December 2020
Please Join Us for a
*Virtual* Ashby Village HOLIDAY PARTY!

When: Friday, December 18, 2020, 2:00 pm

Open to all! You are warmly invited to join us for a special Ashby Holiday Party. Join us for a fun hour with a few surprises and a surprise guest!

What to Bring: Please bring your favorite holiday drink and holiday cookie/recipe and let’s talk about how you will spend the Holidays this year. What will be different, what the same? What are your Holiday traditions? Any special gift ideas to share?

Please RSVP by 12/11 or (510) 204-9200
Upcoming Events
See what's happening this month.
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You're Invited: Open Board Meeting - January 13th

In response to the success of our September Open Board meeting (as always, summary minutes are available to signed-in members under the "Documents" tab in the "Members Area"), we will expand to quarterly open meetings in 2021. All members, volunteers, and staff are cordially invited to the January Board meeting on Wednesday, January 13th from 10am-12pm.

Please RSVP by January 8th so that we can send you an agenda and the Zoom link. Your participation is welcome!
In Honor Of My Mother: Reflections on Charitable Giving
Written by Pat Sakai
My mother, Kazue Sakai, died 22 years ago, yet I still think of her a lot. Recently, I reflected on how she influenced my values and actions, including our charitable giving. 
My mother valued service to others, especially the elderly. She started early. At age 15 she managed her family household of 8 siblings while caring for her bedridden mother. She raised our family of 9 while she and my father ran the family business, and somehow she made the time to assist elderly shut-in members of her church. My mother would have been a great Ashby Village volunteer if it had existed then!

So in memory of Kazue Sakai, we will be making a generous donation to the Ashby Village Annual Campaign to support the important work Ashby Village has undertaken to become a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization. You’ll be hearing more about this initiative in the near future.
Please join us by honoring a special individual in your life by giving as generously as you can to this year’s annual campaign.
More Upcoming Events
December Social Hour: Getting to Know You - COMING BACK TOGETHER: Post-Election Decompression, Part II

When: Friday, December 4, 4:00-5:00pm

A dozen of Ashby Village members got together actually the day before Joseph Biden was elected as President, to share our feelings and reactions about the election process. We also raised our concerns about what will happen now and in the future.

It was such a positive experience that the group decided to build on our camaraderie once the President was elected. And so we are now offering a Part II on Friday, December 4th and welcome any other Ashby village members or volunteers who would like to join us
Any questions? Contact Judith Coates.
Aging and the Inner Life

When: Tuesday, December 8, 10:30am
Late adulthood has the potential to be THE most meaningful and transformative period of one's life. The key is the development of the inner life, and with it a shift in one's relation to the aging experience. In today’s presentation, Sandi, discusses the work of leading developmental theorists to illustrate some of the central tasks inherent in the aging process.  Drawing from her recent book, Aging with Agency, she will recount three different elder fairy tales, and demonstrate how each embodies some of the essential tasks older people face as they grow into psychologically mature elders... 

Sandi Peters has a master’s degree in psychology and has been working in the field of gerontology since 1986. Read more here.
Personalized Holiday Greeting Card Tutorial

When: Tuesday, December 8, 1:00-2:30pm
Where: Via Zoom, RSVP for link - when we confirm your reservation, we’ll send you the Zoom link and information on what you’ll need to bring to the tutorial

Ashby Village tech volunteers Bill Graham and Celie Placzek are offering a tutorial on Personalized Holiday Greeting Cards. Come learn how to use your iPhone or iPad to create personalized greeting cards, just in time for the holidays!
The workshop will focus on the Snapseed app and will cover:
placing a photo into Snapseed
  • adjusting and cropping image if needed
  • expanding image border option
  • applying text
  • saving as a copy
  • sending your greeting as a text or email
Science and Ideas Group: Studying Lizard Speciation On Caribbean Islands - A Kid's Dream Come True

When: Wednesday, December 9, 3:00-5:00pm

Maybe as a city kid you didn’t have the guts to follow your dream professionally, but here’s one of “our own”, George Gorman, who did! How he did it and what he did while he was there is “his story”: a semi-autobiographical, detailed view of one case of speciation and how biologists unravel the mysteries of evolution.
A former Professor of Biology at UCLA with a specialty in herpetology and evolutionary biology, George did much of his research in the Caribbean. Read more about the talk here.
Ensemble Ari: Musical Performance

