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

waving.jpg
woman-in-mask.jpg
COVID-volunteers.jpg
donations.jpg

Barbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorBarbara Bodzin, Executive Director

This time of year, many of us are focused on nurturing and feeding our loved ones as we celebrate the holidays. LifePath’s Nutrition program staff and volunteers maintain this focus for community members all year long.

Feeding America estimated that 100,000 people in our 4 Western MA counties have struggled with food insecurity this year. That’s an increase of about 25% since numbers were last reported in 2019, and those who directly serve community members contend the increase is actually much higher.

LifePath’s Nutrition program has looked to address this spike in numbers and respond to nutritional needs oftentimes created by pandemic-fueled fear and isolation. As we saw numbers shift, changes were made so that community members could safely access LifePath programs without having to suffer in silence.

Over the last year, LifePath’s Meals on Wheels program served 1,061 consumers and more than 140,000 meals. In an effort to curb exposure but not service, the program moved to delivering the same amount of meals over three days, in place of the traditional five. The ever-important wellness check was changed to a physically distanced “Smile and Wave,” as volunteer drivers continued to be out on their routes without pause. To further reduce the risk of infection through the heating and traying process, chilled meals took the place of hot meals. These efficiencies reduced contact not only between volunteer driver and consumer, but also between kitchen workers. Food was delivered in oven-safe trays, but microwaves were provided to consumers who needed them. We’re excited to announce that hot meal delivery and the classic wellness check will resume 5 days a week starting on December 6.

Also, we are pleased to share that a new cohort of volunteer Meals on Wheels drivers were trained by Congregate and Home Delivered Meal Coordinator Ann Kaczenski and have begun heading out on their respective routes. LifePath requires a certain number of drivers to fulfill the delivery need, but being able to call on a depth of backup and reserve drivers is essential. If you are interested in being a driver, we’d love to hear from you.

Over the last three years, LifePath has earned more than $16,000 from Subaru of America for our Meals on Wheels program.

Right now, through January 3, LifePath is again participating in Subaru’s Share the Love event. Over the last three years, LifePath has earned more than $16,000 from Subaru of America for our Meals on Wheels program. If you are a customer who buys or leases a Subaru, you are eligible to choose a charity to which Subaru will donate $250. Please choose Meals on Wheels so that LifePath’s local program will benefit from this generosity.

During the pandemic we identified a need to add grocery shopping to LifePath’s menu of services. It has become so popular that there is a waiting list of individuals who would love someone to do their shopping! Grocery shoppers are trained, then matched. Every other week, the grocery shopper receives a list with agreed-upon preferences and payment, and returns with the groceries and a receipt. If you love hitting the grocery store, someone in your community would appreciate your assistance. Other grocery resources may be available: call us to find out if we have something to suit your needs.

LifePath began delivering frozen meals to people with disabilities under the age of 60 who are participants in our Personal Care Attendant program. Individuals with disabilities or pre-existing conditions are at a higher risk of becoming sick with COVID-19. LifePath recruited volunteers for this new meal delivery program to keep these individuals safer and healthier during this uncertain time. We were able to add this program, in part, because of the generous COVID-19 Relief Funding we received from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. We offer our thanks to those behind the funding who saw our vision, allowing us to provide this new pipeline for nutritional aid.

For older adults who are able to get out, the Grab and Go meals offered at various senior centers have been a wonderful option. This program took the place of congregate meals at these sites, but we are happy to report that select senior centers are again serving congregate meals that offer balanced nutrition with company! These sites include the Greenfield Senior Center, which is serving meals (indoors only) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; and the Royalston Council on Aging, which is serving meals (indoors only) on Wednesdays. For more information, please visit our Congregate Meals page.

LifePath prides itself on the programs we run that offer an answer to food insecurity and close other gaps created by life events and the aging process. In addition to the programs mentioned, we offer stand-alone nutrition education and consultation, home care services that may include nutritional support, and the flexibility to provide meals for people with allergies or other special diets.

We encourage you, as you spend time with family and friends, to take special note of their well-being. If you notice changes or hear shared remarks around the difficulties created by the aging process, suggest that your loved one reach out to LifePath, or reach out for them. We are here to foster continued independence at home and in our community.

With inspired spirit and commitment, our staff and volunteers have made extraordinary things happen for those in need of sustenance. In this time of celebration, reflection, and feasting, please know LifePath is here to provide and nourish. Whether it is for yourself or a loved one in need of service, call us at 413-773-5555, Ext. 1230 or 978-544-2259, ext. 1230 to speak with a Resource Consultant.

