She and her husband still intend to eventually move into a continuing care retirement community in Charleston, but the Village People effort "will enable us to stay in our own home longer than we would have otherwise," said Palmer.
The group is developing practical tools like a four-page medical information Med Card form that folds into a wallet or purse as a convenient communication tool should someone have an emergency or need to see a doctor. They are also developing a pre-screened resource list of folks who can provide quality fix-it services around a home.
The group can also offer mutual support to vexing questions, said Palmer.
"My dad is 95 on Nov. 2 and I am power of attorney and that's a challenging role. But there are other people in the group playing similar roles with aging parents. So, we can talk about some of those challenges and the way we meet it or give each us other mutual support as we go through that."
The Village concept is an exploration of how to age in support with others in a community.
"Boomer have always been adventurers -- working at changing the social order of things -- and we're still in that mode. We're saying there are other ways to age and we're going to figure out the best way for us, and we're going to help each other figure that out.
"We often pair our meetings with food, with potlucks," said Palmer. "So, meetings always have a social aspect and often give an educational aspect as well. I think we're committed to having fun as we explore innovative ways to age."
Palmer uses the word "fun" on purpose. "Because we really think that we can have a good time together, and we also think we can be really creative about how we age."
Many in the group have children who live out of state or have no children at all.
"Ours are all out of state -- we don't have anybody nearby," she said. "I would guess a pretty good majority in this group do not have family nearby so we're going to fill that role for each other."
For Barbara Frierson, who has been active on the membership committee, the Village People is "a community building exercise."
"It's a way of building a community within the larger community of the Kanawha Valley," said Frierson, 69.
"We're working on finding other people who we like and enjoy spending time with, and eventually were hoping we will be able to support each other through volunteer work, through responding when there's a crisis of some kind and being able to identify service providers whom we know and can provide trustworthy services.
"For me, it's sort of the fulfillment of a dream. For a long time, even way before I became a senior citizen, I thought an ideal community would be living in a place with all my friends, everyone having their own home and being able to connect and help each other."
There's a lot going on in the background as this retirement support network coalesces, said Frierson. "We're trying to get to know each other and encouraging people to tell friends about it and bring people to these general meetings to kind of build up potential for membership."
"We are part of something bigger -- we're a local bloom on a much larger tree. There are more than 125 villages either operating or underway all over the country. So, it's kind of cool."
Adventurers in aging
Right now, meetings attract anywhere from 30 to 45 attendees and the group has about 25 charter members. Charter memberships -- available for $75 -- enable people to serve and vote on the interim board that's being developed and to receive the special medical summary form.
"We're explorers in this things--adventurers in aging," said Thibeault. "It doesn't have to be as dreadful as it could be. This is a group that says we can come at this in other directions, in other ways. The government is not going to be there to necessarily to help us. We're not going to wait for the government to do it for us.
"It really is up to us to invent."
For more about the Kanawha Valley Village People, call 304-767-5774. Search for the group's Facebook page and also email: kvvillagepeo...@yahoo.com. The next potluck meeting is 2 p.m. Oct. 20 at the group's headquarters at the Hale House in Malden, 4208 Malden Dr.Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.