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Points of Light Celebrates National Volunteer Week With a Focus on Recognizing Individuals Who Make a Difference

"The solution to each problem that confronts us begins with an individual who steps forward and who says, I can help." -President George H.W. BushPoints of Light, in partnership with The UPS Foundation and TEGNA, celebrates National Volunteer Week, April 7-13, 2019, through volunteer recognition and service events around the country. Each year, National Volunteer Week is celebration of the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, to build stronger communities and be a force that transforms the world.

“National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to shine a light on people who are creating positive change in their communities,” says Natalye Paquin, president and CEO of Points of Light. “It is also an opportunity to inspire others to lead and lend support to the causes they care about. In today’s society, as people strive to lead lives that reflect their values, doing good comes in many forms. We recognize and celebrate them all.”

Through recognition programs such as the President’s Volunteer Service Award and the Daily Point of Light Award, Points of Light celebrates volunteers and the impact of volunteer service in communities across the country. Recognizing and sharing stories about individuals who are doing good serves to inspire others to take action and realize their own potential to make a difference.

“Volunteering has the power to uplift individuals and entire communities,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and UPS chief diversity and inclusion officer. “We committed to achieving 20 million volunteer hours by the end of 2020, and we are on track to achieve our goal. By bringing our strengths and our passion for serving others into action, and by supporting organizations such as Points of Light, we are able to amplify the results.”

“In today’s society, as people strive to lead lives that reflect their values, doing good comes in many forms. We recognize and celebrate them all. National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to shine a light on people who are creating positive change in their communities.”

Over 265 people volunteer with LifePath’s programs as Meals on Wheels Drivers, Money Managers, SHINE counselors, and more. In celebration of National Volunteer Week, LifePath will be celebrating its volunteers at a reception this week. We are grateful for the support and contributions of each and every person who volunteers. To learn more about joining our team of volunteers, visit LifePathMA.org or call 413-773-5555 x2215.

About Points of Light

Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, mobilizes millions of people to take action that is changing the world. Through affiliates in 250 cities across 37 countries and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages 5 million volunteers in 20 million hours of service each year. We bring the power of people where it’s needed most. For more information, visit the Points of Light website.

Carol FooteCarol Foote, Development DirectorLifePath’s 27th annual Meals on Wheels Walkathon is upon us. We are looking forward to welcoming walkers, sponsors, families, friends, volunteers and others to 101 Munson Street, Greenfield on Saturday, April 27th!

We’ll have the ROMEOS (Retired Old Musician Entertaining Others) singing you toward registration. Once you’ve made your way by them, with a little extra groove in your step, you’ll notice that we’ve centralized registration, t-shirt pick up, and the opportunity to have a bite. All of these stops, plus the opportunity to speak with one of our Information and Caregiver Resource Center (ICRC) staffers (new this year!), will be inside the Greenfield Corporate Center in one space. Hooray!

Girls petting a dog at the WalkathonWe’re excited to share that Natalie Blais, State Representative - First Franklin District is planning to be with us. Take her for a spin around the route! The official walk route will make its way around the parking lot on the north side, but for those who wish to take the road less traveled, the walking path through the woods will be available.

We’re introducing the Nutrition Tent, where walkathoners will be able to test their knowledge of LifePath trivia and taste probiotic products donated by Real Pickles with our staff nutritionist.

The Hart’s Brook Garland Women will be gracing the parking lot with a performance, and WHAI will be spinning tunes. Kids will find activities, including face painting and a craft, in a couple of locations.

On event day, prizes will be awarded in the following categories: Oldest Walker, Youngest Walker, Best Way ’Round the Route, and Best Costume. Teams will be vying for best in the following categories, only to be calculated and announced at our post event Thank You Party: most money raised in these categories - overall best, senior centers, families, faith-based organizations, companies, care facilities, the largest increase from previous year, and second largest increase from previous year.

To all sponsors, walkers, staffers, volunteers and others who have been part of the planning, we offer our appreciation for your efforts so far. Special thanks to our lead sponsor, Greenfield Savings Bank, for their generosity and encouraging new walkers by matching the funds they raise.

See you Saturday!

