Berkshire Senior, January/February 2020

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SENIOR IO O 2020 Census Make the Berkshires Count! What you need to know about this year’s census. Pages 8-9

Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit You may be eligible for a refundable tax credit! Page 4

Your Care, Your Home, Your Neighbors

The care you need …

...The quality you expect!

Now Serv Serving ing Sou Souther thernn Berkshire Berkshire County!! County!!

If you or someone you love need help with any of the following tasks:

Grocery Shopping • Transportation • Light Housekeeping • Meal Preparation • Bathing • Personal Care • Companionship • Grooming • Dressing • Laundry • Medication Reminders • Assistance with therapeutic exercises

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January-February 2020

Call 413 413--354354-1400 For For Your FREE in Home Home Assessment! Assessment!


A day at Tanglewood is just one of the many ways our caregivers can help you or your loved one enjoy life!

515 Sheffiel Sheffield d Plai Plain n•P PO O Box Box 875 • S Sheffiel heffield d Massachuset Massachusetts• ts• 01257

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.


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Berkshire Senior Editorial Board: Deb Aldrich, Ginger Alexander, Bonny DiTomasso, Laura Feakes, Christopher McLaughlin, and John-Arthur Miller Advertising: To place an advertisement in Berkshire Senior, please contact Kate Teutsch at 413 496-6324 or e-mail advertising@ Berkshire Senior is published bi-monthly by Elder Services of Berkshire County, Inc., 877 South Street, Suite 4E, Pittsfield, MA 01201, 499-0524 or 1-800-544-5242, e-mail: or on the internet at www. NOTICE

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. The last time I wrote to you we were transitioning into autumn. Now we’re well into yet another transition, winter; even though winter doesn’t officially begin until next week. You never quite know what you’re going to get here in the Berkshires and this year was no exception with an early December storm that dumped nearly two feet of snow and a smaller one earlier this week. Speaking of snow and ice and cold weather in general, I want to acknowledge our office staff, kitchen staff, drivers, the people in the county’s meal sites, our staff who visit our clients and the direct care workers from our vendors (homemakers, home health aides, personal care attendants) who brave difficult driving conditions and traverse snowy/icy sidewalks and steps to make sure their neighbors receive their visits, services and meals. We are truly thankful for their dedication. Today my main focus in writing to you is to encourage you to participate in the 2020 Census. While it may seem a bit early to be thinking about a Census that won’t begin to “rev up” until March, the reality is that making folks aware the Census is coming and getting them to understand why an accurate Census count is so crucial may require multiple forms of communication from different sources. Like many of my colleagues from other local service organizations, I participate on the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission’s Complete Count Committee, the goal of which is to ensure that Berkshire County’s 2020 Census is as complete and accurate as possible. It was during one of these meetings that I heard a statistic that really struck me: every completed Census form yields $2,700 of state and federal funding for Berkshire County every year for 10 years. That statistic begins to put into perspective why your participation in the Census is so critical to you and to everyone who lives in Berkshire County. You will receive notice about the Census in early March and reminders over the next month until you complete the Census. If you live at another address part of the year (spend the winter in Florida) you should complete the census for your Berkshire address, assuming you spend most of the year here. It all comes down to the place where you spend the majority of your time. The preferred method for completing the survey is to go online at If you do not complete the Census online, you will be able to complete it over the phone or a via a paper survey you will receive in early April. If you don’t complete the Census by the beginning of May a Census representative will visit your home. The 2020 Census information will be used to determine the number of Berkshire County representatives in Congress and the Massachusetts legislature. MassHealth and Medicare funding, fuel assistance allocations, public safety and public transportation grants, Section 8 Housing, Head Start and unemployment funding decisions are all made based on Census information. If all of us don’t complete continued on page 5

Contents Elder Services Update .........3 2020 Census ...................... 8-9 Outreach ............................. 12 Finances ............................. 4-5 Caregiving .......................... 10 Junior Ambassador ........... 13 Donations .......................... 6-7 Nutrition Program ............. 11 Veterans Corner ................. 14

Volume 38, Number 1 January 2020 The bi-monthly newspaper for Berkshire County seniors Free

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January - February 2020

Elder Services sells advertising to defray costs. Inclusion of advertisers in no way implies that Elder Services endorses any product or service.

Make the Berkshires Count


Mission Statement



Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit You may be eligible for a refundable tax credit!

