Foothills Village non-profit dissolves

Published 9:01 am Friday, March 7, 2008

The Foothills Village board of directors sent notice to members, volunteers and associated service providers announcing the dissolution of the organization (see page 4). The non-profit says it was unable to sign up enough members to become sustainable.

&dquo;Everyone agrees that the idea is a sound one, but without a growing membership and financial support, it&squo;s impossible to maintain an office and employ someone to coordinate the activities of our volunteers and members,&dquo; said Merry Richon, co-president.

Volunteers with The Foothills Village delivered gourmet meals, drove members to doctor&squo;s appointments, did minor repairs, went grocery shopping, even accompanied a member on walks around Harmon Field.

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&dquo;We offered bill paying, light yard work, sunshine visits ‐ all those little things that make life easier and more enjoyable,&dquo; said Richon. &dquo;But even with our ongoing promotional activities, presentations to civic and church groups, conversations with individuals and sponsorship of senior interest seminars, there was a lack of broad acceptance. TFV was unable to convince the community of the current and future need for its program.&dquo;

The initial force behind the creation of TFV was Betsy Freeman, who Richon says is understandably sad to see the dissolution of the project. &bsp;

Based on a similar program in Boston that she&squo;d read about in AARP magazine, she worked hard to bring like-minded people together to initiate the concept. The result was a dynamic board, says TFV, a dedicated band of volunteers and service providers.

&dquo;It&squo;s hard to be first,&dquo; said Freeman.&bsp; &dquo;A new idea such as The Foothills Village takes a while for the public to digest and appreciate. &bsp;

&dquo;My hope is that this idea will spring up again and Polk County seniors and baby boomers will realize what a great idea it is and support it to the fullest.&dquo;

Tom Waldenfels, whose mother was one of the first members, gives credit to everyone involved in The Foothills Village. &bsp;

&dquo;They tried to do something really groundbreaking.&bsp; The concept is brilliant and everyone gave their all to make it a success,&dquo; he says. &dquo;Similar organizations are sure to emerge all over the country in the course of the next few years as the population ages. &bsp;

&dquo;Maybe next time it&squo;ll fly here, but it won&squo;t be because better people are running it ‐ you couldn&squo;t find better people than we had anywhere.&bsp; They&squo;re the best.&dquo;

In the letter to membership and volunteers, TFV thanked everyone for supporting the organization.

Co-president Allen Richon says the non-profit was &dquo;especially&bsp; thrilled&dquo; to receive recognition from the Polk County Community Foundation, which provided two grants from its unrestricted fund.

&dquo;It helped immensely with office space and administration costs,&dquo; said Richon.&bsp; &dquo;All unused funds will be donated back to PCCF so those funds may continue to work for the community.&dquo;

The Foothills Village office in Tryon is expected to remain open until March 14.