The Village Common Newsletter - November 2020
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Bill Harley To Perform at Our Virtual Year-End Celebration

Bill Harley is best known as a children's entertainer, and he has a fistful of awards, including two Grammys, in that genre. So when you hear that he'll be doing a show for The Village Common, you might be surprised, and even nostalgic for how much your children loved him.

Bill will give a virtual performance to help us celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Village Movement in RI and the founding of our two new Villages in 2020.

You’re invited - and why not bring along your now-grown children?

Save the date: Thursday December 10th, 5:30 to 6:30.

Following The Village Common's Annual Meeting, 4:15 to 5:15

Watch for more info in next month’s newsletter.

Village Common Welcomes New Members and Volunteers

When COVID-19 entered our lives and we had to move all of our social activities online, we were concerned that we would not continue to attract new members and volunteers to the Village Common of RI. Our concern was unwarranted; we have gained many new members and volunteers, from all three villages (Providence, Barrington, and Edgewood.) But, without in-person social activities and with fewer services being fulfilled by volunteers, how in the world do we meet each other? One way is through the monthly New Members and Volunteers Meet and Greet, the first of which recently occurred on October 29. This event is open to all members and volunteers, particularly those who joined in the last few months. We will connect with each other, orient people to the calendar and website, and have special “ask your Board member anything” opportunities.

To attend the next event on November 23 at 4:00 - 5:00 pm, you will need to register. Click on this link to the calendar, scroll to the event, and click the register button at the right. The Zoom invite is on the calendar. Please contact Eliza at for more information.

Edgewood Volunteer Spotlight : Michael Fournier
By Carol Shelton

Michael Fournier joined our fledgling Edgewood Village committee in early 2020. From the beginning, Michael proved to be a wonderful listener and someone who asked probing questions, suggesting to us that he had insights and talents that the committee valued.

I sat down with Michael in early October to talk to him about his background, his work and his vision for our village. Michael grew up in Mansfield, MA, the second child of seven in an Italian/French-Canadian family. Perhaps it was in that environment that Michael learned to listen and negotiate solutions to problems so important in a very large family.

Michael was also an athlete, another arena where teamwork is essential. As captain of his high school basketball team, his leadership skills came in handy. Michael graduated from Westfield State College in 1980 and having long been associated with his local YMCA, was offered an entry level position in an institution he loved. Remarkably, Michael’s entire career has been with the Y. Over the years, he was offered increasingly more responsible positions among YMCAs in New England. In 1996, he took a position at the YMCA of Greater Providence first as VP of Leadership Development and eventually as Chief Operating Officer.

Michael and his husband David have lived in Edgewood since 2005. After retiring in 2014 from the Y, Michael shares his skills as a consultant to Executive Directors of non-profit institutions. Michael spoke to me about how much he loves his work, listening to community leaders and helping to facilitate discussions leading to satisfying solutions. Michael chairs the Inclusion Sub-committee in the Edgewood Village, which is committed to ensuring that our Village members and volunteers realistically reflect the demographic profile of our neighborhood. How fortunate we are to have a member with Michael’s skills, which are so relevant and necessary.

The Barrington Village Hosts Community Conversation Event
Card design by Beulah Jean Caddell, new member of the Edgewood Village.

Barrington Village will be hosting a Community Conversation on Saturday, Nov. 14 with members, volunteers and interested community members. Details and invitations to follow. If you want your name on the invitation list and are not a current Barrington Village member or vetted volunteer, please email us at or call us at (401) 400-5599 and we will send an invitation. This event will be held via Zoom, with a phone conference option for members who do not use a computer.

Oak Hill Anti-Racism Group Gathers Items for the Homeless in Pawtucket
By Sue Bayley
Car caravan. Photo by Phil West

As winter weather approaches, new concerns have arisen in conversations of the Oakhill Antiracism Group. In view of the fact that the City of Pawtucket does not have any municipal facilities to house homeless people, folks have been working in the background to improve conditions for people without shelter.

Over the past several weeks, collections have been gathered to distribute to people living in outdoor encampments. On Saturday, October 17, a caravan of four Village cars delivered bags and boxes of donated clothing, bedding, towels, flashlights, supplies, and more to the home of Alexandrea Gonzalez, who then distributed them to homeless folks in Pawtucket. Alexandrea says the items most appreciated are socks and underwear.

Alexandrea is coordinating ongoing assistance for people in need. She is writing a business plan to help this population and accepting donations from local businesses that want to help. Navigant Credit Union Central Falls gave a $100 donation. Luigi’s Restaurant donated 75 meals to distribute on Saturday.

