The Village Common Newsletter - February 2021
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Geese wintering on the Seekonk River in Providence, photo by Phil West
Message from the Executive Director: COVID-19 Resources
By Jo Ellen Mistarz

Growing up in the Chicago area, I never looked forward to frigid Februarys. This year it is a month full of hope. COVID-19 vaccines already are being distributed in RI. At the time of this writing, RI is conducting a limited COVID-19 vaccination pilot for those aged 75+. When the state opens vaccination to the wider aged 75+ population, we will share information with you. The latest information of the State’s information can be viewed below:

Additional RI information is posted at this link:

One remaining problem is that the federal government is urging states to vaccinate everyone aged 65 or older as soon as possible. Unfortunately, right now Rhode Island is receiving 14,000 first doses of vaccines each week, but there are 190,000 people aged 65 or older in our state. Enhanced federal plans to produce and distribute vaccines are underway.

Although specific details about vaccine availability and distribution plans are still evolving, our Village communities already are planning ways to help. Our Coordinating Council is developing its transportation plans and preparing to share whatever information we receive, whether in this newsletter, in an email or mailed letter, or through educational programs and other resources. We have offered two very well-attended online education sessions on vaccinations, and we anticipate sharing additional programming. We also have masks, face shields, and alcohol wipes for members and volunteers. Please email to receive supplies, or call 401-441-5240 if you do not have access to e-mail.

Need more information about vaccines? Please go to the State of RI website mentioned above or to the CDC website Together, we can build a better future and advocate for a healthier older adult population in Rhode Island.


Fourth in a Series: THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
By John Harkey

Left: Suzanne Francis   Right: Anne Connor, photos by John Harkey.

Thank you both for your time today. Will each of you please tell me what drew you to the role of President of the Board of Directors?

Suzanne: I joined the Board as a member in 2017 while helping Cy O’Neil research multi-Village organizations. Having just moved to Providence, it was a great opportunity for me. In 2018, we approved a Strategic Plan that included creating the Village Common and growing 4 additional Villages over a period of four years. I was excited about the opportunity to be President Elect of the transitional Board in 2019, then President in 2020.

Anne: I, too, have been a Board member until I was elected President. For me, it’s a call to service. The Board and its Presidents are willing to serve their community. Speaking for myself, I decided, when it would have been easier to go merrily on my way, that it was an important organization to be part of and to lend my energy to.

Suzanne, you mentioned the role of President-elect. What is that?

Suzanne: The Presidency was designed as a 3-year leadership position for continuity across the boundaries: President-elect, the President, then Past President. During the first, you’re learning the ropes. After your term as President, you are there as needed. One good thing about a 3-year Presidency is that you’re around to see some of those things we’ve started become common practice in the third year.

Anne: Suzanne and I have had two transition conversations. Some of it technical, such as how to set up the agenda for a Board meeting. Some of it procedural like how she’s interacted with Jo Ellen Mistarz, our Executive Director (ED), and others who play key roles. The advantage of how this is set up is that you’re never alone as the President. It’s a gentle passing of the torch and I feel I can call Suzanne morning, noon, or night to talk with her about how she’s encountered issues in the past. You see, John, the nice thing is that someone will have your back.

Suzanne: With the shift from a “working” Board to an “operating” Board, it is less daunting than it once was.

What is the difference between a “working” and an “operating” Board?

Suzanne: Before Jo Ellen was hired, we were the staff and the leaders. We each became Chair of a committee, taking some part of the operation and making it ours. That was the working Board.

Anne: Someone took on finance, another technology. I developed a committee to raise money. With the arrival of Jo Ellen, we didn’t just abandon what we were doing. She now takes the lead, with the Board’s support, making sure we have the resources that we need to operate.

Suzanne: In the governing Board, the policy and decision-making are more a review of what the ED is doing running the operation. The Board needs to exercise oversight to look at the welfare of the organization and to see what needs to be done to function well.

The Strategic Plan. Suzanne, the addendum to the original Plan crafted last year is a monumental work, perhaps the major achievement of your Presidency. Are you satisfied with it?

Suzanne: That depends on whether we do the things we decided must be done. And there are some fairly major things in there. The Communications Committee, announced in the January Newsletter, is one example. If we want to see the Villages prosper, we have to share more responsibilities. We need to hear from all quarters of the Village Common. I find that if you ask people sincerely, they respond. That creates a certain level of ownership. [See the HELP WANTED column in this Newsletter.]

Barring unforeseen circumstances such as a pandemic-like disruption, it appears to me that since 2017 to now, all the heavy work has been done. What do you think are the challenges ahead?

