December 2023 News & Updates from the Villages of Kensington
The Villages of Kensington Board Has Been Busy! During the COVID years, it was challenging for the Villages of Kensington to continue providing services in a safe way. Now that the worst is over, the VoK Board is hard at work getting things back to normal. This is the first issue of our re-energized newsletter. We plan to publish bi-monthly, starting with December 1st. New leaders in place. After many years on the VoK Board, including many years as President, Michael Landa has stepped down from his leadership position. Louis Tenenbaum, who had been an interim co-president, also stepped down. A nominating committee presented a new slate of officers, all of whom were approved. All Board members have updated bios on the website under Governance and Leadership. ● ● ● ●
Jack Leary, President Teri Poux, Vice President Jeffrey Steger, Treasurer Sharon Parver, Secretary
Next steps, to be completed over the next few months, are to establish committees of Board members and other interested parties and to fill Board vacancies. VoK Board members are eager to hear from you. Last month we created and emailed a survey to all members so we could “formally” learn about you and your interests. Thanks to all of you who completed and returned the survey. We received around 30 responses, which is just over 25% of our members. Given your interest in completing the survey, we thought that you would be equally interested in hearing about some of the results. Members offered a wide variety of ideas about other programs that could be offered. Here are 5 prominent responses from survey respondents. The most popular and News & Updates from the Villages of Kensington 1
frequently-used VoK service is rides. Providing rides was the clear leader with about 75% of the respondents choosing this option. This choice was not surprising, however. In the DC area and nationally, a ride-offering system is the lead service provided to Village members. We also received a lot of comments and suggestions. Several members suggested shortening the amount of advance notice needed for rides. The Board will look at this possibility. It might be difficult to change, because securing volunteer drivers requires a good bit of lead time. 1. Many (one-fourth) people would sign up for in person visits. 2. About half are interested in educational presentations and programs, on Zoom or in person. 3. Almost 80% would like to take part in coffee and conversations; two-thirds would like to participate in luncheons; and more than a third would like to join a book club, be part of a walking group, or attend theatrical performances. Members were very much in favor of the Lunch Around program, particular for the opportunity it gives to socialize with others. 4. More than half prefer in-person activities; Zoom was preferred by only 1 individual. Your survey responses will help the VoK Board plan events and services that meet the needs of members. Website updates are in progress. Several Board members have been working on improvements to the VoK website to make information more current, accessible, and pertinent to members. For example, this newsletter is posted on the website and disseminated through emails and other means. Look for the following new and improved website offerings: ● “Governance and Leadership” introduces VoK Board members with a short biography. ● “Contact” section includes a way to reach each Board member. ● “Member Spotlight” will introduce us to a new VoK member each month on a more personal level. ● “Events” has both VoK upcoming events as well as links to other organizations with calendars of events both social and educational. ● This month we have the documentaries of 2 members from Village Reels (also available on YouTube as noted in the article in this newsletter.)
