NE Villagers Keep Social Connections Alive
Despite the need for physical distancing, NE Villagers are finding ways to maintain their social connections which are so vital to good health in this time of enforced isolation. Here's the latest news from three NEV groups that are staying in touch via Zoom:
Men's Cooking Group
Virtual cooking? Not exactly. Eating a meal online? No. The men's cooking group has not been able to do what we usually do: cook a dish and then share a dinner. The virus and the Governor's order (thank you, Governor Brown, for saving lives) required a cancellation of our March meeting.
Nevertheless, undeterred and missing each other's company, men's cooking met
April 13 on Zoom. Bob Granger set up the video conference, and all six of us were able to join. We greatly enjoyed seeing each other. We, of course, discussed what cooking we have been doing. A lot of baking is going on. Drop biscuits seem a particular favorite.
We plan to meet again
May 8 on Zoom. We have all agreed to cook in the interim something we have never made before. Will we have burned casseroles and collapsed soufflés to report, or will each present a culinary triumph? I am betting on the latter. In either case, we will maintain our social connection in a time of physical distancing.
-- Peter Anderson
On April 15, eight of us had our second virtual meeting on Zoom. Despite the novelty of the technology, our conversation proceeded in a normal way. The two movies we discussed, both streaming on Netflix, could not have been more different.
The Two Popes, featured cinematic giants Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, the former portraying Pope Benedict and the latter his successor, Francis.
What stood out was the quality of the production: the performances, the script, and the sets. (Had the filmmakers rented St. Peter's?). The central characters both lived through contested eras, managing one of the world's most consequential organizations.
The script explores a conversation the two might have had at the point where the coming succession was taking shape. Despite the political implications, the dialogue largely avoids theology and ecclesiastical politics. Instead, it settles into a memorable encounter between two remarkably rich personalities.
The second film was a modestly crafted independent movie.
The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open follows two Indigenous women who meet in Vancouver, B.C. Rosie is pregnant, disheveled, and fleeing domestic assault. Aila is more stable. With painful slowness, the film tracks the tenuous trust between the two women as Aila tries to find a way to help.
We plan to meet again May 20 to discuss
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and
Just Mercy. Stay tuned.
-- Ken Kipnis
How do the rules of society apply to a person who's been pushed to the edge of a swamp? If a child grows up in wilderness almost exclusively, living alone in a shack from age 6, what are the moral implications for human behavior?
These were just a few of the questions raised in our lively Zoom discussion on
April 20 of
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, who has also co-authored nonfiction books with her husband Mark on their wildlife preservation efforts in Africa. We analyzed the structure of her narrative and marveled at its exquisite language, particularly descriptions of wildlife in a North Carolina marsh and the bizarre mating habits of insects.
Were the characters credible, or did their behavior seem too good to be true? Was the ending believable, or did it feel tacked-on? While a variety of views were expressed on these and other topics, everyone agreed the book was engaging and a pleasure to read. Several people saw similarities between this work of fiction and the memoir
Educated by Tara Westover.
Early on, we adopted a reading strategy of alternating fiction with nonfiction books. On June 8 we will meet to discuss our next selection,
The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits by Tiya Miles.
-- Pat Vivian
Food as Medicine: Nutrition in Our New Normal
Food has an outstanding presence in the post COVID-19 world. We're balancing more daily meal prep and the frustrations of grocery shopping -- while trying to be ever-more conscious of our health and of our immune systems.
With fewer available options, we need to be more strategic about what's in our fridges and pantries and still find ways to satisfy our cravings, simplify our meal planning, and eat a variety of nutritionally dense foods.
This June, please join Erin Fredericks, MScN, for a four-week series of virtual workshops on Food as Medicine.
The series will be conducted via Zoom. We'll be talking through some nutritional basics for healthier aging, and get into the specifics of which foods (and how much) belong in the regular rotation. We'll also focus on strengthening the immune system -- improving gut health, calming inflammation, as well as some foods which may help reduce susceptibility to infection.
Part science discussion, part cooking club, part focus group -- this series aims to translate current nutritional research into practical recipe ideas for you to test at home. Substitutions will be given to accommodate dietary preference/ingredient availability, and all levels of cooking skill are welcomed.
