Chambers Elementary Students Serenade Neighboring Seniors
By KYLE WIND, Freeman staff, December 20, 2011
TOWN OF ULSTER — The Chambers Elementary School chorus on Monday spread some holiday cheer to its little corner of the world when students caroled and performed songs from their latest concert for residents of The Birches at Chambers and the Chambers Court senior communities.
Traditional holiday hymns 51 fourth- and fifth-grade students performed for their neighbors at the apartment complex, which is a short walk from the school, included “Joy to the World,” “The First Noel,” “Silent Night,” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”
“It was wonderful,” said 80-year-old Fran Gillis, one of the 25 residents who watched the performance. “It means very much to me, and the kids are really great.” (To see the accompanying video, click here.
Chorus Director Mona Stovall said the carolling is part of a longstanding Chambers tradition she started in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Students have caroled in different places around town over the years ranging from the Golden Hill Health Care Center to Barnes & Noble.
Fifth-grader Kiera Gallo, who was excited for the chance to perform her solo in “The Holly and the Ivy,” described the visit as “a chance to spread cheer through The Birches and Chambers Court.”
“The children get great joy out of it, and so do I,” said Stovall, who said she began the tradition because she believes in community service.
Stovall said the experience often exposes students to elderly people with disabilities, and some of her former students went on to become special education teachers, perhaps being put on that path as the result of their early carolling rounds.
Holiday Party Has Seniors Rocking to the Beat
Holidays can be lonely for seniors living on their own. But at the Birchez Associates communities, you’ll find many ways to celebrate the holidays. In addition to cosponsoring the Kingston area senior New Year’s Eve party (to watch video, click here), Birchez owners Steve and Judy Aaron also hosted a holiday party for all their senior residents and staff.
At The Hillside Manor, a popular dining and events destination in Kingston, Birchez took over . A decorated Christmas tree welcomed guests in the foyer, with holiday decoration throughout. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres started the event in the front ballroom. Then festivities moved to the full back ballroom (complete with its own Christmas tree and Menorah) for dinner and dancing.
Special guests included Congressman Maurice Hinchey who spun at least one senior on the dancefloor. County Treasurer Eliott Auerbach and his lovely wife Judy, County Clerk Nina Postupak, County Legislators Peter Loughran, Hector Rodriguez and Walter Frey, as well as Town of Esopus Council members Kyle Barnett, Gloria VanVliet and Donna McAuley also joined the party.
The band leader of “Outside the Box” thought he was doing the right thing when he mentioned a 92 year old resident was on the dance floor, only to have other dancers raise their hands to say “I’m in my nineties too!” From the salad course through desert, the dance floor was in motion. Whether a classic melody or a cover of a contemporary song from Lady GaGa or Adele, guests were up and dancing. Chambers Court Resident and Centenarian Bill McDonough didn’t dance but had a front row table to watch others do so.
Pointsetta centerpieces obtained through the local Boys & Girls Club were given to those residents who found a lucky penny underneath their place setting. In addition to peach melba for desert, plates of cookies from local Deising’s Bakery provided some extra energy for seniors to keep the dance floor full.
And for residents who no longer drive, A.N.N. Transportation provided a handicapped bus and van to get everyone to the event. After four hours of partying, there was even some grumbling when the announcement was made that the bus and van were ready for loading to take residents home. “Already?” some were heard to exclaim!
For additional pictures, see Holiday Party album on Facebook
November 28, 2011 – As Baby Boomers take center stage, much is written on their spending patterns, use of technology, travel ideas, and more. But one of the most encouraging and inspiring takes comes from stylist Ari Seth Cohen in his blog Advanced Style, which proffers “Proof from the wise and silver haired set that personal style advances with age”. Ari’s subjects, male and female, are over 50 — and fabulous! He certainly demonstrates that age is no barrier to style.
To the right, meet Rose, age 100, as she poses for Ari’s blog.
Ari’s book, Advanced Style, is on pre-order with Amazon with an April 2012 publication date (that’s a shame because I would have loved to gift it this holiday season). As with his blog, the book promises insights from his subjects, an interview with a 91 year old subject, and delicious photos (many apparently candid, on-the-streets of New York photos).
Meanwhile, Ari’s blog also offers videos and enchanting tidbits on matching vintage items, and playing with different costumes and styles. Hats are plentiful and I predict an influx of designer canes!
I’ve seen many of our senior residents at the Birches communities, where the average age is in the 70s, styled and ready for their close up. Whether they are dressed for the fitness studio, the movie theater, or on their way out the door, many show great flair.
The old perception that the elderly dressed in dusters and wasted away their waning years in front of the TV just doesn’t play with today’s seniors. Fair warning, we’ll be featuring some of our own Stylin’ Seniors in future blogs.
Another of Ari’s elegant subjects is Ruth, shown to the left, who is also 100 years old.
