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Villages Make a Difference

William Knuff  | Published on 2/22/2019

For some seniors, a cultural shift and a vital volunteerism

By Robert WeismanGLOBE STAFF 
JULY 07, 2018

CHRISTINE HOCHKEPPEL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

  Nauset Neighbors volunteer Frank Bridges, 66,changed the batteries in a smoke detector for Ann Miller, 79, seated with Judy Gordon, on July 3.

BREWSTER — When it got too hot for her to sleep with a fan and she could no longer lift her air conditioner, 79-year-old Ann Miller turned to her village.

Not her bayside town on the Lower Cape, but Nauset Neighbors, a grass-roots network of seniors dedicated to helping other seniors live independently. The volunteer members of Nauset, one of more than 15 self-styled “villages” statewide, draw inspiration from the ethic of small-town New England life in an earlier era, when folks looked after one another.


Miller’s request for help was answered by Frank Bridges, who pulled up to her modest town house in his pickup truck on a sweltering July morning. Bridges, 66, a retired banker who lives across town, greeted Miller and went straight to work. He removed her window screen, set the air conditioner in place, and screwed it in securely. Before he left, Bridges, who is 6-foot-5, also replaced three of her smoke alarm batteries without aid of a stepladder.

 
“Now I’m all set for the summer,” Miller said gratefully.