Berkshire Senior April - May 2024

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Springtime Flowers & Songs Health Care Decisions

Maximizing Your Medical Visits Be Consumer Savvy About Spring Home Improvements! April Marks National Volunteer Month

“I’m so glad I called HospiceCare in The Berkshires when I did.”

“When Mom got sick, I was so overwhelmed managing her care, filling out paperwork and trying to be there for her. Thankfully, HospiceCare in The Berkshires was there to make everything easier. They provided compassionate care that supported a quality of life for Mom.”

Offering compassion to our community:

• Emotional and spiritual support

• Symptom management

• Integrative therapies

• Home health aides

• Meaningful end-of-life care

• Bereavement counseling HO

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 2
South Street, Suite 1W Pittsfield, MA 01201

Mission Statement

The mission of Elder Services of Berkshire County, Inc. is to provide Berkshire elders, caregivers, and individuals with disabilities the opportunity to live with dignity, independence, and self-determination, and to achieve the highest possible quality of life.

Statement of Inclusivity

Elder Services practices non-discrimination in employment practices and service delivery. Embracing diversity, our in-home and community-based services are available to all without regard to race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or lifestyle.

Elder Services is Moving


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Editorial Board: Deb Aldrich-Jegtvig, Laura Feakes, Christopher McLaughlin, Kathleen Phillips, Susan Guerrero, Kara Graziola and Kayla Brown-Wood.

Advertising: To place an advertisement in Berkshire Senior, please contact Kate Teutsch at (413) 496-6324 or e-mail

Berkshire Senior is published bi-monthly by Elder Services of Berkshire County, Inc., 877 South Street, Suite 4E, Pittsfield, MA 01201, 499-0524 or 1-800-5445242, e-mail: or on the internet at


Berkshire Senior advertising helps to the defray the costs of producing the newspaper. Inclusion of advertisers in no way implies that Elder Services endorses any product or service.

Signed columns are the opinion of the writers and not necessarily the opinion of Elder Services. For medical, financial or other advice, seek a qualified professional in the appropriate field.

Elder Services and its programs are funded, in part, by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

State and federal funds provided to Elder Services are limited. Elder Services welcomes charitable donations to help meet the growing needs of Berkshire seniors, and gratefully acknowledges all donations.

Hoping all is well with you and yours and that 2024 has been good to you so far. By the time you read this in early April, the worst part of winter will be behind us and we will be well on our way to warmer weather. We can’t complain too much as this was not a severe winter though it seemed like we experienced more frequent and severe windstorms than we normally do. By now, you probably know that 2024 marks Elder Services’ 50th Anniversary. In addition to 2024 being the year we celebrate having provided half a century of service to the Berkshire community, we also look forward to celebrating it as the year we relocate our administrative offices. I guess you could say that we are honoring the past and looking to the future at the same time.

Our current administrative offices, which house nearly 80 people, are located on the fourth floor of a commercial office building at 877 South Street, about a half a mile up the hill from the Berkshire Life Building. The building, our home for the past 10 years, is a few miles outside the center of Pittsfield. Parking spots close to the building are not always available and the journey to the fourth floor can be challenging, particularly for our clients with mobility issues.

I am proud to announce that by August 1, our Agency will relocate its administrative offices to the Clock Tower building at 73 South Church Street in space that previously housed Wayfair’s call center operations. We will lease space on the first and second floors. The space has a bright, contemporary feel but retains much of an open architecture look with large wooden beams, etc. In addition to being centrally located in the heart of Pittsfield, the space provides the advantage of easier access for our clients via a ground floor entrance in the front of the building. The new space also affords us a little more room to be able to accommodate new programs and services as the Agency continues to grow.

Our staff and Board of Directors are very excited about moving though they understand we have considerable work to make this a reality. We look forward to successfully transitioning to the Clock Tower and hosting an open house in our new space in the fall. Stay tuned.

Until next time be good, be kind and be careful.

ELDER SERVICES UPDATE Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 3
Springtime Flowers & Songs ....................................... 4 Health Care Decisions .................................................. 6 Maximizing Your Medical Visits .................................. 7 Spring Home Improvements ...................................... 8 Volunteers................................................................. 9-11 Donations ..................................................................... 14 Slam the Scam! ............................................................ 15 Senior Community Dining Sites ............................... 16 Director of Nutrition ................................................... 17 Senior Spotlight .......................................................... 18 COVER PHOTO: Adriene Worthington, Director of Nutrition Programs with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, helping prepare Meals on Wheels lunches at ESBCI’s Lanesborough kitchen during her visit to the Berkshires.
Volume 43, Number 2 April 2024 The bi-monthly newspaper for Berkshire County seniors FREE

Springtime Flowers & Songs

Many people, including those above the age of 50 and up, have some childhood recollections of springtime flowers. Maybe looking out on the front lawn and seeing hundreds of yellow dandelions nodding in the sun, jogs the memory. Or, perhaps another memory comes when seeing the very first crocuses inching their way up from the freezing ground and pushing their way through snow cover. They appear suddenly from one day to the next. The hardy little flowers prove that spring is right around the corner. Those delicate little crocuses have mighty stamina to brave the cold in order to bust out into the bright, early days of spring.

At the former Bartlett Elementary School, now composed of apartments, on Onota Street in Pittsfield, the early grade school teachers always taught songs about spring flowers. Clear in memory is one song that started out, “Here, look in the garden bed, something beautiful is growing.” It went on, “Bright, shaped like a cup all red, tulip opens to the sun.”

A fair warning to new gardeners is that pesky squirrels love to dig up and eat tulip bulbs. They can wipe out bulbs before they even have a chance to bloom. One good deterrent is to cover newly planted bulbs with chicken wire, then sprinkle with dirt. It makes it harder for those little rodents to feast on tulip bulbs that look so appealing in colors like pink, red, white, and yellow. More faithful spring flowers are lilies of the valley. Once planted, they come back every year, spreading their sweet, delicate fragrance wherever they are found. The white flowers are quite small and resemble tiny bells. They are also flowers former students at Bartlett Elementary School learned a song about. They come primarily in white but can occasionally be pink. Perhaps that’s why the song includes the color “coral. The

Spring would never be complete in New England without perky yellow daffodils.

song goes, “White, coral bells, upon a slender stalk, lilies of the valley deck my garden walk. Oh, don’t you wish that you could hear them ring? That will only happen when the “fairies” or “angels”, or “bluebirds” sing.”

It was sung as a round and the young students always tried their best to come in on time, after another group of students already sang the first few lines. So many decades have gone

by, comprised of millions of memories, and yet, that lily of the valley song remains right at the tip of the tongue, come springtime.

Isn’t the computer inside the brain amazing, in that it can recall song lyrics from more than half a century ago?

Spring would never be complete in New England without perky yellow daffodils. Some people grow vast numbers of

them. “The more the merrier” for sure applies to daffodils. There is a song dedicated to them, too. It is a great one to teach and sing with grandchildren (if grandparents can pry them away from their I-pads.) It sounds great with guitar accompaniment. It starts out “Daffodils, daffodils,” and continues with “spreading your gold on the April hills. Joy you bring, in the spring, sweet smelling daffodils.” The famous author William Wordsworth even penned a poem about beautiful daffodils. The first stanza of it reads, “I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o’er vales and hills. When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” (Check online for additional verses that will make the heart sing at this time of year.)

