Seeing is Believing!

Our Board member, Lisa Thomas, had the great opportunity to attend the Northeast Co-Housing Summit last month in Amherst, MA where she attended workshops about designing and running an intentional housing community. She also met with others living in existing co-housing communities or getting ready to launch their own.

The highlight of her experience was visiting Pioneer Valley Co-Housing, a community that started 25 years ago with a focus on social connections and shared experiences. 

This multi-generational community of 32 families living on a six acre footprint includes a Common House, described as the “Living room of the community,” clustered homes, pedestrian walking paths, community gardens and outdoor recreational spaces. Each resident contributes to the well being of the community by volunteering 6-8 hours a month to organize activities, maintain the community, cook occasional shared meals, or other activities designed to bolster a sense of community support and connection.

The community encourages “random connection by design” with a carefully designed footprint that includes, public, semi-private and private spaces for all residents. Every neighbor knows everyone in the community, children play freely outdoors and often visit frequently between the houses, and members support each other through personal challenges, as well as celebrating small successes and major milestones.

The community is so popular, they have a long waiting list of families who want to move there and have opened up associate memberships for others to participate in community life while waiting. Residents own their own homes, but pay monthly fees similar to a Homeowners Association for maintenance and upkeep of the community. 

After experiencing a weekend at Pioneer Valley and seeing how well this concept works, Lisa may well be the first to make a down payment on a home in Hope Family Village!


Summer 2018 is over.

From April until the present has been nonstop for Hope Family Village.

On April 19 – 23, this villager was in Boulder, CO for the Western Region Cohousing Conference. I met many startup communities like ours; learned from cohousing architects and developers; and visited four different communities in the area. We were there to find out what it really takes to develop a community. In short, a lot of hard work by committed families.

The board of directors, along with our founding families, are in a learning mode. Taking Cohousing 101 seemed the most natural of first steps. The session on Marketing, though, was also very informative. Director Lisa Thomas, recently retired from an Williamsburg icon nonprofit, CDR, will be attending the Amherst, MA conference.

In August, Parade Magazine covered How America Lives: Creating Housing for Boomers, Veterans, Millennials, and More. We are the More. A MUST READ.

On returning, we had our board meeting, April 28th, then I was off on a 2-day visit to Virginia cohousing communities, Elderspirit in Abingdon, VA and Shadowlake Village in Blacksburg, VA.  For different reasons, spending one-on-one time with members of both these communities and reviewing their layout was incredibly helpful. Elderspirit is a 55 and older community, located on a 3 acre plot, borders a gorgeous park and trail. Shadowlake is on a larger piece of wooded property, around 30 acres, and has younger families. In both instances, the communities completely understood our mission and had experience in caregiving for people with a mental health diagnosis. The heart of both communities is the common home. Mail, meals, and activities can be shared here.

In May, we concerned ourselves with the Virginia State Budget. An milestone for us, Hope Family Village Corporation was specifically named for a co-located project at Eastern State surplus property (400 acres). The two other projects are behavioral health and medical/dental services. James City County (JCC) leads the effort. We will be part of a comprehensive planning and rezoning effort. Several directors had a meeting with JCC officials to define our project and needs. Our plan is to develop one project  for 25 families. The community will feature at least one Fairweather Lodge.

NAMI Virginia held their Leadership Conference and Annual Meeting in Richmond, VA in June. We offered a short workshop on our concept. Only, we presented from the vantage point of creating community. How would families go about taking care of one another? We handed out fliers about the project and picked up the names of interested families. We expect to draw families from outside the Williamsburg area.

In July, Bill McHenry, Lodge Coordinator for New Visions, Inc. (PA), George Duke (MD), retired commercial and industrial development investor, and Van Black (FLA) our intrepid supporter came to Williamsburg. We walked the Eastern State property; participated in a lodge meeting together; and met other potential partners in our project (e.g., House of Mercy).

Was August any slower? Yes. It was summer. We did manage our monthly family dinner. We are gradually sharing our story with more and more people.

Next up, while Lisa is in Amherst for the Cohousing Workshop and Conference, I will be in Minneapolis or the Coalition for Community Living Conference and Annual Meeting this month. Will be visiting Fairweather Lodges and a architect of eco-villages.

We know we are on a long road, but we will get there. 8.4 million caregiving families, just like ours, are counting on us.

Anyone who is interested in the community, please contact W. Corey Trench at wctrench@gmail.com


Second Thursdays: We’re all about the dining.

Welcome everyone. At Hope Family Village we are all about the dining. Why?

Connectivity.

