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Janet Tucker (Exeter), Catherine and Brad Greeley (New Castle) and Jan Olmstead (Rye)

Everything starts with an idea, and that’s precisely what drew Janet Tucker, Catherine and Brad Greeley and Jan Olmstead to the Seacoast Village Project. The idea of community, of connection, of independence inspired these active Seacoast residents to support our non-profit and spread the word about the Seacoast Village Project.

“I value the concept of the village,” Tucker says. “The community is, for me, the most important dimension of Seacoast Village.” A resident of Exeter for 52 years, Tucker has volunteered with organizations ranging from the town’s recreation and conservation commissions to the American Independence Museum and The Music Hall. She’s now active on Village’s Program and Events Committee, and notes, “My volunteerism has paralleled my life.”

Five years ago when Tucker packed up and moved a half mile down the road, she left the neighborhood that she had called home for over fifty years. “When I moved here, I felt so isolated. All my services had remained, but my new community felt sterile. We all know that isolation is bad, especially for older people, and lots of people don’t have the skills to reach out. Seacoast Village Project provides an opportunity to break that isolation for others.”

And now that she finally feels at home, Tucker intends to stay put. “I’m old. I’m healthy. I’m independent. I want to die in my sleep here.” And that’s another reason she’s a fan of Seacoast Village Project. “We’re helping people whose philosophy we support — people who want to remain independent and stay at home. That’s what we want for ourselves.”

The Greeley’s agree wholeheartedly. According to Catherine, she and her husband, Brad, embraced the Seacoast Village concept because “We want to stay here in our house, and we discovered we’re not always going to be able to do what we used to.” Today, however, she’s thrilled that she can cross her knees again, a monumental achievement after battling an autoimmune disease that “knocked me for a loop.”

Catherine’s health scare led the New Castle couple to view the Village as a vital link to maintaining their independence. By creating a “whole network program” Brad explains, Seacoast Village Project strengthens community connections and develops a trusted go-to list for resources.

“There’s a ton of need,” Catherine says. “Not just meals, not just transportation, not just safety visits — there’s huge potential for relationship building.”

Jan Olmstead of Rye was drawn to the Seacoast Village Project, “out of my own personal interest. I’m a senior who’d love to age in place.” She’s passionate, she says about keeping her “nooks and crannies, those spaces that we all have in our homes — to write, think, paint; places where we can take a deep breath and inhale. The notion of no longer having them brings tears to my eyes. I think if I were removed from my special space, how lonely I would be.”

Loneliness also comes when neighbors leave, as Olmstead discovered three years ago when an antibiotic poisoned her neurological system and she couldn’t walk without help. “I couldn’t walk across to the ocean that I saw out the window.” And when friends and neighbors went south for the winter, she felt isolated.

“For me, the Village will be able to connect me to other community support organizations, opportunities and education.” Olmstead is presently bringing her fundraising experience to the Village Project, and although she worked as a critical care nurse, moved into industry, then became a consultant, she laments, “People assume seniors can’t contribute. We’re marginalized, especially women, and that fact pisses me off.”

She’s hopeful, though, that Seacoast Village Project can change that ageing experience. “I think we all thrive when we’re connected. When we’re connected, we grow.”

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