Memory is so clear of my own mother, standing in the kitchen of our house on Onota Street, excitedly reciting Wordsworth’s poem by heart. She’d recite it in swelling volume, making those glorious daffodils come to life in the minds of her children.

In her own childhood, elementary students had to memorize poems and recite them in front of their peers in the classrooms. Mummy never forgot that poem and could recite it even well in her 80s.

Other springtime flowers that are still immensely popular are fragrant hyacinths and peonies. Who could possibly not be filled with awe over the scent of those two flowers? It’s difficult, even in the supermarket floral departments, to keep from burying one’s nose in their blooms and inhaling mightily. Forever in memory are my paternal grandmother’s peonies. They came in delicate pink, deep cranberry, and white. However, while all the grandkids loved their fragrance, we were careful not to inhale too deeply since the flowers could easily be called ant hotels. There were dozens of black ants hidden in the layers

SPRINGTIME FLOWERS Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 4

of the fragrant blossoms. One way to avoid the ants and still use peonies in vases, inside the house, is to soak the flowers upside down in water for several hours or overnight. That takes care of the ants and allows peonies to make gorgeous bouquets inside vases.

Muscari are almost coneshaped flowers that look like they are comprised of tiny grapes. They are extremely pretty in a garden. Best yet, those bushytailed squirrels dislike the smell of them so they don’t touch muscari. Same goes for crocus, daffodils, mint, and nasturtiums. So there is more than one way to grow spring flowers without squirrels making a feast out of them. One just has to plant the kinds the squirrels dislike.

Spring and flowers seem to go hand and hand. Flower-lovers often want to run to the very first farmers’ market to stock up on pansies for window boxes or large planters for the yard. Their sweet little faces, like those of humans, almost seem to smile at the thought of winter’s end and the beginning, at long last, of spring.

SPRINGTIME FLOWERS Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 5 Each Home Instead® franchise is independently owned and operated franchise of Home Instead nc., `an Honor Company © 2020 Home Instead Inc Call (413) 442-0907 or visit If you want to keep an aging loved one safe at home, Home Instead® can help. Services: • Personal Care • Companionship • Meal Prep • Transpor tation • Hospice Suppor t • Memor y Care • Ar thritis Care • Diabetes Care • Chronic Conditions Suppor t Assistance with Personal Care Medication Reminders Meal Preparation Light Housekeeping Companionship Laundry Services Assistance with Transportation Shopping and Errands Respite Care Overnight Care Putting People First for 40 years MOLARI HealthCare Services provides trusted, quality home care to our neighbors in Berkshire County. Working as your partner, our staff will create a flexible care plan to fit your needs. With MOLARI you are assured that you and your care is our number one priority. MOLARI is committed to providing the best possible solution for your home healthcare needs. CALL US TODAY for a free assessment. 413-499-4562 SERVICES OFFERED 166 East Street, Pittsfield MA 01201 413-499-4562 or 1-800-649-4562

Health Care Decisions

National Healthcare Decision Day is April 16th. What is a Health Care Decision and what do you need to know?

National Healthcare Decision Day encourages individuals to create advanced directives. At some point in your life you or a loved one may need to make healthcare decisions, but you or your loved one may not be able to do so due to a health crisis. Directives allow for expression of your wishes regarding future health care decisions that are put in writing. Loved ones, healthcare providers and health care facilities are made aware of your preferences and decisions which allows them to respect your wishes no matter what they are, bringing peace of mind to you and your loved ones.

Healthcare decisions do not just include living wills. Other Healthcare Decisions include Health Care Proxy (HCP), Power of Attorney (POA), Five Wishes and Medical Orders for LifeSustaining Treatment (MOLST).

A Health Care Proxy (HCP) authorizes someone that you chose to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to. You can chose anyone you trust to be your HCP. Even if don’t have health issues now, it’s always a good idea to assign a HCP. The sooner the better.

A health care proxy becomes necessary when someone is unconscious, cannot communicate, or their mental

state has deteriorated to the point where they are not capable of making informed decisions. A HCP can approve medical care and surgeries, access medical records and request a second opinion. In Massachusetts, assigning a HCP includes completing a form with a witness present, but other States vary. Visit for more information on HCP and to download the form. You can also find HCP forms at your doctor’s office and local hospital.

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a written authorization to represent or act on someone’s behalf in private matters (which may be financial or regarding health and welfare), business or some other legal issue. A POA

is a legal document that gives one person the right to act for another. A POA can be used when a temporary or permanent illness prohibits someone from making a decision or the inability to sign documents. To find an attorney who can help visit www. or call Elder Services and we can provide you with a list of Elder Law Attorneys. Five Wishes is a comprehensive document that can be completed digitally or by completing a paper document. It’s easy to read and understand, covers personal, spiritual, medical and legal wishes all in one document. Topics discussed include the person “I Want to Make Decisions for Me When I Can’t, the Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Do

Providing comprehensive hearing healthcare in the Berkshires for 20+ years

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s Real Ear measurement s to optimize benefit from hearing aids

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Not Want, How Comfortable I Want to Be, How I Want People to Treat Me and What I Want My Loved Ones to Know.” Five Wishes allows your family and loved ones to know exactly what you want so they do not have to guess. It is also legally valid in nearly every state. For more information on Five Wishes visit www.

Medical Orders for LifeSustaining Treatment (MOLST) is a way for someone to share their wishes and care needs at end of life. The MOLST form is a transportable form that must be honored by medical personnel and all healthcare settings. Caregivers, family, friends and health care agents should be aware of your MOLST decisions. It’s a good idea to have your loved ones present for discussion of the MOLST. Topics on the MOLST include whether or not you want to go to the hospital, want to be given antibiotics, given CPR, be given a feeding tube or IVs if needed. The MOLST allows you to make these decisions and have them in writing. The MOLST form should be kept visible in your home. Take the form with you if you do go to the hospital or are admitted to a short term rehab facility. Visit www.molst. org for more information.

Don’t be afraid to have these discussions with your family and loved ones. It’s okay to express your decisions and wishes and in the end can make everyone feel at ease, happy and comfortable.

HEALTH Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , April -
2024 6 Dr. Andrew J. Put tick Au.D., F - A A A 510 Nor th Street, Suite 9, Pit t sfield, M A 01201 (413) 443-4800

Maximizing Your Medical Visits: A Senior’s Guide to Preparing for Health Appointments

We’ve all had mixed feelings about visiting the doctor. “She really didn’t answer my questions,” or “I can’t even remember what I wanted to ask him” -- these are some of the most common complaints we hear after our patients meet with their healthcare providers. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As we advance in years, our health becomes an increasingly central part of our lives and medical visits are likely to be more frequent.

To ensure you get the most out of each visit, we’ve compiled a checklist to make sure your healthcare appointments are as informative, effective, and supportive as possible.

