Co-Op Web Welcomes NEST (North East Seattle Together)

Judy Kinney, MSW, Executive Director

Co-Op Web welcomes NEST (North East Seattle Together),  a grass-roots community dedicated to ensuring that as we grow older, we can continue to live safely and confidently in our own homes, in the neighborhoods we love.

We are celebrating a new design for the NEST website with an interview of Judy Kinney, the Executive Director of NEST.  During the redesign, the enthusiasm from the organization was contagious.  See why we think this group is ahead of the curve in concept of how we should care for our elderly (and ourselves).

Please tell us NEST’s mission statement and what it means to you.

NEST’s mission is to connect northeast Seattle residents to community resources; and provide social and educational opportunities so that, as they age, members can live confidently in their homes and neighborhoods.

Briefly, NEST enriches the lives of its members through community (social and educational programs), support (rides, running errands, simple tasks) and peace of mind (easy access to trusted vendors and organizations).

NEST’s mission means many things to me. Most importantly, NEST gives our neighbors a greater sense of choice, confidence, and relief in how they age. When volunteers, members and trusted vendors connect with each other to respond to member needs, we end up so creating neighborhoods that we want to grow old in. We didn’t start off with the intention of building an intergenerational community, but that is what we are doing.

How long has NEST been in business?  How did it originate?

NEST has been a 501(c)3 non-profit since 2009. NEST’s Board of Directors spent the first years doing extensive outreach into the community, raising money (over $100,000!) and developing organizational policies and practices.

I was hired a year ago, October 2011, we began providing services to Founding Members on February 14th, and opened to the public since May 1st.

NEST is a part of a national network of virtual “villages” which began about 10 years ago in Boston. About 5 years ago, the New York Times had an article on Boston’s Beacon Hill Village that caught the attention of many aging advocates, including Wedgwood resident, Debbie Anderson.  NEST is here today because of Debbie’s vision and relentless gumption!

Did you always know that you wanted to be in this industry?

Yes and no. I have always loved working in a community setting and creating more opportunities for people to live life as they truly imagine. I worked with disenfranchised youth for 25+ years, and used to say that if I didn’t work with young people I would work with elders. In 2004, this off-hand comment came true and I started working with older adults. I have also had my own life coaching business. Still, I never fully imagined that I would be in a position to apply every single skill I have ever developed in one setting. How great is that?!

What do you see as an area of growth in the upcoming years in your industry?

It is estimated that 10,000 people will turn 65 every day for the next 20 years. Like it or not, Baby Boomers have changed how our society approaches every stage of life, so this will be true for how we approach housing, aging and community. There isn’t the housing market to accommodate this many people selling their homes to move into a retirement or even care facilities.

I also see and hear how many of us yearn for meaningful intergenerational relationships. I hope that we see more and more connections between young, middle-aged and older people. These relationships feed all of our souls.

What makes your business different from others like it?

One of the first things I heard about the virtual “village” movement is this: “If you have been to one ‘village,’ you have been to one village.” Each community is different, so it makes sense that each virtual “village” is different as well. NEST and other villages share information and resources everyday, yet we are each unique. I love this!

People are at the heart of NEST. I am often in awe of how much NE Seattle residents value their sense of community and their generous commitment to take action to create livable and connected neighborhoods.  There is a magical pragmatism to community building that underlies everything that NEST does. I am thankful everyday for the combined level of financial, volunteer and member support NEST receives from our NE Seattle neighbors.

What message via your business NEST do you try to bring to others every day?

Aging can be complicated process. Whatever age we are, we have never been that age before. Being in this new, but old territory makes it easy to absorb someone else’s notion about how we should live and age. This is true for older adults as it is for their adult children who want to support their parents to age well.

I have found that two core messages help all of us to be present to how we want to live and age.

The first is, “We are better together.”  Aging can be isolating. Getting out and about is more challenging and many people have lost more and more friends as they age.  “We are better together” reminds us to keep connecting with each other.

Secondly, asking for help can imply vulnerability and helplessness. To support people to continue sharing their talents AND receive help from others, we often say “Let’s use this aging process to learn how to give and receive with equal ease.” This perspective relieves a lot of the pressure people experience while navigating aging on their own terms. This perspective also equalizes the power between volunteers and members.

If you had one wish for NEST, what would it be?

I want our NEST community to explore, experiment, and demonstrate how communities can continually create the neighborhoods we all want to grow old in. This goal invites us to contribute our ideas, talents and financial resources to realize this vision. I think we are very well on our way!

Please visit the NEST website and see for yourself.

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