When: Thursday, December 10, 11:00am
Join us for a pre-recorded musical performance from the Ensemble Ari. Cellist Sarah Hong and Composer Jean Ahn will join us for an in-depth discussion.
“Ari” is a Korean word with multiple meanings: big river, wisdom and beauty. Ensemble Ari is a group of Korean American musicians in the Bay Area who wants to share this quality with the community. Our mission is to bridge Korea and other communities through western instruments while honoring Korean history and culture.
EmeryBunch Documentary Film Group

When: Friday, December 11, 5:00 - 6:00pm
Where: via Zoom, RSVP to Joan for link

This group meets on the second Friday of the month from 5 pm to 6 pm on ZOOM. Please contact to be added to the list. On December 11, we will discuss My Octopus Teacher.  

A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world. After years of swimming every day in the freezing ocean at the tip of Africa, Craig Foster meets an unlikely teacher a young octopus who displays remarkable curiosity. Visiting her den and tracking her movements for months on end he eventually wins the animal's trust and they develop a never before seen bond between human and wild animal.
Clarewood Documentary Film Group

When: Sunday, December 13, 2:00 - 3:00pm
Where: via Zoom, RSVP for link

Hang out with the "Silver Belles" who are "some of the original ladies that danced in the chorus of Harlem's Apollo Theater when it first opened in the 30's." They feel "truly honored" to be dancing with each other now and we feel that, too, as we enter the smooth flow of their loose jazz moves, and enjoy their laughter, friendship and support. They reminisce about the experiences they've shared, their attachment to their audience and the music, how they are still pushing each other to do more, We can feel how their joie de vivre carries them through the challenges of their lives now. Read more here.
Purchase a Mask...
Our Volunteers!

Have you been the recipient of an Ashby Village volunteer service during this pandemic?

Did you feel so grateful but did not know how to reciprocate your gratitude?
Since March, Ashby Village volunteers, many older adults themselves, diligently grocery shopped, given rides to medical appointments, provided virtual tech support, monthly check-in calls, gardening, and most recently outdoor companion visits.

Would you like to honor them in a small way?

Please consider purchasing a custom Ashby Village mask in appreciation. All proceeds will go to our Volunteer Appreciation Fund to help support our Annual Volunteer Party in 2021 (fingers crossed!).

Each mask is $10. Great Holiday gift idea! Click here to purchase

OR donate directly to the Volunteer Appreciation Fund here.

We are so grateful to our incredible volunteers who keep our community going, and enable us all to keep aging better – together, especially during these times.
In lieu of our annual Volunteer Appreciation Party, we will continue to highlight and appreciate several of our volunteers, some working behind the scenes that you may not ever meet.

If you'd like to nominate a volunteer or would like to contribute an appreciation, please let us know! Contact
The Makers of Our 10th Anniversary Gala

It was clear that the culmination of our 10th Anniversary needed to be a BIG PARTY -- a gala celebration that could capture the grandiosity and magnificence of our Village. Unaware of the roller coaster they were stepping in to, Helen Hansel and Pat Kirkpatrick were the perfect volunteers to have as co-chairs. In Fall 2019, they began the planning, production and pursuit of sponsorship for a 300+ person luncheon at the Claremont Hotel; following the rise of the pandemic they shifted course and began production of the online celebration. “The brilliance of this event can be attributed, in large part, to Helen and Pat,” writes Executive Director Andy Gaines. “Their big vision and commitment to excellence enabled us to create the memorable 10 year marker that Ashby Village truly deserves.” 

Read about Helen Hansel and Pat Kirkpatrick HERE
Volunteer Appreciations
Submitted by Ashby Village Members
Shirley Jowell: I took to Shirley from the moment she joined AV a few months after I did (~10 years ago) and she has been a spark of enthusiasm, and activity ever since. She served on the Events Team and the Program Leadership Team for several years and helped organize and develop several interest groups, the Science and Ideas Group and the Nature Walks among them. Straight forward in her comments and very supportive, Shirley has been at the heart of AV's early program development. Submitted by Audre Newman.

