By Laura Smith
Transitions are difficult. Since late 2014, on the third Thursday of each month, a group of volunteers have gotten together for the Village in the Village (ViV) board of directors meeting. Last month I said goodbye to the group after an almost seven-year stint. I hung up from the Zoom call with a mixture of emotions. I felt relief, gratitude, pride, and sadness. Here’s why.
Back in the fall of 2014, I retired from my practice of psychology and wanted to engage more with my community. A neighbor down the street coincidentally invited me to an information event about a new organization called Village in the Village (ViV). I was intrigued. After joining, another neighbor convinced me to become involved with the events committee for ViV. Before I knew it, I was invited to become a board member.
So, from early 2015 until December 2021, I dedicated almost every third Thursday of every month to ViV.
Back to my emotions upon leaving. I was relieved because there were occasions that being a board member could take considerable time. There were committee meetings to attend, applicants to be interviewed, handbooks to be updated, forms to develop and social events to attend.
Although I retired from the practice of psychology, I had not retired from my other job as an author. During those years, my husband, Chuck Elliott, and I wrote five new editions of our previously published books as well as a new book.
Those writing projects consumed more than a bit of time.
I felt grateful to have served on the board of ViV. Like many, I had lived in Corrales for a long time but knew only my immediate neighbors, other dog walkers and a few scattered friends. Being involved with ViV greatly enlarged my social circle. Whenever I shop for groceries, I inevitably find myself exchanging pleasantries with fellow ViV members. I am especially grateful for the experience of serving others through ViV.
Volunteering gives my life meaning and purpose.
I also felt proud. Proud of the many accomplishments of ViV, some supported by grants from Intel, and all involved volunteer effort. I’ll mention just a few.
- Have you ever seen the bocce court at the recreation center? Open to all community members, ViV applied for and received a grant to build that court.
- ViV started a medical equipment lending program (MELP) free to all Corrales residents. With the help of our wonderful Corrales Fire Department, a building was purchased to hold the many donated items. Need a walker, cane, or raised toilet seat? Maybe you had surgery or broke a bone. You can borrow sanitized, gently used equipment without cost. A friendly volunteer will even deliver any items you need to your home. Just call ViV’s number, 505-274-6206, and leave a message with your request.
- Again, in concert with Corrales Fire Department, ViV obtained lock boxes so that emergency personnel can enter homes of vulnerable seniors who live alone without damaging expensive doors.
- ViV purchased and constructed three “little libraries” that enhance our neighborhoods.
- Finally, I am proud that because of dedicated volunteers, ViV has thrived and survived throughout COVID. Members continue to be driven to medical appointments, groceries are still delivered, and people meet regularly on Zoom to connect with each other.
Sadness also seeped in shortly after ending that last Zoom call. I already miss connecting with other members of the board. I loved watching the organization grow, planning and revamping procedures, getting involved in recruitment, and knowing that ViV helped many people stay in their Corrales homes.
Transitions are difficult. I look forward to continuing to be involved with ViV, but in a smaller role. My life, as has all of ours, changed during the last couple of years. I will be spending more quiet time reading, writing and connecting with friends and family.
Maybe, in the near future, we can all get together for a cup of coffee.
Laura Smith is a member and volunteer of ViV. You can learn more about the organization at http://www.villageinthevillage.org or call 505-274-6206.