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Blue Slipper Stories

Widows’ Guild Newsletter ̵ February 2020

Widows are especially vulnerable to feelings of isolation after they lose their life partner, and making new connections later in life may require a little extra effort. A few ways to build a social circle and to find people who share common interests include volunteering in your community, joining a gym or taking a class. For Masonic widows, you can add the Widows’ Guild to that list.

MAKING NEW CONNECTIONS THROUGH THE MASONIC WIDOWS’ GUILD By Linda M. Jackson, Relations Administrator

Did you know that friends can strengthen your immune system, help you recover more quickly from an illness, sharpen your memory or even help you live longer? I recently read an article entitled “The Importance of Friends as You Age.” The article pointed out that social connections improve both physical and mental health, and one study famously concluded that loneliness and lack of social connections can be as detrimental to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. According to similar studies, people with strong social connections to friends and family have a 50% greater chance of outliving those with fewer social ties. Research consistently shows that friend relationships are as important as family ties in predicting psychological well-being in adulthood and old age.

In addition to informing widows about the programs and services available to them, the Guild provides an opportunity for widows to meet at Guild events and forge new friendships through their special common bond. Because we recognize the importance of social connections, we are currently collecting contact information from widows who would like to be included in the Widows’ Guild Directory, which will be updated and distributed later this year. Throughout the year, we host Widows’ Guild events to welcome new members and provide an opportunity for existing members to fellowship while getting to know new members. It is not uncommon for ladies to reconnect with old friends with whom they have lost touch, which makes these events even more meaningful. It is our hope that from these gatherings, leaders will emerge and local groups will form, building new social connections for widows. So, the next time you receive an invitation to a Widows’ Guild event, think about making a new friend and improving your health. If you would like more information about receiving your Blue Slipper pin and joining the Guild, or if you would like to add your contact information to the directory, please give me a call at 1-800-599-6454.


CHANGES ARE COMING TO YOUR IRA At the end of 2019, Congress passed legislation that includes a variety of changes to retirement accounts, including IRAs. Outlined below are highlights of the changes in the law which any IRA account owner should be aware of: 1. The Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) will now increase from 70 1/2 to 72 years of age for anyone turning 70 1/2 after Dec. 31, 2019. 2. Parents can withdraw up to $5,000 from an IRA within a year of a child’s birth or adoption without penalty, but they must pay income tax on the withdrawal. 3. Individuals who inherit an IRA from people who die after Dec. 31, 2019, must take the money out of the IRA and pay all taxes due within 10 years, with exceptions for spouses, minor children and heirs who are chronically ill or disabled. Some commentators say that this 10-year rule applies to regular and Roth IRA accounts. This could have a profound impact on many heirs of large IRA accounts. 4. The minimum age for Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) is not changed by the law. QCDs can still be made to a charity without being taxed for anyone age 70 1/2 or older. A more detailed article on this topic will be available in the Spring edition of the “Blitz” newsletter. Attorney Alvin H. Blitz will specifically address the use of the charitable remainder trust to extend the time period beyond 10 years for inherited IRAs. If you are not receiving the “Blitz” at this time, please contact me or the Gift Planning Office at 1-800599-6454 to register for the “Blitz.”

LOVE YOUR HEART: WOMEN AND HEART DISEASE Since 1964, February has been designated as American Heart Month to help raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and how to prevent it. Long thought of as a man’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, accountable for about one in every five female deaths. About one in 16 women age 20 and older have coronary heart disease, even though many women will not experience their first heart attack until age 70. The symptoms of heart disease in women can be very different than the symptoms experienced by men, and some women have no symptoms at all. Women tend to have symptoms more often when resting or even when sleeping. Listed below are symptoms that may indicate heart disease: • Dull and heavy or sharp chest pain or discomfort • Pain in the neck, jaw or throat • Pain in the upper abdomen or back • Symptoms may be combined with nausea, vomiting, fatigue or indigestion. You can reduce your risk of heart disease by making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, managing your stress and exercising regularly. It is also important to know your risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Keeping your heart healthy will reduce your risk for a heart attack and will also improve your quality of life. Be sure to discuss your risk factors or any symptoms that may indicate cardiovascular disease with your physician. Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association