Holly Brownscombe did my bi-weekly shop this morning and when she came by to deliver the groceries she had on a beautiful mask. So I complimented her on it. Just a little while later my dog Moby "announced" that something was placed in my mailbox and therein lay a brand new mask like the one she had on. Holly is the dearest of dears. What a blessing she has been!!! Submitted by Chandra Hauptman.
Although attendees did not manage to uncover an 8-track tape or lava lamp (so much for 70's nostalgia!) they were able to hunt down a flip phone, $2 bill, high school diploma, purple socks and even a few Matchbox cars in record time! Although volunteer Sigrid Duesberg won with the most items, I think in fact we all won!

How many items would you find in your home?
Check out the list!
Healthier Aging
*Save the Date - 1/26/21* Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hearing Loss: Why It Matters and What Can Be Done About It"
When: Tuesday, January 26, 2:00 - 4:00pm

Are you the one saying "what" lately? Join us to hear Professor Meg Wallhagen, PhD of UCSF to learn about hearing loss, its effect on the brain, cognitive functioning, and social relationships.
Chronic hearing impairment becomes very common as one ages. The National Institute on Aging reports that one in three adults aged 65-74 has hearing loss and nearly half of those 75+ have difficulty hearing ,but it is often under-recognized and inadequately addressed.
Hearing loss can negatively affect your brain’s auditory cortex. Cognitive abilities (memory and thinking) may decline faster in people with hearing loss. It is easier and better for the brain if you try to correct hearing loss sooner rather than later.
Learn about the many ways hearing loss can be corrected through hearing aids, other amplification options, and better communication techniques.
You Are Invited to A New Healthy Aging Discussion Group: "Wine and Cheese Improve with Age...How About You?"

It will meet for four months - on the first and third Wednesday of each month - starting on January 6th, from 1:30-3pm. An initial orientation will be on Wednesday December 16th at either 11:00am-12:30pm OR 2:00-3:30pm.

This will be a closed group of 8-10 Village members alternating between structured agenda items and the opportunity to discuss coping with the pandemic. Agenda items include:

  • Positive aspects and value of aging
  • Being an informed and assertive consumer regarding your health care
  • Exercise and tools to deal with stress
  • Connection and purpose in life
  • Legacy you want to leave including writing your ethical will
For more information about our group, and to RSVP for the Zoom link, please feel free to email our coordinators, retired social workers Sally Hunter at or Joan Hall-Feinberg at
Good News - Ashby Village Nature Walks Have Resumed*

Starting in December, weather and virus permitting, regular walks will be scheduled on:

  • 1st Mondays 1:30-4:30PM
  • 3rd Tuesdays 10:30 AM-12:30PM
  • December 7th 1:30-4:30 PM Volmer Peak, Tilden Regional Park
  • December 15th 10:30AM-12:30PM Inspiration Point

Details will be posted in the calendar.

*Because of the heightened prevalence of Covid-19, we will observe the following precautions:

  • Social distancing at 6+ feet at all times.
  • Masks to be worn in the presence of others.
  • Hand sanitizer used before and after each walk.
  • Wide trails to be chosen to facilitate appropriate social distancing.
  • Group size will be limited to 6 persons, including the leader.
  • Participant must RSVP days in advance. If the number exceeds 6, people will be put on a waiting list until a second leader can be found.
L to R: Nature Walkers Phyllis Isaacson, Roger Newman, Audre Newman, Irene Rosenfeld, Jeanette Ward, Roberta Pressman, and Dorothy Kaufman maintain recommended social distance while enjoying the natural world. Photo by Nadine Samuels.
Nature Walkers Take First Steps Since Covid-19 SIP

What a glorious morning we had! Wonderful to be out in nature with old friends and new. Fabulous to stretch our legs and fill our lungs with fresh clear air fragrant with the scents of tall redwoods and sun-soaked chaparral.

For our first walk of the season, we chose the West Ridge Trail South from the Redwood bowl to the intersection with Fern Trail, where we turned and retraced our steps. The trail is a wide dirt fire road that follows the undulating ridge of the east bay hills behind much of Oakland. We encountered few people on this Tuesday morning, but they included a diverse mix of families, bicyclists, runners, dog walkers and nature lovers like us. On the wide trail, it was easy to keep our social distance from others, and everyone was wearing masks. With 2 leaders and 2 volunteers, we were able to form 2 small groups of less than 6 walkers each.

