Blog - Williamstown, MA
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Update, Friday April 17, 2020

I’ve found another DIY mask/face covering resource, here’s the link; 

www.covidstudentresponse.org/resources/mask-making

The guide has all sorts of different designs, easy to follow script and some basic information about COVID-19, what types of materials are effective for protection from pillow cases, t-shirts to tea towels and coffee filters, design patterns, how to wear them and more. Check it out. The parent website is www.covidstudentresponse.org  It’s an actual curriculum on COVID-19 by Harvard Medical School students…

Earth Day is coming up-April 22nd, that’s next Wednesday. The official website for Earth Day is www.earthday.org and there are plenty of activities you can access to do with Grandchildren, or anyone else for that matter They’ve included a collection of virtual activities, challenges and information on environmental activities you can share if you’re interested. 

As we all weather the COVID storm and stay away from each other, some folks might begin to feel a little blue, isolated or alone. Our communal stay at home experience can be stressful and having someone to talk with can be just the right tonic during a rough period. The message here is simple, call us at 413.458.8250 and we’ll make arrangements for someone to contact you just to talk. Talk is good right? Especially now…

The St Patrick/St. Raphael Food Pantry will be open again on Wednesday, April 22nd, that’s next week folks. Use Mission Park drive to circle around the church and stay in your car, someone will help. Walkers go to the head of the line and they’ll try to serve you first. A new note from our friends at the pantry-elder participants who are unable to get there in person to pick up their food should call the church at 458.4946 and leave a message by the close of business Monday April 20th for home delivery. They’ll be assembling “go” orders on Tuesday.

Now here’s a couple COA housekeeping notes; If you should need to utilize our van to go out, please note that we’re doing life support trips only. We define life support as food shopping and medical appointments or medically related transport at this time. If you do ride the van, please wear a face covering and gloves if you have them. If not, we’ll get you a face cover. We’re really trying to help stop the spread of this monster and as always, it’s safety first.

Also note that we won’t transport more than two people at any time, we have space to effectively practice social distancing and we do, it’s part of the new abnormality. And by the way, the van is sanitized several times weekly.

There have been questions from some new folks (glad to meet ya) about whether or not we’re still shopping for elders who can’t or shouldn’t go to a grocery store themselves. The answer is yes and we’ll continue to do it until it’s safe to go out again. Call us at 458.8250, we’ll arrange for someone to call you, they’ll take your order from outside of  your door along with a check or cash and your store card, shop,return your food and receipt to your doorstep and viola! A restocked pantry. And once again, thanks to everyone who has gone out there to shop for others! We really appreciate you!

By the way, if you’re missing the movie experience and are sick of the tube, Images are screening, well, virtually, two movies this weekend, Extra Ordinary and another called The Wild Goose Lake. You can purchase them to watch via the website at www.imagescinema.org

Finally, it’s Friday and they tell me that it’s going to snow tonight. Too late for that. Or is it too early? Not sure which…Monday is a holiday, Patriots Day and the van won’t be running and under ordinary circumstances, I’d tell you that nobody would be here. These are not ordinary circumstances. Feel free to call and leave a message, we’ll be checking.

Have a great weekend and stay safe out there!

Brian O’Grady

Update, Thursday April 16, 2020

The phones and internet will stay on.. the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched what they are calling the “ Keep Americans Connected Initiative”  ensuring that people do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity during the pandemic.Over 600 broadband and telephone service providers in the country have signed on to commit to; not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due coronavirus disruptions,  waive any late fees for the same folks because of COVID related issues and open its Wi-Fi hotspots to public.At this moment, the agreement is good until May13th,2020.

Included in the 600 are Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. You can find a complete list and see if your carrier has signed on at; www.fcc.gov  Look under the Keep Americans Connected page to find them

The Massachusetts  Registry of Motor Vehicles made some additional adjustments in their due dates for expiring licences, registrations, tests, permits and other items a couple weeks ago, I wrote about these at the time. Now they have announced some newer extensions and summarized them rather nicely for us.  Rather than me summarizing all the changes they’ve made, check out their website; www.mass.gov/rmv 

The information on the latest round of changes are listed in an April 15th press release on the page, scroll down, you can’t miss it!

So…are you wondering where your stimulus payment is? There’s a way to find out. The IRS created an online tool, called Get My Payment, that can be used to check on the status of your payment.. It launched yesterday and you can find it on the IRS website www.irs.gov There’s a button with the program title Get My Payment on the page at the top of the right hand column. Click on it. It will ask for your Social Security number, date of birth and mailing address in order to track your payment. They say that the site is updated once daily so if it doesn’t have any information for you, check again the next day.

