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Jessica AlbrechtJessica RielThe new Athol Senior Center sits in a building that, from the outside, appears to be full of humble storefronts. Once you enter the Center, however, you see that the space is quite large and inviting, with plenty of space for activities. In the rear of the building is the Athol Senior Dining Center, a new, spacious dining space with a good-sized kitchen, where two volunteers help guests feel right at home.

Irene Kazinskas has been volunteering at the Athol Senior Dining Center for four years. Kazinskas had not planned on becoming a volunteer the day she decided to meet a friend, Viola, at the Dining Center. “I just stopped in to have coffee with her,” Kazinskas explains. When she found out the Center was in need of help, she started volunteering. “It keeps me out of trouble,” Kazinskas smiles.

Robert Britt has been a Dining Center volunteer for 14 years, by his estimate, and he enjoys the work he does there. “I like to talk to the people in here,” he says.

Both the guests and the Dining Center Manager, Diane Coburn, appreciate their dedication. “I could not do this without Irene and Robert,” says Coburn, who has been managing the Center for about seven months. “It’s a real “Three Musketeers” kind of team effort, and it works very, very well.”

Athol Senior Dining CenterRobert Britt (left) and Irene Kazinskas (right), both residents of Athol, have been volunteering at the Athol Senior Dining Center for many years.Kazinskas and Britt work closely with Coburn, preparing the meals in the kitchen, as well as with serving the diners and cleaning up once the guests have finished. “It’s been very interesting just to get to know these two people,” Coburn says. “Both of them make coming to work fun and so enjoyable. Irene has a sense of humor that doesn’t quit. She just makes me laugh all the time. She sees things that need to be done and does them before I even have a chance to think about them. She’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met.”

“Robert is a joy, too,” Coburn goes on, “and a very giving kind of person. He’s a hard worker. He also has a great sense of humor.”

Kazinskas and Britt do not limit their volunteering to the Dining Center, either. They also help out at the Senior Center, reports Program Coordinator Judy Thayer, who remembers both volunteers helping during the move from the old Senior Center to the new location on Freedom Street.

“Robert and Irene are wonderful people,” says Coburn. “They’re compassionate, too. They’re good to everybody. They just do whatever they can to help out.”

To find out about how you can become a volunteer, click here

Jessica AlbrechtJessica AlbrechtFarmers markets are a great place to shop for fresh, locally grown produce and farm-raised meats and dairy. August is peak-season for many crops, and the abundance will continue well into the fall. Many of our local farmers markets are open throughout the growing season and, thanks to storage crops, some are even open year round, so you still have an opportunity to make the most of your visit to the farmers market. In addition to cash, these days more and more are accepting EBT, SNAP, and credit and debit transactions as well as Seniors’ Coupons.

The following is a partial list of local farmers markets open on Saturdays, as listed by CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture). For a complete directory of farmers markets, including those open on weekdays, their hours and offerings near you, visit www.farmfresh.org.

Amherst Farmers Market

Amherst Common
Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
April through November

Ashfield Farmers Market

Ashfield Town Common
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
May through October

Athol Farmers Marketshutterstock 108633476 smaller

Uptown Common
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
June through October

Bernardston Farmers Market

Bernardston United Church parking lot
Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
May through October

Charlemont Farmers Market

Charlemont Federated Church
Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
June through October

Greenfield Farmers Market

Court Square/Town Common
Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
May through October

Northampton Saturday Market

Downtown, Gothic Street
Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
April through November

Shutesbury Farmers Market

In front of Town Hall
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
May through October

The Nutrition Program at LifePath operates many Senior Dining Centers and Luncheon Clubs, as well as the Meals on Wheels program, across Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. Home Care and other programs may offer assistance with grocery shopping. To learn more, contact us at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SHINE: Serving Health Information Needs of Everyone

Medicare Open Enrollment Begins October 15

Lorraine York-EdbergLorraine York-Edberg, Western Mass. Regional SHINE Program DirectorIf you have Medicare, sometime during the month of September you will be receiving important information known as an Annual Notice of Change. It will be sent to you from your Prescription Drug Plan or your Medicare Advantage Plan. The mailing will explain any changes to your plan in the coming year regarding premiums, drug coverage (formulary), providers and restrictions. It is important to review the letter to make sure the plan still works for you. This is the time when you can join, drop or change your insurance, and the new coverage will begin on January 1, 2015.