Please note: This class encourages active participation. Attendees will be asked to try at least one new recipe and complete a short take-home survey each week.
Participants should plan to join for the whole four-session series, as the topics will build on each other, and discussions will be based on the previous week's homework.
We are limiting each class size to six members to encourage easier discussion, and plan to run two separate sections (Wednesday and Thursday mornings) to include all who would like to join.
Wednesday sessions meet at 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. June 3, 10, 17 and 24.
Thursday sessions meet from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. June 4, 11, 18 and 25.
Register for the first day of the series of your choice by using the calendar on our website.
For the Wednesday series, register for
June 3; for the Thursday series, register for
June 4. You'll automatically be enrolled in the full four-session series and will receive an email with the Zoom link prior to the first session.
An Editor Asks: Can you help a bit on the newsletter?
We'd like to add more newsletter proofreaders, who read and correct our drafts e-mailed during the last week of every other month. Can you volunteer?
As for writing for the newsletter: Everyone is a reporter! Send us solicited and unsolicited articles about our Village and community, reviews of village events you attended, topics of interest to your fellows, and more.
You can also help on the newsletter team, who meet once every other month, to make sure many aspects of NEV are covered, and who interview people for profiles, write pieces, and encourage others to write articles we need.
How I Found NE Village PDX
My husband and I moved to Portland from Seattle in September 2019. I became aware of the Village Movement through a friend who is a member of a village in northeast Seattle. She volunteers for the group, primarily in transportation, and has benefitted from her membership during a recent recovery from knee surgery. I had also seen an article about the movement in an issue of
3rd Act, a Puget Sound publication for older folks.
We had been planning our move to Portland to be closer to our daughter and her family for several years, and my intention was to try to find our new home in the NE Village PDX area. In all the confusion and distraction of finding a home, moving in and getting settled, I lost track of the village aspect of our move.
Fortunately, Susan Terry -- a volunteer and now a member of the Village who lives across the street from my daughter -- called me earlier this year and reminded me of my intention to look into the Village. One thing led to another and now my husband and I are members and intend to volunteer as well. Kudos to Susan Terry!
-- Cathy Robinson
Got a Medicare bill? Need some free help getting reimbursed?
Meet Merry Schiff, a new volunteer with Villages NW. Merry is a retired certified healthcare reimbursement specialist with more than 50 years experience in medical billing. Merry is an expert in helping Medicare clients navigate the complicated process for reimbursement.
Merry is offering her services for free to anyone with Medicare and supplemental insurance questions. Merry is not selling or promoting any insurance policies, she's just available to answer questions. To chat with her call 503-347-0124 or email her at:
Merry learned about the Village movement more than 10 years ago when her nephew became the executive director of a Village in Berkeley. Merry lives in King City where she is anxiously anticipating the opening of a Village near her soon.
NE Village PDX Current Membership Statistics
We now have:
49 single full service members
8 2-person household Full Service members
40 single associate members
43 2-person household associate members
9 mixed, i.e., one full service and one associate member
News from your Governing Council
On April 9, our Village Governing Council met on Zoom, both to practice physical distancing and to learn a new technology. So much for old (well, senior) dogs and new tricks! High on our agenda was the mid-month launch of our new website. By now, members have received user names and passwords to access the website. Look for details on features of the website later in this newsletter.
On the website, take a look at the updated vision, mission, and values statements under the
About Us tab
Our original statements (2016) focused on services to support seniors who want to age safely at home. Service provision by trained and vetted volunteers is still a key component of village life, though limited during this COVID-19 period. More importantly, we have broadened our vision of the Village, and thus its mission and values, to that of a community, created by reciprocal relationships.
When a village folds its service provision into this larger vision of community, a village thrives. Research commissioned by Village Movement California in 2018 found that members highly value relationships, opportunities to grow while aging, and engagement in community. Our own experiences showed that NEV members feel the same.
This expanded vision of our Village was the subject of the December quarterly meeting and fueled a follow-up gathering at which members and volunteers brainstormed ideas for programs, activities, and study groups to meet a range of interests.
We look forward to picking up the planning process and reporting on developments as soon as we can. Still, our enhanced identity of NEV as a community is alive and well as village groups remain active on Zoom. Read about some of them later in this issue.
