North Shore Village Celebrates 3 Years – Self-Reliant Seniors Have Plenty to Celebrate

Let’s not forget that today’s 60+ set is anything but over the hill. They climbed and conquered that hill and now they’re reclaiming it.  Thanks to its visionary founders, well-organized volunteers and powerful corporate support, yesterday’s movers and shakers are still movin’ and shakin’ and have been for three exciting years now.


Who are they? Here’s part of the upbeat, warm welcome you’ll receive when you visit the North Shore Village website,


Home, community, friendships. Where we live, how we live, and who we share our lives with—they are all a matter of choice. Is there any reason to give up those choices as we get older? North Shore Village (NSV) doesn't think so, and neither do our members. In fact it's our members who define North Shore Village, a nonprofit organization of dynamic older adults in Evanston, Skokie and Wilmette, Illinois, who choose to stay in their own homes, in their community, and among their friends as they grow older.


So, what does North Shore Village have to celebrate after three years? Here are some highlights and headlines:

§       North Shore Village (NSV) is the local face of a national phenomenon: the overwhelming desire of older adults to age in place, staying in their own homes for as long as safely possible…Today there are about 50 such communities nationwide.

§       NSV is modeled on one of the most successful of these self-generated communities, Boston's Beacon Hill Village, which began in the 2001 and now has more than 400 members. Inspired by Beacon Hill's success, ...two Evanston residents with a rich history of community activism, Libby Hill and Harriet Friedlander, initiated the village concept in Evanston in 2007.

§       NSV incorporated as an Illinois nonprofit in 2008, received 501(c)(3) status in 2009 and officially launched in February 2010 with 129 founding members.

§       North Shore Village has the support of highly-regarded strategic partners, led by Mather LifeWays, through its Community Initiatives division


Betsie Sassen of Mather Lifeways


.…As a nonprofit, the Village also relies on the generosity of foundations and corporate and individual donors. even gets into the act!

§       The Village is managed by Helen Gagel (Executive Director) and Tommi Ferguson (Manager of Member Engagement), with the active involvement of a strong corps of volunteers.


And how did they celebrate? Evanston’s Levy Senior Center provided the space and NSV took it from there. Of course, there was a wide variety of delicious food including a huge birthday cake, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, as well as door prizes. 

For me, the most memorable of all was a delight selection of songs by the Harmonizers, an a capella women’s chorus with “barbershop quartet-like harmonies.” Their interactive performance even involved a bit of “hand jive” on our part. It was a bit challenging, a lot of fun and very inclusive—some of us spontaneously sang along while we “jived.”

If it takes a village to raise children, doesn’t it make sense that it takes a village to serve our aging adults?  As I (like everybody else!) continue to move in that direction, I’m doing what I can to make sure North Shore Village will be waiting for me with open arms when my time comes. Consider how you can help, too. The website offers several ways that can work well for you. Again, that address is:


Photos by Herb Simms





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