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Essex Happenings 2.1.12

Thoughts on the new Longevity Connection, the MBTA cutting back services for disabled, and more from the Essex Heritage Commission.

Essex Heritage to offer member only event this winter

Essex Heritage will be offering three members only events that mirror the kinds of events offered during the annual Trails and Sails weekends between now and the end of the winter season.   The events will be held in Salem, Georgetown and Gloucester.  For more information on the events and how easy it can be to participate if you become a sustaining member of Essex Heritage, please visit www.essexheritge.org

Merrimack River Eagle Festival!

On Saturday, February 11, celebrate the seasonal return of bald eagles to the Merrimack Valley with the seventh annual Merrimack River Eagle Festival! In the deep winter of February, when everything else is frozen and asleep, the Newburyport area along the river is alive with the spectacular sight of wintering bald eagles flying, fishing, and sitting in the sun. Staff and volunteers from Joppa Flats and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge help visitors find eagles and other winter specialties and answer questions about behaviors and habitats. Visit eagle hot spots at your own speed or go on an eagle tour to see birds in the wild; come indoors for nature activities or to see an up-close view of rehabilitated hawks, owls, and eagles. This is a great opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the magnificence of nature by observing bald eagles and the habitats they need to survive. Find out more about available events, tour and demonstrations here.

North Shore Elder Services has developed a new program that will provide ongoing services to area seniors and the disabled.  The outline of that program will be “kicked off” in March.

The Longevity Connection

Early this spring will open the doors of The Longevity Connection. This innovative and unique enterprise fills the need for an all-encompassing, accessible, multi-service location providing seniors, disabled persons, family members, and caregivers easy onsite access to a wide range of proven products and services in one convenient place. 

North Shore communities are experiencing tremendous older population growth with rates much higher than the state average.  By 2035, as Baby Boomers grow older, Massachusetts population projections will have more people over the age of sixty than under eighteen. The purpose of The Longevity Connection is to assist the growing population of older adults, disabled persons, and their family members and caregivers finding necessary services and products at good value. 

A concierge, educated in gerontology and experienced with care giving, welcomes each person to The Longevity Connection, providing information and guidance in determining the right type of resources.  The Longevity Connection features professional experts in the specialties of health, financial, and legal services, available daily for a free consultation and ongoing client services.  An extensive schedule of free presentations on relevant topics is offered. Representatives from area healthcare providers serving the North Shore are available onsite.  The Longevity Connection provides informational material on a full array of care facilities, programs, services, and support options available on the North Shore.  Recommended books on subjects such as caregiving, chronic diseases, retirement planning, and healthy living are available for purchase.  A lending library containing selected resources may also be accessed.  The concierge can assist with an Internet search for more extensive information via free computer kiosks.  

The Longevity Connection offers a specialized marketplace with expert guidance for a wide array of routine or specialized needs such as hearing and communication equipment; products for persons with sight impairment; adaptive clothing and footwear; home maintenance, safety, and modifications; home medical alert systems; nutrition supplementation; incontinence care supplies; and brain fitness.  The Longevity Connection provides a private, respectful environment to gather information, share experiences, and purchase needed goods and services.  An “Inspired” Gift Shop features items perfect for hard-to-buy for seniors, a convenient selection of gifts and cards for caregivers, “re-gifted” collectible items such as Hummel figurines and crystal ware at affordable prices, and gifts with “A Special Connection” that have a social purpose. 

Make The Longevity Connection your connection to all your long term service and support needs.

The Longevity Connection will be located at 152 Sylvan Street in Danvers, adjacent to the Liberty Tree Mall with easy access from routes 1, 128, 114, and 95. Ample free parking is available.   For more information, call 978 750 4540.

North Shore Chamber

From time to time it certainly seems appropriate for Essex Heritage to offer its sincere thanks for their continuing generosity as they make their board room available to ENHC for our quarterly board meeting and have provided that space for a number of years. I also want to plug one of their most important and well attended events, the annual Business Expo scheduled on March 6, 2012.   The event is always a wonderful networking opportunity with 100 exhibitors and 2500 attendees actively participating in the one day event.  For more information on available booth space or tickets contact the North Shore Chamber at www.northshorechamber.org.  

Essex Heritage also wants to take this opportunity to both congratulate and wish all the best to Ms. Karen Andreas, the publisher of the Salem News as she has been named the Chairman Elect of the Chamber.   Karen has been committed supporter of this region during the two decades that she has been connected to the Salem News and became the Chairman at the annual meeting in 2011.  During Karen’s tenure at the newspaper she has done virtually every job at the paper and has played an important role in their continuing success,

Salem Partnership Twenty Fifth Annual Meeting

This week, I received a notice of the date and features of the Annual Meeting of the Salem Partnership.  The meeting will be held on April 3, 2012 at the Hawthorne hotel and will feature a tribute to retiring Senator Fred Berry.   For more information or to purchase tickets contact the Salem Partnership Executive director Patricia Zaido at www.salempartnership.org

MBTA Likely to cut back services for disabled

The following information on both a cutback of services and increases in fares on the MBTA RIDE was provided by the North Shore Elder Services and is provided here because of my particular interests in actions that impact the disabled

The release of plans to increase fares for people with disabilities in the face of the overall work of the Governor's 530 Commission is only one affront.

This proposal also comes at a time when the T is implementing a new methodology for determining eligibility for The Ride.  The introduction of the narrow Americans with Disabilities Act definition of eligibility (reducing the eligibility to those living within 3⁄4 mile of a fixed-route system) may have more impact than simple fare increase. People with disabilities that depend on The Ride to get to work may find themselves unable to afford to live in the "premium fare" area and see daily rates increase from the current $4.00 to $24.00. A five-day commute may well take 50% of more of take home pay for many.

There are additional potential impacts. A person may have a $4 commute to get to an appointment only to find the return is $12.00 because the drop off point was outside the 3⁄4 mile limit.

The inclusion of new application forms that are not yet determined to be accessible and a personal interview by T staff threatens the ability of many people with disabilities to even use the system. There are no guarantees that the T staff will even remotely be qualified to determine the impact of visible disabilities such as being Blind or Deaf-Blind, much less the hidden disabilities involving mental health, muscular sclerosis, or cognitive disabilities.  Advocates are adding this issue to the list of topics in a search for legal resources to combat injustice from actions  of  the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Advocates will NOT support the implementation of tiered fare based upon geography within the MBTA district. This was a point discussed, argued, and agreed to over 20 years ago by advocates and representative of the T.  We will not allow these hard won services to disappear because of bad management decisions by the Patrick Administration. Groups are willing to discuss a fair fare proposal where distance traveled may result in a graduated fare. The Ride costs, while increasing, are not the primary cause of the deficit of the T. Instead, blame goes squarely on the T's being forced to assume Big Dig deficits and declining revenue from the sales tax.

Many disability advocates, responding to the Governor's EO530 Commission, have agreed that appropriate fare increases are acceptable possibly even based upon distance traveled. There have suggestions for expanding the use of private, accessible taxis, using incentives to increase fixed-route usage should be implemented, and addressing the problems of cancellations.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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