November 2020
A Reminder to Keep Going
Shared by volunteer Maryl Gearhart & wife of ED Leda Dederich

Then join us this Friday at 4 PM for our social hour to decompress [more details in "Upcoming Events" section below].
Upcoming Events
See what's happening this month.
Submit an Article
Would you like your event or notice to appear in the next Village Voices Newsletter? Use this simple form to submit your material. Please submit by the 15th of the previous month. Late submissions are not guaranteed placement in the next newsletter.
Giving In Memory/Honor Of
Written by Pat Kirkpatrick
Many supporters of Ashby Village have chosen to give a gift in honor of a family member or friend who has benefited from being a member of this organization. Recently, Ashby Village lost one of its beloved members Betsy Hess-Behrens at the age of 97. Her daughter, Alyssa Hess Reit, gave a generous donation in her mom’s memory.

Ashby Village has a commitment to building a membership that reflects our diverse population, and that includes those of us with low incomes. If you’d like to donate to this fund please click here.
More Upcoming Events
November Social Hour: Getting to Know You - COMING BACK TOGETHER: Post-Election Decompression

When: Friday, November 6, 4:00-5:00pm

The election will be over! Whether or not we have final results, we will have done our deciding and persuading and voting and can move on. Come share a collective sigh of relief or exhaustion and your hopes for what comes next as we decompress from a wild and crazy election season.
Any questions? Contact Arlene Reiff.
North Oakland Village Lunch Bunch

When: Wednesday, November 11, 12:00pm
The NOV Lunch Bunch has gathered for monthly lunches for several years. We have rotated our gathering among a number of restaurants in the North Oakland/South Berkeley area. Since the pandemic, we have been gathering via Zoom, with participants eating their own lunches at home, while we converse via Zoom. We would be delighted to have new participants join us. We look forward to the day when we can resume meeting in person for our monthly lunch together.

For more information about our group, please feel free to email our coordinator, Norma Harrison, at
Science and Ideas Group: Public Health and COVID-19

When: Wednesday, November 11, 3:00-4:30pm

Unlike our October Science and Ideas presentation which focused on a specific Covid-19 vaccine currently under development [please see the summary article “COVID-19 Vaccine Research: Latest Developments!" in the “Reflections on Past Events” section below for a recap summary] November’s Covid-related presentation will be about the Public Health implications of this deadly and disruptive, highly infectious disease.

Dr John Swartzberg MD is uniquely qualified to help us understand what we can do. He is Clinical Professor Emeritus of UCB School of Public Health specializing in vaccinology and infectious diseases, and is a faculty member of the UCB-UCSF Joint Medical Program. He is a seasoned communicator, serving as the Editorial Board Chair of UCB Health and Wellness Publications. Read more about the talk here.
EmeryBunch Documentary Film Group

When: Friday, November 13, 5:00 - 6:00pm
Where: via Zoom, RSVP to Irene for link

This film group was inspired by the Clarewood Film Group and evolved out of our “Happiest Hour” which we started on ZOOM when the pandemic started. So far we have watched on our own and later discussed on ZOOM “Searching for Sugarman”, “13th” and “The Human Element”. At our November meeting we will discuss “RBG”. Read more here.
Clarewood Documentary Film Group

When: Sunday, November 15, 2:00 - 3:00pm
Where: via Zoom, RSVP for link

The Clarewood Documentary Group has been showing documentaries we love to Ashby Village members for the past two years. Our choices have included thought provoking films about: Social Justice issues, the Arts, aspects of history, travel, anthropology, whatever inspires us and might interest you. Since sheltering in place, we have been watching the designated film on our own and then meeting on Zoom to discuss it. 
On October 18th we will be discussing the film “K2: The Siren of the Himalayas”. Read more here.
Covid, Smoky Skies, and Politics: Coping Strategies for Strange Times

