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Carol Foote, Development DirectorCarol Foote, Development DirectorFor 29 years, “Walkathon” has been synonymous with our agency. This year’s virtual event, scheduled for Saturday, May 1 at 9 a.m., is themed “Why I Walk: Stepping Up and Stepping Out for LifePath.”

Consider the older adults, individuals with disabilities and caregivers in your life. Your parents or a grandparent? Your spouse or child? Your neighbor, teacher or faith community member? You? 

If you haven’t yet stepped up and stepped out for LifePath, now’s the time to rally your team, commit to being a sponsor, and make your donation.

Picture those people for a moment. What would you do to ensure they have what they need to stay safely in their home?  

Last year, LifePath’s programs and services stepped up for local individuals in these ways:

  • COVID relief services were provided to 2500 community members
  • More than 6400 people received information through our Information and Caregiver Resource Center (ICRC)
  • Home delivered meals were provided to more than 1200 people
  • More than 2000 individuals met with a SHINE counselor
  • 689 reports of elder abuse were investigated
  • In home care was provided to more than 4100 people
  • 155 people participated in our Healthy Living curriculum 
  • More than 200 caregivers received caregiver support
  • 176 individuals benefited from mental health outreach

These programs, and more, receive funding through sponsorships and fundraising generated by the 2021 Walkathon.

The event is 2 weeks away. If you haven’t yet stepped up and stepped out for LifePath, now’s the time to rally your team, commit to being a sponsor, and make your donation. Visit our Walkathon page for details or contact me directly by email or phone, 413-829-9199.

We offer our thanks to local businesses that have stepped up for LifePath as 2021 sponsors:

Athol Savings Bank

Franklin First FCU

Freedom Credit Union

Heywood Healthcare

Liberty Tax Service

People's United Bank

Pete's Tire Barns, Inc.

Pioneer Hearing

Ramon Financial Services

Renaissance Builders

Smith-Kelleher Funeral Home

Witty's Funeral Home

Trevor Boeding, MPH, Director, LTC Ombudsman Program/Rides for HealthTrevor Boeding, MPH, Director, LTC Ombudsman Program/Rides for HealthIt’s 10:25 a.m. on a Thursday. A calendar item pops up on my computer. A friendly reminder that, in five minutes, I have a Zoom meeting with the residents of a local nursing home.  I click on the link and instantly I am virtually transported into the lives of local nursing home residents. My volunteer and I greet the residents, and have a conversation about quality of life and quality of care at the facility. We receive permission from the residents to work on their complaints and then we’re on the case. We call the social worker, explain the concern, describe the desired outcome, and ask her to address the issue at hand.

I don’t know of a single person who has not had their life turned upside down and inside out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, and today’s Zoom is a regular Farren Care Center closure workgroup meeting. I meet with the daughter of a nursing home resident, LifePath board member Judi Fonsh and other members of Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, along with other concerned individuals. We prepare for a meeting that takes place weekly with state officials and members from the leadership teams at the Farren Care Center, and MissionCare (formerly Mount Saint Vincent Care Center), the facility to which the majority of Farren residents will be transferred. Since the Farren announced their plans to close in August, we have been advocating on behalf of their residents. The Farren will close, but we are successful in delaying the transfer of residents to other facilities until resident and staff vaccination activities are completed.

As this pandemic continues, I worry about the impact of boredom and isolation on residents. I send activity and engagement booklets for staff to deliver to residents for some fresh inspiration. I organize an effort to shower long-term care residents with greeting cards. Community members near and far respond with immense generosity and there are enough cards, many home-made, filled with good wishes for every long-term care resident in the LifePath service area.

I receive a call from a nursing home resident with concerns. I have trouble understanding him over the phone, so I make an appointment to visit the resident in their outdoor visitation area. The resident and I both wear masks, and sit outdoors six feet apart. We don’t shake hands. The resident has concerns, but he says they can wait. Right now he wants to listen to a song that was special to him and his deceased father. He plays the song on his phone and I bear witness to his loneliness and grief.