With this initial success to spur us on, we felt encouraged to schedule more Nature walks like this one. We had enough registrants to form two small groups, each led by an experienced member/volunteer. Two new volunteers were also available to learn the trail, and to serve as “sweep”, the one who makes sure no one is left behind. We came back with everyone we started out with!
Reminder: Extra Support if You Need It - Our Wright Institute Partnership

The approaching holidays can trigger a number of different emotions and additional support can be helpful. This summer Ashby Village and the Wright Institute joined forces to provide confidential therapy and emotional support to our community members. The Wright Institute Older Adult Counseling and Psychological Services (OCPS) offers individual and group therapy for older adults. The program is no cost to Ashby Village members.
To Get Started email Erik Whitaker, Ashby Village Program and Member Support Manager
All correspondence will be held in strict confidentiality.
New Discussion Group: Investment Strategies

Join us for a group discussion of investment strategies and lessons we have learned along the way. We will talk about the evaluation of market direction, potential opportunities and ways to take advantage of current conditions.
Bring your perspective and share your strategies with others.
With over 60 years of investing experience, Larry Cooke will lead this monthly discussion group.
If you are interested in this group, please email Larry Cooke at
Your Six-Word Pandemic Memoirs

Last month we shared member Evey Baughn's pandemic memoir, which inspired others to send in theirs! So here are Ashby Village's final Six-Word Pandemic Memoirs [PDF version here], which "make sense of this moment in history: one person, one story, and six words at a time":

  • Can’t go out. I go in. - Linda Blachman, member
  • Music, NY Times, grand kids. Fulfilling! - Nancy Shneiderman, member
Executive Director Interviewed on Aging By the Bay

You might have seen on our Facebook page, but at the end of October our Executive Director, Andy Gaines, was interviewed for Aging By the Bay which airs every Saturday at 10AM on KDIA 1640AM. 

They, “have local experts…talk about what they see happening as people age [and deliver] relevant, helpful information about aging”. 

If you haven't already, take a listen to learn all about how Ashby Village continues to supports our community, and you might learn some things you didn't know about Andy!:
Tech Tips
Make Your Own Holiday Cards!

Would you like to send personalized greeting cards to family and friends this holiday season? The Village technology volunteers have resources for you!

How about a how-to article? In Tired of store-bought greeting cards? Make your own!, Lincoln Spector explains step-by-step how to use Adobe’s Photoshop Elements to prepare personalized greeting cards. As Lincoln explains, Photoshop Elements has built-in options for designing greeting cards. The software is available for both Mac and PC computers, and there’s a 30 day free trial if you’d like to explore before purchasing.  
Or, how about a how-to tutorial on Personalized Holiday Greeting Cards using the Snapseed app on your iPhone or iPad? On Tuesday, December 8th from 1:00-2:30pm, Bill Graham and Celie Placzek are offering a helpful tutorial via Zoom.

Check out the calendar listing here, and more information is listed above under our "Upcoming Events" section!
Resources on Technology Topics

A reminder that resources on a wide range of technology topics are posted on the Village TECH TIPS & RESOURCES page.
Would you like personal assistance from Technology & Electronics Volunteers?

Tech Volunteers are here for you!* With assistance by phone or Zoom, we can help you with priority needs such as:

  • using communication apps
  • ordering groceries online
  • communicating with health providers
  • streaming entertainment

Email or call 510-204-9200 to request assistance. When you put in your request, let us know if you're familiar with online tools such as Zoom, Google Duo, Facetime, or similar. If you're not familiar, a volunteer will arrange a training session.
*At this time, Ashby Village is not able to provide "in-home" tech support.
Reflection on Past Events
Public Health and Covid-19; Science and Ideas November 2020
Written by Audre Newman

In the second of our 2-part series on Covid-19, Dr. John Swartzberg gave a very clear and thorough explanation of all aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Swartzberg is a clinical professor emeritus at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. His specialties include infectious diseases and vaccinology, making him a highly knowledgeable source of information for our AV group.