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January-February 2020

By Laura Feakes, Elder Services I & R Specialist


Certain seniors who own or rent residential property are eligible for a refundable tax credit – find out below if you qualify: The Circuit Breaker (CB) tax credit is offered to older persons in Massachusetts to offset high property tax bills. This tax break is called the “circuit breaker” because it is triggered like an electrical circuit breaker, when property tax payments (including water and sewer debt charges but excluding any abatement or exemption) exceed 10% of a person’s income for the same tax year. Even though the CB tax credit is based on your property tax payment, it is the state that pays you back – not your local city or town. To be eligible for the credit for the 2019 tax year you must be at least 65 years of age before January 1, 2020, own or rent a home or apartment in Massachusetts and occupy it as your principal residence. Your 2019 total income cannot exceed $60,000 for a single filer, $75,000 for a head of household, or $90,000 for married couples filing a joint return. For purposes of this credit, “total income” includes taxable income as well as exempt income such as social security, treasury bills, and public pensions. The assessed valuation of your property cannot be more than $808,000. If the taxpayer owns more than one acre of land, only the assessed value of the principal residence, together with the land that immediately surrounds and is associated with that residence, not to exceed one acre, should be used in determining the eligibility of the taxpayer for the credit. The

maximum credit allowed for tax year 2019 is $1,130. If you rent, the law assumes that 25% of your rent goes toward property taxes. A formula, based on actual rent paid during the calendar year, is used to determine the amount of an elder tenant’s CB credit. No credit is allowed if the taxpayer claims the married filing separate status, receives a federal or state rent subsidy, rents from a landlord who is not required to pay real estate taxes, or is the dependent of another taxpayer. You claim the credit by submitting a completed Schedule CB Worksheet and Schedule CB, Circuit Break Credit, with a 2019 state income tax return. If you do not normally file a state return because you don’t owe any state taxes, you still can take advantage of this tax break by filing a Form One plus the Schedule CB. You cannot apply online for the CB Credit with MassTaxConnect. If you’re eligible, complete Schedule CB with your Mass state income tax return, using your tax software. You can also print out the forms found online and mail them to the Mass DOR. Any credit received by an eligible taxpayer is not considered income for the purposes of obtaining eligibility or benefits under other meanstested assistance programs including food, medical, housing, and energy assistance programs. If you find yourself eligible, you can go back 3 tax years and claim the credit retroactively. For example, you have until April 15, 2020 to file for the circuit breaker tax rebate for 2016. If you filed a Form One, you must file a Form CA-6, which is an Application for

Abatement/Amended Return. Along with the amendment form, you submit a Schedule CB to calculate your credit. If you did not file Form 1, you must file Form 1 for that year now, together with Schedule CB. This must be completed within 3 years from the last day for filing the return, without regard to any extension of time to file. For more information, you can go to the Mass. Dept of Revenue website,, where you can download forms and detailed instructions. Or call the DOR toll-free at 1-800-392-6089. The DOR’s customer service call center hours for tax help are 8:30 am – 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. When you call the DOR 800 number, you will get an automated menu; press 2 for “personal”. Free tax preparation assistance

is also available until April 15th through the Tax-Aide Program sponsored by the AARP Foundation for all middle and low-income taxpayers, with special attention to those age 60 and older. Volunteers have been trained in cooperation with the IRS and will assist in filling out tax forms and then filing them electronically. You do not need to be a member of AARP or a retiree to use this service. Berkshire County sites offering this service are generally Senior Centers and are listed elsewhere in this edition of the Berkshire Senior. Elder Services Information and Referral (I & R) Department provides information about problems or issues relevant to seniors. I & R Specialists can be reached at 413-499-0524 or 1-800544-5242.

Help with Income Taxes Tax Year 2019 AARP Foundation Tax-Aide AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free, individualized tax preparation for low-to moderate-income taxpayers - especially those 50 and older, from February 1 – April 15, 2020. Find a location near you below and call for an appointment: Pittsfield Senior Center, 330 North St, 413-499-9346 Dalton Senior Center, 40 Field St Ext, 413-684-2000 Lenox Senior Center, 65 Walker St, 413-637-5535 Lee Senior Center, 21 Crossway St, 413-243-5545 Adams Senior Center, 3 Hoosac St, 413-743-8333 North Adams Senior Center, 116 Ashland St, 413-662-3125 Williamstown Senior Center, 118 Church St, 413-458-8250 Great Barrington Senior Center, 909 S Main St, 413-528-1881 VITA Program Berkshire county residents with a household income of $56,000 or less are eligible for free tax preparation by IRS certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance volunteers (VITA). Berkshire United Way currently supports the VITA program with staff, volunteers and funding to community partners. To make an appointment call one of the following: • Berkshire United Way for South County locations, 413-442-6948; • Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity for Central and North County locations, 413-442-0002; or • BCAC: for South and Central Berkshires, call 413-418-3685; for North Berkshires, call 413-663-3014. In addition, is an easy online tool that helps you file your taxes for free if you earn less than $66,000. The site offers free step-by-step guidance, is simple to use, and they provide assistance through email or online chat. Tax filing is completely free for both federal and state tax filing.

continued from page 3

Free AARP Tax-Aide Program Returns in February

REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION • Government issued photo ID • A Social Security card for the taxpayer and all dependents to be claimed; NOTE—Medicare cards will not be allowed for identification. • If filing a Massachusetts return and the taxpayer is over 65 also bring receipts for property taxes paid in 2019 and water and sewer bills (homeowners) or rent (renters) paid in 2019.

