallery. In time, we will be announcing detailed plans for the exhibition, with associated activities for village members and the public, as we show off the creativity of our community. 

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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 volunteers.


Open House in Emeryville

Sunday, July 13, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Pacific Park Plaza, the Christie Room, 6363 Christie Ave., Emeryville

The Open House will feature an overview of Ashby Village and the broader "Village Model" that is taking off across the country, plus a discussion about the benefits and costs of membership. Current Ashby Village members and volunteers will share their experiences and explain how the organization has improved their lives, while presenters will allow plenty of time for questions from the audience.  Light refreshments will be served. To read more or to register, click here or call the office.

Volunteer Orientation and Trainingvolunteer training

Saturday, July 26, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Ashby Village Office, 2330 Durant Ave., Berkeley 

Volunteers support members through transportation, home handiwork, assistance at medical appointments, home safety assessment and more. To read more or to register, click here or call the office.


Living Room Chat at Eva Yarmo's House

Living Room Chat

Sunday, July 27, 4-6:00 p.m.

Clipper Club at Watergate, 5 Captain Drive, Emeryville


Hear from our Board members about what it means to be part of the Village, ask questions, and engage in lively discussions. To read more or to register, click here or call the office.



4th Annual Summer Picnic

Saturday, September 13, 1-4 p.m.

Padre Picnic Site, Tilden Park

Bring your friends and family and come spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon in the beautiful Padre picnic site, which is fully wheelchair accessible. To read more or to register, click here or call the office.


Opening - Ashby Village Photo Exhibition

Saturday, September 13, 1-4 p.m.

The LightRoom Galley, 2263 5
th Street, Berkeley, CA
Click here to read more about this event. 

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Expressions of Gratitude

How wonderful! You can't imagine how much it means to me to belong to such an interesting, helpful, caring community. And I can't wait to eat REAL FOOD! Thanks for arranging some meals for me that don't come out of a cardboard box from the freezer or involve the expense and complications of going to a restaurant alone.

Volunteer Kristina tending the garden at the Ashby Village office

Submitted by Member Betsy


I worked in Dottie's lovely garden about an hour and a half each of the last two weeks. It's a truly magnificent garden, and she manages it very well but just needs a little extra help. She's a true master gardener, and I'm learning all sorts of things. Not to mention bringing home tangerines each time and a pile of fresh fava beans just picked last time.  It's quite an impressive garden.

Submitted by Volunteer Beth


I want to make sure you know that Brad helped me trim my trumpet vine last Friday, filling a request that I submitted to Ashby Village. We filled up 3 huge debris cans. He was most delightful and helpful. When I asked Brad what he did for a living, he said he was a landscape architect, and I asked, "Why are you doing this?" He replied, "Because I like gardening, and I like to help people." He went the extra mile.

Submitted by Member Carol   


A million thanks for providing us with an impeccable driver, Sophia - a reliable guide and

a delightful companion in our trip to the De Young -- all in one!

Submitted by Member Marion

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Coordinating Mutual Support on a Cul de Sac

By Hilary Lorraine

Several years ago, two people on a little cul de sac in Kensington joined Ashby Village and they then encouraged others on their street to join. Now there are six households who as members of the Village provide volunteer assistance to each other. When one of them needs a ride, they contact the office and their request is posted on the general email request list. This alerts a volunteer who lives on the cul de sac, is usually are able to respond. This Ashby Village coordinated mutual support system allows neighbors to help each other when they can, but when not, to draw on the larger volunteer pool. This street-based mutual support group is now beginning to expand to include people who attend the Village sponsored monthly lunches. This creative member-initiated use of Ashby Village will now provide a model for spreading it to other neighborhood groups in the Village.


Surgery Planning Guide

Ashby Village has released its new "Having Surgery? Planning Guide for the Best Outcome" to its members. In addition to containing valuable information on what to expect when going to the hospital, it also provides information about the ways in which Ashby Village can help to make a hospital stay and return home safer and more comfortable. Suggestions and strategies to prepare for hospitalization are included, and the guide is a valuable resource for researching medical providers, hospitals, medical aids and devices. For volunteers, the guide provides an enhanced understanding of how they may be of assistance to members before, during and after a hospital stay and speaks to the importance of having the best information and the people in place to support and help our members

Transportation Guide

In addition to volunteer drivers, many other ride options are available to members. Our recently completed Ashby Village Transportation Resource Guide is a comprehensive reference tool that assists members to identify optimal transportation options. Spelled out by city, this guide identifies paid drivers, door-to-door service providers, home health agencies, taxis, paratransit, and hospital discharge transportation services, and more.


Neighborhood Groups A Click Away!

Ashby Village currently has seven Neighborhood Groups (NGs): Kensington Kaleidoscope, Thousand Oaks Hamlet, North Berkeley Hills, Midlandish, Claremont-Elmwood, Emeryville and Outlandish. CLICK HERE to check out our group map on our web page.