Our next dinner is Thursday, April 12th @ 6:30 PM at Jimmy’s in Norge, VA.

In developing not only our organization, the physical village, the social architecture, we know how important being on the same page really is. We share a vision and we are on a mission. Together. How we arrive is by giving everyone a voice in the design process.

For all of us, we know how important support groups have been in our lives. That’s how we met. Here, our families and loved ones in recovery bring tremendous experience. Whether it is lived experience or caregiving or coaching or research. We share a common bond to achieve value as human beings and know respect. We share without repercussion. We come to trust one another. We know that we are not alone.

Hope Family Village is another step forward in the creation of a physical neighborhood. You live among neighbors who look after one another.

Our dinners are social occasions to get to know each other better. Whether you join the physical or not, we welcome you to our community. You hear about the many that lie ahead. Join us.


Grand Event: W&M Entrepreneurship/Fiji House

Pictured is the future of Hope Family Village.

Maybe these graduating MBA and undergraduate students will do other things with their lives, but on Saturday they adeptly moved Hope Family Village forward by staging a grand event.

Graciously hosted at the home of Phi Gamma Delta, the Fiji House, brought together – by the current field consultancy team from the College of William and Mary’s Mason Business School Center of Entrepreneurship  – were the brothers, family caregivers, our Williamsburg Fairweather Lodge members and stakeholders (House of Mercy, City Council). The present and future of hope.

What was the grand event?

Part celebration of the Virginia Senate Floor passing SB 30, the set aside of property for Hope Family Village’s 25-family community project. One step closer to a dream. Part conversation and fun.

Breaking Bread

Part breaking bread, cooking and sharing a meal together. Part creative exercises – involving the W&M student team, the brothers, and the villagers – to share with each other who we are, what we think and believe, what defines us, and why we are creating this very special place.

The student team learned about us. We learned about them. What we demonstrated is how easy and effortless it is to come together, work together, with a common purpose.Home, family, care, acceptance, inspiration.

It was a beautiful day.


Hope Family Village Enters Agreement with W&M Law School

We are excited to announce a new relationship with the William and Mary Law School, Business Clinic. This action serves to continue and expand our relationship with the College of W&M to develop Hope Family Village. As we progress, we see the College as a vital partner.

As noted elsewhere on this blog, Hope Family Family Village has enjoyed an extremely productive relationship with the W&M Mason Business School Corporate Field Consultancy Program and the Center of Entrepreneurship.

Recently, we met with two third year law students, MaryKatlyn Lukish and Taylor Basford, who will be supporting us in the startup phases of the organization. While we have already incorporated, received our 501(c)3 status, had our first annual meeting and elected our board, among other actions, we are engaged in a number of tasks.

Katie and Taylor will be working on a variety of legal research-based activities and making recommendations.


Sen. Tommy Norment Introduces Hope Family Village Amendment

Last week, Senator Norment introduced an amendment to the Governor’s budget (SB 30) that sets aside Parcel C (79 acres) at Eastern State for Hope Family Village Corporation.

Specifically, the amendment states:
“R.  The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services in conjunction with the Department of General Services shall lease, for one dollar, Parcel C of the Eastern State Hospital property to the Hope Family Village Corporation for the development of a community project that serves as a residence for 25 families impacted by a member with serious mental illness. The long-term lease shall be for 25 years and renewable for another 25 years.”
For Hope Family Village, this is a major milestone. The founding families, our board, our planning committee members, and a growing number of stakeholders all realize the important need for the creation of a community of acceptance. A place where neighbors help neighbors. Families are the backbone, the infrastructure, of true care. If we create a place where we take care of caregivers, we take care of our loved ones.

Our first design will be 25 families. We will feature a common house at the community’s hub, where residents connect with one another socially and have the opportunity to dine together. The community’s design will be tranquil and cater to pedestrians; maximize open space; and employ gardens.  To start, we will feature two primary options, one for families, where their loved ones live with them. The second will be a Fairweather Lodge for people who are in recovery, who live together in a home, operated on the specific principles and practices. In addition, because we will be an inclusive community, one of acceptance of serious mental illness as a human condition, we expect clinicians, students studying for degrees in family counseling will want to live in the village. They will be similarly welcomed.

Much of our present work has resulted from a very positive relationship with the College of William and Mary. For two years, we have been engaged with Mason Business School and recently have have begun to work with the W&M Law School. As we develop, we will likely find other opportunities to engage with other W&M departments and Virginia state education institutions.

President’s Yearend Report 2017!

Hope Family Villagers:

Happy New Year! May you be safe and warm today.