1. Bring ALL your medications.

Include every medication you’re taking, even the expired ones. This allows your healthcare provider to review your current medications, make necessary adjustments, and safely dispose of any medications you no longer need.

2. Bring Information from Outside Providers.

Gather any new medication prescriptions, notes, or discharge information from other healthcare providers. Even if you believe your primary provider already has this information, it’s better to bring it to ensure nothing is overlooked.

3. Write Down Your Questions.

Before your appointment, write down any questions or concerns you have and remember – all questions are valid. Present this list to your provider at the beginning of your visit. This ensures that all your concerns are addressed from the start.

4. Bring and Advocate.

Having a family member, friend, or caregiver accompany you can be incredibly helpful.

They can help you remember information provided during the appointment and support you in making decisions.

5. Get a Written Handout of Next Steps.

Before leaving, make sure you receive a written summary of what was discussed, including any next steps, responsibilities, and follow-up appointments. If anything is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask questions.

6. Complete Necessary Blood Work Beforehand.

If your appointment requires recent lab results, ensure you’ve completed any necessary bloodwork well in advance. This allows your provider to have all the necessary information to discuss your health comprehensively.

7. Arrange Transportation Early.

If you require assistance getting to your appointment, arrange for transportation as soon as possible. This ensures you can get to your appointment on time without any added stress.

8. Update your End-of-Life Planning.

If there have been any changes to your end-of-life plans, such as a living will or healthcare proxy, bring this updated information to your visit. It’s crucial for your healthcare provider to have the most current information.

9. Request an Interpreter if Needed.

Remember, you have the right to an interpreter during your medical visits. If you need this service, arrange for an interpreter ahead of time to ensure effective communication with your healthcare provider.

10. Check in with yourself after your appointment – how do you think it went?

Reflect on how the appointment went and how you feel about the

information shared and decisions made. Were your concerns addressed to your satisfaction? Do you have a clear sense of next steps? This self-reflection can help you feel more in control of your health journey.

By following these principles,

you can make each medical visit more productive and less stressful. Your health is important, and being prepared can help you and your healthcare provider work together more effectively towards your wellbeing.

HEALTH Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 7

Be Consumer Savvy About Spring Home Improvements!

Now that winter is finally becoming a memory, many of us will be turning our attention to seasonal property damage and cleanup. Before you begin your clean-up, be cautious and plan ahead. Make a complete assessment of what needs to be done and then prioritize projects. While some clean up may seem easy and a “do-it-yourself” project, be aware of potential risks. Broken tree limbs may be near power lines. Position ladders cautiously to look at gutters and roofs. Don’t use gutters as a handhold and avoid reaching farther than the end of your arm.

If you need to hire someone to help you with storm repairs or various other home improvement projects, the best protection against problems is being actively involved in every step of your project. Every year, hundreds of Massachusetts residents file consumer complaints about home improvement contractors who take money and don’t do any of the work or perform unsatisfactory construction or repairs. If you plan to hire a contractor there are important things to keep in mind:

Protect yourself against the unscrupulous contractor:

• Don’t enter into a repair or improvement project without a written contract.

• Don’t hire a contractor who does not have a business card or local phone number and address. The business should have an actual physical address, not just a P.O. Box.

• Check the contractor’s state

Get a written contract that includes the type, quality and warranty of materials to be used and outlines all the financial terms and payment schedules.

registration. By law, most contractors and subcontractors performing residential home improvements on owneroccupied homes must be registered with the state. The few exceptions to this requirement include: licensed professionals, such as plumbers and electricians; part-time or small job contractors; and other contractors who specialize in certain kinds of work, including landscaping, central heating and air conditioning installations, and interior painters.

• Don’t hire a contractor who refuses to give you names and phone numbers of references.

• Do not pay for the entire job up front and don’t make final payment until you are completely satisfied with the work.

• Don’t feel pressured by contractors who make special or limited price offers.

Sign the right contract before work is performed on your home:

• Don’t sign a blank contract, or one that does not include all the costs and supplies. Get a written contract that includes the type, quality and warranty of materials to be used and outlines all the financial terms

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and payment schedules. Include a penalty clause in the contract for failure to complete work on time.

• Have a complete description of the work to be done and a guarantee that old materials and debris will be removed. Insist that the workplace remains clean and safe for the duration of the project.

• Make sure that all necessary permits are secured by the contractor and that they have proper liability and workers compensation insurance. If you apply for the permit, you may not be eligible for compensation from the state Guaranty Fund.

• Shop around and get at least two or three written estimates for the same work before selecting a contractor. A small amount of research can eliminate big problems later.

• Make sure the contract contains a 3-day cancellation notice, informing you of your right to cancel your contract if you signed the agreement in your home, or at a place other than at the contractor’s office or business.

Red Flags of a home improvement scam:

• Unsolicited, traveling contractors who come to your home and point out specific problems you haven’t noticed yourself.

• Contractors who arrive in an unmarked truck or van and who refuse to provide proof of insurance and references when requested.

• Contractors claiming “I’ve just done a job nearby and have some left over material (like driveway

asphalt), so I can give you a great deal on the job.”

• High pressure sales tactics.

For additional information on how to select a home improvement contractor or to report a fraudulent contractor you can contact:

• Better Business Bureau:, BBB helps people find businesses and charities they can trust. The local office is the BBB Serving Central and Western MA and Northeastern CT. Email: Phone: 508-755-3340.

• Attorney General’s Office: for information, and Attorney General’s Consumer Guide to Home Improvement at www.mass. gov/doc/home-improvementguidepdf); Consumer Hotline 617-727-8400 (Mon - Fri 8am4pm); Elder Hotline: 888-243-5337 (Mon - Fri 10am - 4 pm).

• Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation: www. for information.

To check contractor registration: (www.mass. gov/how-to/check-a-homeimprovement-contractorregistration).

To file a complaint (www.mass. gov/how-to/file-a-complaintagainst-a-home-improvementcontractor), & Homeowner’s Guide to Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor ( info-details/homeowners-guideto-hiring-a-home-improvementcontractor), (888) 283-3757.

Berkshire Consumer Services Program, 1 Fenn St 4th Floor, Pittsfield, 413-344-4861, https:// provides consumer education, information, counseling, and resources.

Volunteers Wanted

Become a SHINE counselor

Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone

About the SHINE Volunteer Program

The SHINE Program, a statewide initiative, provides free unbiased counseling and information regarding Medicare, Mass Health, and insurance-related public benefits to Medicare beneficiaries and their families throughout Berkshire County.

It is estimated that local SHINE volunteers and staff have saved Berkshire County residents millions of dollars in insurance and healthcare costs in recent years.

This is an excellent opportunity for someone seeking to develop unique skills, work in a dynamic environment, and make a significant difference in the community.

Volunteer Requirements

• 50 hours of classroom instruction (11 classes) and additional mentoring

• Pass a state exam

• Provide counseling in a variety of locations including local nonprofits and Councils on Aging

• No prior knowledge regarding insurance is required.