Finally, I want to thank everyone out there who has worn masks, face coverings, whatever you want to call them, when you’ve gone out in public. I’ve been out there shopping and most folks are masked, alright, covered up. There are still holdouts. I suspect that there will always be holdouts. Fine. For the rest of my masked friends, kudos!

Stay Safe!

Brian O’Grady 

Update, April 15, 2020 

An early posting. I’m on the way to the grocery. Read this later. Go outside now!

The North Adams version of the Mobile Food Pantry from the Foodbank of Western Massachusetts is back on. They’re restarting the effort for the same days and times as before-the first and third Friday monthly, 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM.

That means this coming Friday folks.

Going forward, the Mobile Food Bank will be operating from the parking lot at the American Legion Post in North Adams on American Legion Drive, just down the street from the NA Fire Department/Police Station building. The First Baptist Church in North Adams has taken responsibility for managing the program. Kudos to them.

The Brown Bag delivery scheduled for Friday April 24th is happening as normally scheduled, same drop off routine as last month. More to follow on this next week.

Unfortunately, we’ve come to the conclusion that we cannot operate the Foot Care clinic this month so the April clinic is cancelled. Obviously, this virus has had more of an impact on us than we had hoped it would. So, we’ll postpone for now and keep everyone posted as we go along. The next clinic is scheduled, at the moment, for May 19th, Serena’s regular date. We have also slipped an additional date into the longer range view for June 10th, a Wednesday. The future is unknowable, we’re really hoping that we’ll be able to provide this service as scheduled but we’ll advise everyone if otherwise.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience arising from this.

Hare are a couple new postings from Jane

Harper Center Exercise Class 2 with Jane Jezouit 4.8.20

Harper Center Exercise Class 3 with Jane Jezouit 4.15.20

Here’s a new video from Mary.

Gentle Yoga Short Sequence: From Seated on Floor to Standing

You really didn’t think that we were going to let you stay at home and do nothing now did you?

Thinking about the current situation out there, many physicians have resorted to remote consultations with patients rather than bringing patients in to meet with them. It’s not the same, for sure, it is safer, however.

There’ve been recent questions from people about this new practice and for those of you who haven’t yet had the virtual consultation experience, AARP Massachusetts has come along at the right time with an interesting live electronic chat partially exploring this very subject and also touching on some interesting medicare information as well.

They’re calling this series  “Coronavirus Tele-health programming” The next  AARP Coronavirus Tele-health program is scheduled for tomorrow, April 16th at 1:00. Experts will share the basics of electronic and virtual telehealth services and how to access them. The discussion will also include how Medicare and private insurers have adjusted and expanded their rules for testing, prescriptions and out-of-network care during the pandemic.

They’re also indicating that these calls are recorded and will be posted on the website;www.AARP.org/coronavirus

 I have been informed that these informational calls are being done weekly at the same time/day and with a different topic each time. Past shows can be found at the same web address above.

Here’s how to join:

Date: April 16

Time: 1pm to 2:30pm

Call-in: 855-274-9507 (toll free)

The number above will work for future tele events they have as well. Check the website for a schedule.

That’s it for today.

Stay well!

Brian O’Grady

Updates, Monday April 13, 2020

Wow, is it windy out there. Wind, blowing rain, kites will fly…away… and if you open an umbrella, either you’ll do a Mary Poppins and fly away yourself or your umbrella will turn inside out. Better to stay in today right?

The Governor has indicated that Farmers Markets are an essential service and with that in mind, the North Adams Farmers Market has reopened virtually and will be taking orders online. You can find out more at www.Facebook.com/NorthAdamsFarmersMarket/ or you can call 413.664.6180. They’re delivering food to North County only.They’ll take limited orders live Wednesday at the Al Nelson Food Pantry on Wednesday. They will be doing home delivery  on Friday and Saturday, order online and pay by credit or debit card. There will be free delivery for EBT customers but your EBT card must be swiped in person either at order or delivery, phone and online transactions aren’t allowed for these, however because of a grant from the United Way Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County, EBT purchases will double up to $30. Not bad eh?