Important things to consider when reviewing your plan changes are: Does it still cover all your medications? Did you get a letter from your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that your plan is changing? If you’ve been reassigned to a new plan, contact the new plan to assure it will cover your current medications. If not, you must switch before December 7, 2015. Also, if you’ve never joined a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D), you can do it during this time.

Review and save all letters from your plan!

During the Medicare Open Enrollment (October 15 - December 7), you will have a chance to CHANGE your coverage for next year. You can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you are already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can use the Open Enrollment to switch back to original Medicare with a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. State-certified SHINE (Medicare) Counselors can help you understand your plan changes, as well as other options you may have. Make your SHINE appointment early.

Ways to get the help you need

  • Visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan to use the Medicare Plan Finder.
  • Look at your most recent “Medicare and You” handbook to see plans in your area; 2015 books will be mailed late September.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say “Agent.” Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends.
  • Contact your local SHINE Program.

The SHINE program, Serving Health Information Needs of Elders, provides free, confidential and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. For further assistance with any Medicare issue, you can make a SHINE appointment. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the Regional Office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555 or contact your local Council on Aging.

shutterstock 99253817smallerUpdate: this session has been postponed until the spring due to low enrollment.

Caregivers are wonderful people, dedicated to their daily work of caring for another person. Sometimes, though, in the midst of everything else, it can be hard to remember to care for yourself.

"Powerful Tools for Caregivers," a six-week workshop series at LifePath, is designed to develop a wealth of essential self-care tools for hardworking caregivers to help with stress reduction, communication skills, self-awareness of messages transmitted through emotions, and more.

The workshops will take place from 5:15 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, starting September 15, 22, and 29, and ending with October 6, 20, and 29, 2014. There will be no class on October 13.

A $25 donation is requested to cover material costs. Scholarships and caregiver respite may be available upon request.

To register by Wednesday, September 10, contact 413-773-5555 x2332 or 978-544-2259 x2332 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

These workshops will be co-led by Holly Angelo and Ann Marie Meltzer.

Learn to reduce stress, practice better communication, and become more self-aware of messages transmitted through emotions. These workshops will give you the ability to deal with difficult feelings and challenging situations, making tough caregiving decisions easier to handle.

Read more about support for caregivers.

Jessica AlbrechtJessica AlbrechtHave you been missing out on some great deals? Restaurants and fast-food joints, locally owned and chain supermarkets, thrift stores and other retailers, automotive rental and service centers, and many other places all across the country offer discounts for those over 50, 55, 60, 62, or 65.

The key to finding discounts in all types of venues is simple: just ask. Many places that do not visibly advertise special pricing for seniors and boomers will provide discounts to those who ask—but be prepared to provide proof of your age in return if requested.

If you’re going to be traveling this summer, consider companies that offer senior discounts when searching for the best deals. Southwest Airlines offers a special fare for those ages 65 and older, Amtrack offers a 15% discount to those over age 62, and Greyhound also offers a 5% discount to the 62+ crowd. Don’t forget to check with your hotel—most offer between a 10-30% discount for seniors.

If you’d like to add some entertainment into your summer plans, be sure to ask about discounts at movie theaters, symphonies, plays, ballets, museums, aquariums, and zoos, which usually provide reduced admission rates for seniors over age 60, 62, or 65. The National Park Service offers a pass, called, “America The Beautiful,” which covers a lifetime of entrance fees at national parks and federal recreational lands for you and three other adults (children under age 15 are admitted for free). The lifetime Senior Pass, available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over, costs $20 by mail with application and documentation (includes a $10 processing fee) or $10 online (visit store.usgs.gov/pass/senior.html) or in-person at a federal recreation site (when available). U.S. Citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities of any age with documentation may receive a free Access Pass in-person or pay $10 for processing through mail.

Discounts are often a benefit of having a membership with various senior organizations, such as AARP, The Seniors Coalition, the American Senior Association, or the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

If you have access to the Internet, a great place to find hundreds of thousands of senior discounts for those over age 50 is www.SeniorDiscounts.com. This website offers free searchable listings in categories from airlines and auto services to golf, pets, restaurants, and more, as well as a premium membership option, costing $12.95/year at the time of this writing, that gives you access to additional discounts. Another free website, www.sciddy.com, allows you to search for senior discounts near your chosen location.

When inquiring about a senior discount, keep in mind that a better deal may still be available, so plan to compare all prices before making your final decision.