-- K.J. McIntyre
On the Radio – MyKCR.org
This Thursday, November 10, 2011, at 8:35am*, My Kingston Community Radio (myKCR.org, 920 am also known as WGHQ) once again shares the mike with K.J. McIntyre, Director of Marketing for Birchez Associates, for Senior Spotlight of the Month. This month’s spotlight is on Jewish Family Services of Ulster County and will feature Sharon Murray-Cohen, LMSW. Sharon, who is the JFS Executive Director, will speak about the services offered to seniors and their caregivers.
One often mistaken notion is that you have to be Jewish to utilize Jewish Family Services. Far from it; somewhere around one in ten clients of JFS is Jewish. JFS, in addition to programs provided by staff and licensed social workers, also has a volunteer program to assist seniors. Whether it’s just a call of reassurance, or accompanying a senior to the doctor’s office or shopping, these activities done by volunteers can make a huge difference in a senior’s quality of life. On Thursday during the live broadcast, you can call in to ask Sharon questions at 845-331-9255.
Jewish Family Services has new quarters at 280 Wall Street in Kingston above the Board of Elections. Their phone is (845) 338-2980, email JFS.Ulster@gmail.com and their website is JFSUlster.org
*If you miss the half-hour broadcast you can hear it online. Just go to mykcr.org, click on program archives, and fast forward about 2/3rds through the recording.
A senior moment or . . . what was the word? Alzheimer’s
Town of Ulster, August 22, 2011 Wendy K. Rudder, LCSW and Care Consultant for the Alzheimer’s Association presented the basics of the disease to some fifty senior residents of The Birches at Chambers and Chambers Court who gathered today in the Community Room at The Birches at Chambers. This is the latest affordable senior community developed and managed by Birchez Associates. Ms. Rudder had been invited to speak through the efforts of Senior Advocate for Birches Associates, Alice Tipp.
Alzheimer’s Disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that affects memory, behavior, personality and muscle control. And the numbers are startling: While Alzheimer’s generally affects people 65 or older, a quarter of a million under 65 have the disease. Over the age of 65, one out of eight people has the disease. The likelihood of developing the disease doubles every five years after age 65 so that 49% of those 85 and over have Alzheimer’s — nearly one in two people.
Already more than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s and yet the Baby Boomers are just crossing the age 65 threshold. It is estimated that without a cure, Alzheimer’s will move up from the #7 cause of death among adults to number one by the middle of this century.
Ms. Rudder shared the 10 Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease with her audience, careful to explain that just forgetting where you put the keys last night or temporarily forgetting someone’s name or a movie title you saw two weeks ago are probably more senior moments than symptoms of the disease. www.alz.org gives some good examples of the difference between senior moments and symptoms under “Know the Ten Signs”. The 10 Symptoms are:
- Memory loss that affects everyday living
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place (even familiar places)
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities (initiative)
- Changes in mood or behavior.
Wendy suggested that the above symptoms may merit a visit to a neurologist. And she stressed that one or two of the symptoms by themselves may not mean an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Sometimes the combination of medications, or the body’s inability to absorb B12 is enough to mimic these symptoms.
The Alzheimer’s Association can help in many ways including education, referrals and caregiver groups. Their helpline and website is www.alz.org. The Hudson Valley/Rockland/Westchester, NY Chapter is housed in Poughkeepsie. If you are calling from Ulster County, use 845-340-8474. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s raises funds for global research and to provide support services locally. In this area the Walks to End Alzheimer’s will be Saturday, October 15th in Poughkeepsie and Saturday, October 22nd in Stone Ridge. To sign up, www.alz.org/hudsonvalley or call 1.800.272.3900.
Alice Tipp Appreciation Day
August 22, 2011, Town of Ulster: It’s not easy surprising Alice Tipp, the Senior Advocate for Birchez Associates, but the Birchez staff and the residents of The Birches at Chambers and Chambers Court managed to do just that. Today it was Alice Tipp Appreciation Day!
Alice has served in her position for the last six years. And as Steve Aaron, Founder and Managing Director of Birchez Associates, often says, “Alice works five days a week and is the first one in every morning.”
Alice has plenty of experience showing up and being on time having served thirty years in the Ulster County Legislature before accepting her position as Senior Advocate. Alice’s experience is invaluable as she matches resources to the needs of the residents in the four Birchez communities she services.
Appreciation was apparent in the applause, warmth and laughter expressed in the room of fifty or so. Among the attendees were several surprise guests including her son Tippy (Walter Scott Tipp II), her daughter Cheryl and son-in-law James McTague.
The residents presented Alice with a candle and candle holder to express the sentiment: “You Light up Our Lives.”
Steve and Judy Aaron presented Alice with a pearl necklace, and the staff gave her a basket of goodies and flowers. Ice cream cakes and pound cake rounded out her luncheon. Alice even read the sentiments of the many cards aloud and admired the stealth with which her friends had operated to pull off her surprise party.
The crown from Senior Property Manager Judy Fitzpatrick was just the right touch for a lady who deserves to be queen every day.