The Salvation Army Food Pantry on River Street in North Adams will be open tomorrow, Tuesday-12:00-3:00. Please use front door

The Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry is operating from their temporary home at the  St. Elizabeth’s Parish Center, 70 Holder Street, and they’ll be open Wednesday, 10:00-2:00 and then again from 3:30-5:30. They are also looking for volunteers. If interested, contact them at northernberkshireinterfaith@gmail.com.

The Saints Patrick & Raphael Parish Food Pantry is open this Wednesday from 9:30-12:00 but this week they’re only open to new people, as in “never been there before” and for emergency food supplies. By the way, they’re looking for rice, it’s in short supply so if you happen to see any while shopping and want to donate… 

The Community Bible Church Food Pantry, 160 Bridges Road,  Wednesday April 15th distribution will be from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM.

The FoodBank of Western Massachusetts Mobile Food Pantry is in operation again, this Tuesday, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM  in Adams.

We have a limited number of masks some of our neighbors have made for us so-if you want one, do call us here, 413.458.8250. We’re working on getting more. Everyone needs one, they’re a fashion statement these days…

Stay safe out there. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.

Brian O’Grady

Update, Friday April 10, 2020

The Williamstown Council on Aging van will be out of service on Monday April  13th and Tuesday April 14th. We’ll be back to the new normal on Wednesday April 15th, also formally known as Tax Day. We all know that the deadline to file has been extended into July right?

Now, below is a post from County Ambulance’s Facebook page:

“We are proud to announce that County Ambulance has created a COVID Response Intervention Test Team (CRITT) to assist in performing in-home testing for COVID-19 testing for those patients who are unable to go to the BMC drive thru testing location. Patients should continue to call BMC’s screening line at 855-BMC-LINK to be screened and let them know if you have transportation challenges that prevent you from going to the drive thru testing. BMC will schedule your test with our dispatch center and we will confirm with you. We are providing this to Berkshire County residents to ensure no one goes untested. Thank you to our staff that have stepped up to be part of our CRITT team”

OK, so I called them and at this moment they are definitely covering North County. You have to go through the BMC screening line, that number is; 855.262.5465. I called the BMC number and they’ll  screen you for COVID symptoms and will arrange an actual in home screening. The hotline is open daily from 7AM to 7PM daily. So, if you’re interested and feel a need for this option, call the BMC hotline, do not call the ambulance company directly.

Locally, the North County resource is the Northern Berkshire COVID-19 Operations Center hotline, call 413-662-3614 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily or email nbcovid@gmail.com. Sorry if we’ve repeated this information, a little repetition these days doesn’t hurt right?

At 1:00 this Sunday, Hancock Shaker Village is offering a special treat if you’re interested. As the Village has closed like everything else, we won’t be able to go and see the baby animals in April this year. I was actually planning on bringing my Granddaughter to visit them but alas, not soon. The next best thing will be a live virtual tour of the Round Stone Barn  starring the newborn baby animals Sunday at 1:00 on the Village facebook page found at facebook.com/hancockshakervillage. If you have grandchildren, tell them about it, check it out yourself. It’s a little bit of normal.. 

Have a great weekend everyone, it’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow and Ok on Sunday. Get out of the house, go for a walk, play in your garden, rake those left over leaves. I’m planting grass. If you’re out in public, wear a mask. There will be a formal request from the Governor for everyone to do this coming soon I think. We all knew this would happen anyway right?

Talk soon! 

Brian O’Grady

Update, Thursday April 9th, 2020

Holidays can be stressful on their own, without added distractions. These spring days are usually times when we gather together to celebrate this season with our families and friends. This year it will likely be rather different.  Some of the people we know reside in nursing homes and this can be a really scary time for their families and significant others on the “outside” these days. Living in close proximity to each other, nursing home residents have been susceptible to this virus and with visitation in nursing facilities suspended, it can be worrisome for friends and family outside these facilities.Information could possibly be difficult to easily acquire as the dedicated staff members in these institutions attend to critical business inside. There is a new option which will allow families to connect with nursing homes and find some comfort. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services , also known as EOHHS, you’ve likely seen mention of them a lot lately, has launched a Nursing Home Family Resource Line – a dedicated phone line to connect family members of nursing home residents with the information and resources they need and want.

This new phone service will provide one contact number for families and community members with questions about the care their person is receiving wherever they are during this particular outbreak.The Nursing Home Family Resource Line is monitored daily from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily  and staff members covering the line will field questions from callers on related topics and will find answers for any question posed.The Nursing Home Family Resource Line will be another great option for information during this pandemic. The number to call is: 617-660-5399 and again, remember they’re available every day. 