Carol FooteCarol Foote, Development DirectorOn any given day, about 11 staff people can be found in LifePath’s bustling Meals on Wheels kitchen, located in Erving. They are a lively bunch invested in each other, the people they serve, and the service itself.

They have mastered the art of weaving in and out of each task that needs doing, including stepping in to cover delivery routes. Their expertise doesn’t come unfounded, however. Kitchen supervisor Charlie Cornish alone has 38 years of experience in the food service industry, while others can count 20+ and into the high teens. Of the more than 150 years of food service experience among them, many of those hours have been in Meals on Wheels and congregate meal site kitchens locally. Added to the sheer numbers, Charlie points out, “You won’t find a more reliable staff anywhere.”

“It’s like a second family,” says staffer Bryanna Nadeau, who also works at a local restaurant.

Meals on Wheels kitchen staff“We put a lot of love into the meals we make,” admits Laura Monette, assistant manager. She loves the opportunity to make deliveries in addition to the kitchen work because “the best part is when you see the smile on their face when you deliver.” What they feel about each other and those they serve are what make them an incredible team.

Before starting with the kitchen a number of months ago, Danielle Boyd already had a long history of Meals on Wheels in her life. When her grandmother began receiving meals some time ago, she and her family realized the importance of the program. That inspired them to give back. While they began with donations of their own, their support grew through participation in LifePath’s Meals on Wheels annual walkathon as the team The Food Brood. It is now more than 30 people strong and raised more than $2,700 last year.

“We put a lot of love into the meals we make,” admits Laura Monette, assistant manager.

The kitchen staff and volunteer drivers have a team of their own called The Rethermalytes. It’s another way that staff and drivers bond together to ensure local elders receive balanced nutrition and a friendly wellness check.

To join in the effort of serving elders through LifePath’s Meals on Wheels program, donate, join or start a team, and participate in the 27th annual Meals on Wheels Walkathon on Saturday, April 27th. Read more about the Walkathon or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at 413-773-5555 x2225.

Older couple sleeping

Poor quality sleep and inadequate duration have been associated with increased cardiovascular disease, dementia, and even death.

Ah, sleep. As quoted by the English dramatist Thomas Dekker in the 16th century: “Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together.” While the importance of getting a restful night’s sleep has been well known for centuries, sleep is receiving more and more attention in the news for how important it is to health. Poor quality sleep and inadequate duration have been associated with increased cardiovascular disease, dementia, and even death. Even less harmful outcomes, such as less optimal memory, impaired cognition and function, can really impact one’s day.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, as people get older, there are changes in “sleep architecture,” the basic structure of one’s sleeping pattern (stages and cycles). According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleeping patterns vary in the stages and cycles a person moves through to achieve optimal rest. There are two types of sleep: Rapid Eye Movement and Non-Rapid Eye Movement. Rapid Eye Movement sleep is when we dream. Ideally, one quarter of our sleep is spent in this stage, which helps process the day and is good for integration of certain aspects of memory and learning.

There are certain key features that can be helpful to understand when evaluating sleep. The first is sleep efficiency—how much sleep one gets while they are in bed. Sleep latency is how long it takes to fall asleep. Sleep fragmentation is how many times one wakes up during the night. All these patterns add up to what may very well be part of that “chain” that binds sleep and the health of our bodies together.

There are off-the-shelf innovative consumer technologies that can allow key aspects of sleep to be recorded daily over time. The technology of “actigraphy” is a non-invasive way to measure rest/activity cycles through a wrist-worn sensor that can estimate sleep patterns. While this is not the gold standard of the more invasive polysomnography (PSG) that is the basis of a medical sleep study, it can allow for individual self-monitoring and potentially offer insight into one’s sleep cycle.

Currently, the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing is investigating sleep across the lifespan, with the use of individual self-monitoring, as part of their research mission supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research/National Institute of Health at their UManage Center. Here at the center, we study ways people self-manage chronic health conditions and troublesome associated symptoms such as sleep disturbances and fatigue.

The UManage Center is currently recruiting for a study that looks at sleep self-monitoring among people age 65 and older. If you are interested in participating in a four-week study, where the researchers come to you, and if you have trouble sleeping, give Raeann a call at 978-808-4994; recruitment is open.

