Canopy of Neighbors
Aging well and independently
Why is it so hard to talk about aging? The inevitable happens to all of us. But it can be much easier to face with a change of attitude about the way you age. Our later years can be just as full of possibility, engagement, and productivity as our working years were. Imagine retaining your independence, building critical relationships now—not in times of emergency—and successfully aging in place.
“Villages,” such as Canopy of Neighbors, were founded on a concept started in 2010 in Boston’s Beacon Hill, Massachusetts. Since then, over 350 villages in forty-five states have formed in order to provide community support that allows older adults to get the simple human services they need to remain active, independent, and socially engaged. The vision is as simple as neighbors helping neighbors, and it couldn’t come at a better time as 10,000 people a day turn sixty-five. For many, the support of friends and family is not an option. Rides to much-needed medical and social appointments can be a burden, and social isolation can compromise mental and physical health. Villages across the country provide a grass roots solution to the ninety percent of older Americans who want to age in place and maintain their independence. Increasingly, communities are looking for direct impact, bottom up, sustainable approaches to address increasing longevity.
Canopy of Neighbors is a membership-based organization whose fees are anywhere from $10 to $50 monthly depending upon income and household size. For one low fee, members enjoy door-to-door transportation for medical appointments, physical therapy, chemotherapy, routine tests, and more. Volunteers can help with grocery shopping, technology, simple household tasks—giving members peace of mind. Friendly visits while in rehab and at home serve to bring our community together and ease social isolation during trying times.
“Assuaging loneliness is not just about having random human contact: it’s about the quality of that contact and who you’re having contact with,” says Dr. Vyjeyanthi Periyakoil, associate professor of medicine at Stanford University.
Just as important, a robust social programming slate allows for village members to increase their social circle, engage in educational and social events, and stay active in their communities. Our offerings include Mindfulness, Current Events, Coffee Hours with speakers, monthly luncheons, outings to Irish Classical Theater—programs to feed both the mind and the soul. Members and volunteers often form friendships outside of Canopy and help each other. Relationships here at Canopy unfold whether you are ready for them or not—people give and receive in so many ways that alleviate loneliness and help build critical relationships that help in times of need and touch you when you least expect it.
Reassurance comes in the form of a member liaison who calls weekly to check in, lets members know about upcoming events, and takes RSVP’s. Along the way, critical relationships provide a support system that may be a substitute if family lives out of town or caregivers are non-existent for whatever reason.
Canopy of Neighbors is inclusive and represents the beautiful mosaic that is the City of Buffalo. Our members come from all walks of life and enjoy discovering that aging is a great equalizer. For some, Canopy is a way of life that enhances and supplements existing supports. For far too many, Canopy is a lifesaver. We have enjoyed the support of generous volunteers and donors who understand the need for intergenerational dependence and neighborly acts that allow older adults to age in place with dignity. We thank those of you who have brought us this far and welcome those of you who want to join us in changing the way we approach aging. We operate in the city of Buffalo and surrounding neighborhoods. We welcome new members and volunteers. Call us at 716-235-8133.
Sasha Yerkovich is executive director of Canopy of Neighbors.