• copies of your 2018 Federal and State tax returns; • All documents showing wages, interest, dividends, and other income (W2s, 1099s, brokerage reports, Social Security, unemployment, selfemployment, etc.); • records of any estimated tax paid; • records of the original cost and date of purchase of any assets, such as stocks or a house, sold in 2019; • records of the original cost, sales tax, and date of purchase of a new car or purchase of a first home in 2019; • records of a foreclosure or cancellation of mortgage debt; • records of educational costs or student loan payments; • documentation of expenses if you wish to itemize deductions; • records of child care expenses (provider’s name, address, SSN/ EIN); • proof of health insurance; • Health insurance coverage information for taxpayer, spouse and all dependents; • Information showing what months they didn’t have health insurance coverage if they didn’t have it for the full year; • If health insurance was purchased through the Marketplace/Exchange then they should bring Form 1095-A, which should be received by January 31; • Documentation, if any, of a Health Care Exemption received from the IRS or the Marketplace/Exchange.

• Your privacy is protected! It’s against the law for the Census Bureau to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or your household. By law, your responses cannot be used against you and can only be used to produce statistics. • The Census or Census takers will never ask you for any of the following information: a. Political affiliation b. Social Security information c. Financial information of any kind • If a Census representative visits your house he or she will have credentials identifying him/herself as a Census employee and you will be able to access www.2020census. gov to confirm that the person is a legitimate Census representative. There is additional information regarding the 2020 Census in this edition of Berkshire Senior and we’ll include additional information in future editions to continue to keep you informed and up to date so that together we can Make the Berkshires Count. Until next time be good, be kind and be careful. Christopher McLaughlin is the Executive Director of Elder Services.

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Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January - February 2020

Free tax return preparation will be offered again at several locations in Berkshire, Hamden and Hampshire Counties, starting in February and continuing through mid-April 2020. The service is available to all middle and low-income taxpayers with special attention to those aged 60 and older. Volunteers trained and certified in cooperation with the IRS will assist in filing returns, either on paper or electronically. Taxpayers do not need to be a member of AARP or a retiree to use this service. Taxpayers are required to have the following documents when they arrive to get their returns completed. If they don’t have the documents, they could be asked to return at a later date, or even told that their return can’t be prepared until they have all the information. Taxpayers must have an appointment. To find a Tax-Aide location, go to the following internet address in January 2020 https://secure.aar applications/VMISLocator/ s e a r ch Ta x A i d e L o c at i o n s . action or call your local senior center.

the Census, these programs and others will experience funding decreases. As advocates for Berkshire County seniors Elder Services is very concerned about issues of safety and privacy. We’re happy to report the following as regards the 2020 Census:


Make the Berkshires Count



Thank You To Our Donors: The following donations were received during the time period of July 1, 2019 to November 30, 2019. Donations received on or after December 1, 2019 will appear in the next publication of the Berkshire Senior. Elder Independence Ms. Joan Andrews Mr. & Mrs. Robert Annelli Mr. & Mrs. Michael Capozzi Mr. & Mrs. Terry F. Cardin Ms. Virginia Cariddi Mr. & Mrs. Paul Charow Mr. John Donald Ms. Judi Drozd Mrs. Josephine Elling Ms. Paula Farbman Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Ferrarin, Sr. Ms. Bernice B. Filkins Mr. & Mrs. Serafin Garcia Mr. Steve Green Ms. Sally Green Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Green Mr. & Mrs. Harvey Hamelin Mr. & Mrs. Terrence Hanlon Mrs. Jean R. Kenyon Mr. & Mrs. William Ketcham Rev. & Mrs. Edward A King Knights of Columbus Berkshire Hills Council #314 Ms. Paula Kordana Mr. Kenneth Kulig Mrs. Monica Mandell Mrs. Helena Matthews

Ms. Betsey McKearnan Ms. Kathleen McMullen Mr. Wallace G. Morrison, Jr. Ms. Linda Mullany Mrs. Marcella Nevin Mr. Anthony Piscioneri Ms. Sara G. Pollard Mr. & Mrs. Daniel J. Pupo Mrs. Barbara G. Reddington Mr. & Mrs. William M. Reid Ms. Cynthia J. Sault Mr. & Mrs. Newell Skinner Mr. & Mrs. Walter Slosek Mr. George F Smith, Sr. Mr. & Mrs. Leonard F. Sniezek Mr. & Mrs. Wayne Tenney Ms. June A. Thomas Mr. & Mrs. David Thorne Mr. & Mrs. Val Tornicelli Ms. Nancy G. Torrico Ms. Liana Toscanini Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Uliasz Mr. & Mrs. John S. Vachula Ms. Jean Veazie Ms. Hilary Walker Mr. Richard Weiskel Ms. Lillian Winters Ms. Nancy Wyand

Meals on Wheels Ms. Mary Dickson Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Gordon Mr. David B. Grady Mr. George Munson Ms. Carol Perkins Dr. Eugene Talbot Thursday Morning Club

Memorial Donation In Memory of: Danny Albano Ms. Donna Albano In Memory of: Franziska Boas and Arthur Schleginger Ms. Carol Pinsky In Memory of: Marie Biron Ms. Marian Roper In Memory of: Norma Buratto Mr. & Mrs. G. Scott LePrevost In Memory of: Phillip and Amelia Cetti Mr. & Mrs. Richard Cetti In Memory of: Irene R. Dellea Ms. Karen Archey and Mr. Forest Frost Ms. Ann L. Archey