NGs enhance the sense of community and provide a way for members to get to know other members from their own neighborhoods. Meetings, events and activities take place in NGs at least once a month, and the groups are self-coordinated. All of the groups work with Ashby Village staff to coordinate new members and maintain rosters. Group activities vary and can include potlucks, happy hours, meeting in a restaurant, lectures and presentations, interest groups, walks or hikes, and group outings to cultural events. 


There is a good feeling in the air these days among the NGs. New ideas are emerging as old ones continue. Some of the new ideas include gathering at a neighborhood pub every two weeks, with invitation to Ashby Village at large.  One NG is having a barbecue and potluck once a month which is held at the home of a wheelchair bound member who can't manage many outings but welcomes the group to his house. Another is that community feeling is building as an NG pitches in to help neighbors coming home from surgery. 

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VOLUNTEER: Jimmy Baker

By Karin Evans

Jimmy Baker has carted books, walked dogs, ordered ferry tickets, watered plants, and done a lot of listening in the course of his volunteer work for Ashby Village. But he's wise enough to say no to some jobs, electrical work, for instance or lengthy excursions to Costco. "I know my limitations," says Baker, with a chuckle.


"I heard about Ashby Village around four years ago," says Baker, now one of the Village's most active volunteers. "I had just moved from San Francisco to a second home in Oakland when I saw a segment about Ashby Village on the local TV news. I liked the village concept, I loved the idea of community, and I thought volunteer work would be a good way to give back. So I decided to contact them."

Baker's first task for a Village member was helping a woman downsize her book collection." She was consolidating. On my first visit, I took the books down off the shelves for her, and then she spent a few days going through them. I came back later to help re-shelve the ones she wanted to keep, and take others to the bookstore for her. From that very first day, I enjoyed volunteering so much that I now do it twice weekly, and fill in on other days when I can."


A native of Decatur, Georgia, Baker had lived in San Francisco for some 30 years before crossing the Bay to Oakland. He still works full time in the city as a senior business analyst for Experian, a major credit card reporting agency. "I can't retire just yet," he says, but with the full support of his company, he spends what time he can helping out with Ashby Village requests. By now he has several "regulars," members he sees weekly.


Experian, Baker's employer, not only encourages its employees to volunteer for good causes, it offers financial donations to the organization involved. "If I do 50 hours of service, they give $500 to the nonprofit," explains Baker. So far, his time spent helping members has resulted in a donation of more than $2,000 to Ashby Village. "I just keep a spread sheet of my hours and submit the request for the company to give matching funds. Experian is very much into encouraging its employees to do volunteer work and community service around the world. I am so thrilled that my organization supports this." Baker says it's his impression that more and more companies are beginning to offer similar encouragement and support to employees who do volunteer work.


"I have really grown to realize how rewarding it is to just give of yourself," says Baker. "We humans get this nice feeling when we give, whether time or money, when we are just helping another individual. People are so appreciative. Every single time when I am leaving, the members say, 'Thank you so much for coming by.' I get so much joy from the people I work with."

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Village Needs Met and Opportunities

In this last quarter, our caring, talented and enthusiastic service volunteers have answered a variety of member calls for assistance and service requests including:

  • Helping to make chicken soup out of chicken bones
  • Baby-proofing a home for a new grandson
  • Driving tax forms to accountant's office
  • Suggesting ergonomic changes for a desk
  • Unsubscribing from emails
  • Setting up Skype to communicate with relative in Europe
  • Fixing a jammed exercise bike
  • Planning and putting out invitations for a birthday party on Evite

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

  • Grant writer
  • Graphic design
  • Setting up and taking down for events
  • Project assistant to the Executive Director
  • Outreach ambassadors
  • Member support team participants
  • Newsletter Editor
  • Community organizer for Age Friendly Berkeley

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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Villagers share joys, challenges and pearls of wisdom from their second half century


I saw Kathleen Brehony on a PBS program talking about her book, Awakening at Midlife. I bought and loved the book. It offered some exercises to get me thinking about me, my spirituality, and my corner of the cosmos. In the midst of busyness, Brehony counsels solitary reflection. She taught me that the "midlife journey is not simply about aging or making changes in our outer life. It is about the discovery of personal meaning in one's inner life."

From Volunteer Mary


One thing has helped me a lot that I got from a book called "Playful Parenting." What I got from it was to try to solve conflicts with humor. Kids and others often don't remember why you were angry, just that you were angry. And, of course, enjoy the beauty around you, and feel gratitude.

From Member/Volunteer Audre


A gradual slowing down

Increasing self acceptance

More time to love

From Member/Volunteer Joan


My life since turning 50 has included the best and worst of my years.

Luckily, the best was saved for last.

From Member/Volunteer Sue


Wisdom airborne, waits

To lightly land on lily

Pad floating downstream

From Volunteer Sarah

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StoriesWeTellAshby Village 2013/14 DONORS

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Program Leadership Team Chairs


Shirley Jowell; Mary Jo Powell -


Irene Marcos,


Joan Cole -, Kristina Holland - kjholland@earthlink.netMarcia Freedman (Speakers Bureau)


Liz Raymer -, Audre Newman -











CHAIR: Patricia Sussman


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

Betty Webster

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