Frequently Asked Questions
More questions? Check out the FAQs on the Members, Volunteers, and Donations pages!
Nashoba Neighbors is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization that provides a safety net of services for members in Berlin, Bolton, and Lancaster, Massachusetts. Many of us experience social isolation, loss of independence, or changes in our physical abilities as we age. Helpful neighbors and communities become even more important to our ability to continue living at home. Although our towns already provide a variety of services, there are still unmet needs. Nashoba Neighbors coordinates and trains community volunteers to fill in those gaps and respond to members’ interests and requests for support.
In 2018, Catherine Pfau was intrigued by an article in The Boston Globe describing a growing movement to provide support for senior citizens aging at home through the development of virtual Villages. Villages are modeled after Boston’s Beacon Hill Village, which started in 2002 and was built on the simple idea of neighbor helping neighbor. A group of residents was looking for a way to age in their homes without being a burden to their loved ones. They wanted to retain their independence, but knew that they needed a little help. Their Village was so successful that many other towns created their own. Today, there are over 250 Villages across the country and many more in development.
Catherine was inspired to think about creating a Village in her own town of Bolton, Massachusetts. She spent a lot of time meeting and talking to local residents and people in agencies that serve seniors about their needs and how a Village may be helpful to them. They all agreed that although the town of Bolton had some useful services available, the town wasn’t able to do it all. In addition, the town budget, like those in other towns, was limited while the population of residents over 60 was swelling - from 10% in 2010 to 22% in 2018 - and it was projected to continue growing.
In 2019, a group of Bolton residents began to meet on a regular basis to explore how a Village could be useful to the community. They decided that Bolton’s population may be too small to support a Village so they invited adjoining towns to become involved. Several residents in Berlin and Lancaster felt their town needs were similar to Bolton’s and decided to jump on board. The group joined the Village to Village Network, a national organization that provides expert guidance, resources, and support to help communities establish and maintain their Villages, and Nashoba Neighbors began to take form.
By 2020, a working group of eight residents from across the three towns was meeting regularly to plan and design how this new Village would work. The group decided Nashoba Neighbors would be an all-volunteer organization and would use an efficient website to create a “virtual office” instead of maintaining and paying for a physical central office. This would keep costs down for members. The group elected a Board of Directors and officers, adopted by-laws, and by early 2021, Nashoba Neighbors was recognized by the IRS as an official 501(c)(3) public charity.
Working committees were formed to advance preparations for launching Nashoba Neighbors. COVID-19 shifted the pace of the work for a while, but the group could see that the need for Nashoba Neighbors was even greater and that their Village would need to be flexible and responsive to changing situations. The Board is now planning for a “soft launch” pilot phase in October 2021 and expects to welcome many more members by early 2022. Nashoba Neighbors is looking forward to growing and evolving as volunteers help older adults stay engaged and thrive!
Our goal is to create an organization to support our older community residents that will outlast any single individual’s efforts. A nonprofit organization is overseen by a board of directors, which is charged with taking good care of the organization over the long term. Members of that board also change over time. This engages local residents around a shared commitment to provide a strong, inclusive community that offers members new opportunities to age successfully. We are not interested in making a profit from this effort; we are committed to providing an efficient, long-term support system for our elders.
Remember, too, charitable donations made by individuals and corporations are tax deductible! We are officially recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3), meaning the organization is tax-exempt by virtue of its charitable programs. As a nonprofit organization, all income, donations, and grants received by Nashoba Neighbors are fully dedicated to our goal of helping our members stay engaged and thrive in a vibrant and supportive community. Having this designation allows us to expand our efforts and make a larger impact over time. Specifically:
Collaboration across three towns broadens our pool of volunteers and our access to resources. Nashoba Neighbors volunteers are often willing and able to help elders in their home town, as well as their neighboring towns. This is important to our ability to provide the supports you need (and volunteers in our neighboring town are just as nice and friendly as our neighbors in your home town!). Each town also shares in the work of serving on the Board of Directors, advertising special events, finding new members and volunteers, and connecting members to a network of like-minded organizations, supports, and events in our area. So organizing across our three towns connects us with a larger pool of valuable resources to support our seniors.
The idea for Nashoba Neighbors was born in 2018 after Catherine Pfau was intrigued by an article in The Boston Globe about The Village Movement. In 2019, a group of Bolton residents began to meet on a regular basis to explore how a Village could be useful to the area. By 2020, a working group of eight residents from across the three towns was meeting regularly to plan and design how this new Village, Nashoba Neighbors, would work. The group elected a Board of Directors and officers, adopted by-laws, and by early 2021, Nashoba Neighbors was recognized by the IRS as an official 501(c)(3) public charity. The Board is now planning for a “soft launch” pilot phase in October 2021 and expects to welcome many more members soon after.
We serve members in Berlin, Bolton, and Lancaster, Massachusetts. We provide a range of services, including:
For a more specific list of tasks we can do in each of these areas, click on this Sampling of Services. Have other ideas? Contact us! Our services are shaped by members’ needs and interests.
We are focused on collaboration, not competition. Our plan is not to duplicate existing services, but rather to fill in the gaps where seniors needs are still not addressed by our communities. We also serve as a connection hub. We actively reach out to other non-profit, municipal, educational, and cultural groups in the area to explore how we might work together. As we bring volunteers and members on board, we will help them find and make use of these important community resources.
As a nonprofit organization, Nashoba Neighbors is 100% volunteer-based. It is overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors and staffed entirely by community volunteers from Berlin, Bolton, and Lancaster, Massachusetts.
Nashoba Neighbors is supported by membership fees, grants, and local fundraising.
Nashoba Neighbors is not a physical site; think of it as a coordinated network of supports across Berlin, Bolton, and Lancaster, Massachusetts. We maintain a virtual office via telephone and Internet, including our Nashoba Neighbors website. These core tools, as well as community meeting places, allow us to work effectively and efficiently with members, volunteers, partners, and donors. This saves money because we do not need to pay rent and maintain a shared office or meeting rooms. We maintain a post office mailbox at Nashoba Neighbors, P.O. Box 123, Bolton, MA 01740.
Contact us to discuss your interests by sending an email to Board President, Catherine Pfau at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (978) 226-8844. If you would like to volunteer, we will arrange a phone or in-person interview with you and, if you are ready to commit to volunteering, we will ask you to complete a volunteer application and background check. We welcome members and volunteers of every race, color, gender identification, faith, sexual orientation, and cultural group. Volunteers can be any age; those under age 18 must be accompanied by an older, fully-vetted volunteer.