Suzanne: There’s a huge fund-raising challenging on our doorstep — huge. Tens of thousands of dollars to get us to five Villages with 250 to 300 members paying dues to support operations. That’s a big number. That is something that won’t happen without a lot of Board, and beyond the Board, effort.

That sounds like a pretty full agenda for the coming year. Beyond those, Anne, do you have personal goals?

Anne: Yes, a personal priority will be to increase diversity in the Villages. I’d like to have both cultural and economic diversity in our membership. How can we be more attractive to the diversity within the communities where our Villages are established? Each Village must ask, “Does our membership look like our community?”

Suzanne: As the Board makes and draws on relationships with other organizations that touch on the interests of older adults, they will be looking to influence how, not just Providence but the State, considers the issues of older adults.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Suzanne: This is a wonderful community of friends helping friends.

Anne: We want it known that the roles of the President and officers are less intimidating than one might think. You can have fun, too. The hard part is keeping up with all the emails!

Board meetings are listed in TVC calendar online, where members may request to attend. The next Village Common Board meeting is on Feb. 16 at 5 pm.

By Phil West
Left to right: Michael Fine, Tom Slomba, Marilyn Slomba, Em McManmy, Wendy Oliver, Marcus Mitchell. Photo by Phil West.

Concerned that the country might be “teetering on the edge of an abyss,” Village Common Advisory Council member Marcus Mitchell and Dr. Michael Fine, a former director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, put out a call to “hit the pause button” on blame and “seek reconciliation before it is too late.” On Martin Luther King's actual birthday, January 15, they invited friends to gather outside the Rhode Island State House.

Dr. Fine spent the entire day walking from his home in Scituate. Marcus Mitchell led an impromptu march from Hope Street in Providence.

In a cold winter twilight, Village members and other participants reflected on the legacy of Martin Luther King and shared their hopes.

“I hope we can build community,” said Em McManmy. “This building represents hope and faith in our common togetherness.” She expressed hope that that trust could be rebuilt.

Participants said they hoped for a smooth inauguration in Washington. One wished that the “fever of racism” would break. “Those who stormed the Capitol want desperately to prevent the vision of Martin Luther King from becoming real.”

Tom Slomba, a retired federal worker, told of being at Kent State University in 1970 when the Ohio National Guard arrived to put down protests. “They came to Kent State with unsheathed bayonets and loaded rifles,” he said. “They opened fire on people who were being referred to as ‘communists’ and ‘the enemy.’ Our troops literally shot people.” Four died. He reminded those gathered on the plaza that historian Jon Meacham’s book The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels traces episodes of American peril and steps that brought healing.

“I hope,” said Marcus Mitchell, “that all those who are afraid of other people can stop feeling frightened and left out. I’m hoping that out of all this chaos, peace will be born.”

Spotlight on Susan Bayley, Member & Volunteer
By Rosalind Ladd
Photo by Phil West

Can't continue yoga classes in person? No problem. Take it to Zoom and carry on! This was Sue Bayley's response to Covid-19 restrictions, and it was a most welcome move, to judge from the 20-30 participants who enjoy her classes three times a week.

Sue's approach to teaching yoga is very open. She encourages people who think they can't do it. "You can, " she assures everyone. Especially with Zoom, each person can decide what works for her/himself (yes, the classes are co-ed).

Sue grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Rhode Island in 1968, enchanted by a R.I. summer house. She is a journalist by profession, working first for an East Bay newspaper and then for Newport Practical Sailor magazine. She enrolled in RI School of Design, earning a certificate in illustration, then using her skills with a printing company and in marketing for The Village at Waterman Lake, where she still works part-time.

It was about 30 years ago when some of Sue's friends were organizing a yoga class. She tried it and liked it. In addition to the health benefits, she appreciated it as a way to focus on herself while ever so busy raising two children. She went on to take training as an instructor and has been teaching ever since, most recently offering classes to Village Common members along with participants from the East Providence Senior Center. The classes include bone building exercises along with gentle yoga.

"Yoga is not just for young people, " Sue says. "I'll be doing yoga for the rest of my life." Her enthusiasm is apparent in her teaching and the Village Common Zoomers are so lucky that Sue has found a way to continue to share her skills with us. Details, schedule, and sign up for the yoga classes are available on the Village Common calendar.

Film Recommendation of the Month
By Alice Cross

Alice Cross, Barrington Village member, has been leading The Village Common's online Film Club during Covid-19.