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The National Village Gathering 2023 was held in October The Village to Village Network (www.vtvnetwork.org) is a national organization dedicated to supporting existing villages and encouraging new ones to get started. Several VoK Board members attended the conference. The first part of the gathering was a virtual conference on October 3rd and 4th. Access to these online sessions is available on the VoK website. They cover topics such as Vibrant Villages, Empowering Communities, and Executive Transitions. An in-person conference, co-hosted with Washington Area Villages Exchange (WAVE) took place at the Silver Spring Civic Center on October 17th. About 250 participants attended, mostly from Villages in the DC area. Several VoK Board members attended the conference and took part in sessions on a range of topics including technology, volunteering, fundraising, leadership, and community connections. They shared the following information about what they found most interesting at the event. In-Per The Opening Session featured a presentation about Blue Zones. Amtul Malik, MD Family Physician, Geriatrician, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellow George Washington University, spoke about these areas that are considered the healthiest in the world. One of the 5 areas is in Loma Linda, California; the other 4 are in other countries. In these communities, people eat well and exercise as a part of daily life. They foster a culture of well-being. As a result of this lifestyle, the areas’ residents live longer, maintain a healthy weight, are happier and more content than is typical for their age group. Learn more about Blue Zones at https://www.bluezones.com/ A session on Business Sponsorships emphasized the importance of establishing two-way connections with businesses. Instead of just asking for a check, these connections benefit Village members and the business. For example, one Village teamed with a wine store to offer mid-day tastings. These took place at a time when the store was not busy and the members found it easier to attend without having to go out at night, when tastings are usually held. Another Village worked with a local business that is part of a large makeup chain. The store provided makeup lessons tailored to meet the needs of older ladies. The VoK Board will follow up to identify Village programming ideas that could be adapted for our community. News & Updates from the Villages of Kensington 3
Village Members are Featured in Village Reels an Intergenerational Filmmaking Project During the spring of 2023, the Villages of Kensington (VoK) participated in Village Reels, an intergenerational filmmaking program from Docs in Progress. VoK members Isabel Langsdorf and Carol Henig were featured in individual documentaries created and produced by teams of Wheaton High School students. Isabel shared her experience of being born during World War II and being adopted as a child. She shared how members of her family, including her birth mother, were killed in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. Isabel has lived in Kensington for more than 40 years. In her documentary, Isabel shared her story, including visiting Germany as an adult. Carol discussed her experience as a foster parent of many children. During the 1980s, Carol and her husband Les became involved with the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees and ended up becoming foster parents of a 17-year-old Amerasian girl. More kids followed, some American born, and many with stories of abuse. Racism dominated the children’s narratives. Carol and Les also took in 3 grandchildren. Children have been a major part of their lives, and the growing of food became vital to the physical and emotional health of these kids. Learning to cook the cuisine of every hurting child to welcome them was vital to show that food was real, accessible, and healthy. The short documentaries are amazing. Here is a link to the documentary featuring Isabel: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLlk2CMLwc8. Here is a link to the documentary featuring Carol: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og-lwi0AQHU. The teams from Wheaton included 3-4 students with each team member leading an aspect of the filmmaking process – story and research, production/camera, or News & Updates from the Villages of Kensington 4
editing/post-production. The student teams were assisted by Village Reels Teaching Artist Jolene Carter on behalf of Docs in Progress, and Wheaton High School teacher Kristen Bouve. The Village Reels project by Docs in Progress also included three teams of students from Blair High School that produced documentaries of three members of the Silver Spring Village. On June 13, 2023, all five documentaries were presented to an audience of nearly 100 at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Here is a link to the complete set of documentaries: www.youtube.com/docsinprogress Docs In Progress is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to educate, inspire, and transform the way people view their world through documentary film. Everyone has a story to tell. Learn more at www.docsinprogress.org. The Villages of Kensington looks forward to working with Docs in Progress next year to enable more VoK members to share their life experiences. The organization has invited us already to participate in the creation of more short documentaries. Information on that project will be made available as soon as we receive it.
First-Ever Vaccine Clinic Villages of Kensington (VoK), working in cooperation with neighboring North Bethesda Village, offered our first ever vaccine clinic for members, volunteers, and friends of VoK on Friday, October 6. The clinic was at the Jewish Council for the Aging offices on Parklawn Drive in Rockville. We had 5 volunteers from VoK and more than a few VoK constituents came in to receive Covid and or flu vaccines. The amazing leaders at North Bethesda Village invited VoK to collaborate with them on the event. It took a few weeks of planning and lots of emails to the VoK community to inform our group about the event. The end result helped North Bethesda Village and VoK provide more than 100 doses of COVID and flu vaccine to more than 80 individuals. The vaccine clinic was made possible by participation of 3 pharmacists from Giant Pharmacy and the clinic director from Giant who oversaw the vaccine administration. The Jewish Council News & Updates from the Villages of Kensington 5
for the Aging staff provided easily accessible and comfortable space for the event. Organizers and volunteers kept attendees moving smoothly from check-in to the pharmacists to receive the vaccine. How exciting to see VoK members and volunteers coming together for such an important purpose that was made even better by joining forces with the team from North Bethesda Village.