If you know someone who is concerned about someone living in a nursing home, share this number with them.

Now another piece of good news. While the Williamstown Theatre Festival  has recently suspended live operations, Community Works is going forward with the scheduled Facebook and phone workshops early next week! The first workshop will be on Facebook Live, Tuesday April 14th at 5:00.They’ll be posting instructions on how to access the program on their Facebook site soon.The workshop will be examining how actors approach their scripts, all welcome, RSVP not required, join them as they innovate remotely! They’ll be doing a telephone audio only version of the same workshop the following day, April 15th at 5:00 as well. To join this workshop, simply call 253,215.8782 and when prompted, enter the meeting ID code; 322.974.939. Trust us, this is easy. You’re also welcome to email Hayley at; community@wtfestival.org with any questions you may have.

Have a great evening. Stay safe!

Brian O’Grady

Update, Wednesday April 8th, 2020

Subsequent to potential dangers the COVID-19 pandemic has brought,the BRTA will now be providing transportation for CRITICAL TRIPS ONLY.

The BRTA recommends all customers wear a medical or cloth mask to cover their mouth and nose, as recommended by the CDC, while onboard any BRTA vehicle. (visit cdc.gov for a tutorial on making your own cloth face mask). They’re also indicating that riders practice social distancing while riding on the bus; maintain space when seating. Makes sense, right? We encourage anyone needing our van to do the same and wear masks and gloves. Safety first!

All riders must be traveling to a critical, essential destination. Critical trips are defined as work related, vital appointments, or necessary shopping trips. All riders are required to exit the bus at the end of the route, or stated destination, and may not re-board the same vehicle for a return trip. Multiple or consecutive round trips will not be permitted and riders who appear to be loitering will be asked to get off the bus.

For your health and the health of others, if you are sick, have a cough, fever, or other COVID-19 symptoms, do not ride the BRTA bus. Stay home! 

If you’re a SNAP recipient (used to be called food stamps..) and you’re not yet receiving the 

maximum benefit, you’ll be receiving extra funds, a supplement, for April and May.The difference will be calculated by comparing the amount each person currently receives and the maximum for their household size and then adding funds to bring everyone up to the maximum level. If you’re already at the max, there will not be an added amount. It’s only for the people who aren’t yet at the maximum.

If you do get a supplement, you’ll be notified by phone or text.You can check the balance on your individual account via the DTA-Connect website or by calling the number on the back of your EBT card.

Berkshire County COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund has arranged a weekend meal delivery service through local restaurants to those community members who are currently unable to leave their homes and unable to access food on the weekend.  This initiative is open to people who reside in any seven north Berkshire towns [Williamstown, North Adams, Clarksburg, Florida, Adams, Cheshire, and Savoy]. At this time, 150 meals for each weekend are available.

This program is intended to reach individuals and families with no other access to food resources on weekends.  They are trying to reach those families and individuals who are not already connected with a food pantry or meal program. They’ll  be asking interested participants about food resources they are already accessing. They’re trying to avoid any duplication of efforts to expand our community’s ability to provide for vulnerable populations.  

If you know of any individual who is in need of food on the weekend because they are dependent on food delivery services, please contact the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition office at 413-663-7588. They’ll be taking phone calls Monday through Friday, 9am-3pm. Orders for weekend delivery will be placed on Fridays at 3pm and deliveries will be coordinated for Saturday at a designated time

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is offering virtual programs for caregivers and friends. Here’s a list;

Technology Class: Staying Connected, April 9th at 2:30

Broadway Concert, 2:30 on April 10th

Art with Emily, April 11th at 2:30

And finally Self Care Sunday:caregiver Stress reduction Series at 12:00 April 12th.

You can join in on any program by visiting the AFA Facebook page, and if you missed out on any of these programs, you can access them at any time through the AFA Facebook page.

By the Way, the Alzheimer’s Foundation Helpline is open seven days a week to answer any caregiving questions you might have. They’re at 866.232.8484.

That’s it for today. Talk again soon!

Brian O’Grady

Updates, Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

I went for a walk on the Spruces grounds for a change of scenery. It was sunny, still warm in the early evening and there were other people there as well, walking dogs and baby carriages, children chasing each other around. A park. Oh yes, I know what was there and what ultimately happened on that site.  I remember. Today it’s a different kind of peaceful spot, it’s flat, the former streets are still laid out in their original grid and while not paved, are kept open and are quite walkable. It’s a big space, no worry about needing to come close to anyone else. As they say, you can see them coming! There are picnic tables, cans for depositing trash and dog waste, soon there will be birds and bees and flowers. If you haven’t been there, or climbing hills isn’t your thing, take a walk on the level at the Spruces.

