Are you having trouble loading this page? Click here to view a text-only version.

MOW banner 2018 6

Carol FooteCarol Foote

With the Meals on Wheels Walkathon season upon us, I had the opportunity to walk and chat with members of the Warwick Walkers, who send a walk team to the annual fundraiser for Meals on Wheels. Present were Fredericka Fellows, Carol Foote (my mother-in-law, who offered me the invitation), Betsy Lochhead, Anne Miner, Nancy King, Nancy Kilhart, and her adult daughter, Sherry Fantoli.

The Warwick Walkers is a group that has been around, in varying constellations, for 25 years. Anyone is welcomed to walk along with the current good-humored and energetic members.  They hold to a schedule of walking around 9 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and their route is a two-mile roundtrip stretch on Hastings Pond Road. Some complete the distance while others manage what they can, but they all look forward to the quick check-in as the slower group comes together with the faster group.

March 2018 Walk Box Warwick Walkers photo WEBD. Carol Foote (left) and Betsy Lochhead (right) of the Warwick Walkers take their regular trek on a recent Friday. The women are part of a group that supports the Meals on Wheels program at LifePath by fundraising and sending a team to the annual Meals on Wheels Walkathon.On Fridays, after walking, they gather at one of their homes for coffee and varied conversation. Nancy King shares, “Sometimes there are 12 (walkers) and sometimes there are 4, but we all try to make it for coffee, whether we walk or not.” This Friday, Carol hosted the group.

Chatting from the moment they enter, everyone makes themselves at home, filling their mugs with coffee and winding their way to the dining room. Carol declares, “We never run out of conversation – EVER!” That morning they covered family updates, travel, parenting lessons they tried to teach, lima beans, kindling, and more.

No matter the content, they agree that gathering together is the most important part of the Warwick Walkers group. Nancy Kilhart shared that, during a recent physical, her doctor asked about her exercise routine. She reported that she walks three days a week, attends an exercise class, and visits with her walking group over coffee on Fridays. He responded, “Perhaps the most important thing that you do is to visit with that group.”

It was following the death of Carol’s husband when she became a Warwick Walker. Her friend Betsy simply asked, “Would you like to walk with us?” A friendly support system existed and was ready to include her when she needed it. She’s now been walking for almost 20 years.

As these women walked and talked, ate and laughed, it was easy for all of us to appreciate that food and company is such a vital combination. The members of the Warwick Walkers group mirror the same important elements that the Meals on Wheels program offers, and they recognize the importance of this programs’ availability to our local elders.

Take some inspiration from the Warwick Walkers and help to make sure no elder is alone, forgotten, or hungry. Offer your support by participating in the Meals on Wheels Walkathon on Saturday, April 28, 2018. From 8 to 11 a.m., at LifePath, 101 Munson Street, Greenfield. To register as a walker or form a walk team, contact Lisa Middents, development manager, at (413) 773-5555, ext. 2225, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or click here.

Steve McKnight serves elders and his community with Rides for Health

One day, after Steve McKnight retired from a long career with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation about three years ago, he was browsing through the newspaper when he came across a description of a new program at LifePath that was seeking volunteers.

“I thought, well, maybe I'll just give it a call and see what it's about,” says Steve.

After that phone call, Steve trained to be one of the first volunteers with Rides for Health. “We had a half-day training session that was very good,” says Steve. “They basically trained us in what we needed to do.” Trained volunteers in the Rides for Health program offer door-through-door assisted transportation to elders and persons with disabilities enrolled in LifePath’s Home Care program who needed help getting to places like their doctor’s office or pharmacy.

March 2018 AVS A Volunteers Story R4H Rides for Health Steve McKnight photo WEBSteve McKnight (right) volunteers with Rides for Health at LifePath to offer door-through-door assisted transportation to Donna Gates (left) and her mother Martha Shibilo (front), helping to ensure they are able to get to and from their medical appointments and the pharmacy.Rides for Health Program Director Trevor Boeding matched Steve with a mother and daughter, Martha Shibilo and Donna Gates, who live together in Montague and do not drive. Both are fond of Steve.

“Steve is a very good match for us. He's very kind, he's very caring,” says Donna. “He's one of the nicest men you could ever meet.”

“I just call him and ask him if he can pick me up at a certain time, and he's right there. Hasn't refused me yet,” laughs Martha.

“He will come to the house, probably 15, 20 minutes early. He comes to the door,” says Donna. “Every time he picks us up and he leaves us, my mom always says, ‘What a nice man he is.’ And he is. He's a terrific man. And he's got a wicked sense of humor and he puts up with us.”

