Green House Blog

Age In America Begins Their Series on John Knox Village

For our next series, we visited Pompano Beach, Fla., where a retirement community known as John Knox Village is located–about 10 miles north of Fort Lauderdale. On the campus are 12 Green House homes, which are small, resident-centered homes designed intentionally to counter the institutional feel of traditional nursing homes. A key feature of a Green House home is that staff and residents are empowered to live and work together as a team. Helping to make this team operate smoothly are Sages, who hold an esteemed position within the home. For this series, we interviewed Sages, all of whom have a lifetime of experience from which to draw upon to assist elders and others within the home. We will let our first interviewee, Diane, explain the purpose of a Sage: “As part of structure of this place they look for volunteers to act as Sages, because we’re old and wise and we’ve had experience working with groups, mentoring people, and problem solving with people. There is a screening process and we were trained. There are homes in this building, and there is at least one Sage assigned to each home. We come in on a volunteer basis and our function is to council, mentor, encourage the shabazim, who are the trained CNAs, within the home, to help them create a self-managed work team. And we are also there to provide contact between the elders and the shabazim and to enable them to get to know each other better. We come in on a fairly regular basis to visit in the home, we attend team meetings, if we’re invited, and hopefully give them the support they need.” . . How often do you come to the home? “It varies. I try to come two or three times a week, and that’s hard because I’m involved in other things. But I try to make it two or three times a week. I’m a resident of John Knox Village, as all the Sages are. We are lucky that we have that volunteer base to work with because everyone is on the property.” . . . . . #changingaging #agewoke #disruptaging #agepositive #greenhousehomes #sages #wisewords @johnknoxvillage #florida #pompanobeach #johnknoxvillage #ageinamerica #oldandwise #olderandwiser

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A Special Position in Green House Homes: The Sage

“The Sage occupies a honored place in a Green House home,” that is how Dr. Bill Thomas, the founder of The Green House Project®, describes the importance of this volunteer position in each home.  

According to Dr. Thomas they occupy such an honored place in the home because the Sage is concerned that everyone in the house have the best possible life.  “The Sage is an advocate for the well-being of the house”.  The Green House model depends on the Sage to be “a person of influence” says Dr. Thomas.  He is quick to point out that this volunteer is not someone that possesses technical expertise, but someone who can help others get along.   The Sage will see, hear, touch and be thinking about the life of the house, the rhythm of the home for the elders and the staff.

What person would possess such abilities?  Dr. Thomas explains that you are “looking for people who have had a lifetime of experience helping small groups of people work effectively”. He says it could be an elementary teacher, a small business leader, or a retired minister.

A Sage from St. Martin’s in the Pines in Birmingham, Alabama thoroughly enjoys this volunteer position.  She cautions though that it does take time to build relationships with the elders, Shahbazim, and other staff members.  “It takes time to learn and listen”.  “I try to be influential”.

The success of the Sage is critical to the success of the Green House home according to Dr. Thomas.  While he explains that you can operate without one, you will prefer to operate with one, “It’s the cherry on the top, it’s the secret sauce”.

What do you think about the role of the Sage?  Let us know!