Thoughtful Gift Bags
Thanks to a grant, Villages Northwest was able to provide member villages with toiletry bags for members in need. Ten NEV members requested the gift bags and received them on April 21. Thanks to Vonnie Condon, Mary Kay August, and Laurie McVay for making the project happen in our village. The family foundation that contributed the gift bags wishes to remain anonymous.
Next General Meeting
It should be on June 10. At this point in time, Oregon's restrictions on social gatherings have been extended through June. Please put 6:00 p.m. on your calendar, though, and plan for a virtual meeting, perhaps on Zoom. Expect more information as we get closer to the date. We appreciate your forbearance in this uncertain time.
-- Jane Braunger and Todd Coward
Co-Chairs, Governing Council
Volunteer Spotlight: Ben Combs
Meet Ben Combs, currently one of Northeast Village's busiest and most appreciated volunteers. He's signed on to do many grocery shopping/delivery services lately.
My Zoom teleconferencing interview with him was sandwiched between one of his shopping runs for NEV and a session helping with St. Andrew Church's food pantry. He's pleased that younger volunteers like him, at age 30, are stepping up to do what they can do more safely than older volunteers. Ben says, "It takes a village," and services like shopping are a great example of the inter-generational inter-dependence of a community.
NEV has always had some volunteers too young to be members, as well as older people who are both. We all have much to contribute and much to gain. And now that our organization is opening up our activities to volunteers, Ben finds it natural to consider participating in some of these in the future.
Ben's path to Northeast Village started when his job in financial planning for retirement branched off into helping clients with non-financial aspects of planning. He hired gerontologists and other aging experts to help clients make housing plans, care-giving plans, and more. Surveys indicate that 95% of adults intend to "age in place," but less than 40% would accomplish that desire. It requires planning ahead for different eventualities, communicating plans with other family members, and creating support around us.
Ben learned that Villages offer an affordable and community-oriented solution for maintaining independence and wanted to join the nearest village close to his home in Overlook. An Ohio native, he has been in Portland for five years after moving here from New York. Since his previous employer didn't find non-financial planning worthwhile, Ben is in the process of creating a new approach to what a "senior center" might be: a planning cooperative for our life spans, which he plans to open in Multnomah Village this fall.
Ben has volunteered with NEV for over a year, including yard work and home organization projects. He's especially looking forward to yard parties this pandemic Spring since his condo doesn't have grounds that offer "relaxing" yard work. And his grocery shopping is in greatest demand.
We heard from both Ben and his members about the budding relationships encouraged by delivering the groceries, even with physical distancing. Although some of our services have been curtailed, he hopes members aren't shy about requesting support, since we have a community of volunteers like Ben who are always there for you. Ben points out that the Village is "shining brightly now, keeping us in safe happy healthy homes."
Our New Website -- and How to "Zoom"
By now, all Village members and volunteers will have received a user name and password, so that all of the website's content and functions are now available, including the new Forums, Calendar of Events, Member & Volunteer directories, Member Profiles, and other features.
First, let's visit our new Calendar of Events.
You'll find the familiar calendar in the main navigation bar, where it's always been, and a listing of upcoming events on our Home Page. Click on any event in the calendar or listing to get more details and enable you to register for an event.
Note: you have to log into the website to be able to register for an event.
You can register for yourself and/or any guests you are bringing. You will get a confirmation email and a reminder when the event is coming up. You can also cancel your registration, if needed.
Next let's look at our Forums
, where members and volunteers can connect and converse with each other on various topics of interest. And
can start a new topic or conversation thread.
You can also subscribe to any of the Forums or Conversation Threads within the forum, to receive daily email messages of the most current postings. Give it a try: it's a great way to connect with fellow villagers while "staying in place," and to suggest or organize a "virtual event" using Zoom.
Now Let's Look at Zoom!
Zoom has become the most popular way for people to connect with others via their computer, tablet, or phone. Our Village has adopted Zoom as the way for Villagers to connect virtually for meetings, social events, presentations,
small gatherings, even GovCo monthly meetings.
You, as a Village member or volunteer, can use our Village Zoom a
ccount to o
r participate in Village meetings and events. By using the Village account, there is no limit on the time spent or the number of people you can include in the gathering.
