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

1.jpg
2015-Meals-on-Wheels-Walkathon-family.jpg
Money-Management-staff.jpg
22.jpg

Storm cloudsAccording to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), although the official Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 through November 30, the most active time for hurricanes and tropical storms in Massachusetts is late August through September. This year, many of us have already experienced power outages and wind damage from Tropical Storm Isaias. Hopefully Isaias will be the worst we see during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, but just in case, here are 16 preparation tips to make riding out the next tropical storm or hurricane an easier experience, including tips for preparation during the pandemic:

  1. Every household should have multiple methods for receiving emergency alerts. Learn more about different types of alerting and information tools, including the Emergency Alert System, Wireless Emergency Alerts, NOAA Weather Radio, social and traditional news media, the 2-1-1 hotline and local notification systems, from Mass.gov.

  2. Make or review your emergency plan. Plan how your family would communicate, evacuate, and shelter-in-place that addresses the needs of all of your family members, including elders, children, individuals with access and functional needs, and pets. During the COVID-19 pandemic, your plan to evacuate should include where you might evacuate to, given your circumstances. If you are in a high-risk population, the safest option may be to evacuate to a location without the general public such as a hotel, relatives’ home, or other destination. To find out more, visit Mass.gov.

  3. Prepare for power outages by charging cell phones and electronics and setting your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. If you use electricity to get well water, fill your bathtub with water to use for flushing toilets.

  4. Keep your car’s gas tank full. Pumps at gas stations may not work during a power outage.

  5. Secure or bring in outdoor objects (patio furniture, children's toys, trash cans, etc.) that could be swept away or damaged during strong winds or flooding.

  6. Clear clogged rain gutters to allow water to flow away from your home.

  7. Go tapeless! Taping windows wastes preparation time, does not stop windows from breaking in a hurricane, and does not make cleanup easier. In fact, taping windows may create larger shards of glass that can cause serious injuries. If you don’t have storm shutters and the wind is expected to be severe, windows can be boarded up with 5/8” exterior-grade or marine plywood.

  8. Turn off propane tanks if you are not using them.

  9. Prepare for flooding by elevating items in your basement, checking your sump pump, unplugging sensitive electronic equipment, clearing nearby catch basins, and parking vehicles in areas not prone to flooding.

  10. If instructed, turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve.

  11. If you receive medical treatment or home health care services, work with your medical provider to determine how to maintain care and service if you are unable to leave your home or have to evacuate during.

  12. Assemble an emergency kit for your family and pets. Visit Mass.gov for tips. During the COVID-19 pandemic, include face coverings or masks, disinfectants, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning supplies that you may need in an emergency.

  13. Follow instructions from public safety officials.

  14. Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have fresh batteries.

  15. If you have life-support devices or other medical equipment or supplies which depend on electricity, notify your utility and work with your medical provider to prepare for power outages.

  16. Make a record of your personal property by taking photos or videos of your belongings. Store these records in a safe place.

Preparing in advance can help you, your family, and your pets safely weather the storm.

-Sourced from Mass.gov and the National Hurricane Center

rsz 1shutterstock 133487075 1You may need to review and update your medical advance directive documents because of COVID-19.  Certain language in these documents may cause unanticipated issues.  Medical advance directive documents include the Massachusetts MOLST Form, living wills, and the Massachusetts Health Care Proxy.

The MOLST Form and living will are primarily used for end-of-life decisions. MOLST stands for Medical Orders For Life Sustaining Treatment.  It is a medical document best suited for persons who are medically frail, have an advanced illness, a progressive illness, or a very serious injury.  Living wills, although not legally recognized in Massachusetts, are strong evidence of a person’s intentions as to the withholding or withdrawal of treatment for end-of-life decisions at any age.  A living will gives the health care agent named in your health care proxy clearer directions to guide that named person to act on your behalf for those medical decisions.

You may need to review and update your medical advance directive documents because of COVID-19. 

The Massachusetts Health Care Proxy is a legal document.  The Massachusetts Health Care Proxy law allows individuals to prepare a document naming a health care agent to make their medical decisions for them should they ever become incapacitated and thus unable to make their own medical decisions.  A Health Care Proxy is strongly recommended for every person age eighteen and older. If an incapacitated person with a serious illness or injury has not signed a valid health care proxy, a court proceeding naming a legal guardian is required.

One issue concerning COVID-19 and these documents is that many of the documents may contain language that prohibits intubation and/or use of a ventilator in all situations.  Allowing intubation and ventilator use, however, can be life-saving for some COVID-19 patients.  Every medical case is different and even older patients can survive COVID-19.  When many people first signed these documents they envisioned prohibiting intubation and ventilator use because they did not want to unnecessarily prolong their life in situations where chances of recovery were low and there would be no quality of life. 

Another issue with these documents regards the appointed health care agent’s communication with medical staff.  It is very possible because of COVID-19 that some hospitals will not allow family members and others inside the facility and communications with medical staff can only be by telephone and electronic means.  Many pre-COVID-19 medical advance directive documents may not contain clauses that would also allow communication strictly by telephone and/or electronic communication with medical staff and allow signing documents by electronic means.

Review all your medical advance directive documents to ensure that they express your intentions regarding intubation, ventilation, and authorizing your health care agent to communicate with medical professionals by telephonic and electronic means.  If you want to modify these documents to allow any exceptions and changes because of COVID-19, contact your attorney for advice.

