Courtesy Staying Put in New Canaan

Although he still runs around a tennis court and walks miles playing golf, Tom Towers ’59 knows that there will come a time when he and his wife, Joan, might need a helping hand with daily chores and maintaining their house. 

As president of the nonprofit organization Staying Put in New Canaan, Conn., Towers can make sure he gets the support he wants. He is leading a group that is based on the idea, he says, “of seniors helping seniors” to remain in their homes, rather than move into assisted-living facilities before they need to. “We’re a self-help cooperative,” says Towers, a retired corporate sales and marketing executive who majored in the Woodrow Wilson School. 

Inspired by the success of the group Beacon Hill Village in Boston, New Canaan public officials surveyed local seniors and found both a need for more services and a number of seniors ready to volunteer to help other seniors. With encouragement from the town government and a $10,000 grant from a community foundation, organizers spent 18 months holding public meetings, writing a business plan, and connecting with local service providers. 

Staying Put began operating in January as “the fabric that ties the other services in town together,” says Towers. Members, who numbered 234 in October, pay annual dues — $360 for individuals and $480 for a household — and can call the office for referrals to local agencies and to volunteers. Staying Put checks out home-repair and computer-service providers, for example; if they pass muster, they get referrals from Staying Put and give a discount when members hire them. New Canaan residents and seniors involved in Staying Put volunteer to drive group members to doctors’ appointments and stores — rides are the most popular service provided. 

Towers stresses the social component of the program. He likes to quote his 92-year-old mother, living in San Antonio in an assisted-living facility, who says, “Loneliness is a disease.” So the group is organizing trips to concerts and museums. “If we band together,” says Towers, “we can delay going into assisted-living facilities or leaving town, and we can have a lot of fun.”  

Van Wallach ’80 is a freelance writer in Stamford, Conn.