“He's got a big sense of humor,” Martha agrees, “and we enjoy him and don't know what we'd do without him.”

“They’re good people,” says Steve. “They're very easy to deal with and to bring to their appointment. When I pick them up for their appointment, a lot of times Martha now has to be in the wheelchair. I'll wheel her in and I'll sit with Martha and Donna in the waiting room, whatever doctor's office it might be. And we just talk and visit, and I wait for them and then bring them back home.”

The volunteer training covered how to assist those who may need extra help with mobility or accessibility issues, so Steve feels prepared. He has even gone above and beyond by taking the initiative to build a special stool with a handle to help those who need extra help getting into and out of his SUV.

“It's a wonderful invention he's made,” says Donna. “It’s very sturdy.”

“I purchased a small stool,” Steve explains, “and then I added the platform with a couple other sets of legs to make it stable. And it seemed to work.”

Steve has experience helping his own parents and his in-laws as they’ve gone through the challenges of aging. “My father, he's been blind for twelve years,” says Steve, “and my mother was going into Alzheimer's and dementia.” He feels good about being there for others who are in need. “I know people need this help because they don't have family to help them. It makes me feel good that I can kind of help somebody.”

Donna and Martha are grateful for Steve’s service. “Steve is really a good guy. He's used to being around old people like me,” says Donna. She especially appreciates how well he interacts with her mother. “He's very helpful. He never looks down on her. If she needs assistance, he helps. He kids her, he talks to her. So she enjoys visiting with him.”

Navigating to the doctor’s office used to be a cumbersome process, says Donna. “Prior to the driving service, we had to beg, borrow, and steal from people to get them to take us, and it's not always convenient. You're relying on other people who have lives. It just doesn't always work out the way you like it to.”

In the past, Donna and Martha have had to take a taxi, which “becomes very expensive,” says Donna. At times when they have tried to use the bus service, it has been challenging for Martha to get on and off the bus, and she is unable to wait the several hours it may take between a journey to the doctor’s office and the return trip home.

Without Steve, says Martha, “I don't know what I’d do. I really don't know what I'd do.”

In return for his service, Steve feels he is supported by Rides for Health, too. Program Director Trevor Boeding offers meetings every few months and is always available to answer questions from the volunteers. “If you have an issue, you can just call him up or you can email him,” says Steve. “He'll direct you or give you any information, help you. So it's very easy, really.”

The other Rides for Health volunteers have found ways to support each other, too. “The drivers got together and decided if we couldn't make our appointments,” says Steve, “instead of having to cancel them and try to reschedule, that we'd contact each other to see if one could fill in. And I've done that a few times with two different clients, and that worked out fine. They're very nice, too.”

Rides for Health is always looking for new volunteers to be matched with other clients like Martha and Donna in the Home Care program at LifePath. “Transportation to medically necessary appointments is a critical unmet need in the area,” says Trevor, who hopes that more people will join him and Steve in working to address this need by becoming volunteers.

Steve hopes others will be inspired to try it out, too. “I think anybody could do it if they want to do it.”

If you’d like more information about becoming a volunteer with Rides for Health, click here.

MOW banner 2018 6

Lisa Middents headshot 2018Lisa Middents

I am very excited to welcome to LifePath’s Meals on Wheels Walkathon staff Carol Foote of Shelburne. Each year, a seasonal staff person joins us to help with the Meals on Wheels Walkathon, the most important way the community steps up to make sure no elder is alone, forgotten, or hungry.

We hit gold when we found Carol. Along with many years of experience in development, Carol is truly a delightful person. A native of Northfield married to a native of Warwick, she has many local connections to friends, family and neighbors.

March 2018 Walk Box Carol photo of Lisa Middents and Carol FooteCarol Foote (right) joins Lisa Middents (left) in the Development team at LifePath to help plan this year's Meals on Wheels Walkathon.Most importantly, Carol has a passion for supporting elders in our community. She says, “In my short time here, what I’ve learned about the Meals on Wheels program is that a point is made to nourish people – body, mind, and soul. My perception is that the office walls echo with these questions about our consumers: Are they safe? Are they well? What services can we help them take advantage of? LifePath is genuinely a people-centered organization, which feels great.”

Carol continues, “It is inspiring that last year local businesses and community members rallied around the Meals on Wheels program raising more than $105,000 so that volunteer drivers can deliver 500 meals on the road each day, and the program has no waitlist for our homebound elders to have a hot meal and a wellness check. As we head toward the event date of Saturday, April 28, I’m looking forward to connecting with walkers and sponsors alike and being inspired by your stories.”