When: Monday, November 16, 10:30am
Where: via Zoom, RSVP for link

These are surely the strangest of times. So much uncertainty and isolation. There are ways we can support each other. Join April Wise MFT, Psy.D of Orinda for a short talk about tips for maintaining mental health in the midst of so many challenges. After Dr. Wise speaks, we will form Zoom breakout groups to share ideas on how to get through the particular challenges of pandemic and pandemonium. Connection is the key, and we’ll use the small group feature of Zoom to connect and inform each other about strategies for coping and surviving. Teresa Allen, from the North Oakland crew, will moderate the small group sharings and then pull everyone back together to bring your ideas to the larger group. Bring your thoughts and inventions about how to make it through, and even thrive, in these troubled times.
Learn the Art of Self Massage

When: Tuesday, November 17, 10:30am

This class will introduce self-massage and stretching techniques that can be used on yourself using a combination of bodyweight, household items and acupressure massage points for general relief and some more specific imbalances (irritability, breathing regulation, should-neck tension release). Read more here.
Once Around the Whole World: A One-hour Concert with Live Commentary from Internationally Famous Musicians

When: Tuesday, November 24, 10:30am-12:00pm
Travel may be restricted but thanks to virtual technology, two internationally recognized German musicians will present a one-hour concert with live commentary. Friedrich Edelmann, retired lead bassoonist for the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, and Rebecca Rust, a renowned cellist who grew up in El Cerrito, California before emigrating to Germany, will play a range of all styles of music ending with American Ragtimes.
Virtual Volunteer Scavenger Hunt

When: Friday, November 6, 2:30-4:00pm
Where: via Zoom

Ashby Village volunteers: please join us for our virtual Volunteer “Scavenger Hunt”.

Price of ADMISSION: Please wear a fun or favorite hat!
In lieu of our annual Volunteer Appreciation Party, for the remainder of the year, we will 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
Ashby Village Zooms Ahead
By Roger Abraham

The Coronavirus hit Ashby Village as it did almost everybody, but it could have been much worse if not for the introduction of Zoom to the organization’s toolbox. 

Read more about how the "Zoom Team," Hilary Naylor, Celie Placzek, Bill Graham & Craig Griffin, came to the rescue. HERE
Volunteers Who Keep The Executive Director on the Up and Up
By Elisabeth Scharbaum

How does Ashby Village support 400 members and 325 volunteers? First, with a great staff of Pat, Su-Yin, Erik, Kate and Andy. They work closely with a small corps of volunteer “executive assistants”.

Read about Linda Jacobs and Tienne Lee, two of the office corps volunteers who assist Andy. HERE
Healthier Aging
Congratulations Ashby Village!
We have all been doing a great job of staying healthy.

Let’s keep up the good work by:

Eating Well, Exercising, and Staying Connected
And of course: Wash your hands frequently, social distance, and wear a mask when you are out, and/or socializing with others.
The Holiday Season is fast upon us:
Check out these CDC guidelines for keeping you and your family safe during the holidays.
GREAT NEWS: We have permission to restart our walking/hiking program

We can walk in groups of 6 (including the leader) but must wear masks, and keep our 6 ft distance while hiking. If you are interested in helping to lead some of our hikes, do let Audre know so that we can accommodate more hikers.
Join us on Tuesday November 10th* from 10-11:30AM on the Redwood West Ridge Trail. Check the AV calendar for details and meeting place.

To register: email Audre Newman
Be sure to let us know 24 hours in advance if you have to cancel so we can admit another walker.
*The hike will be contingent on safe air quality and heat.
More Good News: Tai Chi Update

Our popular Tai Chi Chi Class in collaboration with Epworth Church will be restarting Friday, November 6th via Zoom!

Classes will be taught by our own, Claire Heinzelman and will start Fridays at 10 AM - 10:45 AM.
If you interested in enrolling in this class, please email
Susan Jardin, [and cc Roberta Pressman,].
Healthier Aging's Rainy Day Reading

Learn more about how to stay healthy at home, especially as we head into darker, and hopefully rainier days. Check out these articles:

Member Survey (Part 1) Final Report

Remember back in mid-January when we launched the two-part member survey? We barely do either... but after months of analysis and presentations to the staff, Board, Program Leadership Team (PLT) and Neighborhood Group Council (NGC), the final report is complete!