Anne Colo with her mom, Mary ColoAnne Colo with her mom, Mary ColoOn October 29, 2021 President Biden proclaimed November 2021 as National Family Caregivers Month, “encouraging all Americans to reach out to those who provide care for their family members, friends, and neighbors in need, to honor and to thank them.”

The Proclamation, in part, states, “Every day, millions of Americans provide essential care and medical assistance to their loved ones.  These acts of love, commitment, and compassion enable their family members to receive the support they need to live a life with dignity.  This has been especially true throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Americans of all ages have made substantial sacrifices to keep family members safe and healthy.  During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize the important role of our Nation’s family caregivers and thank them for the invaluable and instrumental care they provide.”

“Having my mom remain in a home she built, and raised her family in, surrounded by familiar things and people, has been the ultimate act of love . . .”

Anne Colo, 52 and a resident of Deerfield, is one of these family caregivers, providing “invaluable and instrumental care” to her mom, 87-year-old Mary A. Colo, a resident of New Salem.  Anne’s 92-year-old father, Victor “Vic” Colo, is another.  “They have been happily, and I emphasize super happily married, for 53 years. My dad keeps her safe, comfortable, entertained, and makes her smile.  He is with her all day from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with the exception of one hour in the afternoon, so he picks up a great deal of responsibility and my mom is happiest in his presence for sure,” says Anne.  “Having my Mom remain in a home she built, and raised her family in, surrounded by familiar things and people, has been the ultimate act of love, and my dad is largely responsible for this being possible for her.”  

“Mom fell and broke her hip in October 2019, and we began services with LifePath [about two months later] . . . We were referred to LifePath as THE source for securing services for my mom by the support services at Athol Hospital where my mom did her rehabilitation.  We had no idea when she first came home what services we even needed or how we would manage this.  We were told that we would not be successful in caring for her at home by many healthcare professionals when she was released from the hospital.  [Care Manager] Michael Sobeck from LifePath came to the house and helped us assess our needs and develop a care plan and schedule,” Anne recalls.  “My memory of when my mom was discharged is the overwhelming feeling of complete responsibility—LifePath was very instrumental in helping us determine what my mom and dad needed and how we should go about securing those services.”

Now Mary has care, coordinated through LifePath, that comes from 8-10 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.  Anne travels up each night at 5 p.m. and stays over 2 nights a week, while the family pays independent caregivers to stay over the other 5 nights.

Anne says, “Through LifePath, we have Catholic Charities helping us.  I cannot say enough about some of the beautiful people that take care of my mom.  They are warm, loving, and hardworking.  They help my mom, dad, and entire family in ways we could not have imagined.  We are so lucky!”

Vic and Anne Colo, married for 53 yearsVic and Anne Colo, married for 53 yearsMary provided care to others throughout her life, before needing care herself.  “My mom is a Registered Nurse and worked as a surgical nurse at Children’s Hospital.  She worked for a renowned surgeon who was one of the pioneers in cardiac surgery and performed one of the first surgeries to correct congenital heart disorders in children.  She raised my brother Tom and I, and as my aunt once said, ‘there is no single person on this earth more excited to have children than your mom.’  Mom was a devoted caregiver to many people, including her dear mom, Evelyn Kenney, who was ill with cancer for many years.  She was a staunch advocate for people to receive the healthcare they needed, often taking people back and forth to Boston hospitals,” explains Anne.

When asked about the most difficult part of being a caregiver herself, Anne mentions the times Mary has experienced pain or distress.  “Seeing someone you love, unable to communicate their needs, who is solely relying on you to make sure they are ok, can be overwhelming at times,” explains Anne.

Anne says it is vital that caregivers take time for themselves:  “I would tell other caregivers the same thing that we hear a lot: in order to be of use to others, you have to care for yourself first.  You can’t give others what they need if you, yourself are not cared for, and it is impossible to give from an empty tank.  It is a cliché but I can attest that, on many occasions, having just a little time to regenerate can make an absolute world of difference in how I show up for others.”

“It is the greatest honor of my life to provide care to a person who has literally been the best person I have ever known,” says Anne.  “She cared for me throughout my whole life and has dedicated her life to caring for others that are most vulnerable.  It is one of my most treasured, gratifying experiences of my life so far.  I am so honored to be able to give my mom the gift of remaining in her home that she loved so much, being safe, loved, comfortable with people that she loves and that love her, and being so well cared for.”

