Written by Arthur Culbert, PhD, Executive Director, Compassionate Saint Augustine, Saint Augustine, Florida
From the moment I met Gloria, I recognized her as a unique, one-of-a-kind woman with the ability to envision the future and see what the needs of our society were and still are today. A mutual friend introduced us to explore the possibility of helping Gloria build a “Village”–what was to become STL Village. Gloria is fearless and not to be deterred. She envisioned a Village that would help heal the racial strife of our city and allow older adults the opportunity to live in their homes as long as possible. She enlisted my help.
She didn’t care that I knew very little about aging. She provided confidence. “You will be great,” she said. She could sense we would make a terrific team to bring her vision of bringing STL Village to fruition.
Gloria possesses the inner beauty that it is not about her! She always kept her eye on the ball throughout the two years it took to launch the village. She is one of the most persuasive individuals I have ever had the good fortune to know and collaborate with. We had no money; please and thank you were the only currency at our disposal. There was never a doubt in Gloria’s mind that the village would open to applause and create a buzz to join.
Throughout the building process one thing that really captured my love for her was her constant reminder that STL Village would be inclusive and open to all. She meant it and remains a living testimony to her belief that differences are good, we are all unique, and diversity is something that is good for all. She wanted this value front and center stage.
Gloria and I now live 1,000 miles apart. That has not stopped or inhibited our friendship. If anything, it has gotten stronger. We both look with great enthusiasm to our Tuesday evening telephone conversations. We start with what Gloria describes as a “check in” followed by the most delightful catching up since we last spoke. The conversation eventually works its way to the environment and what we can do to bring about the halt of global warming. She has not lost a step! Gloria’s charming and social activist self is still scheming and persuading others to help save our planet and to make it a better place for our children and grandchildren. It is never about Gloria.
Here’s to Gloria at 100! What a treasure and a gift to all.
The national Village movement is a response to the desire of older Americans to stay in their homes and communities rather than move to an age-segregated facility. The movement began in 2001 and has grown to include over 250 Villages throughout the country, with many more in development. Each Village is a grassroots organization, started by local residents and designed to the meet the needs of the members. A network of services, provided by trained volunteers and vetted providers, are offered to members along with social activities. The word “Village” captures the spirit of neighbors helping each other and staying active together. STL Village, co-founded by St. Louis community members, Gloria Gordon and Arthur Culbert, is the first village in the greater St. Louis area and enhances the quality of life of people ages 50 and older. Its membership area includes neighborhoods within the borders of Page Boulevard, Vandeventer Boulevard, Clayton Avenue and Big Bend Blvd/Pennsylvania Ave. Learn more about STL Village.