I see more people wearing masks while out in a close public space-think grocery stores. Good for those people. We realize that not everyone has a mask to wear, there’s a real shortage. Attached is a video from the Center for Disease Control showing how to make one yourself if you’re so inclined. Or, actually, have that talent, which I do not. These may well be very helpful if you’re going out, as long as you still practice social distancing. These should be washed after use as well because you just never know!

Oh, and before you ask, yes, we are working on the mask supply issue. Stay tuned, we’ll let you know what’s up. We’re not likely to be able to find a supply of genuine made for emergency responders medical masks for obvious reasons but decent locally made options are a possibility.

CDC web site has instructions

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

The Williamstown Food Pantry at St. Patrick/St. Raphael is open for business again this week, tomorrow, Wednesday April 8th, 9:30-noon.Same access plan, use Mission Park Drive to circle around behind the church, stay in your car, someone will help you. Walkers, go to the head of the line and they’ll try to get to you first. Nobody gets into the building and they’re all set for volunteers.

Next week, April15th, they’re only handling emergency food requests and new people. New means that you’ve never been there before. Also-if you’re thinking about donating a food item, they’re really short of rice and would appreciate this gift if you are able.

Added to the other food resources we’ve been listing, Whitney’s Farm and Market in Cheshire has opened for the season. They are designated as an essential business and are doing curbside pick up, you can ask them about that by calling 413.442.4749. I know that some folks have enjoyed going there and if you should happen to be out for a ride, it might be a stop, right?

We’ve received news that the Williamstown Theatre Festival has had to put a hold on the 2020 summer season and, at this moment at least, will not be moving forward as planned. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible to proceed. It’s just not safe for them to work or  for audiences to come out and enjoy. It is a hard but very responsible action on their part, dontcha think? 

Obviously this will impact those of you who have been involved with Community Works. If anything changes, they’ll make an announcement. 

Now, an  unusual bit of information. We all know that there are people dying as a result of this pandemic and the restrictions on gathering together will certainly put a hold on all sorts of services and memorials for lost friends and family everywhere. There is an organization out there called the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts, some of you were here a couple years ago when Sandy Ward, the local contact person,came to Harper to talk about funeral costs and necessities. They have become a great resource for information regarding funerals and burials, cost, what to look for, etc. Recently they have posted a series of short informational videos on the topic of delayed funerals and funerals for COVID-19 victims. The address is funeralconsumerswmass.org

Talk again soon.

.

Sunday April 5th, 2020

I wanted to call this the weekend update but someone else got there first…so I’ll just call it Sunday April 5th, 2020.

I found myself seriously bored with the same old routine yesterday and so took a different route on my daily walk. I decided to check out the trails behind the Clark and discovered that I was not alone, at least a dozen others were out there, observing social distance spaces by at least 100 yards…It’s a different view from the top at this moment, there are no leaves and the sky was grey but the view from Stone Hill was as fantastic as ever. Check it out. If you do go, the paths are mostly in fine shape but the section called  “Woodland Trail” was a bit muddy and the pasture across the top is soggy in places, but not bad. There are welcome signs from the Clark asking people to honor social distancing practices while out there and also noting that the surfaces in the Thomas Schutte Crystal installation are cleaned once daily. 

Kudos to the wonderful people at the Clark for being sensitive to everything happening out there at the moment. 

If you miss going out to catch a movie, the Images are screening films online that you can watch from your computer. There is a fee involved, the movies being screened and the day and time they’re showing are to be found on the Images website; www.imagescinema.org

The Williamstown Historical Museum  has posted their April Newsletter online. It’s always an interesting read but in this month’s edition there’s an article about the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu epidemic and its impact on Williamstown. Very eerie similarities with the current situation.  

They’ve also touched upon the 1955 Polio scare. 

The record shows that both of these threats passed. This one will too.

You can find the newsletter on their website at www.williamstownhistoricalmuseum.org

Finally our friends at the Williamstown Theatre Festival are hosting a live virtual workshop via Facebook Live on April 14th and a telephone audio version of the same workshop on April 15th from 5:00-5:45 PM . You can find information for the live event on their website www.wtfestival.org I’ll post the audio call in information when I get it.

Talk again soon.