Anyone interested in donating goods please gather them into large plastic bags or containers for the next delivery date, which will be announced. For more information about the program, contact Alexandrea Gonzalez at (401) 996-2767.

Oct. 24 clothing giveaway in Pawtucket, Janie Segui Rodriguez (right) and friends distribute clothing. Photo by Phil West


That’s just it — working together.

First in a Series: The Providence Village Steering Committee
By John Harkey

Being a volunteer, offering your talents in service to your community, brings one of the greatest rewards that any Village has to offer. You’re a volunteer driver, you’re a tech helper, you make friendly calls, you serve on a committee, you generate ideas and want to share them, or any of a dozen other ways that have built our Villages and holds us together. In the coming year I will highlight in our Newsletter several opportunities to volunteer. Today I’ll focus on the Steering Committee. Each local Village has its own Steering Committee.

There are six members of The Providence Village Steering Committee, the PVSC. It’s the perfect situation for someone who is a thinker, a doer, and enjoys close collaboration with talented people. I call The PVSC our "idea factory." Six of us gather every two weeks for a Zoom meeting to talk over issues related to membership, our volunteers, communication, and nearly anything that challenges or excites us. Do we need a new initiative, an article in the Newsletter, a program for the Calendar, more volunteers for a given team? Then we decide how to get it done.

The Providence Village Steering Committee welcomes your interest and invites you to sit in on our next Zoom meeting: November 6 at 1:30. Come visit, watch what we do, and see if taking a seat at our virtual table appeals to you. Register for any of our meetings — the dates are posted on The Village Common calendar of events, or contact John Harkey at, or your own Village’s leadership to explore volunteer opportunities.

Medicare Open Enrollment October 15 - December 7

Medicare open enrollment is occurring right now. It's a little different this year due to COVID-19, but help is still available. To schedule an appointment with a Medicare enrollment specialist, call the Point, Rhode Island’s healthy aging helpdesk, at (401) 462-4444.

You can receive assistance through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) grant. SHIP provide free, unbiased, one-on-one health insurance counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries. For SHIP services, call 1-888-884-8721 or visit Appointments can be arranged with SHIP workers.

Thanksgiving 2020

Staying home with your pets this Thanksgiving? Wish you could join your dear humans, but cannot? Let me show you how you can be there — virtually.

Join me for a Zoom session where I’ll show you all that you need to know to make a call on Zoom, or on FaceTime, or Google hangout, or WhatsApp, or even how to read aloud a children’s Thanksgiving book on Caribu.

Register for my November 17 event on the Village Common Calendar or by calling (401) 441-5240.

John Harkey, Providence Village Steering Committee.

Take Care
By Diane Strommer

“Take care,” we say. But besides the obvious how does one take care to fend off gloom, remain engaged, give life meaning, and even be content? Four matters related to the pandemic framed the September 16 monthly meeting of the Longevity Explorers, a collaborative program between Hamilton House and the Village Common. The first topic concerning challenges and how to meet them was discussed in the October newsletter. Summaries of the other three follow.

Getting Food and Healthy Eating.

Some find that senior grocery shopping hours and home delivery ease the chore of cooking. Take-out and outdoor dining (when warmed by new heaters) also make restaurant food available. Thoughtful neighbors or a housemate may help with necessary routines. Amazon Prime shopping, Whole Foods delivery, and meal prep services like the local Savory Fare may help maintain a healthy diet. Cooking and baking, some find, relieves stress. Over time, however, one does tire of take-out and cooking just for ourselves, as many of us do.

Concern for the Future.

The concerns expressed, understandably, were many and although varied, typically reflect those we share as a community. How and when will this pandemic end? How will our lives go forward? When will it be possible to see distant friends and family? Will we be able to travel, to return to places and people we love? What will be the long-term educational and other effects on our grandchildren, and our community?

How can we shape a less divisive and more caring, inclusive society? How can we help those who have lost jobs, income, homes, their dreams for the future? The issues raised in September’s discussion have become even more pertinent over time.

What Has Been Positive.

Given deep, continuing concerns, the participants nonetheless discovered positive things within the pandemic isolation. One person who had never spent much time at home realized how much she liked it. She and others learned that they could entertain themselves better than anticipated. They have developed technological skills and have discovered the deep wealth of YouTube’s content, have taken virtual trips to other countries, have enjoyed their neighborhoods, and met new neighbors. They have deepened friendships and renewed acquaintances. Some people are studying new things—languages, piano, flute, and even how to tango while socially distanced.

