The Village Common Newsletter - January 2021
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Village Common Annual Meeting
Anne Connor Becomes President

By Rosalind Ladd
Photo by John Harkey

The Annual Meeting of the Village Common convened on Zoom on December 10. The first item of business was a vote to accept the slate of officers for the coming year presented by the nominating committee, Susan McCalmont and Jim Maxwell, Chair.

The new officers are: Anne Connor (pictured to the right, photo by Phil West), President; Suzanne Francis, Past President; Peter Viner-Brown, returning as Treasurer; and Patrice Moscow, Secretary for 1 year to fill out Anne Connor’s secretarial term. The position of President Elect was left open.

New Board members are Maureen Maigret and returning member Jim Maxwell, each for a 3-year term; Patrice Moscow for a 1-year term, and for the Nominating Committee: Suzanne Francis, Susan McCalmont, and Roberta Aaronson. Nominations from the floor added Laurel Holmes for a 3- year term to the Board.

Peter Viner-Brown gave a financial report for 2019, showing a bank balance of $133,000. Pat Mattingly added the information that the strategic plan had anticipated a small financial loss for three years while the Common was growing and adding new villages, but that has not happened, so the financial picture is more positive than expected.

Jo Ellen Mistarz, Executive Director, presented an overview of where the Common is now. Villages at Barrington and Edgewood are up and running and the Virtual Village (a virtual program series) has been launched. Currently there are 162 members and 82 volunteers.

Laura Young reported that the Barrington Village has 30 members and 30 volunteers and has fulfilled 67 service calls this year. Plans are underway to connect to the library, Boy Scouts, and other community groups.

Barbara Schermack reported on the Edgewood Village, which had its first meeting in January. They have distributed rack cards to make the Village known; trained as volunteers and membership ambassadors; and recruited at the Farmer's Market. In addition, Carol Shelton has contributed monthly articles to the VC Newsletter, and an inclusion subcommittee, led by Michael Fournier, has been formed to ensure that underserved areas of Edgewood are included. Currently there are 12 members and 12 volunteers. Suzanne Francis has been serving as mentor to the group.

John Harkey offered a report of the Providence Village activities for the year. He listed: Zoom sessions for members, mail ballot education, Thanksgiving meals delivered, grants from Miriam Hospital for membership fees and from Neighborhood Health Plan for technology support, Care Calls to members, neighborhood circles, and walking programs. Providence Village includes 122 members and 50 volunteers.

Cy O'Neil reported on fundraising. There was $100,000 raised from grants and donations, including 401 Gives, a fundraising event through United Way that took place last spring. The Strategic Plan called for a Growth Campaign with a two-year goal of $250,000 as start-up funds for the Village Common and the goal was reached. He also announced that Residential Properties has become our first corporate sustaining sponsor.

Anne Connor paid tribute to the memory of those of our community who have died since the last meeting: Irene Allen, Ralph Hollingworth Clarke, Robert Ferrari DiPippo, Helen Dorsey, Deborah Dunning, Peggy Kraig, Joan Major, Dan Seigel, and Stan Smith.

The meeting ended with heartfelt thanks to these people: Jim Maxwell and Jim Frederickson for setting up the technology for the meeting; Jo Ellen Mistarz, Executive Director, and Eliza Sutton, Village Coordinator, for all their administrative work; and to Wendy Oliver for organizing and editing the Newsletter each month.

Welcome, New Board Members
By Jo Ellen Mistarz
New board members Laurel Holmes (left), Maureen Maigret (center) and Patrice Moskow (right).
Photos by Phil West

The Village Common of RI is honored to announce that three exceptional new board members are joining The Village Common of RI board of Directors. Laurel Holmes, Maureen Maigret, and Patrice Moskow were all unanimously approved by our members at the December 10, 2020 Annual Meeting.

Laurel Holmes hails from Mystic, CT, and serves as director of Community Partnerships/Population Health for Lawrence + Memorial and Westerly Hospitals, of Yale New Haven Health System. Laurel explains, “I have been intrigued by examples of mutual aid in community for many years, and the Village concept is a strong demonstration of how people together can create supports they need to live fully throughout their life. Over 10 years ago, I was part of a small group that created a village in my area of southeastern CT and now by virtue of my work, I am again a part of establishing a village in Westerly.” Laurel brings her commitment to social justice, health equity, anti-racism, and improved community health to the board. She previously worked for an arts organization and a statewide political organization. She holds an MSW from University of Connecticut School of Social Work and a BS from Boston College.

