Village Common FAQs
Q: What’s the difference between The Village Common and a Local Village such as the Providence Village?
A: The Village Common is the “umbrella” 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The local Village in your community is not separately incorporated. The Village Common has a small, professional administrative staff that supports all of our Villages, while each individual Village is staffed and led by volunteers from the community.
Members call the Village Common office when they want to request a particular service or some other form of assistance and we work to help fulfill those requests.
Our Villages help members stay engaged and active offering a range of practical support – like transportation or help with home maintenance – as well as a variety of programs and activities tailored to their members’ interests. Programs range from coffees and other get-togethers, to educational talks and cultural outings. These activities offer the opportunity to meet new friends (something that gets harder as we age) and help to prevent the isolation which often accompanies aging. We also provide referrals as well as other useful information.
Q: What if I live in an area of Rhode Island where there isn’t yet a Local Village near me?
A: You can still join, but we might not be able to source volunteers to help you with direct services. You would still be able to participate in events offered by any local village. Many of our members join because they enjoy these events and the connections they make through the Village Common and their association with a Local Village. We have a number of members who do not use our direct services but enjoy our local village programs.
Or you can consider starting a local Village in your community. The Village Common plays an active role in supporting groups who want to create a Local Village where they live. We can provide you with information about how to get started and lots of support along the way.
Q: Can anyone join as a member?
A: Our mission is to help older adults remain active, connected and independent in the homes and communities they love. For that reason, our programs and services are designed for older adults. Most of our members are age 50 and older. That said, there is no age requirement for becoming a member of The Village Common.
Q: It’s a wonderful concept, but I don’t need any help yet. Can I just come to your social and educational events since I don’t need any volunteer help?
A: You might consider joining for other reasons than needing direct services 'right now'.
Many of our members find the new friends they make and the sense of community they develop through their Village and The Village Common to be two of the most important benefits of belonging.
Also, by becoming a member, you help to assure that we will be there for you in the future when our volunteer support might be just the thing to help you remain independent in your own home. And keep in mind, accidents do happen even to the most able-bodied. Being a member will give you immediate access to our support.
Q: How do members access volunteer support, such as transportation, or home maintenance?
A: Members call the central office and the office helps find an appropriate volunteer. Every effort will be made to fulfill your request. If we are unable to fill your request with a volunteer, we can help by referring you to a local business or service.
Q: Are there any restrictions on membership, or the types of services you can offer?
A: We do not offer medical advice or treatment or in-home care. Sometimes a member's needs may be more extensive than we can assist with as a volunteer organization.
A Village Ambassador can assist you in determining if we are a good fit for the type of services you need.
We ask potential members to consider if they may have limitations that will make it difficult for them to enjoy the full scope of what we have to offer our members.
We are a volunteer-driven organization and, as such, depend on volunteers to fulfill many of the support requests, plan the local events and assist members.
If our volunteers are unable to assist with a request, we have a network of commercial providers. These providers are paid for by you and are not covered by the dues you pay the Village Common. In such cases we work with members to help them obtain the help they need.
If you need in-home care, or expertise in transporting you due to mobility issues, or professional care management, our volunteers cannot help you. But we can help you find the help you need in the community.
Q: What if both my spouse and I want to join? Or conversely, suppose just I want to join?
A: The Village Common offers two types of memberships - individual and household. The household membership can include your spouse or partner, or another friend or family member living with you.
Q: Is housing available?
A: No, the Village movement is all about helping older adults stay in their current housing with added independence, connections and peace of mind.
Q: What is the difference between “member” and “volunteer"?
A: A member pays modest monthly dues and receives support from our generous volunteers.
Volunteers are vetted and trained local community residents. They receive no monetary compensation for their support. Some of our members are also volunteers, but volunteers do not need to be members and members do not need to volunteer.
Q: Are volunteers paid or required to be tipped by members?
A: No, volunteers are not paid and tipping is not permitted.
Q: Can I be both a member and a volunteer?
A: Yes, you will be doubly appreciated for it!
Q: What if I want to just volunteer? Can I do so without being a member?
A: Yes, but many of our volunteers are also members! They join as a way to “pay it forward” for when they might themselves need the sort of support our volunteers provide.
Q: How can I become a volunteer?
A: The Village Common offers a range of volunteer opportunities. These may include giving rides to members for medical appointments, errands, or other outings; providing minor home repair services; offering technology support; planning social engagements; fundraising; serving on committees and in leadership positions; providing office help; and many other options. If you have a special skill to share, please call us to discuss opportunities.
Volunteers must be:
At least 18 years of age (with exceptions for approved school related projects)
- Willing to participate in a volunteer screening/background check process
- Comfortable working independently
- Contact our office to discuss opportunities and interests with our Volunteer Coordinator
- Submit an application and come in for an interview
- Pass the background check (and provide requested documents for driving)
- Participate in training programs
Q: Does the Village Common provide liability insurance coverage for volunteers?
A: Yes, we do.
Q: Can I make a donation? Are donations tax deductible?
A: Yes, donations should be made through the Village Common office or website.
The Village Common is a qualified 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Consult a tax professional for specific guidance.