Betty Hoskins is a Joplin native. She’s 68, energetic, quick to laugh, a volunteer at her church and living alone in a FEMA trailer. Betty lost life-long possessions when the tornado destroyed her small rental home. She lives on $690 monthly Social Security, is without financial support from family and has been unable to find employment for over a year.
Likely the most overlooked group before and after the 5/22/11 tornado are low-income seniors. The same is true nationally in what is being called the “silver tsunami”. In two years, we will have more seniors in the U.S. than children. One in four – and half of all minority women – survive on only their social security benefit averaging $800 monthly (in the Joplin area) and Medicare. Most of this population, if asked, just wants to be valued, to be relevant, and to have a PURPOSE for their life as a senior citizen.
OASIS Village, a Joplin non-profit, was founded in May 2012 to provide purpose and dignity to low income, healthy seniors. The OASIS VILLAGE - a community of 40-60 healthy, low income seniors - resembles a traditional middle class retirement community, but one that incorporates the housing design and mutually supportive social philosophy of co-housing. Unlike a retirement community, OASIS is funded by the work of the residents. The residents will have the opportunity to improve their overall well-being and lifestyle dramatically – psychological, financial, social and leisure – by merely working 20 hours per week in exchange for a home and community. Not only will this model provide the residents a dignified quality of life with purpose, it will allow each resident to retain their individual financial resources while allowing OASIS VILLAGE to operate with no government support. Once OASIS is up and running, with residents in their homes and working, no further outside funding will be needed. These efforts plus volunteer help will provide the operating funds needed to cover all village expenses.
OASIS Village purchased a Joplin area home on ten acres which will serve as the communal living area of the Village. New bungalow-style housing and apartments will be constructed over the next twelve to eighteen months to house the residents. The initial home will become the “Main House” containing living, dining and entertainment areas with spare bedrooms for overnight use by residents’ relatives and friends.
The OASIS VILLAGE concept is designed to be a ‘locals helping locals’ project. We cannot wait any further for the government to find solutions to care for our increasingly healthy and aging population. It will be community focused initiatives that will solve quality of life issues for seniors, improve health and longevity, and thereby dramatically lower health care costs.