VOLUNTEERS WANTED Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 9
parties should contact: Lisa Jamros
or Make an impact on your community. Volunteer today.

April Marks National Volunteer Month

At Elder Services of Berkshire County we appreciate our volunteers all year long, but the month of April is a particularly special time to recognize them and their impact since its National Volunteer Month! Our volunteers are essential to our mission and help make it possible to operate various programs and services to meet the different needs of aging adults in Berkshire County.

In 2023, ESBCI had 233 volunteers that dedicated a remarkable 13,560 hours to our programs. There are many opportunities to choose from and volunteers can participate in programs that best fit their strengths and time commitments. Some volunteer opportunities include:

Meals on Wheels: ESBCI delivers over 975 meals a day to seniors across Berkshire County. Volunteer Meals on Wheels drivers help ensure timely delivery of meals to homebound seniors and conduct an important wellness check.

Ombudsman: Visit residents in a nursing facility to listen and advocate for their needs. Additional training required for ethics and skills education.

SHINE: Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone, or SHINE, is a program that assists with helping individuals understand Medicare/Medicaid benefits and other health insurance options, and helps them make informed choices. Additional training is required for this program to become a SHINE counselor.

Money Management: Assist income-eligible seniors with budgeting, writing checks for household bills, and reconciling bank statements.

See what our very own ESBCI volunteers have to say about their experience:

“I am a SHINE volunteer because I enjoy assisting people with accessing information free of charge that allows them to make informed decisions. There is nothing more rewarding than helping a person avoid excessive

costs or relieve their sense of not being heard. To me, there is no excuse for not listening.” – Bonny DiTomasso, SHINE Volunteer

“I love working with people and sharing my knowledge to help people through a time of transition.” – Pat Carlino, SHINE Volunteer

“I have been an ombudsman for the past five years. As a retired geriatric health care provider, this allows me to continue to live my commitment to quality elder care. I get to engage in the part of my professional career which I enjoyed the most - talking to people and forming relationships with nursing home residents. The mission of Elder Services is to support the rights and wellbeing of elders. This is a mission I fully support.” – Eileen Gabriel, Ombudsman Volunteer

“I have been a volunteer in the Money Management Program for a number of years, assisting many individuals with their bill paying. It has been important to me to keep in mind that clients continue to be aware that they are still part of the decision-making regarding the management of

their money. This role has not been taken from them.” - Jonna Haskell, Money Management

“I’ve always enjoyed helping people. After retiring, I wanted to find a way to volunteer that still allowed me the flexibility to visit grandchildren and my homebound mom. Elder Services provided me the opportunity to drive seniors to medical appointments without having to commit to a permanent schedule. It’s a simple thing for me to do. But for those without a car or unable to drive getting to a medical appointment is a big deal. They are so appreciative and thankful!. It’s very rewarding to know you’re making a difference in someone’s live!” – Alex Seseke, Driver

Thank you to all of our dedicated volunteers who help bring our mission to life!

For information on how you can help and volunteer opportunities contact Elder Services at (413) 499-0524 or visit our website at

VOLUNTEERING Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 10

Thanks Heartfelt

to Our Exceptional Elder Services Volunteers

Your commitment and dedication make the difference in the lives of seniors. We cannot thank you enough for your amazing contributions to our Berkshire County community.

Board of Directors

Jeffrey J. Menkes - President

Bruce Bernstein - Vice President

Georgette Kinney - Treasurer

Rhona Hetsrony - Clerk

Randy Burdick

Teresa Caldwell

Kalee Carmel

Sandra Carroll

Jacob Dabrowski

Frank Engels

Diana Fontana - Marketing & Fundraising Committee

Roberta Gale

John Graziano

Christopher King - Finance Committee

Barry Kriesberg

Mary K. O’Brien

Walter Orenstein

Stephen Radin

David Twiggs

AAA Advisory Council

Robert Allard

Quentin Chin

James Clark - Chair

Maria Craft

June Green - Vice Chair

Frank Engels

Erica Girgenti

Sandra Lussier

Meri Ellen Morgans

Vincent Marinaro

Deborah Phillips

Lisa Fletcher-Udel Nutrition

Sidni Anderson

Maureen Avery

Barbara Bailly

Anna Beining

Elyssa Bennett

Paula Bergeron

Jessica Best

Fawn Brazeau

Nora Burch

Joshua Burrows

William Busha

Amy Butler

Isabella Carey

Beth Castella

Cindy Cavanaugh

Kristine Charbonneau

Jeffrey Chenail

Eileen Clarke

Frank Clarke

Carol Couture

Linda Cox

Barbara Delmolino

Veronica Deome

Harriet Jane Diaz

Alan Dunlavey

Matt Earl

Emilee Eichorn

Hannah Eichorn

Michael Ende

Alexander Estrada

Patricia Ferrari-Behan

Donald Freedman

Sandra French

Charles Gallivan

Gordine Galusha

Michael Garvey

Isaibella Gaston

Andrea Gaylord

Elsie Gilligan

John Gilligan

Celine Godbout

Eric Paul Greenberg

Thomas Guachione

Marissa Guzzo

Margaret Gwozdz

Michelle Harwood

Sally Haver

Gillian Hettinger

Rosemary Houghtlin

Kevin Huttle

Charles Joch

Octavia Jones-May

Jeffrey Kane

Julia Kaplan

Jean Ketchum

Betty King

William L Kormanik

Aidan Kozik

Erna Lampman

Margaret Lavalette

Tre Nicholas Lehman

Catherine Leveque

Zachary Lipson

Mary Machia

Donna McDowell

Nancy Macy

Lisa McSheen

Maria Mendonca

David Messina

Alan Metzger

John Milewski

Brent Mille

Candace Mills

Benjamin Miottke

Jill Moncecchi

Germaine Monson

Susan Morris

Maria Netti

Virginia Niewinski

Margaret O’Keefe

Elizabeth Oakes

John ODonnell

George Oleen

Alexander Pettus

Joann Potash

Joan Powers

Victoria Provencher

Joshua Reynolds

Marlene Rivers

Eleanor Rosier

Susan Rothschild

Jane Rozak

Lydia Ruckheim

Thomas Scappaticci

Edward Scarafoni

Olivia Schultz-Falandes

Thomas Scrimo

Dennis Sears

Janet Sebastino

Linda Shaw

Dan Skorcz

Ronald St Germain

Kathy Staropoli

Luke Steinman

Arlene Stockley

Dakota Sunskis

David Sweeney

Julia Taylor

Kelsey Taylor

James Thieriot

Jenna Thomas

Gail Tighe

Joseph Till

Peter Traub

Margaret Tringali

Flora Whiffen

Grace ( Beth) Wiggers

Sarah Wiles

Aiyana Will

Charlene ‘Charli’ Winseck

Anne Woods

Bonnie Worth

James Zeoli

Shirley Zurrin

ESBCI Kitchen

Carolyn M. Coco

Dennis DeVergilio

Roxanne Iwanicki

Thomas Kennedy

Ronald King

Peggy Malumphy

Carlos Eduardo F Ribeiro

Debra Roucoulet

Robert St. Peter

Kim Visconti

Money Management

Amy Backiel

Sharon Bartels

Yvette Bastow

Rushelle Bowie

Shelley Crippa

Judith Douville

Michael Einstein

Marianne Fresia

Tanya Haas

Paula Morey

John Philpott

Jane Tant

Ronald Terry

Donald Usher

Robin Zeamer SHINE

Edward Abrahams

Rushelle Bowie

Patricia Carlino

Phyllis DeMartino

Karen DeOrdio

Bonny DiTomasso

Terrill Douglas

Frank Engels

Gail Garrick

Catherine Hall

Rosemary Harnett

Nancy Leren

Joseph Nawazelski

Carlos Rivadeneira

Steven Rosenthal

Larry Shea

Catherine Spinney

Barbara Tanski

William Tarmey

Gini Titterton

Winnie Veretto

Anthony Zoito Jr.