I don’t know of a single person who has not had their life turned upside down and inside out by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although my circumstances are much different from this resident, in my own way I too have been lonely and grieving. More than a year ago, mandatory visitor restrictions severely curtailed Ombudsman activities within nursing homes and rest homes. Unannounced weekly tours of the facilities screeched to a halt. Residents’ Rights presentations to residents and staff ended. Gone were the live, in-person, face-to-face interactions between the Ombudsman and the residents. Gone were the exchanges that foster strong, comfortable, and trusting relationships. 

Gone, but not for good, thankfully. Long-term care facility visitation guidance was amended in March of 2021, and my visits with residents within nursing homes and rest homes facilities have thankfully resumed. Ombudsman volunteers will re-enter in mid-April.

Linda Ackerman is one of the Ombudsman volunteers who will re-enter. In April of 2020, Linda completed five years of Ombudsman service. Linda had advocated on behalf of residents at Cozy Corner Nursing Home in Sunderland before they closed in 2019, and since that time has been working with residents at Buckley HealthCare Center. The Ombudsman program is incredibly grateful for valuable volunteers like Linda. 

During the pandemic, West County resident Pam Porter recognized a community need and completed her online Ombudsman training. When she completes mentorship activities with me, Pam will advocate for residents in a Greenfield nursing facility.

If you would like to become an Ombudsman volunteer and help long-term care residents in some of the ways I’ve described, I encourage you to step forward to participate in an upcoming virtual Ombudsman training. For more information, please contact Trevor Boeding at 413.773.5555, Ext. 2241 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Carol Foote, Outreach and Development DirectorCarol Foote, Outreach and Development DirectorOver the last year, we’ve gotten good at thinking outside the box. We’re asking businesses to put those talents to work for LifePath, especially during Walkathon season. Our annual request for Walkathon sponsorship went out in March, and we continue to accept these traditional shows of support. Here are some “out of the box” ideas that your business may put to use on LifePath’s behalf.

CAUTION: You may have fun and build camaraderie along the way.

Form a Fundraising Team: The virtual Walkathon will happen on Saturday, May 1 and funds are raised through sponsorships and team fundraising efforts. Encourage your employees to create a team AND shoot a 2 minute video about why they participated, to be shared on event day. (More information may be found on our Walkathon page.)

Casual Day: Are your employees back in the office? Let them “dress down” - for a cause - by donating $3 to participate. 

Donate a Percentage of Your Revenues: For a couple of weeks or a couple of months, earmark a small percentage of your revenues to donate to LifePath.

Ask You Customers to Round Up: Does your business have a point-of-service element? Ask your customers to “round up” or donate $1, $3, or $5 to support LifePath and turn over the funds at the end of the promotion window.

Vacation Day Cash Out: Would you allow your employees to “cash out” a vacation day to give that money to a charity like LifePath?

Use one of these ideas or do your own “outside the box” thinking in order to have a real impact on those in need of support, access, information, and resources. We so appreciate your efforts and generosity toward LifePath and those we serve.

older woman helping elder in wheelchairCaring for someone with dementia has its unique challenges. LifePath has programs to help you understand the progression of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia and the impact the diagnosis can have for the whole family. The programs help to build a sense of community in order to share the joys and challenges of caregiving. 

The Savvy Caregiver training is a seven week session designed for caregivers who assist family members or friends with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s Disease.  Savvy Caregiver is a unique approach to family caregiver education.  The program offers ideas gathered from many disciplines and sources.  Throughout the series, caregivers are urged to learn, develop, and modify approaches they can use to lessen their own stress and improve their particular caregiver situation.

You may also be interested in joining a support group with other caregivers to share experiences.  The groups are facilitated by experienced practitioners who create a welcoming place to give and receive emotional support, share ideas and stories, and get needed resources and educational materials.  

