New program helps Hilltop residents age in place

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By Christine Bryant
Staff Writer

A new hub is in the works to provide residents 50 and older on the Westside with the resources needed to age successfully in place.

What will be known as “Ville on the Hill,” the program is a membership-driven village that will provide a variety of services for Hilltop-area residents. It will be the fourth village in the Columbus area.

“The common thread of the village movement is the goal of enabling aging citizens to remain comfortably and safely in their homes for as long as possible,” said Barbara Camfield, who will serve as director.

Volunteers and paid staff will run the grassroots organization, with typical village services that include social events, home remodeling referrals and more.

“We will also have a circulator bus that will travel through the Hilltop community to assist in transportation once a week,” she said. “The circulator bus will begin running on Tuesdays in August.”

Camfield says it’s important to note that unlike other facilities such as senior centers, there is no physical location or community center. Instead, she says, the program is a resource hub that connects older residents who live in the Hilltop area with services they need to remain independent.

Collaborating on the project are the Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone, the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center and the Hilltop YMCA, of which Camfield also serves as chronic disease prevention and senior program coordinator. She says the city of Columbus has provided funding to get the project under way as well.

The Rev. Meredith McDougle, who serves as executive director of the Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone, says social events offered through the resource hub will serve an important purpose.

“The social events that Ville on the Hill and the other villages are holding will be a key part of the strategy to fight social isolation and keep older adults active in the community,” she said.

Though the resource hub is still in the development stages, Camfield says organizers have begun a soft launch by attending events like the Hilltop Bean Dinner and the Summer Jam West to generate interest and spread the word about the village.

Events are in the works to include a social event in September and a safety event with the Columbus Division of Fire. Ville on the Hill organizers also are working with the Kiwanis Club of Columbus to help residents through the group’s Fall Clean-Up Day in October.

“Elders will have help with minor home repairs, yard work and other small maintenance projects,” Camfield said. “Volunteers from Columbus Kiwanis and others will complete these services free of charge.”

Because Ville on the Hill is a membership-based organization, Camfield says residents must sign up to take advantage of the services. However, the only requirements are that a person lives in the Hilltop area and is 50 or older.

Eventually, there may be a membership charge, though she says currently the first six months will be free for members.

“In 2020, we will reassess what can be done,” she said. “But first, we have to show the community that the Ville on the Hill is of value to them.”

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