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SHINE Graduates 2 - CopyThis past June, a class of six new volunteers graduated from the SHINE (Serving the Health Information Needs of Everyone) Program’s eleven-week-long spring training session. Coming from all different walks of life, these men and women completed their course with an intensive exam, successfully passing and graduating on Thursday, June 5, as certified SHINE Counselors.

A small graduation ceremony was held for the graduates, who each received a certificate of achievement, a rose, and a gift certificate redeemable at several shops in Greenfield as tokens of appreciation. An afternoon luncheon followed, with food and desserts catered by the Farren Care Center.

SHINE Counselors can consult with you over the phone or in person at your area senior center, in your home, or at another location that is convenient for you. To learn more about SHINE or to reach a trained and certified SHINE Counselor serving your area, please call 800-732-4636, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.As SHINE Counselors, they all will be able to work in their own communities to provide free, unbiased health insurance information, education, and assistance services to Medicare beneficiaries and adults with disabilities.

SHINE holds quarterly seminars in Northampton and Turners Falls, entitled, “I am New to Medicare, What are My Options?” Learn more about the program and view a taping of a recent session here.

If you’re interested in becoming a SHINE Counselor, contact Lorraine York-Edberg, Western Massachusetts Regional Director of the SHINE Program: call 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Jessica AlbrechtJessica AlbrechtWhile you might associate dangerous driving conditions with the ice and snow of winter, driving during the summer months has its own risks: the peak of Hurricane Season in August and September makes for especially dangerous conditions.

It’s best to avoid driving in bad weather conditions, but you cannot always make alternate travel plans. The AAA Senior Driving page recommends that you plan ahead before driving in the rain by following these tips:

  • Give yourself more time to get to your destination when driving in bad weather.
  • Check your vehicle and make sure your tires, wipers and lights are in good condition.
  • Charge your cellphone and do not use it while driving.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.

Additionally, while you’re on the road:

August 2014 Safe Driving photo

  • As soon as you start the car, turn on your headlights and wipers.
  • Give yourself plenty of space around other vehicles.
  • When possible, drive in the middle lane of a three-lane road; most roads are higher in the middle, which means there’s a greater chance of water runoff and standing water in the side lanes.

Hydroplaning occurs when you drive—even at speeds as slow as 30 mph—over areas of standing water; water builds up between your tires and the road, causing your car to be carried over a thin film of water.

To prevent hydroplaning:

  • Slow down when you see water standing on the surface of the pavement, especially on freeways.
  • Drive in the tracks left by any vehicle ahead.
  • Use tires with deep, open treads and be sure to inflate them to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
  • If hydroplaning does occur, do not brake. Instead, ease your foot off the accelerator to gradually decrease speed until your tires regain traction, and continue to look and steer where you want to go.

Enjoy your driving trips this summer, and safe travels!

Jessica Albrecht SquareHow long have you been working at LifePath?

I have been working at LifePath for over a year and a half now—it will be two years this winter.

What are your responsibilities?

I like to tell people that “I wear many hats.” As the Media & Communications Manager, my main responsibility is to communicate the agency’s mission of assisting elders, caregivers, and those with disabilities. This communication may take various forms; for instance, over the past year or so, I have written and recorded radio ad copy about our SHINE Program’s One Care counseling services with a SHINE Counselor; coordinated on-air television and radio interviews about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day with the director of Elder Protective Services; worked with our designer to create flyers for the new Healthy Living workshop on Diabetes Self-Management; created videos for the 2014 Meals on Wheels Walkathon; taken photographs to commemorate milestone anniversaries at our local Dining Centers and Luncheon Clubs; written and helped design our annual report; and, of course, I have been working alongside our web developer to create this new website!

