by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
Far too many people are living with a pulse but not a purpose.
It’s something that drives Marilyn Olson and the idea behind VillagesOKC.org.
“What we do is connect people who want to be active and live with a purpose,” the executive director of VillagesOKC.org said.
Olson’s background is extensive, helping open 10 retirement communities in multiple states.
“Each of use in VillagesOKC.org has learned a few things in the decades of our life and together we share what we’ve learned,” she said. “One day I said to my husband ‘it would be a real shame to wake up dead one morning and not having shared some of these things.”
A PLAN, NOT A PLACE
“What we’re learning is 100 is the new reality. More and more people are living until 100,” Olson explained. “And most people are only planning til 80 so what are you going to do with those other 20 years that God gives you?”
“Our plan is to live long and die short, not live and then slowly die. And you can have some control over that.”
Mounting research is showing that you can improve your risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 60 percent by simply making lifestyle changes.
“The problem is doing that is very difficult,” Olson said. “Villages gather people together and says ‘Let’s do this together.’”
“It’s peer pressure with love.”
That’s where Villages come in.
First of all, this Village is not an actual village. It is not a real estate development or a retirement community. It is a group of like-minded people in a geographic area who come together and develop the resources they will need to age comfortably in their own homes.
Villages bring services to people rather than moving people to services – neighbors helping neighbors create networks of support and reduced-cost professional services.
WHAT IS THE VILLAGE MOVEMENT?
Across the nation the village movement is an innovative grassroots organization which has emerged in the last decade providing support services for community-dwelling older adults.
The village movement is one of the most viable options to let our society cope with the upcoming “Revolution Aging.”
The revolution is due to the unprecedented number of seniors in America over 55. This number is growing by 10,000 per day. This number is many times greater than the number of available retirement communities or assisted living communities available or even planned. Thus has developed another option – aging in place in one’s own home.
Beacon Hill, the first village, came to birth in Boston, Massachusetts. Others have cropped up all over the nation.
Now it’s Oklahoma City’s turn.
“There are villages all over the nation,” Olson said. “It just depends on what the people want. This is not my idea. I just agreed to initiate it because that’s what I’m supposed to do. This is my calling right now.
“The end result is really up the people and what God orchestrates.”
Locally, the group celebrated its one year “Village-versary” and launch of VillagesOKC.org Pickleball as a new way for Village members to stay active and participate in one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S.
Being active and productive is a way of life.
That’s why Olson helped with the recent Christian Women of Oklahoma City Bazaar. Her involvement began last year.
“Powerful testimonies of God’s goodness, encouragement and new friends,” Olson said of her first experience.
Seventy-seven years ago, a group of Oklahoma City Christian women gathered in a home for a few hours of fellowship.
Little did they know that first coffee klatch would spark lifelong friendships for several generations of Christian women in Oklahoma City and change the lives of countless others.
Those meetings are still going on, although the increased numbers have moved the meetings outside of members’ homes and into the Quail Creek Country Club.
And the centerpiece has become a bazaar that raises thousands of dollars for needy Oklahoma charities.
This October event was one of the group’s best ever.