The stirring 2017 three-part Netflix documentary, Five Came Back, examines the war-related works of five directors—John Ford, George Stevens, Frank Capra, William Wyler, and John Huston— who left comfortable lives at the top of the Hollywood establishment to document some of the worst battles of World War II, including the D-Day invasion. All of them paid a price for their bravery: Wyler lost most of his hearing flying on aerial missions; Ford was injured while filming the Battle of Midway; Stevens was emotionally devastated by his weeks-long documenting of the atrocities at Dachau. Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Lawrence Kasdan, Paul Greengrass, and Francis Ford Coppola discuss the wartime propaganda of each man, and outline what happened to them when they tried to re-enter civilian life at the end of the war and reignite their careers.

By Sue Bayley
Left: Providence, Right: Edgewood. Photos by Phil West.

The Village Common now has two active walking groups open to all interested walkers: one in Edgewood on Mondays, and one in Providence on Tuesdays.

The Edgewood Walking Group just had its inaugural walk on Monday, January 18, from 1-2 PM, in Roger Williams Park. Walks will continue weekly through the end of March. We had nine participants for this event, including Barbara Schermack, Carol Shelton, Sharon Petroff, Sharon Kernan, Ed Oslund, Pat Thomas, Paulette Thomas, Elinor Thompson, and Joy Reynes from Providence Village. We had perfect weather for a walk and Phil West took many great photos.

Providence Village members have met weekly since September 2020 to walk the scenic green down the center of Blackstone Boulevard, from Lippitt Park to the turnaround at Butler Street, and back again. Organized by Bonnie Ryvicker, the group has been able to walk every single Tuesday (except holidays). Now it seems that our fair weather free pass has expired, as wind, rain and snow are forecast for Monday and Tuesday, February 1 and 2.

With masks in place, and (recently) winter attire, walkers have a chance to socialize while keeping appropriate social distance, a well-appreciated alternative to Zoom gatherings and in-home entertainment. The round-trip distance is just over three miles, but walkers sometimes walk a partial course. Providence participants have included Bonnie Ryvicker, Joy Reynes, Nori Duncan, Faith Fogel, Carol Delaney, Anne Krause, Tony Allen, Elaine Hedner, Barbara Schermack, and Sue Bayley.

Additional folks are welcomed to both groups!

- Edgewood Village walkers depart from Botanical Gardens parking lot in Roger Williams Park, Mondays at 1:00 PM. Please contact Barbara Schermack for further information at (401) 225-6650.

- Providence Village walkers meet at the north end of Blackstone Blvd, at Lippett Park, Tuesdays at 10:00 AM. Please contact Bonnie Ryvicker for further information: (401) 580-5341. Walkers gather on Tuesdays at 10:00 AM at the park bench at the north end of Leavitt Park. This is an appealing time of day to walk the Boulevard — not too crowded and plenty of space for COVID distancing.

Anyone is welcome to join. You can find details on the upcoming events calendar published by The Village Common of RI. Questions? Call 401-441-5240 for details.

HEALTH BEAT: Myth or Fact?
By Jane Adler

In a recent telephone conversation with the Chief Medical Officer of Vault Health, Dr. Myles Spars said not to believe these popular myths:

Myth: Sleeping late on weekends helps you catch up.
Fact: If you think you can drive yourself into the ground during the week and then make up for it by sleeping in on the weekend, think again. In one recent study, researchers set out to determine if extra sleep on weekends could counteract metabolic problems (like weight gain and reduced insulin sensitivity) often linked to insufficient sleep during the week. They found that not only did “catch-up” sleep not work to counter these issues, muscle-and-liver-specific insulin sensitivity was worse in study subjects who had weekend recovery sleep. Dr. Spar says: "The main takeaway is that rather than depriving your body of sleep during the week and trying to make up for it on the weekends, it's best to try to stick to a schedule that allows you to get adequate rest every night."

Myth: More protein means more muscle.
Many people consume more protein than they need, believing it will lead to increased muscle mass. But research indicates that high protein intake doesn’t lead to bigger muscles. A 2018 study looking at the effect of extra protein on the bodies of older men found that eating a high-protein diet had no significant impact on lean body mass, muscle performance, or physical function.

Myth: Your genes decide your fate.
If you think genetic predisposition means certain conditions are inevitable, think again. Far from being at their mercy, you can up- and-down-regulate your genes through lifestyle choices like diet, exercise, and stress management. As Dr. Spar explains, the ever-expanding field of epigenetics (the study of how chemical and environmental factors impact our genetic health) has revealed many ways in which we can influence our genes. For example, one study found people who ate more fruits and vegetables were less likely to develop a cardiovascular disease even if they carried copies of the gene that increases the risk of heart problems, effectively “turning off” the gene.