Maureen Maigret, Warwick, worked as a Registered Nurse for 20 years. Maureen states, “I am impressed with the success of the Providence Village and fully support efforts to bring the Village model to other communities through The Village Common. As the state population grows older, this mission to help older adults to live safe and healthy at home is more important than ever.” The Women’s Movement inspired Maureen to run for office. Elected for five-terms to the RI House of Representatives from Warwick, she was the first woman appointed to the position of Deputy Speaker. She also served as Director of the Department of Elderly Affairs. Since retiring from state service in 2006, Maureen works as a consultant on aging and long-term care policy and has authored several reports on the state’s older population. Currently, she Co-Chairs the Long-Term Care Coordinating Council, co-leads the Office of Healthy Aging’s digiAGE Collaborative, and provides policy consultation to the Senior Agenda Coalition. In addition to Maureen’s RN diploma, she has a BS degree from RI College and an MPA degree from URI.

Patrice Moskow, Providence, will serve a one-year term filling Anne Connor’s role as Secretary of the Board. “I look forward to working with this group of people whose hard work, knowledge, and talents make so much possible for our members,” Patrice says. Patrice is no stranger to the Village. She began volunteering with Providence Village as a driver in 2019, and since then she has taken on many roles, including: service coordinator, fix-it person, tech team, Coordinating Council alternate, and Providence Village Steering Committee member. Patrice moved to Providence in 2017 but grew up outside of Boston. In addition to working as an academic researcher and reference librarian, Patrice has packed fish and served stints as a sheep farmer and a carpenter. She also has been involved with the Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative. She holds degrees in German language and linguistics.

Celebrating the Village Common with Bill Harley
By Sue Bayley
Photos by Phil West

Singer/Storyteller Bill Harley provided an entertaining exclamation point to the celebration of Year One of The Village Common, at a Zoom gathering on Thursday, December 10. Following the business meeting and election of officers, dozens of VC members from our Providence, Barrington, Edgewood, Burrillville, and possibly guests from other communities, shared an hour of joy with Bill’s performance of songs and stories.

Many folks know of Bill Harley from presentations over the years since he began performing in 1975, first at local schools and other venues, eventually around the US and internationally. My daughter remembers him from a grammar school appearance singing “Black Socks” (they never get dirty, the longer you wear them the stronger they get).

On this occasion, the main feature was a reminiscence of Christmas Eve preparations after the children were in bed, including assembly of an elaborate pirate ship whose Pirate Captain had lost his head — literally. An all-night struggle resulted in a tired Dad with a happy ending. Bill also performed some of his own songs, and answered questions from the audience.

If you are thrilled to learn that Bill Harley is well and still entertaining in better-than-ever form, you can reach him at his website:, where you will find Bill Harley’s Rules of the Universe, including: “It’s always harder to put something back together than to take it apart,” and “We’re all more alike than we are different.”

Have a wonderful holiday season, everyone, and welcome to 2021!

New Program Pairs RIC Student Nurses with Village Members
By Eliza Sutton

We are excited to introduce a new Village Common intergenerational program starting in January. We are partnering with Rhode Island College's nursing program so that nursing students can get experience spending time with aging adults, and Village Common members can connect and socialize with college students! This program comes at the perfect time, as this winter is sure to feel long and sometimes lonely.

The program is:

  • Fourteen RIC nursing students will be paired up with 14 members from all 3 Villages.
  • The students are going to be meeting both in-person and virtually.
  • The students will follow stringent safety protocols and will be tested for Covid 19 weekly.
  • Some of the activities the students will be doing with the members are: going for walks, light housework, reading together, cooking together, playing cards, etc. It depends on the members' interests.
  • The students and members will be setting up their schedules on a weekly basis, together.

Let us know if you are interested in getting to know a student this winter and spring - the only prerequisite is that you must be a TVC member. Call Eliza at 401-228-8683 to get more information or to sign up!

Communications Committee Seeks New Members: Let’s Create a Voice for The Village Common of Rhode Island!
By Susan McAlmont

Press releases, collaboration with other community organizations, email, advertisements? Is the Village Common using the most effective modes of communication? What about social media?

Join the Village Common Board’s NEW Communications Committee to set direction and priorities for this important area.

  • Do you have a background in communications or advertising? You’re a perfect fit!
  • Do you use social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter? Your expertise will be very useful!
  • Do you have any experience in designing websites? We need you!
  • Do you like being involved in community outreach efforts? You will be very helpful!
  • Ok. Maybe you think your experience isn’t relevant, but you want to get more involved with the Village Common. Your energy and great ideas are needed too!

