In September 2011, members of the Organizing Committee recruited Sue Kujawa, the recently retired Executive Director of the Mothers' Club Family Learning Center. Sue became the part-time, volunteer Executive Director of the newly incorporated Pasadena Village. The first item of business for Sue and other members of the Organizing Committee was to attend the Village to Village Network conference in Oakland, California. Inspired by the energy and dedication of the leaders of the village movement and armed with practical advice and ideas, the group returned to Pasadena ready to transition from a good idea to an operating village.
The next step in that transition was fundraising. Organizing Committee members invited friends, relations, and community and business leaders to a series of luncheons designed to introduce them to the Village concept. Soon there was a group of more than 20 "Founding Friends," each of whom had donated at least $1,000 to help start the Pasadena Village.
One of the committee members, a retired videographer, created a visual presentation telling the Pasadena Village story. The visual presentation was shown at the Village's monthly "picnics," gatherings of older adults who learned about the Village and shared their questions and concerns regarding the challenges they were facing or anticipated facing as their lives advanced.
During this time, another local non-profit organization, the Episcopal Communities & Services (ECS), a leading provider of housing and services to older adults, was donating office space and technical assistance for our volunteer staff of one. But, as we began developing a start-up timeline, we knew we would need an official office that could accommodate additional staff, room for meetings and volunteers, and be more accessible. With sufficient start-up funds, the Organizing Committee approved a move to leased space in the facilities of the local Flintridge Center, another non-profit organization active in the Pasadena community.
The final piece of good news that was critical to the launch of the Pasadena Village came when the Episcopal Communities & Services became the official Founding Sponsor of the Pasadena Village after incubating the organization for two years. ECS provided two major grants. One helps to fund a scholarship program, enabling low-income seniors to become Village members. Another allowed the Village to fund our Executive Director position for one year, with the potential of renewed support for a second year.
In May, with a number of volunteers in place and membership and volunteer policies drafted, the Pasadena Village began offering Charter memberships to those who had expressed an interest in the Village movement. As our first Villagers, Charter members paid for a one-year membership and received 14 months of service. In this way, the Village was able to "test" its ability to provide volunteer and professional services, and to inaugurate a rich social calendar of activities.
After a series of recruitment events, the Village had successfully registered 50 Charter members. With community support established, the Pasadena Village held its official launch on September 23 at the Mayor's house. This event featured guest speaker Susan McWhinney-Morse, founder of the Beacon Hill Village. Beacon Hill pioneered the village model, inspiring the formation villages across the country.
2013 and beyond...
Since September 2012, we have welcomed nearly 100 additional members to our Village. In June, we celebrated our first anniversary with an event for our members and Founding Friends held at Polytechnic School. Our member-produced film, Village Voices, was debuted to the delight of all in attendance. We are looking forward to our future as a successful, caring community.