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may 2016


the foreign Service journal


olores Boyer worked in the For-

eign Service for 32 years, com-

pleting four overseas tours with

the U.S. Agency for International

Development and four with the

U.S. Information Agency. She

lived in Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia,

Kenya, Thailand, Ghana and Sri

Lanka. By the time she retired in

1997, she states, “I said to myself, ‘I’m not moving one more

time.’” In the 19 years since then, Boyer proclaims with pride,

“I haven’t filled out a single change-of-address form.”

Job appointments with the Foreign Service “were like put-

ting your hand in the cookie jar and not knowing what cookie

you were going to get,” Boyer says. She loved learning about

new countries and cultures. She liked the social interactions

and the sometimes radical beauty of the settings—from the

architecture of Prague to the colorful markets in Ghana.

Now Boyer, 80, lives in an apartment in Arlington, Virginia,

and keeps up with local art exhibits and theater, continues to

travel and enjoys entertaining houseguests.

Recently, she joined the Arlington Village, an

organization of like-minded seniors with about 150 members.

The Village helps its members with transportation to medical

appointments and other tasks—from changing a light bulb to

picking up groceries or setting up an email account—that can

become more difficult with age.

“The Village came along at just the right time for me,” says

Boyer. She sees it as an “insurance policy” to thwart the need

to make what is often an older person’s final move—into an

assisted living or continuing care facility.

The Arlington Village, which started in 2013, is one of close

to 200 organizations nationwide (with about the same number

now in formation). While the Villages can vary dramatically in

structure, cost and membership, most share a common goal:

to support older adults who wish to age in place.

Service and Social Connections “In Place”

It isn’t just the dream of never moving again that makes the

Village concept tailor-made for those who have spent their

careers living abroad. Most Villages host book clubs and guest

speakers, potluck suppers and field trips. Boyer enjoys Arling-

ton Village’s Dining Around program at local restaurants and

gatherings for Met Opera Live performances.

“Those of us in the Foreign Service are used to new experi-

ences. We like to have teas and invite people for dinner,” points

out FS retiree Marguerite Cooper, a volunteer for the Pasadena

Village in southern California. “It’s a good fit.” Cooper, who

A growing trend helps Foreign Service retirees to finally settle down.

By Martha Thomas

MarthaThomas, a freelance writer and editor who

lives in Baltimore, Maryland, has written about the

Village concept for



It Takes a



On Life after the foreign service