Here’s your opportunity! Start the new year with an email to Susan McCalmont ( to learn more. A Zoom meeting will be held in January 2021.

Report from Edgewood Village
December, 2020
By Carol Shelton

Our Edgewood Village community wishes the Village Common and our sister villages, Providence and Barrington a happy, healthy and we hope, Covid-free 2021!

Despite confronting the epidemic in the earliest days of the establishment of our village, our efforts have been fruitful. During this past month:

  • Our chairperson, Barbara Schermack, shared her cookie baking skills on a Village Common Zoom class by demonstrating the process of making “Nutmeg logs” with participants. Those who joined her were gifted with a small package of these treats.
  • Rack cards were distributed to some businesses and to some organizations in the Edgewood community.
  • EV Volunteers have joined the Coordinating Council and other ad hoc committees of the Village Common.
  • Members of EV have participated in Village Common social and business activities, including the delightful fundraiser with the talented story teller, Bill Harley.
  • One of our EV members participated in the Age Friendly R.I. program on Social Isolation in Rhode Island along with Sister Villagers.
  • Plans are being considered to reach out to Cranston’s new office holders to bring to their attention the work of the EV.
  • Our inclusive subcommittee organized a group to canvass several streets in northern Edgewood, dropping off rack cards and face masks with a short note: “From your Edgewood Village members. Stay Safe.”

We look forward to continuing our efforts to grow in 2021. And once the epidemic finally ebbs away, we hope to have a gala Launch event to celebrate and introduce ourselves to the wider Edgewood neighborhood.

Barrington Village 2021
By Laura Young

Barrington Village plans to continue to grow and strengthen. Together as a community of mutual support, we will face what 2021 brings. Our members have spoken highly of BV volunteers who have helped them with essential services, such as errands, shopping and transportation to medical appointments.

The Barrington Village Steering Committee in 2020 worked hard to establish the beginnings of the Barrington Village. Two of our Steering Committee members are handing off the helm to others. They are Pat Keefe and Mira Meyer-Oertel. They are both remaining as members, volunteers and will always be founders of the Barrington Village. Please thank them when you speak to them for their valuable contributions to BV beginnings. Introducing the 2021 Barrington Village Steering Committee: Bob Cox, Alice Cross, Frank Cummings, Linda Dacey, Kate Douglas, Allan Klepper, Judie Knilans, Tom Kraig, Susan McCalmont, George Neubauer, Betsy Restituyo and Laura Young. We hope that sometime in 2021 we can show you a group photo!

Our developing plans to organize Snow Help for Barrington Village members went into overdrive in last week’s storm. Our new volunteer, Anteneh Kutenplon-Rayess, who uses the nickname Tony, jumped right in and we cleared off cars for 3 members and assisted with making walkways safe to plowed driveways for two additional members. Anteneh has worked on setting up a list of younger volunteer partners and a Facebook page to help communicate. Frank developed a list of local professional services, and Laura reached out to members and set up an Excel sheet with information about specific snow help needs and services used by members. It was a terrific group effort, building connections and providing a valuable service.


By John Harkey

One afternoon in mid-March, a dozen members from the Barrington, Edgewood, and Providence Villages met in a small room to grapple with a dilemma. Just weeks beforehand, their three Villages had been forged together, creating The Village Common. All fully expected a robust rollout of programs to serve their distinct communities. Few of them knew what Zoom was, much less that for the foreseeable future an online program would substitute for all of the in-person community-building events being planned.

The representatives from the three Villages who met that day continue to meet each month as the Coordinating Council. That Council was created to sustain the equally new sisterhood, The Village Common. That each Village within the Common has prospered, it is fair to say, is due to those leaders (even though all of us still struggle with Zoom!). Jo Ellen Mistarz, the Village Common’s Executive Director and Chair of the Council, put it to me this way: “The creativity and passion of these local representatives is why we have been able to survive as a vibrant community during the unprecedented challenges of 2020."

The guidebook for the Coordinating Council’s work is The Village Common’s Strategic Plan, created by our Board of Directors. But its effectiveness depends on the initiative of Council members. Edgewood Village’s Barbara Schermack explains, “The Council’s goals are to ensure that the Villages work collaboratively with each other, that we share ideas from our own Villages and learn new ideas from our colleagues, and that we continually try to improve systems and operations to serve the needs of each Village and the communities we serve.”