First, I want to thank you all for the notes of encouragement and support. It’s not the amount of time you put in, it’s that you have been there. You are part of a nucleus that has become an organization, a public charity. Not just any group. It’s a creation. An innovation. A connection. A reinvention of neighborhood. Descriptors that have not even occurred to us. This year, in June, because of you, we became Hope Family Village Corporation. 

I started to make a list. Just a list. Of all the 2017 activities, meetings, and events and it filled one page and a half legal pad pages! Then, I started to associate each of you with those occurrences. Honestly, it was stunning. Perhaps a simple categorization will help.

Founding family dinners

We dined monthly at Nick’s Spaghetti and Steak House in Gloucester. This is where we got to know each other. We discussed what amounted to our vision (April 2016) (a cohousing project for families and their loved ones with at least one Fairweather Lodge). (We will resume these gatherings in 2018.) Even while eating and talking, we evolved our name. We determined the need for a Planning Committee to address both the skillsets and tasks required to accomplish the development of a village and culture of acceptance, where neighbors help neighbors. 

Hope Family Village Organization: Inc., 501(c)3, Planning Committee

In 2017, our Planning Committee started meeting monthly, wrote on white boards, created work assignments. Here, we determined our vision – Hope Family Village is a community-centric collaborative, offering acceptance, housing, and sustainable support for people with mental health conditions and their families. I remember that day: How remarkable it is to work with people who selflessly and respectfully engage with one another to create something. We commissioned Christine Andreoli to help us incorporate; seek 501(c)3 status, prepare By-Laws; guide us. We opened a bank account. We selected corporate officers; received our 501(c)3 status (October 2017); established a board (5 to start); held our first meeting; took actions to adopt By Laws; signed Conflict of Interest Documents; and appointed committees. We even received donations and have already prepared a draft yearend financial report. 

College of William and Mary Connection

In late August of 2016, we arranged a meeting with a scholar in real estate at the Mason Business School to study our vision for a village (April 2016). That lead to a project with the Corporate Field Consultancy (CFC) Program and a relationship with the College. Not only did we receive final and comprehensive products from this study specific to a piece of property at Eastern State (March 2017), but we began acting on their organizational startup recommendations. We continue to meet more and more people from the business school, who have led us to other connections. By summer, we reached out to the Office of the President of W&M to advise them of this evolving relationship that would benefit the community. W&M alums have played a significant role in, for example, connecting us with film students, who made videos for us concerning Fairweather Lodge and a relationship with the Center of Entrepreneurship and new study concerning the Hope Family Village’s startup and business model due in March of 2018. All of this, with the idea, we wanted people to know something very special was being done. Hope was at hand.

Coalition of Community Living (CCL), Fairweather Lodge

In March of 2017, for the second time, the CCL board of directors held their semi-annual meeting in Wiliamsburg. They conducted a workshop, which W&M students filmed, to understand Fairweather Lodge. Subsequently, we started a “virtual” lodge that, since June, has been meeting at The Coffee House every Saturday at 8 AM. In October, two virtual residents, and their lodge coordinator, attended the 33rd Fairweather Lodge Conference (Erie, PA)  Afterward, the members decided to start doing activities together. They took a field trip to examine a prospective house. They planned, shopped, cooked and held a dinner together, which began with a prayer. Each week they review their week, work on their goals, and plan for the next week. We had a total of 5 people participating in coffees. We currently have three active members. All obtained jobs and were working this past year. In November, we filed our first outcome report, for certification, with CCL. Each month the lodge coordinator participates in lodge coordinator conference calls with other lodge coordinators from around the country. Currently, we are looking for a house to rent. Their next activity is bowling. At our next HFV board meeting, we will recommend joining CCL as a member agency ($100 per year).

Governmental Affairs

In 2017, we began reaching out to everyone locally who would have interest in our organization and its vision for mental health care. We introduced Hope Family Village to the Governor-elect, Ralph Northam, MD (followup communication with his campaign staff), Sen. Norment, Sen. Mason, Del. Pogge, Del. Mullin, Bryan Hill (the then County Executive JCC), Jack Haldeman (JCC Planning Commission member). All were receptive. Delegate Pogge helped us fashion a request to set aside 50 acres for the development of two community projects. We discussed this, in detail, with Sen. Norment, Co-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. After hearing of our request, Sen. Norment contacted Mike Tweedy, legislative aid to the committee (July). October 2nd, Tweedy contacted us to discuss the basis, scope of, and our requirements, essentially a longterm renewable lease at no capital cost to the state. November 24 – 5, several of us attended the Joint Subcommittee on Mental Health 21st Century to understand the state’s plans for the next couple of years and how we might dovetail. Our distinction, as a project, is we address the caregiver community, too. What we plan to accomplish is an amendment to the Governor’s budget which sets aside the property for Hope Family Village.