Gail Altman-Orenstein

Donna Bersch Gordon

Virginia Bosco

John ‘Kemble’ Corbett

Eileen Gabriel

Alice Jonas

Georgette Kinney

Carolyn Palmucci

Lonnie Solomon

Deborah Wehry

Home and Community Based Programs

Nancy Belouin

Frederick Bozek

Lara Brown

Linda Buttery

Cara Costanzo

Heather Garner

Gail Garrick

Alexandra Huber

Steven Lozyniak

Richard Macht

Karen D. Oak

Vicki Robare

Alex Seseske

Mary Spina

Diane Weinstein

Berkshire Senior TV Show

Diane Chicoine

Jeff Turner

Berkshire Senior Editorial Board

Susan Guerrero

Yvonne Borsody

Total Hours Served: 13,561

Total Volunteers: 233

VOLUNTEERING Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 11
Active January 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023

Berkshire Senior Television

Currently airing on PCTV, Channel 1301 Access Pittsfield Broadcast schedule:

Mondays at 5:00 p.m. ▪ Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. ▪ Saturdays at Noon

Currently airing on PCTV Channel 1301 Access Pittsfield Broadcast schedule: PCTV channel 1301 Mondays at 5 p.m., Tuesdays at 3 p.m., Thursdays at 11 a.m. & Saturday 11:30 a.m.

Or watch online, ON DEMAND on

Thank you to our friends at PCTV for all their help in making Berkshire Senior TV accessible to our community.

Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier 24 Beacon Street, Room 127 Boston, MA 02133

(617) 722-2680

District Office: (413) 442-4300

Sen. Paul Mark

24 Beacon Street, Room 279

Boston, MA 02133

(617) 722-2017

District Office: (413) 464-5635

Rep. John Barrett, III 24 Beacon Street, Room 237 Boston, MA 02133 (617) 722-2305

District Office: (413) 743-8300

ELDER FUN Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 12 The Process of preplanning allows just that... 4 0 MAP L E W O OD A VE NUE • P I T TSFI E L D , MA 0 1 2 0 1 C A L L U S : 413.445.5988 P r oud aff iliat e of Car r iag e Se r vices Car o line R Sulli v an, Licensed F une r al Dir ect or & Manag ing P ar t ne r Have you started thinking about being remembered the way you want to be? F r iends he lping fr iends since 1915 These are just some of the things asked in our full, comprehensive Pre Planning guide. To request, Pleace call us 413-445-5988 or visit for more information Full Legal Name Address Sex Race Birthdate Birth place Education Single q Married q Widowed q Divorced q Name of Sporce Date Married Place Married Occupation Mother’s Name Fater’s Name If a veteran, Date of Service Scan QR code Learn more at or call 413.236.2190. Join over 1 , 500 of the most creative, engaged, and active adults in the Berkshires (and beyond) for courses, events, and community. Online and inperson! Sav ino Empire Monu ment s, Inc. E st. 1931 Complete Ser vice of Monu ment s & Ma rkers 10 0 Wa hcona h St. Pit t sfield, M A 01201 (413) 4 42- 4149 Donna Bre wer, O w ner Ste ven J Bre wer, Director BERKSHIRE COUNTY LEGISLATORS UNITED STATES CONGRESS Congressman Richard Neal 372 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 (202) 225-5601 300 State Street, Suite 200 Springfield, MA 01105-1711 (413) 785-0325 Rep. Smitty Pignatelli 24 Beacon Street, Room 473F
Boston, MA 02133 (617) 722-2692 District Office: (413) 637-0631
Dietician, Sheri Iodice and Community Services Director Kayla Brown-Wood, discuss “Mindful Eating.”

Volunteers Needed!

Do you look forward to reading Berkshire Senior? Do you have an interest in issues or information that are important to seniors? We need volunteers who can share their creativity and writing skills to provide input and content to Berkshire Senior. We would love to have you serve on our Editorial Board. We meet every other month for about 45 minutes to decide on the content of the next Berkshire Senior issue. Meetings are currently run virtually.

If you are interested in learning more please contact Kathleen Phillips, Planning & Development Supervisor at (413) 499-0524. We look forward to hearing from you.

We are hiring

TAX CREDIT Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 13 To learn more about what BCAC can do for you, contact us: Central / South County | 413-445-4503 North County | 413-663-3014 If you are eligible for fuel assistance, you may qualify for more helpful programs. Follow us: There is still time to apply Application deadline is May 10th! 2024 I ncome guidelines to qualif y for Fuel A ssis tance Family Size Income 1 $45,392 2 $59,359 3 $73,326 Visit our website: w w Do you need help paying your Heating Bills? Voted Best of t he Berkshi res! Pit t s f ield O ff ice 74 0 Williams S tree t , Pit t s f ield, MA 01201 413 - 4 47- 8070 Dalton O ff ice 4 00 Main S tree t , Dal ton, MA 012 26 413 - 68 4 -978 3 L enox O ff ice 90 Pit t s f ield Road, L enox , MA 0124 0 413 - 6 3 7-28 10 JOHN DEL AHANT Y, DPT AMANDA ROBERTS, DPT BERKSHIRE PHYSICAL THERAPY & WELLNESS TIFFANY BROWER, PT SHAUNNA HOULE, DPT RYAN TUGGE Y, PTA ROBERT PADUANO, PT BRENT SYLVIA , PT JACKIE FARRELL , DPT THOMAS COONEY DPT
When it comes to car ing for senior s, it ’s a mat ter of t r ust Meet t he Berk shir es Senior Car e Family Spr ingside 255 Lebanon Ave P it t sfield 413-499-2334 Rehabilitation Sk illed Care Cranev ille Place 265 Main St reet Dalton 413-684-3212 Rehabilitation Sk illed Care Sugar Hill 45 Main St reet Dalton 413-684-0100 Independent L iv ing Assisted Living • Memory Care Visit us online at www.BaneCar

Thank You To Our Donors:

The following donations were received between January 1, 2024 and February 29, 2024. Donations received on or after February 29, 2024 will appear in the next issue of Berkshire Senior.