If you are a caregiver who could use some support, 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..

Lisa White, PhD, RNLisa White, PhD, RNThe information in this article is from the CDC and was current as of November 5, 2021.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, its first such designation since declaring H1N1 influenza a pandemic in 2009.   While we are all weary from living within this devastating health crisis, there is also much to be hopeful about, including the development of three highly effective vaccines and the granting of Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. for their use. Completion of primary vaccination is the most important goal for addressing the pandemic in the United States and around the world. 

At this time, most people in the United States over the age of 5 can receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

People 65 years and older SHOULD get a booster shot.

The CDC notes that COVID-19 vaccines continue to be very effective at reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection, especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease. A third dose of mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) is now recommended as part of the primary series of vaccination for some individuals with compromised immune systems. A “booster” shot, an additional shot to counter waning effectiveness of the primary series over time, is now also recommended to people who belong to certain groups.  

Everyone 18 and over who received the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is now recommended to receive a booster dose at least two months after the first shot.  

Certain individuals who received either Pfizer-BioNTech’s or Moderna’s two vaccine primary series are now eligible to receive a booster shot at least 6 months after the second shot:

  1. People 65 years and older SHOULD get a booster shot.
  2. Residents of long-term care settings SHOULD get a booster shot.
  3. People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions SHOULD get a booster shot.
  4. People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions that put them at risk for severe infection, including pregnancy, MAY get a booster shot based on individual risks and benefits.
  5. People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their occupational or institutional setting MAY get a booster shot based on individual risks and benefits. This category includes workers such as first responders and health care workers, education staff, manufacturing workers, food and agriculture workers, corrections workers, U.S. Postal workers, public transit workers, and grocery store workers.

The CDC recommendation for boosters allows a mix and match approach, meaning people recommended to have a booster can receive any of the three booster formulas. Considerations of risk, effectiveness, and preference differ based on individual circumstance. The CDC website is a source for information to assist decision-making. If unsure, discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits of receiving one booster over another.  

The above recommendations were made following a process of review conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services charged with protecting the public’s health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of vaccines, drugs, and other biological products for human use. These recommendations may change in future as more data become available. Votes of the advisory committee result in a recommendation from the FDA that then goes to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC for final review, communication of clinical guidelines, and model physician orders for the administration of vaccines.  

Where can we get a recommended booster? A good place to start is with your own primary care physician's office. Most pharmacies offer vaccination—more so now than at any time before this pandemic. Most appointments have moved to an online system, with an appointment confirmation sent via email. While not everyone has easy access to the internet, for most people it's actually a very efficient way to sign up, get in, and get your vaccine, providing you a particular time at a place of your choice. Many sites are linked and kept updated at vaxfinder.mass.gov.  

Community and mobile clinics are another avenue. Ten regionally-located mobile VaxBus clinics, scheduled from November 12 to December 3, will offer the primary course of vaccine to children ages 5-11.  These VaxBus clinics will also serve other vaccine groups—children over 12, parents, caregivers, and adults in the community are also able to register and receive their primary course vaccine. Eligible adults will be able to receive a booster shot. A full list of clinics is available online at www.franklincountymavaccine.org

No matter where you go to get your vaccine, bring the vaccination card you received that documents your primary series shot/s to your appointment.

For people who cannot use the internet, call your local Board of Health/health department, town nurse, senior center, or LifePath for help. We are here to make sure anyone who is eligible is able to access and receive a vaccine.

Lisa White, PhD, RN is a Public Health Nurse with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments’ Cooperative Public Health Service which serves 16 Franklin County Towns.

Carol Foote, Outreach and Development DirectorCarol Foote, Outreach and Development DirectorAs the days shorten and temperatures drop, LifePath invites our community to participate in a variety of activities that allow us to help older adults and people with disabilities maintain their independence 365 days a year. These activities include planning the annual Walkathon, participating in Subaru’s Share the Love event, remembering LifePath on Giving Tuesday, and becoming a volunteer.

The planning for the 30th annual Walkathon is underway. Our hope is to celebrate this milestone year in person on Saturday, May 7. Whether you were with us 30 years ago, joined us since, or always wanted to take part, this is the year! Create a new team, add members to an existing team, or step forward as a sponsor in an effort to honor all LifePath consumers.

