BERKELEY -- Ashby Village, a nonprofit community group that works to help older residents maintain their independence, is expanding into the North Berkeley area with an open house from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 23 at Epworth United Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St.

Ashby Village, created four years ago to provide resources and community to people over 50, currently has 275 members in Berkeley. Annual membership in the organization costs $750 for individuals and $1,200 for households.

"We're eager to begin organizing in North Berkeley and look forward to meeting people of all ages who might be interested in helping us build community here locally for seniors who want to stay in their homes as long as possible," Ashby Village Executive Director Andrew Gaines said in a news release. "That's what the Village movement is all about -- neighbors helping neighbors."

The organization describes itself as helping residents over 50, "remain independent, active, engaged and inspired as they age," providing supportive services that include volunteers who help in people's homes, referrals to service providers and events for people to meet and build community.

Monthly events include potlucks, hikes, book clubs and forums.

Support services include help around the house and rides to doctors appointments and the like.

Ashby Village calls its approach "the Village model." The idea is to offer older residents access to the services they need through a community. This can help them stay in their homes rather than move into an assisted living home or similar senior housing.

Those under 50 are encouraged to come to the open house to learn about volunteer opportunities.

For more details contact the group at info@ashbyvillage.org or visit www.ashbyvillage.org.