Huge thanks to Don Hubbard, member and volunteer, and Jeremy Gordon, volunteer, for their hard work and help in completing this report.

The report is comprised of prominent findings, an Executive Summary, and the full report narrative with graphs and tables. The prominent findings found that:

  • Volunteer services is a prominent feature of the Village’s programs that is extensively used by respondents who are older, or have lower income levels or are in their first year of membership.
  • Village membership has had a beneficial impact on the social engagement of the respondents by (1) increasing their pool of acquaintances, including those who can be counted upon, (2) enhancing their sense of community and (3) informing them of community services. These findings were strongest among respondents who are volunteers or have been members for more than 5 years.
  • The health and well-being of the respondents is at a generally high level though there is an appreciable percentage of them who are dealing with the issues of aging, e.g., climbing stairs, debilitating illness. These conditions were found largely among respondents who are older or have lower income levels.

Read the areas for further study and the full report here

Analysis is underway on the second part of the survey - initial summary data was already shared in the June newsletter - and the full report will again be shared here once finalized.
Your Six-Word Pandemic Memoirs

Last month we put a call out for Ashby Village Six-Word Pandemic Memoirs.

As Mr. Smith, the creator of the Six-Word Memoir encourages in his New York Times piece [PDF version here], "make sense of this moment in history: one person, one story, and six words at a time".

Here's member Evey Baughn's wonderful submission:

Sick of cooking! Room for improvement.

Please send yours in for publication in the December newsletter!
Tech Tips
Help Village Members Zoom!

We’re all longing to get together in person, but, until we can, the Village is relying on Zoom for events and gatherings. Are you comfortable with Zoom at this point? Do you have some time to help our members?
Village members request help with various Zoom issues, such as:

  • signing up for a Zoom account
  • downloading and installing Zoom
  • practicing the features of Zoom
  • hosting a Zoom event

You don’t need to be a master of all of these to help our members!
If you are a vetted Ashby Village volunteer and you’d like to provide some Zoom assistance from time to time, email or call 510-204-9200 for further information. Thank you in advance!
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
Science and Ideas Group's October 14th Presentation - COVID-19 Vaccine Research: Latest Developments
Written by Audre Newman

Dr. Christopher Hall, MD and Tricia Smallwood, MPH of the Jordan Research and Education Institute Sutter East Bay Medical Center, Oakland, CA gave 30 Ashby Village participants an illuminating look at a Phase 3 Clinical Trial of a new experimental Covid-19 vaccine being developed and tested by the Italian company AstraZeneca.

Dr. Hall is a well-known infectious disease specialist in the Bay Area, having done many clinical trials for treatments of HIV/Aids and other infectious diseases. He is the principal investigator of the Phase 3 clinical trial of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, called AZD122, to be carried out here in the Bay Area. Dr Hall gave us a solid over view of current vaccine science. He described in more detail how the AstraZeneca vaccine would work, and how the research was progressing, including a description of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials that had been completed. Because of the careful scrutiny required of all clinical trials of vaccines and treatments, three current vaccine research projects by 3 different companies have been halted while results are investigated. AstraZeneca is one of the three. They expect to be reinstated in the near future.

Tricia Smallwood described the details of this Phase 3 trial. She is recruiting participants for the trial, particularly from among older adults. A clinical research coordinator at Sutter Health she has worked in infectious disease prevention for 10 years.

The AstraZeneca (AZ) project is a Phase 3 study of one experimental vaccine against COVID-19, called AZD122 . The study will enroll a total of 30,000 people in the US, Chile and Peru, including adults aged 18 and older who are at risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2. The purpose of the study is to test how well the investigational vaccine works at preventing COVID-19 disease and how safe it is.