Laura Young, from the Barrington Village, concurs: “We come together to talk about the challenges and opportunities each are experiencing locally. Together, we help one another problem-solve, learn from each other and suggest changes when needed.”

You, dear Village member, now have the benefit of these person-to-person programs: Essential transportation observant of Covid-19 protocols, Barrington’s sunset gatherings, Providence Village’s walking group, and Edgewood Village’s diversity initiative. A host of distanced programs were also generated, such as a Mail Ballot support initiative, a directory of community resources for members suddenly discouraged from leaving home, a Snow Help program to assist liable homeowners, Care Calls addressed to Village members, special attention to keeping our non-internet users connected, and, not least, online support for your outstanding volunteers.

The mission of The Village Common has not wavered: to create and sustain an intentional community of mutual support. One year after the creation of The Village Common and the Coordinating Council, Laura Young adds: “This was a beginning we can all be proud of. I’m looking forward to 2021!”

See other articles from this series in past issues of the Newsletter HERE.

Home Safety Check
By Joy Twelves

Each month we choose a different area of the home to check for safety. Our focus this month is on entryways and outdoors.


  • Exterior walkways are well lit
  • Exterior walkways are free of tripping hazards (cracks, crumbling pavement)
  • Snow has been removed
  • Home’s address number is clearly visible from the street (if rescue needs to find you)
  • Entrance door is easy for you to lock, open, close
  • Exterior doors have secure locks that can’t accidentally lock you in or out
  • Entrance door has peephole so you can see who is outside
  • Entrance door has secure slide latch or chain
  • A table or chair is near entry door to place packages while unlocking door
  • Avoid walking outside on slippery surfaces but if you must, use a walking stick or cane
  • Service Coordinator — Village Common. Connect a Village member with a service provider — all from home. Call The Village Common at 441-5240 and speak with a Service Coordinator.
  • Steering Committee — Providence Village. Sit in on a meeting of Providence Village’s idea workshop. See the article in November’s Newsletter. Call the Village Common at 441-5240 and speak with a Service Coordinator.
  • Community Liaison — Providence Village. Regularly survey community newsletters and neighborhood meetings, then report on any relevance to our Village. Contact John Harkey, 369-9545.
  • Archivist — Edgewood Village. Digitally organize, maintain and format all documents related to Edgewood Village. Contact Barbara Schermack at
  • Records manager — Village Common. Clean up duplicate member records in Club Express. Online database experience required. Train with Jim Maxwell. Contact Jim directly at or 450-5091.
  • Snow Help — Occasional removal of lightweight snow for your Village neighbor. See the ad in this Newsletter. In Providence, call 441-5240 and speak with a Service Coordinator. In Barrington, call 400-5599 or email

Our Villages’ Snow Help program is here to help you arrange dependable snow shoveling at your home. Ask for Snow Help here:

Providence Village: 401-441-5240
Barrington Village: 401-440-5599 or

Will you volunteer to help a Village neighbor with removal of small amounts of snow? Contact your Village’s Snow Help coordinator here:

Providence Village:
Barrington Village: 401-440-5599 or

HELP WANTED is a monthly Newsletter feature. Submit your own Village’s volunteer needs to John Harkey at Mid-month deadline.

The Village Common of RI
Board of Directors
Anne Connor, President
Suzanne Francis, Past President
Patrice Moskow, Secretary
Peter Viner-Brown, Treasurer

Lenore Bunting, Laurel Holmes, Lorraine Keeney, Maureen Maigret, Patrick Mattingly, Jim Maxwell (returning for a second 3-year term), Susan McCalmont, Terry Percelay, Bonnie Ryvicker, Joe Santarlasci, Phil West

The Village Common of RI
Advisory Council

Barry Fain, Kevin Hackman, Beverly Ledbetter, Lynette Lopes, Marcus Mitchell, Paula Parker, Herbert Rakatansky, Janie Seguí Rodríguez, Corinne Calise Russo, Barbara Sokoloff, Bill Twaddell, Phil West

Newsletter Staff
 Wendy Oliver
Design: Josh Kemp   
Writers:  Jane Adler, Sue Bayley, Anne Connor, John Harkey, Rosalind Ladd, Vivian Malloy, Jo Ellen Mistarz, Wendy Oliver, Carol Shelton, Eliza Sutton, Phil West, Laura Young 
Photography:  Jane Adler, John Harkey, Phil West,
Obituary Assistance: Anne Connor, Phil West

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Copyright © 2021 Village Common of RI, All rights reserved.

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