San Francisco Village
San Francisco Village is a nonprofit membership organization that connects older San Franciscans to the community, resources and expertise they need to live independently in the places they call home. Today, our community includes nearly 500 members over the age of 60, more than 200 multi-generational volunteers, a staff of six, a 12-member board of directors and hundreds of donors, supporters, workshop leaders and partners. We’ve come together to optimize health and well-being for everyone involved.
San Francisco Village started in 2009 when a group of community-minded older adults gathered to explore the questions, “How might we help ourselves and one another navigate the transitions of aging so we can remain in the homes and neighborhoods we love? How do we continue living lives of meaning and purpose?” We have grown immeasurably in the past 13 years, not just in the size of our Village but in our understanding of what is possible when people come together to intentionally care for one another in a spirit of reciprocity and common cause.
In 2009, we called this “aging in place” and it was a radical idea. We started with a few dozen individuals, largely White and predominantly middle class, to build the infrastructure that would support optimal health and well-being for older adult members. Most members agreed to volunteer for one another, and we recruited younger people too. Volunteers helped with practical needs like grocery shopping and transportation to doctor’s visits. They helped each other learn new technology and walked one another’s dogs. Members gathered in programs, workshops and outings to explore shared interests. Even in these early days, we knew we were on to something powerful, even transformative.
Who We Have Become
Fast forward more than a decade, we paused to reflect on what we had learned. While mainstream society continued to hold stereotypical ideas of aging – relegating older adults to the margins and orienting to old age as a “problem” rather than a rich and valuable life stage – we had witnessed the power of community to foster connections that improve the lives of everyone involved. These connections provide a powerful antidote to isolation and loneliness that often besiege adults in our society, no matter their age.
While our early years had been about doing “for” older adults in a transactional or service-oriented way, we have grown to work “with” our members, emphasizing the relationships as an end in themselves. Listening to what members needed and longed for, our programs evolved from book groups and yoga classes, to include brave conversations about death and dying, climate action, racial equity, and gender awareness.
We became passionate advocates for aging, partnering with big institutions like the San Francisco Department of Disability and Aging Services and Sutter Health, and local nonprofits like My Life My Stories and the San Francisco LGBT Center. We stepped into our authority as leaders in the national and statewide Village Movement and pledged to leverage our experience for a greater purpose.
Living Into the Future
Then came the Spring of 2020: we were literally stopped in our tracks by the pandemic lockdowns and the racial reckoning that resulted as the country reeled from the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the upwelling of the Black Lives Matter movement. SFV responded in solidarity and felt compelled to begin an examination of what it means to be a predominantly White organization in a White dominant culture. This honest self-reflection has resulted in a new strategic direction that makes explicit our commitment to equity: a bigger vision that includes people of all ages, races, cultures and abilities working together to create a community of belonging and in so doing, demonstrate possibilities for relationship and connection that benefit the greater good.
At a time when trust in our basic social contracts is eroding, the work of SFV as an intentional caring community is more essential than ever. We believe that operationalizing love fuels a movement that transcends the forces threatening to separate us. We do our part at the local level to inspire change at the system level. We accept our role as elders in the community, challenging long-held assumptions about culture and privilege; embodying the wisdom we’ve earned and leading by example. We’re proud of our history of prototyping innovative ideas. Together, with our partners, members, and volunteers we are working to scale love and human connection one day at a time.
Read the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan here.
Intersection of health care and social care – We believe optimal health, especially as it relates to navigating the transitions of aging, requires social connection, access to care and knowing that we belong to something bigger than ourselves.
Eldership – We believe the wisdom and lived experience of elders is precious and much needed in the world today. We encourage our members to embrace new learning as we orient to a changing future, seeking opportunities to share and lead as we deepen our community.
Intergenerational Relationships – We believe people of all ages need each other to thrive and that the world needs intergenerational solutions to complex problems like inequality, climate crisis, racial justice, isolation and loneliness. We come together to explore the possibilities.
Co-Creation – We believe in standing shoulder to shoulder with one another to build a caring community that reflects the beauty of its varied members.
Equitable Community – We strive to be an anti-racist organization and commit to challenge white dominant culture through our words and actions.
Self-Reflection – As agents of change in the outer world, we accept the responsibility to do our own inner work and the discomfort and opportunities that may bring. We strive to live our values in all our words and behaviors, and to hold ourselves accountable for our growth.
Humility – As leaders in the Village movement, we promise to let go of old assumptions about aging and individualism, to challenge conventions that create separation and hierarchy, and to act in ways that inspire trust, growth and connection.
Spontaneity – We believe in saying YES to play, partnerships, collaboration and opportunities that arise unexpectedly and help take us to new places.
The Village Movement
SFV is one of 46 villages in California and 250 nationwide. We are a founding partner of Village Movement California (VMC), the statewide coalition advocating for villages at the state level. With funding from Archstone Foundation, VMC launched in 2018 with a mandate to strengthen the impact, accelerate growth, and ensure the sustainability of this life-affirming model for social change. Together, we advocate for innovative, community-based solutions to improve quality of life and expand choices at all stages of aging, empowering older adults to sustain independence through community and remain in charge of their lives as they age.
Board of Directors
Executive Project Consultant, CPMC
Retired Financial Systems Director, CCSF
Retired Engineering Manager
Health Care Strategy & Innovation Consultant and Author
Health Care Entrepreneur
Professor, Artist, and Intergenerational Specialist
Clinical conselour and Art Therapist
Board Member Emeritus
Long-Term Care Strategist
Mary Moore Gaines
Board Member Emeritus
Rector Emeritus – St. James Church
Since membership fees cover only twenty percent of our operating expenses, funders are critical to ensuring that San Francisco Village can continue to provide quality programming and services to our members. San Francisco Village is deeply grateful for the generous support of these funders, past and present.
Interested in learning more, or just want to say hello? We’d love to hear from you!
member since 2018