Or you may wish to participate in the Caregiver Peer-to-Peer Phone Pal program which matches caregivers with similar interests and experiences.  Phone Pals connect weekly or as often as the pair agree.  Conversation topics range from the everyday to the challenges of caregiving to a shared interest.

Through all of these programs, caregivers learn that they are not alone.  

Perhaps you would welcome a break to practice Mindful Movement and Meditation in a six week stress-relieving series.  During these sessions, you will practice seated and supported movements, simple breath work, and a variety of calming meditations to address physical, mental, and emotional tension. This series is designed for all levels and abilities. 

If you’d rather, one-on-one dementia coaching sessions can be arranged.  During the session, you will gain knowledge specific to your loved one’s dementia diagnosis, get tips for handling changes in behavior, and receive suggestions to help cope with the progression of the disease.

Through all of these programs, caregivers learn that they are not alone.  They cannot control disease, but they can gain skills to help them manage the stress and even find joy in caring for their loved one.  

All of these events are free. Limited funding is available for laptops or other devices, if needed to participate.  Respite and other caregiver funds may be available.  To find out more or register, please call LifePath at 413-773-5555, X1230 or 978-544-2259, X1230 to speak to a Resource Consultant, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Available Groups and Programs for Caregivers:

Caring for Someone with Dementia Support Groups: Thursdays, 10:00-11:00 a.m. or 1st and 3rd Wednesdays, 5-7:00 p.m.

Mindful Movement & Meditation for Caregivers: Wednesdays, April 21-May 26, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

One-on-One Dementia Coaching: Ongoing

Peer-to-Peer Phone Pal Program: Ongoing

The Savvy Caregiver Program: Thursdays, April 29-June 10, 2-4 p.m.

Carol Foote, Outreach and Development DirectorCarol Foote, Outreach and Development DirectorWith more uncertainty ahead of us (but more hope, too), we thought hard about what LifePath’s 29th annual Walkathon might look like. The hybrid event scheduled for Saturday, May 1 will again raise support for underfunded programs. We’ll come together virtually for a YouTube premiere at 9 a.m. and then suggest you mark the day with a walk of your own. In recognition of all that there is behind why any individual or local business may decide to participate, the 2021 theme is “Why I Walk: Stepping Up and Stepping Out for LifePath,” for which we have a few requests.

Revenues from last year’s event declined by 34% as we were all trying to make sense of the effects of the pandemic on our community, businesses, loved ones, and ourselves.

What’s Behind Your Efforts?
We’d appreciate the opportunity to share your story through submitted videos, photos, and written word to be compiled for an event day presentation. As sponsors, fundraisers, donors, and walkers, tell us your reasons for participating, such as:

  • share your own LifePath experience
  • introduce us to a loved one who receives/received support from LifePath
  • why LifePath is a charity of choice and/or how you secure support

Businesses
Revenues from last year’s event declined by 34% as we were all trying to make sense of the effects of the pandemic on our community, businesses, loved ones, and ourselves. LifePath’s move to broaden the scope of programs that receive funding through the Walkathon effort proved invaluable. Those funds offered flexibility as we experienced more uncertainty at this time of unprecedented isolation, need, and worry. Those concerns have continued even as the economy has started moving again. We hope this means more sponsors will come back to the event and new sponsors will join. Please consider stepping up for LifePath!

Teams, Individual Fundraisers, and Donors
Last year the captains, your teams, and donors pivoted beautifully right alongside us. We are so grateful for your spirit, effort, and enthusiasm as you chose to continue to provide for those who LifePath serves.

It’s time to do what you do: craft and send email messages, make phone calls, give, and really make it happen. Asking and giving may again be done through your fundraiser’s personal online giving link, through the website, or use of donation sheets. Share your activity on social media to secure more support—this is where your personalized online giving link comes in extra handy! Let us know how we can help you with your efforts.

Visit the LifePath Walkathon page on our website for more information about the event and to upload content. Thank you.