Frequently Asked Questions
What is TENT?
Taos Elders and Neighbors Together(TENT) is a nonprofit community of elders and neighbors supporting one another. It is a virtual village with a volunteer-based support network that connects members to various resources needed for them to live comfortable, dignified and vibrant lives in their own homes as they age. TENT provides a variety of specific services, activities, and programs that further this purpose, including social activities, transportation, minor home repairs, caregiver relief, and much more.
How did the idea for TENT come about?
The idea for TENT started taking shape in July 2016. TENT was formed, in large part, as a result of many people involved in the creation of TENT reading the book Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. In this book Gawande describes how our society has failed to successfully deal with us as we get older and cannot manage well enough to continue to live independently in our own homes. As a result, the next step is either going to your children’s homes (which is a non-starter in most cases in our society) or going to assisted living facilities. Most assisted living situations are very expensive and in reality function in a way which forfeits personal independence.
Facing these realities, several interested and concerned local residents began researching what could be done to help make life better for the aging Taos population and, in the process, talked with the Village to Village (VtV) Network, a national organization that helps communities establish and effectively manage their own villages.
The VtV Network provides a means for villages to ask questions, share information and experiences and suggest approaches to handling various startup and ongoing operational issues. This alliance among virtual villages provides a significant, cost-effective service to organizations like TENT since it helps provide an ongoing, up-to-date view of “lessons learned” on a wide array of topics. In its 15 years since inception, the VtV Network has grown to over 250 villages in the United States, with two in Santa Fe, one in Las Vegas and two in Albuquerque.
After lots of meetings, research and discussion, this small group of local residents plowed ahead and laid a good foundation for future development. TENT was formerly organized as a New Mexico non-profit corporation in June 2017 and received Federal 501(c) (3) tax status soon thereafter.
How long has TENT been operational?
TENT began offering services to Members in October of 2018.
Why does Taos need an organization like TENT?
While there are resources in Taos that are available to the elderly, there is nothing else quite like TENT here. The services that are available to TENT members are simple, straightforward, affordable and easy to obtain. In addition, when delivering services to members, TENT is be focused on meaningful personal contact and socialization, key components of healthy aging.
The US Census of 2010 indicated that, of the 25,000 residents within five miles of Taos center, over 4,000 are 65 years or older. TENT believes that the more local resources that are available to help provide support for this population group, the better. TENT plans to collaborate with other local organizations in order to avoid duplication of services and optimize care for Taos’s community of elders.
What differentiates TENT from other types of elder care in the Taos area?
The biggest TENT differentiators are focus on socialization, staffing by volunteers, being able to handle service requests as soon as TENT volunteers are available, emphasis on community, and a reasonable price.
What Services does TENT provide?
In addition to social activities, the TENT initial service offerings consist of transportation (to and from appointments or for errands such as trips to the grocery store or other retail establishments in Taos), phone check-in to see how people are doing, reading, minor home repairs and garden work, caregiver relief, computer and technology support, pet care, meal preparation, social/home visits and TENT-sponsored public programs.
TENT services will evolve as needs and resources change as volunteers become available. However, the cumulative experience of over 200 similar “elder villages” in the United States indicates that the services TENT provides are those most requested among other elder villages. See Services.
Where are the services provided?
TENT provides services within a 15 mile radius from Taos Plaza, which means that it serves, subject to the availability of its volunteer staff, Taos and the surrounding areas of El Prado, Arroyo Seco, Ranchos de Taos, Talpa, Llano Quemado and Arroyo Hondo. TENT intends to expand its service area as its membership base and volunteer staff grow. See Service Area.
Who can become a member of TENT, and how much does a membership cost?
Anyone who lives in the TENT service area can become a member of TENT by signing up on the TENT website (which includes completing a membership application), participating in an in-home interview conducted by one of the TENT volunteers, and paying the appropriate membership fees. Fill our Membership Application.
Individual membership - $350 per year or $32/month – includes all social activities and all support services
Household membership - $450 per year or $40/month - covers all persons living full time in the same residence and includes all social activities and all support services
Trial membership - $150 for three months – includes all social activities and all support services. Converts to Individual
How is TENT staffed, and how are service requests fulfilled?
TENT is governed by a local, five-member board of directors and is be staffed on a day-to-day basis by volunteers who are be under the direction and supervision of a paid volunteer coordinator. We also have many dedicated leaders who do the hard work. See Leaders page.
The volunteer coordinator matches volunteers and member requests for services through use of the TENT online service request program. Generally speaking, at least two days’ prior notice of a request for service are required.
Who can become a TENT volunteer, and how do they sign up?
Anyone interested in becoming a TENT volunteer can contact TENT in one of the four ways indicated below. Prospective volunteers must undergo a background check (at volunteer expense, which is $20), orientation, and training.
Prospective volunteers who want to provide transportation services to TENT members must provide a copy of their driver’s license and current auto insurance.
Prospective volunteers also must be interviewed by the volunteer coordinator. Volunteer Application
What type of training do TENT volunteers receive?
All persons who are accepted into the TENT volunteer program attend TENT training and orientation sessions. At those sessions, volunteers learn about TENT policies and procedures, TENT service offerings, the service request and delivery process, the service delivery reporting procedures (including how to provide feedback on the experience) and much more. In addition, through frequent interactions with the other volunteers and the volunteer coordinator, TENT volunteers receive continuous support and training.
How is TENT funded?
As indicated above, members pay a fee for services.
TENT also receives grants from foundations and other supporting organizations and will continue to solicit donations from individuals, businesses and faith, civic and social groups.
Sustaining Membership - $150 per year, tax deductible – includes all social activities but no support services
Where is TENT located?
TENT is incorporated in the state of New Mexico and operates in and around Taos. TENT has a virtual office, operating primarily by telephone and internet.