Memorial Donations

In Memory of: Andrew Breslin

Lance & Dee LaPointe

In Memory of: Frank & Angelica


Vincent Marinaro

In Memory of: William Broderick

Katherine Broderick

In Memory of: Dermot Sporbert

Diane Israelite Weinstein

Rita R Sporbert

Alyssa A Sporbert

In Memory of: Maria Cirillo

David & Cecelia Laviolette

Donna Bell

Peter & Joyce Nelson

Marshall & Daria Woodger

Elda & Ronald Spring

R & S Nichols

David Pill

Garfield P. Galant

Mary Kay & Brian McClintock

Mark & Laurie Gingras

Ann M Norton Proshan

Lisa Ford

Rita & Philip Gregory

Stephanie & Timothy Stack

Marie Cahill

Anna & Daniela Dethomasis

Rita Ann Kane

Mary DiNicola

John & Rosemary McLaughlin, Jr

Caterina Penna

Philip & Kathleen Wicker

Robert & Tammy Garrity

Donna Myers

Christine Dicenzo

Michael & Catherine Sanginetti

William Huggins

Thomas & Kim Graham

Joan E. Wrinn

Lina Simeone

Richard Scialabba

William & Rose Ann P. Sturgeon

Paul & Susan Paoletti

Anthony & Cristina Scipione

James J. Armstrong

In Memory of: Barbara Westermann

Patricia A Markey

Muriel & Mary Westermann

In Memory of: Jamie Bugley

Robert Bugley

In Memory of: Barbara J Kurek

Richard Kurek

In Memory of: Anthony Disanti

Therese Taft

In Memory of: Elinor Long

Tom & Sharon Chalmers

Elder Independence


Dr. & Mrs. Raymond J. Wise

Philip & Patricia Rossi

Norman & Rosanne Schutz

Robert & Barbara Eccher

Raymond & Barbara Ranzoni

George Munson

Andrew W. Powdermaker-Potler

Keith M Davis

Sara J Burke

Dr. Frederic P. Hyman

Kathleen Duquette-Penna

Vera Lecocq

Kathleen Stout

Vlada Rousseff

Michael Margolis

Fairview Contractors, Inc.

James Beauregard

Lisa Avery

Joanne M Seymour

Kathleen Shelby

Donald L. Alderman, Jr.

Robin J Renders

Dana B Anderson

Linda Kaufmann

Sylvia M Jamros

Northeast Fabricators & Mechanical Services

Frank Lagowski

Drs. Alan & Roselle Chartock

James Shippee

Cornelius & Mary Obanhein

Red Lion Inn

Bruce Bernstein

Excel Nursing Services

Robert O’Neil

Debra Sullivan

Robert & Lee Watroba

Joseph & Pat Salvadore

Scott MacKenzie

George & Judith Szecsei

Michael & Justina Norton

Ellen F. Krupka

Nancy E. King

Lt. John N. Truden VFW Post 448

Laurence D. Cohen

Dr. Eugene L. Curletti

Charles Hyde

Cia Elkin

Purple Plume

Donna Lefkowitz

Jean Davis

Paula A Wells

Arthur Wasser

Marjorie Bissaillon

Jane W Peth

Allen & Shirley Arndt

Marjorie Wylde

Donald R Hanson

Verna Tenney

Edward & Pamela Bourdon

Jeanne M Bresnehan

Walter Creer

Mary Jane Adams

Dr. Lindsay Crampton

James & Margaret Sulzmann

Tom Skinner

MaryAnn Minella

Wayne & Anna Mickiewicz

Tomich Landscape Design & Construction

Bruce C Zarnoch

Donna Pignatelli

John Davidson

Jo Valens

Cynthia S Iwanowicz

Lawrence A Bravo

Barbara Ziemba

George & Carole Manarchik

Carol M Kirby

Robert J Edwards

Peter & Pamela D’Ambrosio

Francis E Johnson

Lorita Bosworth

James Cunningham

Cheryl W Wilser

St. Ann Church

Carol M Kirby

Lawrence & Maureen Salvatore

Patricia E Neri

John & Carole Carmelo


Julia Wolfrum

Virginia Miner

Nancy G Torrico

Paul Burda

Adriana Brown

Teresa Chegwidden

Gene Carlson

The Lombardo Foundation, Inc.

Edward & Emily Zoladz

Ben & Lauren Svenson

Anne N Schnesel

Cynthia M Armstrong

Jeanne H Moulthrop

Maxine Phillips

Mary Ellen Sutliff

Neil Baker

Robert Edwards

Jeff Waingrow

Patrick Litano

Teresa Guyette

Nancy C Prezenik

Pledgeling Foundation

Nancy Begbie

Joyce & Henning L Carlson

Doris Pasquarelli

Anne Fix

James Coady

Robert Wirtes

Walter & Mary Blair

Give Lively Foundation

Kathleen M McMullen

James & Mary Cooper

Suburban Internal Medicine

Charities Aid Foundation America

Ronald & Martha Stewart

Donna L Chenail

LiUNA Local 473

Alex & Susan Seseske

Nancy A Kingsley

Cynthia M Armstrong

Meals on Wheels


Susan Brazeau

Walter & Marion Schleicher

E. Bonnie Silvers

Carol Perkins

Karen Eichorn

Kenneth Kaigle

SHINE Donations

Michele Gilligan

Allen & Shirley Arndt

Richard Moore

DONATIONS Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 14


Slam the Scam!

Let’s kick off with something less technical. By the time you dive into this article, spring should have made its grand entrance. In the Berkshires, March tends to be a bit unpredictable—snow in the morning and a pleasant fifty degrees by the afternoon, but I won’t complain. Just as a side note, computers, like people, seem to function better in warmer weather. That might not be entirely true, but I’m giddy with the arrival of spring.

Similar to March weather, my advice is not to place too much trust in callers. On average, individuals receive around fourteen spam calls per month, and the underlying theme connecting them all? They’re after your hard-earned money.

A couple of articles back, I delved into how to spot the signs of a scam. Since the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration marked March 7th as National “Slam the Scam” Day, I’ve been prompted to provide a quick refresher. Remember, a scam is just another term for a dishonest scheme or fraud. These scams have become widespread, with consumers losing a staggering $10 billion to scammers in 2023. While that is a hefty sum, even $300 can feel like a significant hit when it’s coming directly out of your pocket.

Scammers excel at building

trust and instigating a sense of urgency. To gain your trust, they often pose as agents from wellknown government agencies such as Social Security, IRS, and Medicare. Social Security scams alone generated 228,282 complaints to the Federal Trade Commission in 2023. Adding to the illusion, the Caller ID might match the location the caller claims to be calling from. Keep in mind that Caller ID can be easily faked and should not be relied upon as accurate.

The next step in their playbook is to intensify the urgency— whether by claiming you owe money or tempting you with a prize if you act immediately. Their goal? To prompt you into action without thinking. Scammers also exploit current events or impersonate close relatives, tugging at your emotions. Don’t fall for it; instead, hang up and contact the charity or person directly.