Healthcare Organizations: Riverside, Lackey, Colonial Behavioral Health

We know working with healthcare providers is critical to success. As caregiver citizens, our pitch has been, Give us an opportunity to demonstrate what we can do. Let us innovate on care. Create a new model that lessens the burden on the traditional system of mental healthcare and access it more efficiently, with measurable outcomes. To that end, this year we met with Lackey Free Clinic, Colonial Behavioral Health, and, most recently, Riverside Behavioral Health System to introduce Hope Family Village. 

With Riverside, we prepared and delivered a 30-slide, power point presentation that discussed the basis of our organization and went through our progress and plans. That led to about a 45 minute discussion of possibilities for working together. We subsequently met with the Director of Riverside’s Government Affairs to describe our proposal and learn about the budgetary process and participation in it. We are very hopeful about our future relationship. We intend to repeat this process with other stakeholder prospects, inside and outside healthcare, in 2018, that bear on community-centric care development. 

Network and Communications

Our momentum this year came from taking the initiative to reach out to the community. Show that we’re communicators. We’re collaborators. We gave public speeches which led to meetings. We met new people who led us to others. Gradually, the word has gotten around that we’re a serious group and we will not be denied. We’re here to elevate this community when it comes to care for mental health conditions. Aside from the above, in 2017, we met, spoke with, and/or have been working with the Kiwanis Club (Colonial Chapter), the Shriners. the Lions Club, the Mid-Pemisula Women’s Bar Association, the Rotary Club, Sona Bank, FirstAdvantage Credit Union, the United Way of Greater Williamsburg, the House of Mercy, Walk the Talk, Gateway Homes, Vanguard Landing, E3 Restoration, Austin Impact Capital, Williamsburg Health Foundation, Choose Home, St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, the Chapel, The Relevant Church, NAMI Hampton Roads, Newport News, NAMI Virginia Beach, NAMI Mid-Tidewater, and, where it all began for us, and was seeded, was NAMI Wiliamsburg’s Board of Directors. Thank you.

Our Donors

Finally, our donors. From the very beginning, my friend and fellow alum, Van Black (W&M, ’75) believed in us. The Griffin Family believed in us. From the time they both came to the first Fairweather Lodge community presentation in 2015. We are deeply appreciative of their faith in us.

Also, we thank the Andreoli Family and matching funds from Exelon Corporation, Joe Bell, Henry Loboda, NAMI Williamsburg, Barb Ramsey,Tom Rideout, Craig and Jill Sease, Jim and Lisa Thomas, and Deborah Worstell. More donations are still arriving.

Financial support goes a long way in starting something, but it is the questions, the ideas, the suggestions that ultimately move an idea from water cooler chatter to action. 

I know we have a long way to go, but it really was an unbelievable year. There are so many to thank. What we promise is that we will remain flexible and open to possibilities that make our vision a reality. We must. We will operate lean. What that means is that our sponsors, donors, stakeholders can have confidence that we will be focused on managing our resources efficiently and directly into projects. Our first annual report will demonstrate our transparency. 

As with NAMI Williamsburg, our board and planning committee members are all volunteers. I feel both honored and blessed to be serving with you.
W. Corey Trench
President, Director, Co-Founder
Hope Family Village
PO Box 982
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187

Hope Family Village is a community-centric collaborative, offering acceptance, housing, and sustainable support for people with mental health conditions and their families.  

Hope Family Village Presents to Riverside Health System

To say that things are happening at a dizzying pace would be an understatement.

Last Thursday, our five board of directors, and presentation architect, traveled to Newport News to present our story to Riverside Health System at their corporate offices.  This was our first presentation describing who we are, what we have accomplished, and where we are headed.

We told our story, which began in 2014, with the simple idea of creating a neighborhood. As the letter to the editor describes, we asked questions about the fate of Eastern State surplus property (400 acres) in terms of behavioral health care. At the time, our idea was not to create Hope Family Village, a new nonprofit. It was to inspire.

Naively perhaps, we expected a white knight to surface. Offer something different. Innovative. That treasured valuable lives and all that they had to, and do, offer this world. These are our family members and friends who endure mental health conditions. Suggested was one geographic place that integrated housing, work, treatment access, lifelong learning, social connection and coaching. A village.

You have to travel back in time to find the last comprehensive national approach to mental health care in America. The mid-1800s and Dorothea Dix.