SAFETY - Preventing Falls
By Joy Twelves, retired Physical Therapist

A few statistics that we don’t like to hear but are true:

  • Every 11 seconds in the U.S., an older adult ends up in an emergency room due to a fall.
  • Falls can result in a variety of injuries, including hip fractures and head trauma—which can have lasting consequences.
  • There is a high risk of dying in the first year after a hip fracture.
  • People often do not function as well and aren’t as independent as they were before a fall.
In our attempt to help prevent falls we have concentrated so far on making our homes safe. (See previous issues of this newsletter for general tips on making your home safer.) Also remember that when Covid restrictions are lifted, you may arrange to have a retired physical therapist come into your home and make suggestions to make your specific home safer.

In the next few newsletters, we will focus on ourselves, our own bodies and what we can do to make them less vulnerable to falling.

One of the things we need to know about is medication side effects.

1) The three types of drugs that can increase falls risks are:

  • Medications that affect the brain (i.e., meds for depression, seizures, dementia, and neurological disorders like Parkinsons and MS).
  • Medications that lower blood pressure.
  • Medications that lower blood sugar (primarily medications for diabetes).

2) Drugs can also interact with each other. Dizziness is a common side effect of a drug interaction and can increase the risk of falls. Some meds can cause dehydration (inadequate fluid in the body), which can also increase the risk of falling when you stand up.


  • Take a close look at the side effects page that is printed out for each of your medications including OTC (over the counter) meds. Many will say “May cause dizziness.”
  • At least once a year, review ALL your meds with your doctor. This includes not only prescription drugs, but also OTC drugs, alternative products, supplements, and topical ointments.

In the following months we will address topics such as: Improving your balance, keeping your senses sharp, strengthening key muscles, what to do after a fall, pets, footwear, and practicing for falls.

The Village Common
Volunteer Help Wanted. Unlimited gratification potential.

Snow Help. Occasional removal of lightweight snow for your Village neighbor. In Providence, call 441-5240 and speak with a Service Coordinator. In Barrington, call 400-5599 or email Barrington

Service Coordinator. Connect a Village member with a service provider — all from home. To volunteer, call The Village Common at 441-5240 and speak with a Service Coordinator.

Records Manager. Clean up duplicate member records in Club Express. Online database experience required. Train with Jim Maxwell. Contact Jim directly at or 450-5091.

Newsletter Archivist. Identify topics for several themed collections, i.e., People Profiles, or Happenings. Nominate evergreen topics for republication. Contact Wendy Oliver at

Communications Committee. Join this new committee to expand awareness of TVC across Rhode Island. Public Relations, Advertising, Media, or Community Outreach experience desired. Contact Susan McCalmont at

Barrington Village

Member Services Team. Respond to calls from Members, Volunteers, and enquiries about the Barrington Village. Calls forwarded directly to you at home via eVoice. Four-hour shift one afternoon each week. Contact the Barrington Village at 400-5599 or email

Resource Navigator. Receive service requests from Members with a need for professional services. Update database of local providers and organizations. Contact the Barrington Village at 400-5599 or email

Safety Net Committee. Help organize volunteer teams to provide member support services. Contact the Barrington Village at 400-5599 or email

Edgewood Village

Archivist. Digitally organize, maintain and format all documents related to Edgewood Village. Contact Barbara Schermack at

Providence Village

Steering Committee. Sit in on a meeting of Providence Village’s idea workshop. See the article in November’s Newsletter. Call The Village Common at 441-5240 and speak with a Service Coordinator.

Community Liaison. Regularly survey community newsletters and neighborhood meetings, then report on any relevance to our Village. Contact John Harkey, 369-9545.

HELP WANTED is a monthly Newsletter feature. Submit your own Village’s volunteer needs to John Harkey at Mid-month deadline.

Mallards on the Seekonk River in January, photo by Phil West
The Village Common of RI
Board of Directors
Anne Connor, President
Suzanne Francis, Past President
Patrice Moskow, Secretary
Peter Viner-Brown, Treasurer

Lenore Bunting, Laurel Holmes, Lorraine Keeney, Maureen Maigret, Patrick Mattingly, Jim Maxwell, Susan McCalmont, Terry Percelay, Bonnie Ryvicker, Joe Santarlasci, Phil West

The Village Common of RI
Advisory Council

Barry Fain, Kevin Hackman, Beverly Ledbetter, Lynette Lopes, Marcus Mitchell, Paula Parker, Herbert Rakatansky, Janie Seguí Rodríguez, 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, Carol Shelton, Eliza Sutton, Phil West, Laura Young 
Photography:  Jane Adler, John Harkey, Phil West,
Obituary Assistance: Anne Connor, Phil West

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