My other title here is “Editor of The Good Life,” which is our publication for elders, caregivers, and persons with disabilities that appears weekly in The Recorder and is also available online here. In addition to writing many of the articles, I am responsible for planning the content that appears in The Good Life, and I coordinate and edit the articles that are written by others.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

My work days rotate on a monthly schedule based around the editorial calendar for The Good Life, so there’s a lot that changes from day to day. That said, a typical Monday would involve emailing The Good Life for the coming weekend to our subscribers, sending the files for the next edition to my contact at The Recorder, creating and scheduling content for our agency’s Facebook page, updating our website’s calendar with new events and perhaps writing articles for the upcoming month’s Good Life, meeting with a program manager to discuss marketing plans for volunteer recruitment, designing our agency’s e-newsletter, or traveling to a local senior center for an interview.

What’s your favorite thing about your role?

I am a very creative person and have always loved to write and tell stories, so I enjoy working in a position that allows me to think creatively and use storytelling to help teach people about the work we do and inspire them to get involved.

What has been your most memorable moment at LifePath?

I attended the first Intergenerational LGBTIQA Social on June 26, 2013, the day that the US Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act. It was a moving day for all present, but, for me, it was a moment when I was more than someone there doing her job—taking notes and photographs for a Good Life story—I became a participant. As an “ally,” I engaged in roundtable conversations about being LGBTIQA that were personal and emotional and gave me a greater understanding of the struggles these individuals have faced and their strength in overcoming their challenges of public and private acceptance. It reminded that to become a more compassionate person, you must listen, seeking to cultivate a better understanding of those around you while being respectful of the fact that everyone has a depth that is beyond your reach.

What does LifePath’s mission mean to you?

Anytime that I am able to go out into the community to meet with and listen to one of our clients or volunteers tell their story, I am reminded of the importance of our work. LifePath reaches out to people who may otherwise be alone and forgotten and gives them the chance to live the life they want to live—that’s a mission worth working toward. 

Roseann MartocciaRoseann MartocciaULifePath 40th logopon its incorporation on July 22, 1974, LifePath began to serve the 26 towns of Franklin County and the four Worcester County towns of Athol, Petersham, Phillipston and Royalston. With the guidance and support of the Franklin County Commissioners, the agency was off and running for the purposes not limited to providing home care, applying for grants and contracts and receiving funds from public or private sources, as well as administering programs designed to support and maintain persons in the community. The Corporation was authorized to assist older persons with homemaking, social services, legal services, nursing services, hot meals, nutrition, medical services, or any service that prolongs the life and well being of older persons.

On October 1, 1975, LifePath was the first Home Care Corporation to be designated as an Area Agency on Aging. Throughout the 1980s, the agency continued the start of the home care program with area planning, administering the meals program and working with local Councils on Aging. During that decade, the Adult Family Care program was added, along with Protective Services and Nursing Home Ombudsman (now known as the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program), and Information and Referral service began.

The 1990s were a time of continued growth, adding nursing assessment and evaluation for various services, housing supports at residences, and the expansion of services for persons with disabilities through personal care assistance. Following the Olmstead decision of the US Supreme Court in 1999, emphasis on “care in the least restrictive setting” led to multiple policy initiatives focusing on consumer directed care, person-centered care and the expansion of home- and community-based options. New programs added a variety of long-term supports in the community and strengthened the agency’s capacity to serve persons who would otherwise be in nursing facilities. Recognizing that health insurance is a key issue for elders, the agency began to operate the SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) program in the late nineties to assist all Medicare beneficiaries; this program has mushroomed in complexity since its inception.

The new millennium emphasized assistance to caregivers, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and persons with dementia. All three of these groups are expanding while the demographic of older persons, especially those over 85, are the fastest growing part of the US population. The current mandate of the Affordable Care Act, with its “triple aim” of improving the experience of care for individuals, improving the health of populations, and lowering per capita costs, includes times of care transitions and linkages of clinical healthcare providers with community partners.

The original intent and evolution of LifePath over four decades has us ready to meet the current challenges and place the consumer at the center of opportunities for healthy living.