There are two parts to making use of this t
ool: (1) setting up a Zoom gathering, and (2) the participants must prepare to use Zoom on their computer, tablet, or smartphone.
There are two ways to do this:
- Direct contact with the office manager via phone/email, with details about your event or meeting
- Filling out a simple form on the website that you can access from the Forum or directly from the "Events" tab on the main navigation bar.
In either case, the office manager will add it to the Village Calendar, set it up, and provide the link for your group to "sign in" to the meeting. You should ask people to RSVP via the Village Calendar, or you'll need to
provide a list of participants and their email addresses to the office manager.
People in your group must either
download the Zoom "app"
to their computer, tablet, or smartphone ahead of time, or log in directly through the
. If you log in directly, your browser will download the app for you (but it takes several minutes of your time).
Once your meeting or gathering is underway, Lindsey will switch the "hosting" duty to one of the participants, who will then have the responsibility of clicking a link to "end the meeting."
GIVE IT A TRY! ZOOM
New Board Member Spotlight:
Note: In our last March-April newsletter, we dropped the last half of Jo's spotlight on Stephanie. We are reprinting the entire article here with our apologies.
"As a nurse, I've seen some elderly people in dire strai
ts," said Stephanie Sameh, one of the four newest members of Northeast Village PDX's Governing Council. This "will be a good learning experience" in planning for her own needs and letting friends know about Village resources, she said.
The associate member thought she lacked relevant experience and skills for the leadership team, but at a NEV potluck dinner was encouraged to sign up and run. The four were part of a slate of candidates unanimously elected at the organization's yearly election meeting in September.
"I want to learn more about the ins and outs of aging in place and the organization's mission," said Stephanie, who is 76. "As we age, we don't know what we might need."
The retired R.N. attends monthly council meetings, "listening, asking questions. I put my 2 cents in if I feel the least bit knowledgeable," she said. New members provide "fresh faces and fresh ideas." She also participated in a retreat aimed at improving communications within the organization.
Stephanie and member Dorothy Cox co-chair NEV's movie group; each month members pick two first-run films playing in local theaters. Knives Out and 1917 are scheduled for around-a-table discussion next. Parasite was well-received, said Stephanie. "Few knew about South Korean culture. All agreed the acting was superb and the director did a brilliant job."
For eight years, Stephanie has belonged to a book group that originally was part of a peace and freedom organization. Instead of an entire book, members read and discuss designated chapters month-by-month. Recently they finished the nonfiction Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Now they are diving into Zora Neale Hurston's 1942 autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road.
A native of Wyoming, Stephanie has lived in the Pacific Northwest much of the last 40 years and loves her "very eclectic" mid-century apartment in the Irvington neighborhood. Her American Southwest antiques and collectibles -- including pottery, textiles, artworks, and turquoise jewelry -- are set off by light-ochre walls, a color she describes as "warm yet neutral." She has two grown children, one in Ashland and one in Irvine, Calif.
As she neared age 50, Stephanie chose "an alternative to the Peace Corps," taking her commitment to social justice to El Paso, Texas, across the border from Juarez, Mexico. For a year, she "lived and worked -- not as a nurse -- in a shelter for refugees from Central America."
Following two years back in Portland, Stephanie spent a year south of the border in Mexicali, volunteering at a center for Mexican teen-aged boys deported from the United States: "We provided food and shelter, cooked meals, helped them find jobs." She described how she "drove a panel truck and picked up food in plastic buckets, donated by a restaurant in a mall."
Stephanie learned Spanish well enough to get hired as a bilingual nurse at a Providence clinic for undocumented pregnant women, located on the St. Vincent campus in Portland. She found a tutor to help improve her Spanish and worked there 12 years, retiring in 2010.
She is able to use her language skills at St. Andrew Catholic Church's emergency-services food pantry, where twice a month she is a personal shopper for clients in the 97211 ZIP code. "We walk around and put things in their cart; there's more dignity if they shop themselves," she said.
As for developing an individualized role on the Governing Council, Stephanie said "I definitely need to get my feet wet and see how the whole thing works. Ultimately I'll choose something that sparks my interest."
Monthly Calendar of Events - July
June 10, 2020
Bimonthly Newsletter - July/August
June 15, 2020