Berkshire Retirement Home Ms. Catherine A. Briggs Ms. Dawn M. Dellea Ms. Diana Fontana Ms. Kathleen Archey Kerwood and Mr. Shaun Kerwood Ms. Jody A Mathis Mrs. Dianna Pikul and Mr. Richard Pikul Ms. Donna Pimental Mrs. Elaine Rocheleau and Mr. Paul Rocheleau Ms. Sharon Shogry Ms. Gail Tetlow Mrs. Maureen Tuggey and Mr. Richard Tuggey In Memory of: Angela Fields Ms. Michelle McMurray Mr. & Mrs. John W. Philpott In Memory of: Mildred Ketcham Mr. & Mrs. Donald Brower Mr. & Mrs. Martin Brown Mr. & Mrs. Timothy Conroy Ms. Mary Lou Decker Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Furlong Mr. & Mrs. Edward Ladouceur Ms. Marilyn Sheehan

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January-February 2020

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Mr. Gene Silvagni Mr. Andrew Stephenson Mr. & Mrs. William Tchorz In Memory of: Helen Milukas Mr. & Mrs. George Milukas, Jr. Mr. Timothy O’Brien Mr. & Mrs. Michael Poirot Ms. Laurie Shea Mr. & Mrs. William Sturgeon In Memory of: Stephanie Pasternak Mrs. Barbara Feakes Ms. Donna Pasternak Mr. & Mrs. Larry Russett Mr. James Sadlowski Ms. Marcia M. Wright In Memory of: Mr. Glenn Rist Ms. Christine K. Bubriski Mr. & Mrs. Brett Chandler Ms. Colleen Donahue Ms. Lynn Goodale Ms. Margy Gwozdz Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Hajdas Ms. Corinne Keegan Lansen Mold Mr. & Mrs. David Mitowski Mr. Keith Palmer Ms. Linda Richards

Mr. & Mrs. J. John Rosier Mr. & Mrs. Paul Stawarz Mr. Halcyon Wheeler Ms. C. Nancy Woitkowski In Memory of: David Rogers Ms. Mary Rogers In Memory of: Andrew Scelsi Ms. Virginia Pasternak Mr. & Mrs. Robert Watroba In Memory of: Margaret Ann Wheeler Ms. Alyssa Kopp In Memory of: Guy Fragala Mr. & Mrs. Gaetano Fragala In Memory of: Thomas Prokopowicz Mr. Thomas Matuszak Ms. Patricia Whitney

General Donation Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Aasen Mr. & Mrs. Robert Annelli Mr. Thomas Arsenault Mr. Jon Bak Mr. & Mrs. John Barber Mrs. Jane Betti

Mr. & Mrs. George Kellar Mr. Winthrop D. Kie, Sr. Mr. Francis M Laundry Mr. & Mrs. Joel A. Less Marcia Brady Tucker Foundation Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Marko Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Mathews Mrs. Ursula McGowen Ms Connie Metall Mr. & Mrs. Richard Moon Mr. & Mrs. David Morton Mr. George Munson Ms. Ann Pannesco Mr. Stephen Pepper Mr. & Mrs. Wesley Petersen Mr. & Mrs. John W. Philpott Mr. & Mrs. William M. Reid

Mr. Philip Rennie Richard C. Donati Memorial Fund Attorney Alan J. Righi Dr. & Mrs. Herbert Rod Mrs. Florence Romaniak Ms. Helaine Rose Ms. Marilyn Shulklapper Mr. & Mrs. Joseph M. Tirrell Ms. Judith Trask Ms. Mary Verchot Ms. Gina Vinciguerra Mr. & Mrs. Norman V. Wilker Mr. Sergei Yantovsky Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Young, III

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Young at Heart Donors

Adams Community Bank

Silver Sponsor Health New England Adelson & Company CPA Molari Inc.

Advertisers Aladco Linen Services Ancestry Memorials, Inc Berkshire Healthcare Systems Berkshire Hills Coins & Estate Jewelry Berkshire Tech Associates C.R.T. Cabulance Clifford Oil Company Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook LLP

Committee to Elect Melissa Mazzeo CompuWorks Currency Coffee, Inc. Dery Funeral Home Flynn & Dagnoli Funeral Homes Greylock Federal Credit Union John & Mary Philpott Martin & Oliveira LLP MadMacs Mazzeo’s Ristorante Mountainview Home Care Renaissance Investment Group, LLC Richard R. Tuggey, Builder

RJ Stohr Diamonds & Fine Jewelry Smith Green & Gold, LLP Toni Fontana

Donation Mr. & Mrs. William Sturgeon

Silent Auction Contributions Spirited Wines Benson’s Pet Center Blue Q Bella Flora Charland Jewelers Hancock Shaker Village Norman Rockwell Museum Berkshire West Athletic Club

Phoenix Theatres Nejaime’s Wine & Spirits Snowshoe Farm Berkshire Biscotti BJs Wholesale Club Guidos David Gage Nancy’s Chocolates and Confections Performance Food Services Peter Marchetti Price Chopper Electra’s Café Gray Raven Farm Linda’s Pastries