If you missed it, it is highly recommended that you view the recording that is posted on the AV Youtube channel by clicking here:, or watching the video below...
...Many of our participants offered interesting questions. He explained the probable causes for the poor response of the US relative to the successes of other countries, which relied on management of the effort by public health experts, not politicians. He also explained the reasons for false negative results after rapid types of testing. And, he explained sadly, that since there are now 7x as many cases in the US as there were in June, it is still important to keep a social distance of 6 ft with masked grandchildren who have washed their hands, and not to hug them.
Our December 9 Science and Ideas presentation will be by AV member George Gorman, who will tell about his youthful path to the island of Trinidad, where he studied a case lizard speciation. Please join us - more details in the "Upcoming Events" section above!
A Poem
Edited by Irene Rosenthal and Peter Sussman

Today's featured poem is by James Broughton, a San Francisco poet, avant-garde film maker and friend of many beat-era figures (and also a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence). He traveled elsewhere during much of his adult life, dying in 1999 in Port Townsend, Wash., where he had been living at the time. This poem seems appropriate for a society adrift and uncertain of where it's headed. It is notable in this regard that Broughton's own childhood was upended when his father died during the 1918 flu pandemic, when the boy was 5.

Member Spotlight - Elena Bunnell
Written by Ruby Long

Elena knew when she was eight years old that she wanted to be an occupational therapist and it has been a satisfying career for her. So satisfying that after she retired from her job with Regional Center of the East Bay she contracts with the Center and continues that work independently. Her clients are exclusively children, most of them developmentally delayed, all of them with physical disabilities.

“No two children are exactly alike,” Elena says. So, each new child is a challenge and a mystery till she finds the key, or at least the pathway to the key, that can unlock the best way of working with their issues.

After parents contact her, she observes the child in person or via Zoom, develops a treatment plan and enlists the parents to be her teammates in guiding them through remedial exercises. It is very satisfying to all of them as they watch and experience the progress.

Shortly after Elena came here with her husband in 1970, they found and fell in love with what had been built as a vacation cottage in the Fruitvale district. Although it was missing some amenities, like a foundation, they knew they wanted to live there, bought it and little by little made it into a charming residence with a rental unit. As with the children, her touch and guidance has brought transformation.

Elena joined Ashby Village in March this year, just before everything went virtual so she has missed the camaraderie that comes with face-to-face interactions. As a volunteer shopper for the village, she has gotten to know some members who use that service, and she has attended some online programs, but it’s not the same as going to a potluck or an in-person discussion group, both of which she looks forward to. She clearly has a lot to offer Ashby Village and to be more involved with our programs once we’re finished with Covid.
In Loving Memory
Joy Thomas
May, 1933 - October, 2020
"Born Joanne Louise Van Epps, my mother was known to many as Joy. Joy was the name she chose for herself and was a word that expressed her approach to life. Always curious and eager to learn something new, always kind and ready to listen to others. She was born in Yankton, South Dakota, the 7th of 8 children. She yearned for more than her little farm town could offer and saw a chance to move to Benicia, CA when her brother was offered employment there. Not many people know at age 20, before she moved to California, she learned to fly a Piper Cub airplane and worked for a local utility company checking the lines from air. She loved the ocean and once in California never lived far from its shores. She founded Doelger Senior Center in Daly City, CA and dedicated 2 decades to improving the lives of seniors. She also managed to graduate from St. Mary's College in Moraga with a masters degree in non-profit business administration while working full time. 

She enjoyed her friends at Ashby Village immensely. She passed away peacefully at home with family present. She will be missed so very much and will always hold her in our hearts. Family will have a small ceremony to celebrate my mother's remarkable life when it is safe to travel and convene. Please wish her well on her journey and thank you for your friendship. One thing is for sure, she wants us to choose joy whenever possible." - Thereza Genn (Joy's daughter)
Mairin Malarka-Meyer
February, 1936 - November, 2020
This is part of an email Mairin asked her children - Marina, Una, Youseef and Broheen - to send out upon her death: 

"I have experienced difficulties in my life but, all in all, it’s been good. I am especially lucky for my wonderful children. I thank each of you for the contributions you made to my life." 
Sarah Puyans
September, 1934 - November, 2020
"Dear Outlandish neighbors,

Our well-loved friend and neighbor, Sarah Puyans, died yesterday morning. She was surrounded by love and support from her Buddhist community and a wide circle of friends. Anyone who met her was instantly taken with her gentleness and intelligence. She generously participated in Ashby Village and in the wider community. -- a free website -- has more news and tributes. 

With love and sadness,
Ella Hirst (AV member and volunteer, on November 23rd)"
Robert Hilden
October, 1933 - November, 2020
Bob is survived by his wife, Joy, and their children
Thank you to the Ashby Village volunteers who contributed to this issue of the Village Voices newsletter.