Hear Us Live, talking about LEED Platinum
Kingston, NY. MyKCR hosts Fred Wadnola (Chairman of the Ulster County Legislature) and Fred Teetsel (Former Alderman, City of Kingston) welcomed Steve Aaron, Founder & Managing Member of Birchez Associates LLC and K.J. McIntyre, Director of Marketing. Fred Wadnola, who was a guest at the presentation of the LEED Platinum award to The Birches at Chambers on Monday, opened the program with his comments on how impressed he was that this certification, the only multifamily in the Hudson Valley, had come to Ulster County.
Steve Aaron and K.J. McIntyre spelled out what it took to achieve LEED Platinum and how few affordable communities have received it. To hear the radio broadcast, click here and hit listen. The broadcast starts about 5 minutes in and lasts for a little more than 20 minutes and we suggest you turn up your sound especially in the beginning. MyKCR (Kingston Community Radio) broadcasts from 7am to 9am each weekday on WGHQ 920AM.
‘Green’ senior housing receives praise
KINGSTON, 7/12/2011 – As Ulster County’s population ages and energy resources grow scarcer and more expensive, there will also be a need for more affordable housing, especially for those on a fixed income, and the working public.
The Birches at Chambers, in the Town of Ulster, is a 62-unit senior affordable housing complex, and it’s the first multi-unit facility in the Hudson Valley to be given a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) award for its green building technology.
Willie Janeway, regional DEC director, said as housing remains in demand for baby boomers and the workforce, this housing fits the bill.
“The state is encouraging and doing all it can to support housing such as the housing we are celebrating today that is affordable for seniors and is also built ;green’, Leadership in Energy and Environmental design (LEED), which is the gold standard for environmental green building,” he said. “It makes it more sustainable and in the long term it will save money.”
Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-Hurley) said the project could serve as a model around the nation.
Steve Aaron, founder and managing partner of Birchez Associates, thanked Hinchey and other local officials like Ulster County Executive Michael Hein for helping to create a climate that’s conducive to go green on a mass scale.
Hein praised Aaron’s efforts to combine some future pressing needs to build more affordable housing that will have less impact the environment.
“It’s an enormous undertaking that you’re meeting the highest standards of building (technology),” said Hein. “We have to make sure places like this exist, so people can live with dignity regardless of their financial means.”
The Birches at Chambers receives LEED Platinum certification
LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. The founder and managing partner of Birchez and Associates says he wants to make people aware of what the LEED program is all about.
“To celebrate LEED, but also give the important people that attended the event an opportunity to talk about the environment, health, health for seniors. How a healthy building is important for seniors, especially those aging in place,” said Steven Aaron, founder and managing partner of Birchez Associates.
The Birches at Chambers is just one of only two places of its kind on the East Coast.
To view the YNN broadcast, click here.
Seniors and Alcohol
12-6-2010 by K.J. McIntyre
I was giving a tour of The Birches at Chambers, our latest senior living community, to a professional who worked with seniors. As we looked at the community room and the adjacent patio with pergola creating a sweet seating area, my guest said, “What a perfect place to have afternoon cocktails.”
I paused for a moment and said, “You don’t mean for our residents do you?” She sited another senior residence where afternoon sherry is the norm. “Well,” I said, “that’s not something you’ll find here.”
Owners Steve and Judy Aaron are fierce about protecting their residents, and it shows in both the non-smoking campuses for their latest senior properties and that alcohol is discouraged for any function in the public areas. Their concern took on new significance when I heard Dave Lucas reporting on WAMC public radio regarding a new study of Baby Boomers and Alcoholism. As he reported it: “The Baby Boomers have become Senior Citizens – the generation that rocked and revolutionized the 1960s and 70s – then settled down in the 80s and 90s are now into THEIR sixties and early seventies – experiencing the change of going from a working life into retirement. Perhaps no coincidence, alcohol abuse is on the rise among their ranks.”
Lucas spoke with Crystal Dea Moore, an associate professor and the program director of the social work program at Skidmore College, who is conducting interviews of seniors in the Saratoga area. She has worked with Swedish researchers on quality of life issues as they relate to alcoholism. The forecast is startling: the number of adults over 50 with substance abuse problems will double from 2.5 million in 1999 to 5 million by 2020.
It’s easy to see the correlation; changing metabolism, isolation and depression are too often common in the senior population, and all can increase the use and/or impact of alcohol. It’s another reason we encourage an active life style at our communities and feature a senior advocate and others that can keep an eye out for our residents and recommend resources as appropriate. And it’s a reminder for all of us to stay in touch with loved ones who may not have the support system in place that they once had. Locally, Jewish Family Services offers non denominational, home-based, one-on-one counseling for seniors suffering from depression, grief and other symptoms (costs can be covered under Medicare and Medicare Part B). For more information, their website is http://www.jfsulster.org; they can be reached at 845-338-2980.
You can listen to the full interview (click here) on WAMC.
(K.J. McIntyre is Director of Marketing for Birchez Associates LLC. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)