413-499-1750 234 Wahconah Street Pittsfield MA 01201 MONUMENTS • MARKERS • LETTERING

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January - February 2020

In celebration of their 45th anniversary, Elder Services of Berkshire County Inc. was proud to present the CNN Champions of Change T h e Yo u n g @ H e a r t Chorus at the Colonial Theatre, S u n d a y, September 22. From The New York Times to TIME, The Ellen Show to The Daily Show this group of seniors, ranging in age from 73-92, has performed from Northampton to New Zealand, Europe to Japan, on over 30 international tours and was most recently recognized as one of CNN’s 2019 Champions of Change. On September 22 they brought their Woodstock inspired show to the Colonial Theatre to benefit the Berkshire County Meals on Wheels Program. The Young@Heart concert raisied over $9,000 for Elder Services’ programs and services. The show offered the audience much more than entertainment; it was an opportunity to see people with great life experience so alive and full of energy and joy. An afternoon with the Young@Heart Chorus proved that it is “possible to grow old without growing boring.” We would like to thank the following sponsors, donors, advertisers and supporters that made the performance possible:

Diamond Sponsor


Mr. & Mrs. Ronald H. Bourgoin Mrs. Josephine Buzzanco Ms. Teresa Caldwell Cheshire Lions Club Mr. & Mrs. Robert F. Cimini Dr. & Mrs. Joel L. Colker Mr. Norman K. Durkee Mr. & Mrs. Frank Engels Great Barrington Police Association Local 350 Mr. & Mrs. Claire Gulick Mr. Donald Hagberg Mr. & Mrs. Terrence Hanlon Ms. Mary M. Hayes Mr. Everett Heiss Mr. Joshua Karabu Mr. & Mrs. George Keator



Make the Berkshires Count! In 2020, the U.S. must count everyone in the country. It is called the Census. The Census is used to deter mine our representatives in Congress and the Massachusetts legislature. The Census will also be used to decide how much state and federal dollars are sent to our area for a wide range of programs. Some of the programs that use Census data include • MassHealth. Medicare, and Medicaid • Public Safety Grants • Public Transportation Funding • Fuel Assistance If you do not fill out the Census, these programs could lose money in our area and we can lose seats in Congress and the State Legislature. We need you to be counted! You will get a notice about

the Census in early March and reminders over the next month. When you get the notice, please go online to fill out the census. If you do not complete the Census, a worker will visit your home between May and July 2020 to get the information from you. The Census is completely confidential and no personal information submitted is shared with any other government agency. The Census will never ask for your social security number, bank or credit card numbers or money. This Census will be online for the first time and it is safe. If you do not have a computer, check your local library, senior center, or city/ town hall for hours when you can complete the census on a computer there. If you feel uncomfortable with the online survey and do not respond to it, a paper survey will be sent to you

in the mail in early April that you can use instead. What happens if you spend the winter in another state but live the rest of the year in the Berkshires? You will likely receive the Census at both of your addresses. If you live in the Berkshire’s more than anywhere else, you should be filling out the Census for your Berkshire address. It doesn’t matter where you are when you get the survey or if you pay taxes, vote, or register your vehicle in another state, it all comes down to where you spend most of your time – the place you call home. Make the Berkshires Count! Please fill out your Census form online or in paper:

Avoiding Fraud and Scams

Census Takers in Your Neighborhood

The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to making the 2020 Census quick, easy, and safe for all participants. Here are some tips to help you stay safe.

This is a normal part of preparations for the 2020 Census. Census Bureau employees will also be in the community to continue collecting information for the American Community Survey and other ongoing surveys.

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January-February 2020

Avoiding Scams Online


Phishing is a criminal act in which someone tries to get your information by pretending to be an entity that you trust. Phishing emails often direct you to a website that looks real but is fake—and may be infected with malware. It is important to know that the Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 Census. Further, during the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask for: • Your Social Security number. • Your bank account or credit card numbers. • Money or donations. In addition, the Census Bureau will not contact you on behalf of a political party. Staying Safe at Home If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, you can do the following to verify their identity: • First, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. • If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 800-9238282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. Reporting Suspected Fraud If you suspect fraud, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.

How Can You Verify That Someone Is a Census Worker? If someone visits your home to collect information for the 2020 Census, you can do the following to verify their identity: • First, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. • If you still have questions about their identity, you can contact your Regional Census Center to speak with a Census Bureau representative. Why Are Census Workers Out in Communities? You might see census takers in your neighborhood for a few different reasons: • They are verifying addresses in preparation for the census. • They are collecting responses to the census or another survey. • They are dropping off census materials. • They are conducting quality checks related to the census. Be Proactive By April 1, 2020, all homes will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. The best way to avoid a followup visit from a census taker is to fill out the 2020 Census questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail as soon as you receive your invitation to participate.

