In the spring of 2007, Jean Neely, a long-time resident of Shepherdstown, read an article in the Washington Post about the first of what are now 5 Aging-in-Place villages in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. This innovative organization was founded with the goal of providing services and activities for its members so they can remain in their own homes as long as they wish or are able.
The Aging-in-Place concept was brought to the attention of the Shepherdstown Ministerial Association (SMA) with the idea of creating a Village in Shepherdstown. SMA agreed to sponsor an ad hoc committee of local leaders including ministers, social workers, health care practitioners, and representatives of groups such as Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers and the Commission on Aging to explore the possibilities. Several public meetings were held and survey questionnaires were completed by 183 households.
In October of 2009 Vicky Thomas, Jean Neely, and Dan VanBelleghem attended the first annual Village to Village Conference in Washington, DC. Following that, members of the ad hoc committee attended workshops and meetings with area organizations which offer services to local citizens.
In March of 2010 interested persons were invited to meet with the committee with the objective of formalizing a village-type organization to support Shepherdstown area seniors and people with disabilities. A number of the attendees at these early sessions eventually became the corpus for the "organizing committee" that kept the initiative moving forward.
Using the Beacon Hill Village model in Boston and drawing on the experiences of other villages such as Support Network at Penn National in Fayetteville, PA, and Palisades Village in Washington, DC, the organizing committee has met twice monthly at Trinity Episcopal Parish House to organize and plan for the village.
Concurrently committees were formed to handle membership and public relations, fundraising, governance, personnel, social and educational activities, the volunteer component, and, perhaps most important of all, a concierge service which provides members with access to pre-screened, vetted contractors and vendors.
SAIL was incorporated by the state of West Virginia in November 2010 as the very first aging-in-place village in the state. An application for 501(c)3 non-profit status was filed in February 2011.
In November of 2010, three members attended the second National Village to Village Conference held in Philadelphia, PA. which provided an opportunity to meet with other villages both up and running and in the pre-launch state.
A Board of Directors and officers were elected in December 2010.
In March 2011, SAIL began a series of small-group meetings held in the homes of community supporters. The format typically consists of an informal presentation, Q&A, and input from the audience regarding the ways they believe SAIL can benefit them. During the social portion handouts on volunteering and donating are available as well as membership applications.
Formal presentatations are on-going to organizations and non-profits such as Hospice of the Panhandle and the Shepherdstown Men's Club which have become strategic partners, as well as to the Jefferson County Commission, Shepherdstown Rotary, Mayor Auxer and the Visitor Center Board and volunteers.