Once the scammer has you hooked, they aim to take your money in a way that’s hard to trace. Do not make payments with gift cards, wire transfers, or cash. It’s astonishing to witness people almost falling for scams involving payment to the FBI with Walmart gift cards. Ask yourself, does that really make sense? Before you part with your money, take a moment—hang up, think it over, and don’t succumb to their tricks. Let’s slam the scam!

VOLUNTEER PLACEMENT Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 15

Elder Services of Berkshire County, Inc. NUTRITION PROGRAM SENIOR


The status and offerings of the Senior Community Dining Centers are likely to evolve. Please call for the latest update.

Eligible seniors 60 years or older are welcome to attend any Senior Meal Site. Reservations are requested 24 hours in advance. The suggested donation is $3.00 per meal. All contributions are returned to the community toward the cost of the Senior Nutrition Program. Those 59 or under are welcome at the required fee of $8.00 per meal.


Elder Services now provides medically tailored meals (MTMs). MTMs help meet the nutritional needs of seniors with health conditions that require specific diets such as diabetes and heart or kidney disease.

MTMs can be delivered to individuals at their home five days a week. Menus are developed by our registered dietician and trained staff.

Call Elder Services (413) 499-0524 to request a special meal such as pureed, cardiac, diabetic, renal and vegetarian.

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 16 MEALS ON WHEELS If You Need Transportation Assistance We Are Available Serving All of New England & New York 18 Oak St., Pittsfield, MA • (413) 4 47-3800 You name it, we do it! Established in 2003 • Medical Appointments • Holiday Get Together s • Dinner • Shopping CITY/TOWN PHONE ADDRESS MEAL TIMES DAYS MEALS SERVED ADAMS 743-8333 ADAMS VISITOR CENTER 3 Hoosac Street 11:30 am Mon thru Fri BECKET 623-8934 TOWN HALL Route 8 11:00 am Tue, Thu CHESHIRE 743-9719 SENIOR CENTER 119 School Street 11:30 am Mon thru Fri DALTON 684-2000 SENIOR CENTER 40 Field Street. Ext. 12:00 pm Mon, Thu GT. BARRINGTON 528-4118 CLAIRE TEAGUE SENIOR CTR. 909 South Main Street 11:30 am Mon thru Fri LANESBORO 448-2862 TOWN HALL 83 North Main Street 11:30 am Tues, Thu LEE 394-4160 SENIOR CENTER 21 Crossway Village 11:45 am Mon thru Fri LENOX 637-5535 COMMUNITY CENTER 65 Walker Street 12:00 pm Mon thru Fri NORTH ADAMS 662-3125 SPITZER CENTER 116 Ashland Street 11:45 am Mon thru Fri PITTSFIELD 499-9346 RALPH J. FROIO SENIOR CTR. 330 North Street 11:30 am Mon thru Fri PITTSFIELDKOSHER* 442-2200 CONG. KNESSET ISRAEL 16 Colt Road 12:00 pm Mon, Tue, Thu SHEFFIELD 229-7037 SENIOR CENTER 25 Cook Road 12:00 pm Wed & Fri STOCKBRIDGE 298-4170 x263 SENIOR CENTER 50 Main Street 11:30 am Tues, Wed STOCKBRIDGE 298-3222 HEATON COURT 5 Pine Street 11:30 am Thu WILLIAMSTOWN 458-8350 HARPER CENTER 118 Church Street 11:30 am Mon, Wed,

Director of Nutrition Programs Visits The Berkshires

Adriene Worthington, Director of Nutrition Programs with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, payed a visit to Elder Services’ Senior Nutrition Program on January 18 and 19. Adrienne is responsible for the design, implementation and evaluation of nutrition policy, procedures and standards for the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and contracted partners. Elder Services’ Senior Nutrition Program is comprised of the Meals on Wheels Program, meals for the fifteen senior meal sites in the Berkshire County, Medically Tailored Meals and nutrition education and counseling.

In her work, Adriene works with 24 Aging Services Access Points, (of which ESBCI is one), across Massachusetts to advise nutrition programs on their operations and contracts. She issues operational policies and procedures for these nutritional programs and oversees the management of statewide food purchasing contracts and procurements and the statewide commercial distribution of fresh and frozen USDA Commodity foods.

Elder Services’ Senior Nutrition Program prepares and delivers over 975 meals each day, five days a week to seniors over the age of 60 and individuals with disabilities who reside in senior housing. While in the Berkshires, Director Worthington met with staff at ESBCI’s main office and toured our kitchen in Lanesborough where she rolled up her sleeves to help prepare and package the day’s meals. In Pittsfield she toured Providence Court (ESBCI’s Supportive Housing site). She also visited our packing center in North Adams where she met with drivers and site director Janice Blair. (The packing center is a distribution center for meals that are being

delivered to seniors in North County). While in the Berkshires Ms. Worthington attended a “New Year Celebration” lunch at the Adams Council on Aging meal site.

Prior to starting her work with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs in 2022, Worthington was the Director of Nutrition with the Greater Boston Food Bank where she oversaw nutrition outreach and education, led internal food safety oversight and audit preparation and provided external food safety training to over 600 agencies. She implemented a formal nutrition policy and evaluation metric, and worked with the Department of Transitional Assistance to establish SNAP (food stamps) teams responsible for outreach and application assistance. Adriene obtained her Associate of Occupational Science Degree in culinary arts from Scottsdale Culinary Institute, her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Simmons University and Master of Education from Framingham State University.

Sarah Fontaine, Executive Director of the Adams Council on Aging, ESBCI Dietician Sheri Iodice, Kathleen Polidoro, Adams COA Meal Site Coordinator, Maura Doran, ESBCI Nutrition Program Manager and Adriene Worthington, Director for Nutrition Programs with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs

Celebrate Older American’s Month May 2024

• Celebrate with a FREE “Nutrition Check up” at a congregate site

• Learn the signs of poor nutrition status and how to prevent it

• Healthy diet information

• Free snack give away

• Questions answered by Sheri Iodice, RDN

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 17 NUTRITION
Congregate Site
Congregate Site Address Date Start Time Ralph J. Froio Center 330 North Street, Pittsfield May 22 11:00am12:30pm Providence Court 379 East Street, Pittsfield May 30 11:001:00pm North Adams Senior Center Spitzer Ctr, 116 Ashland Street, North Adams May 21 11:00am12:30pm Adams Senior Center 3 Hoosic Street, Adams May 23 11:00am12:30pm Sheffield Senior Center 25 Cook Road, Sheffield May 29 11:00am12:30pm
Adrien Worthington and Sheri Iodice joined in the festivities at the Adams Council on Aging New Year’s lunch.

Senior Spotlight: Marilyn Manning

A Pittsfield woman who is a dynamic force within the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum brings a host of various adult programs to the Athenaeum. Her name is Marilyn Manning and she is one amazing person whose entire life has been dedicated to helping others. A retired English teacher in the Pittsfield Public Schools, when she took an early retirement at age 58, she had 36 years of teaching under her belt.

