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American retirees use virtual retirement networks to stay supported


01-16-2015 09:26 BJT

It's a fact of American life, the baby boomer generation, born right after World War Two, is hitting retirement age.  And it's putting resources to the test. But that generation armed with technology and knowledge of a shared economy, is coming up with innovative ideas to maintain their independence.

Eighty-year-old Barbara Daly makes a call. That's answered by an Ashby Village coordinator with a virtual network of volunteers at her fingertips. She sends out emails to candidates fit for the job, and voila. A volunteer repairman arrives at Daly's home to change the light bulbs.

Ashby Village's executive council discusses how its volunteer network can best serve its 320 retired members. Ashby is one of 140 virtual villages nationwide, with just as many currently in development.

Virtual villages are non-profit organizations that survive off volunteers, donations and membership fees. For example, at Ashby Village, membership costs 750 dollars a year per person or 1,200 dollars per household.Volunteer Kristina Holland recently became a member and is on assignment to drive 93-year-old Margie Pezzaglia to the store.

But on these jobs, something else develops  - friendships. Researchers in Hong Kong are also studying U.S. virtual retirement villages to see if the model can translate to Asia.

After all, Chinese do have a saying: "What's more important than a faraway relative, is a nearby friend."



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