The study is a double blind study in which neither the participants nor the experimenters know who is receiving a particular treatment. Those who sign up will be given two injections a month apart at the Sutter facility at 3100 Summit Street, Oakland (all Covid-19 prevention precautions will be in place) and participants will be monitored regularly for the following two years.

If you have an interest in learning more or participating in the Phase 3 trial, please contact Tricia Smallwood at, or phone: 510-655-4000 x2594; and/or visit the Study Website to learn more & volunteer:
Healthcare and Long-Term Care in the Age of Covid
Written by Marcia Freedman, Elder Action Co-Chair

Sponsored by Elder Action and Embracing Change, Jodi Reid, Executive Director of the California Alliance of Retired Americans (CARA), spoke to more than 60 participants on October 15, 2020 about what we’ve learned about the inadequacies of both healthcare and long-term care during the pandemic, and needless to say both spheres of care are currently woefully inadequate. Reid described the current initiative to institute a universal long-term services and support benefit funded via a social insurance model in the Governor’s Master Plan on Aging. That initiative has been included as one of the top four of more than 700 recommendations presented to the Governor by the Stakeholder Advisory Committee in October. This is a top priority of Elder Action, which is part of broad coalition of aging and disability organizations that have been advocating for it for the past year. Hopefully it will become a legislative initiative this year or next. She also described CARA’s proposal for a statewide Medicare for All initiative. It was a lively, fact-filled presentation followed by a number of questions and comments from the audience. You can find the recording here!
What We Are Reading
Curated by volunteer Patricia Hom

by Mary Kane, Kiplinger, 12/31/2018

by Dr. Nura Orra, ABC News, 04/13/2019

by Arielle Tschinkel, Business Insider, 05/09/2019

by Mila Jasper and Phillip Reese, Sacramento Bee News, 06/14/2019

by Graham Averill, Outside, 11/09/2019

by Eric Weiner, The Atlantic, 08/25/2020
Shared by member Russ Ellis

El Camino College's Black Lives Matter Online Exhibition

An online exhibition of works by 31 artists in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing protests.
Check out the online exhibition and introductory interview with Russ here, and then view the full exhibition pieces here.

You can also download and read a PDF of the artists' statements and images here.
Member Spotlight - Ruth Palmer
Written by Ruby Long

The entire Alameda neighborhood where Ruth Palmer’s parents lived knew when she had arrived. Her parents walked the two blocks from their place to the hospital, her mother gave birth and friends of the young couple set off fireworks on the beach outside her room to celebrate. This was in 1919. Yes, she’s 101 years old.

To celebrate her latest birthday, her nephew and his wife came from Petaluma with a cake and they gathered, with seven or eight neighbors, in the garage – chairs six feet apart. There were cards to read and one package to unwrap – a roll of toilet paper.

Speaking of toilet paper, Ruth made a disappointing discovery recently when she tried to replace her 1950s pink toilet, original to her house, and found they’re no longer produced, so she had to put in a white one. During the 1930s, the family lived in the Fruitvale area and Ruth’s dad traded kale and fruit for eggs the neighbor chickens laid.

Ruth graduated from Oakland High School in 1936 and soon got a job in San Francisco at the Federal Reserve Bank. She took a bus to the ferry dock, then, since there was no Bay Bridge, the ferry to San Francisco. But she was required to leave the bank in 1940 when she married – the bank didn’t employ married women. However, Kaiser, her new employer, did and even allowed her a three month leave to follow her now Navy husband to his deployments.

There’s lots more to tell – the Loma Prieta earthquake damage to their house, the 1991 firestorm when they evacuated and forgot to close the fireplace damper. They returned to an intact house smelling smoky and filled with smoky smelling furniture.

We’ve just skimmed the surface of so many stories about local events from someone who lived through them. Ruth is indeed a treasure.
Thank you to the Ashby Village volunteers who contributed to this issue of the Village Voices newsletter.