Older gentleman with stacks of used booksContrary to negative pop culture portrayals, people who have accumulated a problematic amount of possessions tend to be creative, intelligent, and resourceful; perhaps only unsuccessful in the pursuit of moderation. Those of us who acquire and keep too much stuff are stuck, hung-up on something emotional, something unseen beneath the surface of life. What can be seen is merely the tip of the iceberg. It’s complicated.

Some people call us the “H” word: hoarders. I call myself a “finder/keeper in recovery” because hoarding has become such a derogatory label, helped in no small part by sensational reality TV shows.

Our difficulty decluttering isn’t really about the stuff; it’s about what the possessions represent to us. Our collections are disorganized piles of memories and responsibilities stacked to the ceiling in plastic bins, cardboard boxes, and plastic bags.

We save stuff for many reasons, but don’t necessarily have time to figure those reasons out. Many of us are under pressure, by law or love, to clean-up. We’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter whether we collect lead or gold—too much of anything is a problem.

My own curiosity and eye for the unusual led me to begin saving things when I was very young, around three years old. I remember asking my grandfather, “Do you have anything old you don’t need?” He gave me a leather-working tool and some stamps. My neighbor gave me an old lawn mower. Next, I built collections of baseball cards, minerals, shells, pocket knives, and comic books. My stockpiling of possessions continued gradually throughout my adolescence but became extreme in my twenties. It wasn’t until 2005 when my wife said, “There isn’t enough room for both of us here,” just one year into our marriage, that I found the will to change. I was thirty years old. She’s helped me through it; it’s something we continue to work on together. Fourteen years later, there’s enough room for both of us, and life is much better.

Millions of people’s lives are affected in negative ways by the volume of stuff that they’ve acquired. Isolation, frustration, loss of hope…eviction, divorce, debt, fire. The potential is there to lose everything.

“It wasn’t until my wife said, ‘There isn’t enough room for both of us here,’ that I found the will to change.”

The potential is also there to enjoy a sense of sanctuary, safety, and companionship. I’ve shared my lived experience and worked with hundreds of people who have taken a grand reappraisal of their own living situation and said, “I’ve had enough. I want my life back.”

The programs I’ve helped develop are informed by my lived experience. I collaborated with Dr. Randy O. Frost to create The Buried in Treasures Workshop (BIT), based on the book Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding (Frost, Tolin, Steketee, Oxford University Press, 2013). I collaborated with Dr. Mary Ellen Copeland to create WRAP® for Reducing Clutter (WRAP® for Life, Peach Press, 2014). These programs are skill-building and empowerment groups for people committed to decluttering, organizing, and limiting acquiring.*

The BIT Workshop has shown symptom reduction on par with therapist-led Group CBT (GCBT), while being less expensive and more accessible. In a 2010 study, 78% of participants in these peer-led groups (Frost, 2010) had overall symptom reduction (distress due to clutter, desire to acquire, and difficulty discarding objects). Overall improvement was 28% (Matthews, 2018) in these peer-led groups, compared with 30% in therapist-led GCBT groups (Muroff, 2012). The effectiveness, accessibility and low cost of peer-led Buried in Treasures Workshops makes these an attractive option for people with Hoarding Disorder, which was officially added as a diagnosis to the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

Positive outcomes have driven the popularity of BIT Workshops globally. My wife Becca and I have crisscrossed the US and Australia training people to facilitate BIT groups and busting stigma.

For individuals and families to heal, they need a sense that their community supports them and has hope for their success. This support is best demonstrated when communities form Hoarding Disorder and Clutter Resource Networks (also known as Hoarding Task Forces). These networks bring together peers, mental health counselors, health department representatives, firefighters, elder services counselors, housing experts, law enforcement, and code enforcers. When state/federal funding is provided to support the HD Resource Networks’ initiatives, and when clinicians and peers come together to explore and provide innovative partnerships, healing happens.

Education, outreach, compassion, and positivity can move mountains.

*For more information about the resources listed, or to inquire about getting involved, visit the Western Mass HD Resource Network or call 413-961-9264.