Two Longevity Explorers Programs Planned:

Intelligent Beings Learning to Live with Artificial Intelligence

Wednesday, November 18, 1:00pm

Please join us for an opportunity to share with others your use of technology essential in our daily lives. Diane Strommer, Ronda Umphrey and Jerianne Berman will share their use of tools for safety, health and connection in a virtual world and we invite you to share yours.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 937 5133 5401
Passcode: 045701

Everything You Wanted To Know and Were Afraid To Ask: Covid-19 Vaccine Planning

Wednesday, December 16, 1:00pm

Program presenter to be determined, but plan to join and learn more about vaccines and RI planning that will affect each of us. Information about signing up will be included with the event announcements in a separate email.

SuperPower Zoom
By Peter Viner-Brown

It was Sunday morning. As I waited for the kettle to boil, I picked up the newspaper and started scanning for stories that suited my mood. I happened upon a short article about COVID-19 vaccines and discovered that they were seeking volunteers to test their aspiring concoctions. It required filling out a survey. Tea in hand, I settled in to be surveyed. They were nice questions - no ask for next of kin, which I took to be a very positive sign. Once finished, I discovered that they were happy, and I was happy too. Then reality stepped in - I probably wouldn’t hear from them again. It would be a similar experience to that of signing up to be a bone marrow donor. It turned out that nobody wanted or needed my marrow. I didn’t feel slighted at all - their loss, not mine!

I was surprised a few days later when I received an email from the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN). I hesitated before opening it - did I really want to do this? I had no cause to worry. ‘Thank you for signing up’, it said (they were still happy). ‘Do you have any older friends?’ This was my first episode of reverse ageism and I felt deflated. Did I have any older friends? Yes, of course I did - I’m a member of The Village Common. So here I am appealing to all you older people to sign up. I’ve heard that the only possible side effect is the acquisition of a superpower. So what! You can have a second career as a superhero. And if I do happen to get picked, despite my tender age, we can all go on a SuperPower Zoom and compare.

Sign up & Zoom!

Walk with Bonnie Ryvicker
L to R: Gillian Sigueland, Joy Reynas, Anne Kraus, Nori Duncan

What’s more “Autumn in New England” than walking along Blackstone Boulevard under beautifully colored trees in the process of creating a carpet of fall colors? The air may be sharp and crisp, foggy and warm, or possibly a few rain drops; this is the season when we take almost whatever is offered and find joy in the fresh scents, exercise, and chatting with a new or familiar friend.

Bonnie Ryvicker began leading the walks in September when half a dozen members gathered for the first one. Every week since then a few people have showed up — even in the rain — and walks will continue so long as there is interest.

Walking buddies are invited to gather on Tuesdays at 10:00 AM at the Pawtucket end of Blackstone Boulevard. We'll maintain a safe physical distance. Wear comfortable shoes, bring water and a smile behind your mask.

If you have questions, call Bonnie at (401) 480-5341.

Ralph Hollingsworth Clarke

Village member Ralph Hollingsworth Clarke, 93, of Providence, Rhode Island, passed away at home on October 9, 2020. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Sandra Leo-Wolf Clarke. He had a long career as an art director and graphic artist, first with Young and Rubicam in New York City and then at The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston until he retired. He was a much appreciated soloist at Christian Science churches for over 60 years. He leaves his two sons Ron (wife Betsy), and Wayne (wife Susan), 11 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. His wife, Sandra, has been a volunteer with The Village Common.

A ceremony with military funeral honors will be held in May at the Swan Point Cemetery.

Condolences may be sent to: Sandra Clarke, 140 Pitman St, Apt 101, Providence 02906.

This article was excerpted from:

Snow Help

Providence Village’s Snow Help program is here to help you arrange dependable snow shoveling at your home. Please call (401) 441-5240 and ask for Snow Help.

The Village Common of RI
Board of Directors
Suzanne Francis, President
Jim Maxwell, Past President
Anne Connor, Secretary
Peter Viner-Brown, Treasurer

Lenore Bunting, Lorraine Keeney, Pat Mattingly, Susan McCalmont, Bonnie Ryvicker, Terry Percelay, Joe Santarlasci, Phil West

The Village Common of RI
Advisory Council

Barry Fain, Jay Glasson, Beverly Ledbetter, Lynette Lopes, Marcus Mitchell, Herbert Rakatansky, Corinne Calise Russo, Barbara Sokoloff, Bill Twaddell, Phil West

Newsletter Staff
 Wendy Oliver
Design: Josh Kemp   
Writers:  Jane Adler, Sue Bayley, Anne Connor, John Harkey, Rosalind Ladd, Vivian Malloy, Jo Ellen Mistarz, Wendy Oliver, Diane Strommer, Eliza Sutton, Phil West 
Photography:  Jane Adler, John Harkey, Phil West,
Obituary Assistance: Anne Connor, Phil West

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