The Athenaeum is Pittsfield’s Public Library located at 1 Wendell Ave. The Friends is a volunteer membership organization that “supports the goals of the Berkshire Athenaeum.” Money raised goes right back into the library. Hundreds of county residents are familiar with the thrice yearly book sales the Friends open to the public. They come in droves to buy thousands of books, cd’s, dvds, and all kinds of additional materials.

Now in her mid-70s, Marilyn continues to give back in numerous ways, including coordinating the Friends’ programs from September to May at the Athenaeum.

She remains a quiet, humble influence. Surprisingly, despite bringing in dozens of groups to give presentations and always warmly welcoming attending visitors, Marilyn says she’s really “a sort of private person. “I like people,” she said. “I like trying to make them comfortable.” She definitely accomplishes that goal every time the public gathers to see a presentation in the Athenaeum auditorium.

Marilyn always welcomes guests and invites them to enjoy refreshments, usually cookies, in the back of the room with a choice of beverage, as well.

When asked where she gets the cookies, she humbly replies, “I baked them yesterday.” She’s baked chocolate chip cookies, using her late mother’s recipe. Another month there might be lemon or maple cookies. Marilyn brings the goodies in, sets them up herself, and then refrains from giving that kind and generous service another thought. That’s just the way she operates. She’s a doer rather than a talker.

Originally from Southbridge, in central Massachusetts, Marilyn majored in English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. When she graduated, she moved to Pittsfield and for the next 36 years, taught English in the Pittsfield Public School system.

Marilyn taught for 10 years at Crosby Middle School and the rest of the time at Pittsfield

High School. She was the English Department Head when she retired in 2006. As a long time dedicated teacher, she said she loved introducing new books to students as well as having conversations with them. She also enjoyed teaching them to write. She took an early retirement for two reasons. She wanted to help her late mother who was living in Southbridge. Marilyn made many trips from Pittsfield to Southbridge while her mother was still living.

She also wanted to retire in order to help take care of her three grandsons from her son Michael. “They are all grown up now,” Marilyn said. Michael, her son, is a local businessman and his son, Patrick, works along with him. Another one of his sons, Joseph, drives trucks in

Albany, and a third son, Mitchell, is a student at Bridgewater State University. Like grandmothers everywhere, Marilyn’s eyes light up when talking about her grandsons. She’s proud of every single one of them as well as of their father.

She said after retiring, she missed teaching but not all the paperwork that had been required as an English teacher.

Marilyn always frequented the Friends’ annual book sales, even before her retirement. Today, many years later, she is still very much involved in the sales. All proceeds of those well attended events go back into the Athenaeum. “They got to know me,” she said, of the book sale staff. “They asked me to be on the Friends Board.”

She then started doing some publicity for the Friends. At the time, the late Joe Levine was the coordinator of adult programming. When he became ill and could no longer continue, Marilyn stepped into the role. That was about 14 years ago. Marilyn finds people to come and present programs at the Athenaeum as well as gets suggestions for future presentations from the public. Some people introduce themselves to her and let her know what they can offer.

She admits there have been “lots of wonderful things here.” For instance, there is an annual jazz week that will be in April this year, a change from its usual October time frame. The famed Pittsfield High School String Orchestra, under the direction of Alla Zernitskaya, will give an annual concert in November.

Marilyn oversees a budget of $8,000 annually. That money is made available through the Friends’ book sales and memberships. She works

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 18

tirelessly to stay within that budget. Some groups and individuals come as volunteers but others are paid, Marilyn explained. There are advertising expenses that must be met through posters, and so forth.

Marilyn has been doing her dedicated work for about 14 years. She is quick to point out, “I don’t do it alone. I get a lot of help from the library staff including technicians.”

“The custodians are good,” she emphasized. “They take good care of us.”

Some groups who give presentations, such as on CPR from the Red Cross, receive no compensation. They come in as part of community service. The Master Gardeners of Western Massachusetts also donate their time. This year, Shakespeare and Company will present an allvolunteer group performance of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”

“This is the same production you would pay $40 to attend,” Marilyn said and it will be presented with no cost to the public.Marilyn said she also gets financial assistance for

staying within the budget from cultural grants, such as from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

“All help contribute to the budget,” she said.

There have been many local authors who came to give presentations on books they have written. In addition, a young man from Pittsfield High gave a program on a state champion hockey team and it attracted a big audience, she said. A doctor who wrote about his profession, changing names of patients, also presented for the Friends.

The Friends have also offered programs via Zoom, Marilyn said. Another Friends member, Florian Ptak, hosted them. One of them was on a bird photographer.

“We were trying to think of things that would look good on a screen,” Marilyn said. There was also a presentation by a woman who photographed a trip from Rhode Island to Maine. “Next winter, we will do more Zoom,” she said.

In addition to her dedicated involvement in the Friends, Marilyn oversees the gift shop at Arrowhead, former home of

New England writer, Herman Melville. About 40 years ago, Marilyn worked there as a docent. After she retired from teaching, she started doing data entry at Arrowhead as a volunteer. Eventually, she was asked to take over the gift shop, which she has been doing ever since. One of her main jobs there is to order things for the shop.

How does she keep all her volunteering efforts together, including the Friends and Arrowhead? “Lots of sticky notes to keep things straight,” Marilyn chuckled. While being interviewed at the library for this story, she wore her blondish hair in a short style. She dressed casually in a blue and white shirt and pants. The shirt matched Marilyn’s blue eyes. How long does she plan to keep going strong in her many ways of giving back to the community? “I’ll know when it’s time to retire,” she said, with a smile.

For the sake of the Friends, Arrowhead, and the communityat-large, hopefully that won’t be any time soon.

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 19 235 Walker Street, Lenox, MA • 413-614-3400 LIFE C ARE & Y OU AT KIMB ALL FARMS You deserve a Life Care community with a reputation for stimulating social experiences, exceptional service, strong staffing and a welcoming, comfortable environment. No matter what your care needs are, the best will be available. Kimball Farms offers all this and more: • Financial security and long-term predictability • Estate preservation • Quality care no matter what your health care needs are • Guaranteed access to health care accommodations • Great personal peace of mind • The gift of a lifetime for your children “Living at Kimball Farms gives me the freedom to spend my time doing the things I enjoy.” Dave, Kimball Farms Life Care Resident 2013 GOLD To learn more, see more and meet people who do more, please call 413-614-3400 or visit Marketed & Managed by 176 Columbus Ave. Pittsfield, MA 413-443-9125 oconnellseniorliving com Let Us Welcome You Home Berkshiretown Apartments Appleton Managed Properties Providing Quality, Affordable “Smoke Free” Senior Living in Western and Central Massachusetts for over 40 years! Our Apartments ALWAYS Include • Rent is Income Based • All Utilities Included • Appliances & Window Coverings • On-Site Laundry • Elevator • Planned Activities • Professional Staff • Resident Services • Convenient Location • Controlled Entry • Private Balconies (for most apartments) • We are Pet Friendly • 24 Hour Emergency Maintenance Services Heat & Hot Water
ELDER FUN Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior , AprilMay 2024 20 North St East St Main St Dalton 413.442.5094 Scan to see our new planning book!
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