The 2019 National Village Gathering will be September 18-20 in Chicago!
We will share more as details are solidified.
We hope to see you there!
Registration for the 2019 National Village Conference will open in a few short weeks. Meanwhile, VtV Network members can access materials from the 2018 conference below.
2018 Volunteer of the Year!
Elsa Bengel, JP@Home
Elsa has been a pioneer of new programs for decades, so creating a village in her community was a natural next step following her retirement. JP@Home was established five years ago. Under Elsa’s leadership, JP@Home has a unique partnership with a state and federal funded elder home care agency, Ethos in Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood of Boston.
Elsa is most proud of the partnership with Ethos, because several staff are available to handle the administrative side of the program, while members have time to enjoy activities and forge new and lasting friendships. Members also have the comfort of knowing that they will have ready access to resources and services as they age in the community.
Dale Mitchell, Executive Director of Ethos, welcomed the opportunity to support the development of a village in Jamaica Plain. JP@Home, which has since expanded to other neighborhoods, now has 120 members and a high retention rate.
Mr. Mitchell states, “What is special about Elsa is that she is a consensus builder and natural recruiter. She truly enjoys what she is doing and sharing her life and wisdom with others. She is real and extremely thoughtful and knows that it ‘takes a village’ through each stage of life.”
Elsa has served on JP@Home’s Advisory Council since the program’s inception where she was the first Co-Chair. She currently chairs two committees that are critical to the program’s sustainability: 1) Recruitment, Outreach, and Communication and 2) Fundraising and Finance.
Elsa is a mother, grandmother, and caregiver of her husband John who experienced significant health issues this year. Members rally around one another during personal crises—walking with them post-surgery or providing meals, rides, or simply being present during these hard moments; this was Elsa’s hope in creating JP@Home. She and other members serve on support teams for those experiencing significant caregiving responsibilities. She sees that caregiving is a privilege that can help us become stronger and wiser; her latest initiative is the creation of a caregiver support group to help reduce social isolation and burnout. She is an active leader and participant in a host of JP@Home groups, including memoir writing, Dining Out, and Tai Chi. JP@Home is continuously expanding its membership and the depth and breadth of its offerings with Elsa thoughtfully leading the way.
In speaking with Elsa’s husband John about this nomination, we discovered more important facts about her talents and dedication. He explained the underpinnings of her success with JP@Home: “Elsa has done a lot of important things outside of her 28-year career at the YMCA.” She has been a teacher throughout her professional life, and her work abroad in the Philippines, India, Indonesia, and Scotland has only broadened her skills and compassion.
“Through her church, she oversaw the development of a domestic violence initiative, Safe Havens which today has a five million dollar annual budget, and another organization that helps underemployed and low-income workers secure training to build strong careers, Training, Inc. (Boston office); both programs have been in operation for nearly 30 years.”
“What sets her apart is that she never does it by herself,” John continued. “Elsa can find champions. She has lots of creativity, organizing skills, and the most outstanding thing is her commitment and ability to role with the punches; she often does it better than other structures.”
2018 NVG Sponsors & Exhibitors