Dr's. Craig and Marilyn Willis Lecture ant Lock Haven University

Kathleen Gillespie our CEO recently presented our Village of Hope project as the guest lecturer at the Dr’s. Craig and Marilyn Willis lecture series at Lock Haven University. Some of the points of Kathleen’s lecture were:

-When working in nursing facilities in the 1980’s Kathleen observed nursing facilities frequently medically and physically restraining residents. Kathleen shared her experience working in these settings with people experiencing cognitive impairment or living with dementia. Kathleen shared her view and her mission of reducing and eliminating the need for restraints through environmental and practice changes.

-Kathleen shared the challenges that she now faces in the Area Agency on Aging arena faced with a growing need for care in the community but a lack of direct care workers to provide this service. Kathleen also shared that barriers that she has observed in housing in the community. Kathleen shared that in the community some elders continue to reside without running water, with dirt floors and with housing that was not designed to meet their current needs. Kathleen shared that as people progress through their life span she feels that their housing choices should too. Kathleen shared that when young adult’s first move out on their own a small apartment or house may best suit their needs. When starting a family the housing choices reflect their need to support a growing family through increasing the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in their house. As elders Kathleen shared that housing that was purchased to support a growing family is no longer the best suited accommodation to support healthy and successful aging.

-Our Village of Hope was presented as a solution to the needs that elders living in the community with diverse needs. Our Village offers a M.A.G.I.C. concept in which many generations can live together supporting and learning from one another. People with different and unique abilities can live together to build one another up in an environment that highlights each person’s strengths instead of their weaknesses. Our Village provides an intergenerational environment in which people of all ages can live together and gain value from the shared interaction across generational divides. Our Village offers an inclusive environment in which everyone can feel that they belong, that they are welcomed and that they are valued. The final piece – the C – is my personal favorite. Community is often devalued and modern amenities have made it easy to avoid the interactions that used to be the building blocks of communities. Community has the potential to be so much more – and this is what our Village aims to be. A whole lot more.

-Our Village aims to create a supportive environment with people who are happy and engaged in a community that supports its members. Our Village’s most important use of this environment is to support those living with cognitive impairment and dementia. Through the use of M.A.G.I.C. and purposeful design those living with impaired cognition or dementia can be supported in a less restrictive environment than nursing facilities. Our Village of Hope offers a unique combination of services and supports that will function not only to maintain but enhance the quality of life for those that live within, including those with cognitive impairment.

As the blog continues to grow we will share more about the ways that our Village will create change and enhance the life of those living within. It can be different.



While presenting The Village to Hope to others, we are sometimes asked why it is called “The Village of Hope”. In short, we feel that there is the ability to provide hope through a number of ways in our community. We feel that showing family members that loved ones who are living with dementia can be supported in a community environment where they can experience love and laughter provides hope. By showing others that those living with dementia do not need to be isolated from the community in order to maintain safety shows hope for innovation and change. Inviting people of all ages and abilities in our community creates hope for future generations to experience this change and to further our mission. We feel that by utilizing an abandoned school atop a former mine site as a the location for the community and community center shows hope for renewal and reuse of land and resources.

Also, hope is at the very heart of our project. Kathy, the current CEO of the Area Agency on Aging was working in a dementia unit of a nursing facility in the early 90’s when a visitor told her “if it were me or my family affected, I would simply want to know there is hope”.

We are filled with hope and excitement as we work to bring this community to life. We are hopeful that you can share in the excitement, and the hope that this project brings.

We plan to use this blog to post updates of the development process.

Here are some recent pictures from inside of the former school