OUTREACH SERVICES PROVIDES COMFORT FOR WIDOWS “For the last four years, I haven’t been able to buy some of the basic necessities. My husband would be very happy to know Outreach was here for me. You wouldn’t expect something like this to happen … so you’re just left with everything, and it’s hard.” This is a statement of gratitude from a widow whose 52-year-old husband died unexpectedly during a routine hernia surgery. Suddenly faced with choosing between purchasing necessary items such as medication and food or paying the monthly


household bills, she was thankful for the services she received after her husband passed away. Pennsylvania Masons truly have impacted her life, and she feels a great deal of comfort knowing that they will not abandon her. Oftentimes, in the midst of their grief, widows must face financial and health challenges alone. A spouse’s death is one of the most heart-wrenching events in a person’s life, and because they tend to live longer, women are more like than men to lose a spouse. Masonic widows can take some comfort in knowing that help is merely a phone call away. The Masonic Outreach Program offers a helping hand, whether your need is planning for the future, dealing with needs related to health issues or accessing information on local and state services. • Volunteer attorneys and financial advisors are available to provide counsel to widows who are unable to afford the cost of these professional services. For many widows, this is the first time they have the sole responsibility for making legal and financial decisions, and navigating these unfamiliar waters can leave widows feeling overwhelmed and anxious. It is important to seek advice from a trusted source. Our volunteer advisors are members of the Masonic fraternity, Eastern Star, or family members or friends of Masonic Villages. • The Loan Closet offers durable medical equipment, such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers, canes, shower chairs and other varied items, on a short-term basis at no cost. This is a helpful resource for caregivers, since finding such items is a challenge and can place a financial burden on a widow or her family. • Through the Dementia and Caregiver Support and Education Group, caregivers have the opportunity to share experiences and learn about various resources through this monthly group (which is affiliated with the Alzheimer’s Association). Find dates and times at www. MasonicOutreach.org or by calling 717-3671121, ext. 33164.

For more information on the Masonic Outreach Program, call 1-800-462-7664, or contact Linda Jackson, Relations Administrator, at 1-800-5996454 or lmjackson@masonicvillages.org.

RESOURCE CORNER: WHERE CAN I FIND HELP WITH TRANSPORTATION? For some older adults, finding adequate, affordable transportation can be a challenge. One option is public transportation in your local community and, in Pennsylvania, discounts are available for those age 65 and older. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s website, public transportation is available in every county in Pennsylvania, with a wide range of services including: • Fixed-route transit service in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, 21 small urban areas and 22 rural areas; • 44 systems offering shared-ride services in 67 counties; • 13 inter-city bus routes; • Keystone Corridor Amtrak service, running from Harrisburg to New York by way of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvanian Amtrak service running from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia; and • 66 counties with rural transportation for persons with disabilities. A complete list of county transportation services can be found at https://gis.penndot.gov/ transitmap. For the tech savvy, services such as Uber and Lyft can provide door-to-door transportation 24/7 in most communities. For more information on transportation and other services, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Aging at www.aging.pa.gov or by calling 1-800-753-1550 or 717-783-1550.


Masonic Outreach Program One Masonic Drive Elizabethtown, PA 17022

Blue Slipper Stories

Widows’ Guild Newsletter ̵ February 2020

Contact Us

If you or someone you know is interested in the services offered by the Masonic Outreach Program

Masonic Outreach Program One Masonic Drive Elizabethtown, PA 17022 1-800-462-7664 outreach@masonicvillages.org www.masonicvillages.org/outreach If you want to be removed from our mailing list, please contact us and let us know.

In This Issue... MAKING NEW CONNECTIONS THROUGH THE MASONIC WIDOWS’ GUILD CHANGES ARE COMING TO YOUR IRA LOVE YOUR HEART: WOMEN AND HEART DISEASE OUTREACH SERVICES PROVIDES COMFORT FOR WIDOWS RESOURCE CORNER: WHERE CAN I FIND HELP WITH TRANSPORTATION? The Pennsylvania Masonic Widows’ Guild is in place to recognize, honor and support the widows of Pennsylvania Masons. If you have questions about the Widows’ Guild, or would like to become a member and receive your blue slipper pin, please call Relations Administrator, Linda Jackson, at 1-800-599-6454

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Blue Slipper Stories  

The Pennsylvania Masonic Widows’ Guild is in place to recognize, honor and support the widows of Pennsylvania Masons.

Blue Slipper Stories  

The Pennsylvania Masonic Widows’ Guild is in place to recognize, honor and support the widows of Pennsylvania Masons.

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