As with many great ideas, once we institutionalize them, something changes. Often lost is the vibrance and reason we decided to take action in the first place. The result: we de-institiionalizationed to reaffirm civility, humanity, and respect. The new options and results for many who visit us here are known and unsatisfactory. We were left with complaining that not enough was going done. Care had been lost.

Yet, when we looked around the world, and the United States, we found innovation everywhere. Practiced on a small scale. Serving a very well a small number of people. That’s why these solutions tend to work. They are small and manageable. Certainly, technology can help provide connection, but can we truly replace a live human being caring for another?

The problem is much greater than the our imaginations will allow. Scientific America (July 2017) blogged that studies in New Zealand, America, and Switzerland report that almost all of us are touched by what we label as mental illness. In most cases, it’s a temporary experience. Conservatively, somewhere in the range of 3 – 5%, the condition is permanent. Of this population, only 40% receive “treatment” in a medical and therapeutic sense.

The staggering figure, and, again, conservative, according to the principal investigator, is the number of caregivers of loved ones with a mental illness. It’s 8.4 million.

Our presentation described our answer. Grassroots, bottom-up, ordinary citizen caregiver thinking and acting.

Fairweather Lodge + Cohousing Community = Hope Family Village.

That’s oversimplifying a bit.

Riverside was our first presentation and they were generous with their feedback and ideas. The hospital exemplifies what we seek: Collaborators to join us in building options that are real and last long beyond us, the founding families.


Hope Family Village Achieves 501(c)3 Status

Welcome to Hope Family Village.

Hope Family Village is a community-centric collaborative, offering acceptance, housing, and sustainable support for people with mental health conditions and their families.  

Our first project, and an original reason for our creation: Develop an inclusive village, where 25 caregiving families and their loved ones. who endure serious mental illness, live on 25 acres. We imagine a center, a Common House, to congregate, meet, cook and share meals, recreate, otherwise care and support one another.

We imagine a pedestrian community, where neighbors look after neighbors. We imagine designing different types of living arrangements, dwelling units, from single family homes to small individual units. We imagine the inclusion of at least one Fairweather Lodge, within our community, for residents in recovery, living autonomously, with light coaching. We seek partnerships with the best organizations in healthcare, energy conservation, architecture, and development.

We have requested the set-aside of 50 acres, on a longterm renewable lease, from the Commonwealth of Virginia at Eastern State, neighboring Eastern State Hospital, to consider a first and second project.

Today, we have achieved an important milestone in our process, have an important announcement to make, and will be making more in the days ahead.

On October 23, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service determined Hope Family Village Corporation (Commonwealth of Virginia) was exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)3.

According to the correspondence, our organization is qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devices, transfers or gifts under sections 2055, 2106, or 2522.

The effective date of our exemption is June 14, 2017.

According to the IRS, we are classified as a public charity (170(b)(1)(A)()vi)

Our current officers are: W. Corey Trench, President (email: wctrench@gmail.com), Allen Whitehead, Secretary and Carmen Andreoli, Treasurer.

If you want to correspond with us by mail or support our mission, in some way, our address is: PO Box 982, Williamsburg, Virginia 23187.


Hope Family Village: Proud Fairweather Supporter

When you see organizations, like the Coalition for Community Living, and committed people being successful, it’s inspirational and motivational. We can see all that is possible.
There is hope for people who endure serious mental illness. Living options exist. Hope Family Village not only believes that, we already see our village at Eastern State, serving our community. Before that happens, we keep moving forward.

Ed Dawson
Former Lodge Coordinator
Board Member, The Coalition of Community Living
Click Ed’s Picture to See Film

Drew Darby is a senior in film and marketing at the College of William and Mary.  NAMI Williamsburg, because of donor Van Black (W&M, ’75), was able to commission a short video about Fairweather Lodge. Drew and a colleague came to film the workshop on Fairweather Lodge.

We thought that by filming the entire two-hour event (here) and making a short film that we could reach more people here in Virginia and elsewhere.

Here’s a link to Drew’s short film.

We should have hundreds of lodges in America. We’re starting one in Williamsburg. We have four prospects who meet weekly. Hope Family Village is in search of a home for them to live in, where they will share rent for their space. We are reaching out to and working with many organizations in our town to make this happen. House of Mercy and the Greater Williamsburg United Way, as examples.

Hope Family Village – 25 families living in neighborhood, on 25 acres, supporting one another is our concept. The community will employ the principles and practices developed in the over 180 established cohousing communities in North America. Our first village will feature at least one Fairweather Lodge as a living option.