You are invited to join me and Carol to make sure all elders who need Meals on Wheels can get them in 2018. Contact me at (413) 773-5555, ext. 2225, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or click here. The Meals on Wheels Walkathon is on Saturday, April 28, 2018, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at LifePath, 101 Munson Street, Greenfield, Mass. Together we can support our treasured elders in 2018!

Governor Baker’s Annual Speech and Budget Promote Strong Aging Agenda for Massachusetts

Secretary Alice BonnerSecretary Alice BonnerGovernor Charlie Baker delivered his State of the Commonwealth speech in January, and the next day filed his annual budget with the Legislature. Both actions contained good news for older people in every part of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has been a leader in the development and delivery of aging services – and LifePath has been a shining example of that here in Western Massachusetts. However, our Commonwealth is at a crossroads. Today, we have more Massachusetts residents over the age of 60 than under the age of 20. This change in demographics offers Massachusetts an opportunity to lead the nation by developing innovative policies and solutions that help our residents age and thrive in the communities where they live, work and volunteer.

Recognizing the many contributions of older people, in April of 2017 the Governor issued an executive order establishing the Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts. The Council is tasked with advising the Administration on policies, community resources, best practices, and informal supports to promote healthy aging in Massachusetts. The Council recently delivered a comprehensive blueprint of initial recommendations based on the first year of its work which you can read here.

Building on that momentum, in this year's State of the Commonwealth speech the Governor announced that Massachusetts has been designated by the AARP as only the second state in the country to join that organization’s Age-Friendly Network. This designation commits our state to a continued path of progress in making Massachusetts more livable and welcoming for older adults and people of all ages.

It is also a great boost to work already underway.  As of 2017, 88 communities across the state have achieved, were working towards or beginning efforts to make their cities and towns Age and Dementia-Friendly.

In addition, the Baker-Polito budget for FY19 includes a $17 million increase for Elders Affairs. This includes a $2.9 million increase in funding that support the work of local Councils on Aging. This will provide more than $16 million to Councils on Aging next year – the highest level of state support ever. The Administration’s budget also includes a $7.4 million increase for the State Home Care Program and a $4.7 million increase for the Community Choices program to help keep older residents with chronic health care needs in their homes for as long as possible. The budget also includes a $2.7 million increase for the Protective Services Program, which receives and investigates reports of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Taken together, all of this is good news for those of us who want to live, work and age well in Massachusetts. Our Commonwealth is moving towards a more Age-Friendly future, and that is good news for Massachusetts residents of all ages.

March 2018 Rainbow Elders Intergenerational save the date photoThe Rainbow Elders of LifePath invite the LGBTIQA community and friends of all ages to their intergenerational annual dinner and interactive gathering.Enjoy a delicious dinner with friends new and old at a gathering of LGBTIQA folks and friends of all ages! The Sixth Annual Intergenerational LGBTIQA Gathering & Dinner takes place on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, from 5-7:30 p.m. at Greenfield Community College Dining Commons, One College Drive in Greenfield, Mass.

Share with others whose lives span the decade. Youth and adults have much to teach one another about our shared journey towards freedom, and deepening personal connections is a great way to do that.

Registration by Wednesday, April 11, is requested. Please visit click here to sign up, or call Lynne Feldman, director of community services at LifePath, at 413-773-5555 x2215 or 978-544-2259 x2215.

There is no charge for this event, but a suggested donation of $10 is appreciated and will be used to cover expenses for this and future Rainbow Elders events. If you can donate more than $10, it will help someone else with fewer resources attend. Any donation amount is welcome.

This is a drug-, alcohol-, and fragrance-free event.

Special thanks to Program Champion Lathrop Communities and sponsoring Advocates: Barton’s Angels Home Health Care, Franklin Community Co-op/Green Fields Market & McCusker’s Market, Rockridge, Victory Home Healthcare, and WestMass ElderCare. Thanks also to Event Collaborator Gen Q of Community Action and Community Partner Franklin County Pride.

LifePath’s Rainbow Elders offers opportunities and information to build connections and find resources to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, asexual, aromantic, and agender elders, as well as their allies, and educational outreach to agencies, businesses, and the community at large. Rainbow Elders helps people build relationships, give and gain support, grow in knowledge and cultural competence, and advocate for human rights so that everyone can live and age with dignity.

Read more and sign up to receive emails with future Rainbow Elders event invitations and relevant news and information.