Village-Sponsored Events: Recent and Upcoming VoK’s Lunch Arounds are growing in popularity. On Friday, October 27, 2023, VoK members got together for their most recent luncheon, called a “lunch around.” It was held at Baby Cat Brewery, with 15 attendees, the largest group since the lunches resumed earlier this year. At this luncheon, VoK treated all luncheon guests to a round of drinks. On September, 13 people met for lunch at Dish and Dram. It was also noteworthy that there were five first-time diners. Since its rebirth, the lunch group has visited Java Nation, Stella Point, Carlee’s Deli, Knowles Station, Flinn Park for a picnic with sandwiches from the Village Market, and Dish and Dram on two occasions. Thus, the members have sampled a good cross-section of Kensington cuisine. The best part of the lunches for the members, even more than the good food, is the opportunity to sit and talk with so many interesting people. Kensington and its people are full of great stories, and the lunches and other outings provide an excellent opportunity to hear them and also to offer your own. The Village
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will continue to offer the lunches—typically on the 4th Friday of the month. This schedule will begin in January, 2024. Social events and activities are also offered by VoK. Recently a group toured the Josiah Henson Museum and Park on Old Georgetown Road. This site is the former plantation property of Isaac Riley where Reverend Josiah Henson was enslaved. Henson’s 1849 autobiography, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s landmark novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The museum and park are part of the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network. Learn more about this site at https://montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/josiah-henson-park/ The following activities are planned for the months ahead: November 21: Fine Arts in Miniature at Strathmore Mansion, Rockville Pike. (This is a VoK event.) The Miniature Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers Society (MPSGS) sponsors this free exhibition of more than 700 mini masterpieces. Meet at the Mansion at 1 p.m.) Questions? Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. December 9: Cider by the Fire, at the home of Laurie Pross and Jim Blatt , 3607 Littledale Road, Kensington, MD 20895, from 2:30 to 4:30 pm, enjoy light refreshments and the company of fellow VoK members and volunteers. Rsvp to email@example.com December 15: Garden of Lights, Brookside Garden, Wheaton Regional Park. Registration for this event is now closed. VoK provided 2 tickets upon request to members interested in seeing this annual event. We’re looking forward to a lovely evening among the twinkling lights. VoK events are announced through email and on the VoK website. We hope to see you at events in the future. Look on the website for links to other organizations that announce or sponsor events and activities in the DC area.
Important Safety Tips For walkers: While mailing a package, I met a fellow-Kensingtonian who had added strips of reflective tape to her coat. The tape was her way of staying visible—and safe—when walking at dusk or later. This seemed like a great way to be visible to cars. Look for adhesive reflective tape, which is easy to place and remove. It costs less than $10 and is available online and at local hardware stores.
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For Everyone: Residents of Maryland who are over age 65 or older can sign up for the SeniorCall Check Program. This service of the Maryland Department of Aging, provides daily calls to participants at a regularly scheduled time between 8 am and 4 pm. If you don’t answer the first time, the system calls 2 additional times. If none of the calls are answered, an alternative person is called. This person is a friend, neighbor, or loved one you indicated during the enrollment process. If neither the alternate nor the participant answer the call, Senior CallCheck will call the local non-emergency service to make sure you are okay.To learn more:Call 1-866-50-CHECK or visit: https://aging.maryland.gov/pages/senior-call-check.aspx
Helpful Reminder How do I schedule a ride or ask for services from VoK? Teri Poux is the VoK contact for rides and services. You can call her at 301-509-0191. If Teri answers, great. Tell her what you need. If she is not available, please leave a message so she can return your call. Once Teri knows the details of your request, she will contact volunteers to identify someone who can meet your request. If a volunteer accepts the request, he/she will call you to confirm.
READ MORE ABOUT VoK ON OUR WEBSITE
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