By April 1, 2020, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. Overall Timeline Counting every person living in the United States is a massive undertaking, and efforts begin years in advance. Here’s a look at some of the key dates along the way: • April 1, 2020: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. When you respond to the census, you tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020. • April 2020: Census takers begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among

large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count. • May 2020: The Census Bureau begins visiting homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to make sure everyone is counted. • December 2020: The Census Bureau delivers apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law. • March 31, 2021: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw le gislative districts based on population changes. Census Day 2020 April 1 is Census Day, a key reference date for the 2020 Census. When completing the census, you will include everyone living in your home on April 1. Census Day will be celebrated with events across the country.

Did You Know…


By law, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. That’s protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code.

Your response matters. Health clinics. Fire departments. Schools. Even roads and highways. The census can shape many different aspects of your community.

Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year.

The results determine how many seats in Congress each state gets.

It’s mandated by the U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 2: The U.S. has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.

Our Legal Duty To Protect Your Information The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential. Under Title 13, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. The law ensures that your private data is protected and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics. You are kept anonymous: The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or anyone else in your home. Data Protection and Privacy Program Being responsible stewards of your data is not only required by law, it is embedded in Census Bureau culture. Strict policies and statistical safeguards help protect the confidentiality of your information. Before releasing data products, the Census Bureau verifies that they meet its confidentiality standards.

Your privacy matters. Every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. When you respond to the census, your answers are kept anonymous. They are used only to produce statistics. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. The law ensures that your private information is never published and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January - February 2020

How the Census Bureau Protects Your Data The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. In fact, every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life.


Important Dates



Caregiving Changes Your Life by Joseph Choon, Caregiver Coordinator, Elder Services of Berkshire County, Inc. Caring for a loved one or a significant other can be a daunting task. Each caregiver, who they are caring for and their relationship is unique. The people are as individual as a snowflake or fallen autumn leaf. Many caregivers experience a whole range of issues: stress, anger, isolation, a feeling of abandonment from friends and family, questioning self, financial burden, and a loss of a sense of fulfillment. When a caregiver is caring for someone with a progressive disease like Alzheimer’s or other dementias, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, or many other illnesses, their caregiving also becomes progressive. At early onset, caregiving requires only a few minutes a couple of days per

week. Gradually those few minutes change to a few hours and then a few hours daily and then to 24/7 care. The caregiver’s responsibilities change along with the progression. At first, the changes can be subtle. Then the care recipient may require assistance with walking, bathing, dressing or cooking. It may be that the care recipient can no longer balance a checkbook or manage their finances. These changes require the caregiver to take on these tasks. Over time, the caregiver emotionally and physically can hit a wall. They may ask themselves, “How did I get here?” They are experiencing caregiver burnout. C a r e g ive r b u r n o u t c a n be emotional and physical. Care givers may experience depression, feelings of anger or guilt, engage in alcohol or drug abuse, gain or lose weight, experience changes in sleep, fatigue and many other

symptoms. Caregivers are special people. Not all of us have the ability or willingness to take on the commitment that caregivers make. You may ask is there help available? The answer is yes. You can take advantage of resources in our local community. Many of these resources are free of charge. There are many Caregiver Support Groups in Berkshire County. Specif ic trainings such as Powerful Tools for Caregivers or Savvy Caregiver are usually one day a week for two hours and last for six weeks. Often caregivers need help w i t h b e i n g s t re s s e d ove r care giving responsibilities, with the difficulty of balancing job, family and care giving commitments, help with feelings of anxiety, anger, loss and/or sadness because of caregiving. If the person they are caring for is 60 years of age or older Elder Services can help. If you are caring for someone

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January-February 2020

Take it From Those Who Know Us Best Berkshire Healthcare – A Community of Caring Berkshire Healthcare is proud to provide superior care to the residents who call our community home. From senior housing to skilled nursing, memory care, hospice and palliative care, and short and long-term rehabilitation, we strive for effective, high quality outcomes for even the most complex medical conditions.



We’re Perfecting the Art of Superior Care. 10

CAREGIVER DISCUSSION GROUPS Joe Choon leads monthly caregiver discussion groups. • 2nd Tuesday, 10 - 11:30 a.m., at Elder Services • 3rd Wednesday, 1 - 2:30 p.m., at Gt. Barrington COA • 4th Thursday, 1 - 2:30 p.m., at North Adams’ Spitzer Center New members always welcome. There is no charge. Come for conversation, support, & helpful information. For information call 499-0524.

under the age of 60 who has an Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, physical disability, developmental disability or mental illness. Elder Services a n d i t s Fa m i ly C a re g ive r Support Program are wonderful resources. If you or someone you know wants to access these resources please contact the Information and Referral Department at (413) 499-0524.