Please remember LifePath on Tuesday, November 30 as the world stands up for their charities of choice in recognition of #GivingTuesday.

Starting November 18 and running through January 3, LifePath is again participating in Subaru’s Share the Love event. Over the last three years, LifePath has earned more than $16,000 from Subaru of America for our Meals on Wheels program. If you are a customer who buys or leases a Subaru, you are eligible to choose a charity to which Subaru will donate $250. Please choose Meals on Wheels so that LifePath’s local program will benefit from these layers of generosity. 

Please remember LifePath on Tuesday, November 30 as the world stands up for their charities of choice in recognition of #GivingTuesday. “Unleash generosity” toward LifePath by donating, promoting our agency through sharing a personal story, or learning more about us. 

#GivingTuesday is bigger than just giving. It’s about how individual generosity, when joined together with that of others, has a huge impact. That impact fortifies the connectedness of a community and allows for voices, actions, and - yes - all kinds of generosity, to be amplified. 

As we looked at data from this past year, we were inspired to learn that more than 75% of those who gave to LifePath did so because someone asked them. Please hear us, we are asking you. Our end of year fundraising appeal will be mailed in early December. LifePath needs community support to continue to run programs for those seeking to preserve and extend their independence. 

Lastly, consider becoming a volunteer and bring critical LifePath services into homes of people who need them most.  As an example, our Meals on Wheels drivers provide balanced nutrition and an answer to daily isolation to recipients, and peace of mind to family members. If a morning drive around specific routes of beautiful Franklin County or the North Quabbin area spreading goodwill are up your alley, become a volunteer today! 

Your support helps LifePath make so much happen across Franklin County, North Quabbin, and the reaches of Berkshire, Hampshire, Hampden and Worcester counties. As we move closer to each initiative, watch our social media for updates or feel free to contact me for details, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 413-829-9199. As always, THANK YOU for your generosity that allows LifePath to give each day of the year.

Attorney Seunghee Cha; Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP; Hadley, MA; 413-256-0002Attorney Seunghee Cha; Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP; Hadley, MA; 413-256-0002What to Do When a Gun Owner Is Incapacitated or Dies

According to a recent Gallup poll, over 40% of the U.S. population lives in a household with at least one firearm. If you own a gun or live in a household with guns, you probably know the rules. Or you may not own guns or know much about them; however, if you are a fiduciary for a gun owner, such as an agent under a power of attorney or personal representative of a decedent’s estate, you need to know how to properly possess, transport, transfer, and dispose of firearms under federal and state laws.

According to a recent Gallup poll, over 40% of the U.S. population lives in a household with at  least one firearm.

Two primary federal laws that fiduciaries must comply with are the Gun Control Act of 1968 (CGA) and the National Firearms Act (NFA). Both laws are enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Some of the rules are as follows:

  • It is unlawful to receive or possess certain unregistered firearms, which are contraband and cannot be registered later by the personal representative. Violations are felonies subject to fines and imprisonment.
  • It is unlawful to knowingly transfer firearms to prohibited persons (e.g., felons and drug addicts) and for such persons to receive firearms.
  • You must obtain a federal firearms license (“FFL”) for the sale and purchase of firearms; firearms that travel across state lines must be transferred using an FFL dealer.

State laws also govern gun ownership and dealings. Under Massachusetts law:

  • Firearms must be stored in a locked container or with a tamper-resistant locking device.
  • You must be licensed by the Commonwealth to own, transport, transfer, purchase, or sell firearms.
  • Residents who sell, transfer, inherit, or lose firearms must report the sale, transfer, inheritance, or loss of firearms to the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services Firearms Records Bureau. Any loss, theft, or recovery of a firearm must be reported to the state and local police departments.

To ensure proper handling of firearms, personal representatives should address the following responsibilities (generally applicable to any fiduciary):

  • ✔ Ascertain if the decedent owned guns and whether any are unregistered. If you are unsure, call the ATF.
  • ✔ Review the decedent’s estate plan regarding the disposition of firearms to identify who inherits them. Are the beneficiaries legally permissible transferees?
  • ✔ Determine the type of firearms and transfer requirements.
  • ✔ Secure and transport any firearm found in the decedent’s home. If you cannot safely do so, contact an FFL dealer.

In Part Two of this series, we will explore gun trusts as effective tools for management of firearms to help gun owners, fiduciaries, and beneficiaries navigate and comply with laws.