Juliette Lowe and Charity DayJuliette Lowe, left, making one of her first deliveries of food back on June 1 for her initiative Nobody Goes Hungry. With her is Charity Day, Associate Director of Client Services at LifePath, accepting the food, which requires no preparation and is nutritious, for delivery to Personal Care Attendant Program participants. Juliette also donates food to LifePath’s Grab and Go meals, which are available at area senior centers and councils on aging. To learn more about the Nobody Goes Hungry initiative, please visit Juliette’s website.

Maile Shoul, Project Manager, Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin RegionMaile Shoul, Project Manager, Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin RegionThe United States has an extensive history of institutionalized racism including the uprooting of Native Americans, the Atlantic slave trade, Jim Crow laws, the internment of Japanese-American citizens, redlining, and much more. When the history of the civil rights movement is taught in schools, that unit often ends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’sI Have A Dream” speech and information about the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The most famous line from Dr. King’s speech is “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” His speech was instrumental to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that “outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” As vitally important as these two historical events are, the way that issues of race are taught in some schools can lead many to believe that racism is a thing of the past, that only “bad” people can participate in racism, and that “good” people aim to be “colorblind,” meaning that they don’t “see race.”

If you claim to not see race, then how will you be able to see racial injustice?

Despite progress that has been made, the effects of 400 years of institutionalized racism in the United States do not simply disappear in a matter of decades. Extensive research shows that Black and Latinx populations have higher rates of homelessness and unemployment, and lower life expectancy, even after controlling for income, than White populations.

The fact that we live in an unequal society shows that race has a profound effect on our everyday lives. Aiming to be “colorblind” not only distorts Dr. King’s work, but it leads well-intentioned people to cause more harm than good. If you claim to not see race, then how will you be able to see racial injustice? Instead of trying to be colorblind, it is vitally important that people learn and talk about the reality of racial injustice. In order to do that, it is not enough to learn about injustices that people of color experience; to truly learn about racism, White people need to examine what it means to be White. 

Many White people are uncomfortable talking about their own race and examining their own privilege. This comes from the incorrect assumption that only “bad” people can participate in or benefit from racism, which is simply untrue. As a mixed-race person (I am Japanese-American and White), I have experienced these issues from many angles. I have personally experienced insensitive remarks about Asians; as a person who is part White, I also benefit, on a daily basis, from White privilege. It is important to me that I understand my own White privilege so that I can be better equipped to dismantle it. 

The term “White privilege” is often misunderstood. It doesn’t mean that all White people have had an easy life. It means that the hardships that White people have endured weren’t because of their race. Privilege exists in many contexts. For example, I have fully functioning vision; therefore, I have privilege over someone who is blind. Having that privilege doesn’t make me a bad person, but refusing to acknowledge that privilege isn’t helpful or realistic.   

Sometimes, when I start to discuss the concept of White privilege with White friends or neighbors, they are eager to point out that they are “not racist.” However, racism is much more than deliberate acts of discrimination perpetrated by individuals. Institutional (or systemic) racism refers to the forms of discrimination and the resulting inequalities that have been embedded in our society for so long that we don’t always notice them. Dr. Robin DiAngelo, a professor who has written extensively on race, says “racism is a structure, not an event.” As we have all been socialized in a society with these structures, we also have absorbed these racial biases to some degree. Therefore, “not racist” is a finish line that simply doesn’t exist. Even noted anti-racism scholar, Dr. Ibram X Kendi, who is Black and whose book “How to Be an Antiracist” is on the New York Times Bestseller List, says, “I have so much to learn, so much room for anti-racist growth.” Each and every one of us has our own set of privileges and biases. It is not our fault that we have them. It is our responsibility to examine them without becoming defensive. 

As Latasha Morrison, author of “Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation” says, “Developing a healthy understanding of White identity does not mean drowning in White guilt or reveling in White pride.” Instead, by gaining a true understanding of how all White people still benefit, however unintentionally, from centuries of policies and practices that were deliberately designed to benefit them, only then can White people create a vision and action plan for a better, most just world. 

As much as White people benefit from institutional racism in material ways, White people are also harmed by racism. I am not talking about so-called “reverse racism.” Dr. John H. Bracey, who has taught Afro-American studies at the University of Massachusetts since 1972, says that “racism isn’t free” and takes a toll on White people as well: materially, psychologically, and spiritually. Everyone benefits from a more just, more harmonious society. Per another famous quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “No one is free until we are all free.” 

Resources: 

Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesPat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesDid you know that August 14th is National Financial Awareness Day?  Volunteers for LifePath’s Money Management program focus on the financial wellbeing of consumers and ensure consumers’ independence at home.  With contactless visits that provide PPE to all, the program and its volunteers keep their clients’ bills paid, and have not missed a beat during the COVID-19 crisis.

Volunteers for LifePath’s Money Management program focus on the financial wellbeing of consumers and ensure consumers’ independence at home.

Program Manager Ceil Moran described the process as “phone visits and socially distanced outside visits based on the volunteer’s and participant’s level of comfort.”  Consumers put bills and financial information in a manila envelope and pass it to the Money Management volunteers.  The volunteers pay the bills while sitting in their car or maintaining social distance outside, and return paid bills to the consumer in a manila envelope.

If you or a loved one would benefit from Money Management services, contact Ceil Moran at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  RSVP, a federal Senior Corps volunteer program, is recruiting adults 55 and older with skills in finance or bill paying, or with “people skills,” to serve LifePath clients.  Volunteer and celebrate Financial Awareness Day by contacting Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin Counties, 413-387-1286, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Ginger Elliott, RSVP Volunteer Coordinator for Hampden County, 413-387-1296, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..