“After I was in a bad car accident, I spent almost three weeks in Williamstown Commons’ worldclass rehab program. The intensive rehab process exceeded my high expectations. Williamstown Commons is truly a community of healing.” – Resident, Berkshire Healthcare Affiliate, June 2018


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Elder Services of Berkshire County, Inc. is Awarded a MCOA Behavioral Health Grant by Maureen Tuggey Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA) awarded Elder Services one of two Elder Mental Health Outreach Team (EMHOT) Grants for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, to help meet the needs of older adults with untreated or undiagnosed behavioral health conditions residing in Berkshire County. The program began October 1, 2019, with the goal of providing flexible, person-centered, shortterm interventions to older adults who are at risk of self-neglect and may be socially isolated, either by rural geography, fractured relationships with family and friends or by the person’s choice. A unique aspect of the program is the ability for a clinician to meet in a setting of the older adult’s choice, including his or her own home. Given the rural nature of our county and the transportation


Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January-February 2020

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challenges Berkshire residents of all ages face, offering inhome behavioral health support is critical for older adults. In addition to traditional counseling, the clinician can help individuals access goods and services such a SNAP benefits, transportation, f u e l a s s i s t a n c e, h o u s i n g application, etc., to help alleviate stress and reduce anxiety. T h e o b j e c t ive o f e a c h intervention is for the clinician to establish a trusting, nonjudgmental relationship with the older adult, ensuring they are at the center of treatment, and care planning. The complexity of some EMHOT cases will involve frequent home or office visits, phone calls and meeting with other organizations and additional collaborative efforts to work towards a solution. At a mutually agreed upon point of the engagement, the clinician will assist the older adult secure longterm counseling services with local providers such as the Brien Center and Clinical Support Options. The Berkshire County EMHOT includes Elder Services of Berkshire County’s Behavioral Health Clinician, Will Turner, LICSW, and Jill Lebar, LMHC, EMHOT Clinician. Will has more than 30-years’ experience treating older adults in a variety of settings including; skilled nursing facilities, hospital based psychiatric units, community behavioral health agencies and private practice. He is the contact person for program

Jill Lebar, LMHC, EMHOT Clinician And Behavioral Health Clinician Will Turner, LICSW, administer the new Elder Mental Health Outreach Team Grant . referrals and is responsible for developing and supervising the clinical components of the program. Jill Lebar assumed her responsibilities as the EMHOT clinician in October. Like Will, Jill has a wealth of behavioral health experience and clinical depth that is an asset to this program. She not only has experience working with individuals with behavioral health needs in both residential and community settings; she was employed by Somerville Cambridge Elder Services for nearly a decade as a Protective Services Case Worker and a Coordinator in their Alzheimer’s Family Support Program. In addition to the interventions described above, Will and Jill are collaborating with local Councils on Aging to offer on-site support groups throughout the county. These monthly groups will be tailored to meet the needs of

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the older adults in each area. In addition, there is an opportunity to utilize social work student interns as a way expand the program’s capacity. It is important to note there is no cost for the EMHOT program and older adults do not need to be an existing client of Elder Services of Berkshire County to receive services. Referrals can be made on behalf of Berkshire County residents, 60 years of age or older, who have a behavioral health diagnosis or exhibit the symptoms of one, and are not receiving treatment or have refused treatment. Diagnoses may include, but are not limited to substance use disorder, depression due to grief, social isolation, unresolved trauma and hoarding disorder. To make a referral for the EMHOT program, please contact Will Turner, LICSW, at 413-499-0524 x 156. Individuals requiring immediate crisis intervention are not appropriate for the EMHOT program and referrals should be made to the Brien Center’s Crisis Team at 1-800-252-0227, 24 hours a day/7 days per week. Funding for this project has been produced in part from a grant awarded to the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Elder Services of Berkshire County, Inc.


Junior Ambassadors Kaitlyn Martyny of Windsor is our Newest, Junior Ambassador Kaitlyn, age 10, is a student in Teresa Bills 5th Grade class at Craneville Elementary School in Dalton. As part of the “Giving Project” Ms. Bills encourages her students to research a local charity or cause and to develop an activity to help raise funds and awareness for their organization. Kaitlyn decided she wanted to raise funds and awareness for Elder Services’ Elder Nutrition Program, more commonly known as Meals on Wheels. For Kaitlyn, Elder Services seemed an appropriate organization to learn more about as her mother, Darbie Koczela, serves as a Client Services Coordinator at Elder Services. For the project she chose, Kaitlyn sold baked goods and homemade wooden coasters to raise money for the Meals on Wheels Program. Her Dad and brother helped make the coasters using the wood from a tree in their yard. Kaitlyn set up a table and display for two weeks at The Dalton United Methodist Church after Sunday morning services. The support of the community helped Kaitlyn raise $175.00 for the Meals on Wheels Program! Kaitlyn is truly an ambassador not only for Elder Services but for others in need in her community. She also volunteers at Dalton United Methodist Church’s food pantry where she stocks shelves and helps carry bags for elders who visit the pantry.

Memory Cafes are a national movement begun about 10 years ago in New Mexico and now spread throughout the country. They provide a time for people with dementia and their caregivers to have an hour of pleasure together, experiencing creative, interactive fun and then to meet and socialize with others in their community who share a similar life experience. They are safe, free, and accessible to people of all skill levels,while being genuinely interesting. Sponsored by Melbourne Place and held in the Garage Space of the Colonial Theater, they are interactive, free programs with a variety of activities. Here’s the upcoming schedule: Tuesday January 14 Drumming with Otha Day Tuesday February 11 Music and Singing with Andy Kelly Tuesday March 10 Singing with Doug Schmolze Tuesday April 14 Dance with Berkshire Pulse Tuesday May 12 Fun with Roger the Jester Tuesday June 9 Chair Dance with Sandy Newman All programs are from 2:00-3:00 with time for socializing and refreshments at the end

PHS Culinary Class The Culinary Department class at Pittsfield High School recently helped serve the holiday meal at the Ralph Froio Senior Center in Pittsfield. The guests and students both enjoyed the day as they shared stories, smiles and a meal. Student chef Savannah Gervais excitedly stated she had a made a few new friends and the seniors seemed to share that sentiment. When asked how the students felt about the day, they stated “it felt good to see smiling faces, and to give back to the community, “ and another shared “it made me happy to help other people.” From the smiles on the faces of the seniors as the students made their way around the room serving the meal and the laughter and conversation that carried the hall, it was a great day for everyone. Front to Back: Francesca Cimini, Brandon Gervais, Savanah Gervais, — Aaron Cassavant, Alex DeVaughn, and Colby Rooney.

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January - February 2020

Memory Cafe

Left to right: Aaron Cassavant, Colby Rooney, Mr. Eddy, Francesca Cimini, Savanah Gervais, Brandon Gervais, James Lucky, Ms. Clement, and Alex DeVaughn.



Its not too late to apply for fuel assistance! By Laura Feakes, Information & Referral Specialist, Elder Services. If you have been having difficulty paying to heat your home this winter, you might be eligible for fuel assistance. There are a few agencies that may still have funds available: Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC, www.bcacinc. org) – Eligibility is based on household size and annual income. This heating season the income limit for a 1 person household is $37,600, for 2 persons $48,855. New applications are accepted until April 30. They help with deliverable fuel such as oil, wood, pellets, propane &

kerosene, as well as utility and heat included-in-rent. Call 413445-4503 (Pittsfield office), 6633014 (North County) or use their automated system 1-866-216-6200. Salvation Army- administers two emergency fuel assistance funds. The Good Neighbor Energy Fund helps qualified residents in Massachusetts pay electric, gas, and oil bills when, due to temporary financial difficulty, they can’t meet their energy expenses and they aren’t eligible for state or federal assistance. Income for either the prior twelve months or the past month (times 12 months for a total annual figure) must fall between 60 – 80% percent of

the state’s median income levels (2019-2020: 1 person household $37,360 - $49,812; 2 person $48,855 - $65,140) The Pittsfield Salvation Army also administers the Emergency Fuel Fund of the Pittsfield Area Council of Congregations. This fund provides one-time grants of 100 gallons of heating oil to eligible families who have exhausted all other forms of fuel assistance during the heating season. For more information about eligibility criteria and to apply, call Pittsfield Corps 413-442-0624 (298 West St) or North Adams Corps 663-7987 (393 River St), or toll free 800-262-1320. Veterans’ Services has a program known as Ch. 115 that provides cash and medical a s s i s t a n c e t o l ow - i n c o m e Massachusetts wartime veterans and their families who are in need of immediate help, including help with fuel. To determine eligibility call the Veterans Services Officer

in your area: 528-1580 (South County), 662-3040 (North County), and 499-9433 (Pittsfield area) or visit or the online Massachusetts Veteran Benefit Calculator, MassVetBen. org. An important reminder… Massachusetts law prevents electric and gas companies from shutting off service between November 15th– March 15th if the service is used to heat your house. There are additional shut-off protections for people in special situations such as senior (65 yrs or over) households, low-income families with infants, and people with serious illness who cannot afford to pay their utility bills. For more information contact your utility company or Elder Services’ Information & Referral Department, 413-499-0524.

Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January-February 2020

New online tool helps Mass. veterans determine if they qualify for financial aid


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.

A 2017 audit of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services showed thousands of qualified veterans eligible for cash assistance may not be receiving benefits under the Chapter 115 benefits program (Ch. 115). The Massachusetts legislature had created Ch. 115 benefits as another source of income for struggling veterans in need, providing aid for food, housing, clothing and medical care to veterans and their dependents. Payments may be one-time or ongoing and can provide monthly benefits ranging from a few dollars a month to over a thousand dollars a month. Some veterans may have assumed they weren’t eligible while others might feel overwhelmed by filling out paperwork. It’s also likely that many didn’t even know the benefits existed. To remedy ignorance of Ch115, the state, with the help of The Veterans Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School recently launched an online tool, the Massachusetts Veteran Benefit Calculator (, to help veterans, dependents, and survivors assess their eligibility for financial assistance through the Ch 115 benefits program. The Calculator asks users a series of anonymous questions about income and expenses and then provides an estimate of how much they are likely to receive. It also gives them the information for their local Veterans’ Service Officer so they can apply. The online tool is not in itself an application, but can be a great way for veterans or survivors to get started on the application process. The Calculator only takes a few minutes to complete and can be used on a phone or tablet. You can Download or email yourself a copy of your answers, as well as view and download a list of documents you should bring when you meet with your VSO. It’s simple – so stop wondering if you are eligible and get started now by visiting!


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Elder Services’ Berkshire Senior, January - February 2020

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