The Village Common Newsletter - August 2020
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Welcome Edgewood Village!
By Jo Ellen Mistarz, Executive Director

Barbara Schermack

Sylvia Weber

On a January evening early this year, Village Common President Suzanne Francis and I attended our first community outreach event in the Edgewood area. I was skeptical that anyone would show up at the local library on that dark, cold wintery evening. But they did. Led by Barbara Schermack, the energetic, talented roomful of people engaged in serious discussions about their experiences with aging. They also shared their insights about needed supportive services and expressed a need for action. I am happy to announce that the group followed up on that discussion and has taken a major step forward.

On July 11, 2020, the Edgewood Steering Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The Village Common. We are so pleased to welcome Edgewood into our Village family. “Because the Village concept had attracted me, both personally and professionally, for many years, I was happy to learn of The Village Common’s plans for expansion throughout the state. It has been gratifying to find so much interest here in our neighborhood, and we look forward with anticipation to becoming a vital part of The Village Common’s family.” Barbara explains. She and Sylvia Weber serve as co-leaders of the 11-member Steering Committee.

For more information or to refer potential new members and volunteers to Edgewood Village, please email

How to Get a Mail Ballot
By The Providence Village Steering Commitee

Do you plan to vote this year and prefer to do so by mail from home? Any registered voter can do so, even if you simply prefer not to leave home. It’s a good idea to get a mail ballot even if you’re not sure you’ll use it. You will still be able to vote in person if you later prefer to do so. Do not delay. The 2-step process is easy, but you need to start right now.

Request your applications for 2 Mail Ballots

For both the RI Primary and also the General Presidential Election.

Step One. You have 3 ways to get your 2 applications:

  • Print them from online
    - Print the Statewide Primary application HERE.
    - Print the General Election application HERE.
  • Request your applications by phone from your town’s board of Canvassers. Find the phone number for your town’s Board of Canvassers HERE. They will send you your applications.
  • Call The Village Common to ask a volunteer to drop them off
    If you are a Member or Volunteer for a Village, call us and we’ll bring you your 2 applications. Call Anne Connor (401) 447-0696 or John Harkey (401) 369-9545.
Step Two. Mail back your applications right away.

The first Mail Ballot you will receive is for the RI Primary, and later you’ll get one for the General Election. Fill out each ballot ASAP and mail it to your Board of Canvassers* exactly following all the instructions on page two. The address of your town’s Board of Canvassers can be found at:

Finally, the overall best voting resource is The Providence Village Steering Committee wishes you a safe voting experience.

A Tour of Brown University
By Diane Strommer
Martin Puryear's Slavery Memorial (2014)

Sunday morning was sunny and clear, perfect weather to develop a more than nodding acquaintance with one of Providence’s best-known and cherished institutions—Brown University. Through the Providence Village I was taking a tour of the campus offered by Bill Twaddell.

In a way, Brown University has served as bookends to Twaddell’s notable career in the foreign service and as a diplomat. His father was a professor at Brown, and Bill is an alumnus. Having his personal history closely tied to Brown, Twaddell conveys both his deep knowledge and affection for the campus. After retiring and returning to Providence, his Brown connection has continued with service on Brown’s governing body and its committees.

It has been said that a tour around the Brown campus is a tour of a microcosm of architectural styles in America. Despite the range of architectural influences and a two hundred and fifty year history, the campus is visually harmonious. Somehow Manning Hall, made of stone and stucco and adapted from a 6th century BC Greek Doric temple, does not seem at odds with the innovative, state-of-the art Granoff Center for the Creative Arts that opened in 2011. The campus greens and handsome old trees seem to tie together buildings styled as differently as English Georgian, Italian Villa, Venetian Gothic, or boldly modern.

One of my favorite buildings is the John Carter Brown Library, designed in 1904. It now houses the preeminent research collection of books and maps dealing with the Americas through the early 19th century. I was prompted to look online at what should have been its current exhibition, “Picturing the Past: Indigenous Expressions in Colonial Mexico,” one that I hope will re-open.

Along with the buildings, a campus visit also includes other significant works. An important sculpture that is a permanent part of the campus and of Brown’s history is a stone-and-iron memorial designed by sculptor Martin Puryear to highlight Brown’s past ties to the transatlantic slave trade. Dedicated in 2014, the Memorial has two parts. The most noticeable part of the sculpture is of a huge, half-buried ball and a chain, the last three links of which are broken—with sharp edges topped by mirrors that invite you to see yourself as part of that history. A related plaque recognizes Brown’s connection to the slave trade and acknowledges its benefits from that trade. Beyond offering a view of its academic history and architecture, a tour of Brown University thus invites introspection on the ways in which our institutions have developed and to whom we owe our debts.

Barrington Village News
By Laura Young

In this past month, the Barrington Village has been adding members, another volunteer, and providing Transportation and Tech Help services. We are working on synchronizing the plans we have for services with The Village Common and Club Express software. Barrington Village Phone and Email Monitors are taking members calls, and calls inquiring about our services. Requests are communicated to The Village Common Service Coordinator for entry into Club Express. Barrington Village volunteers have been generous and resourceful, and careful to act according to COVID 19 precautions. A gentle beginning to operating as a Village!

Sunset Appreciation

Monday Nights at Latham Park have become a weekly joy. Conversing (yes, through masks, it is difficult!) and getting to know one another under the beautiful sunsets has been a lovely way to spend time during this isolating time. These will continue weekly through August 31. Everyone is welcome.

STAY COOL! Some Low-Tech and No-Tech Tips for Beating the Heat
By Patrice Moskow

The blazing heat of the summer is tough on our bodies. CALL 911 if you feel seriously overheated, faint, dizzy, or disoriented. Heat stroke is serious.

Everyone needs ways to cool down when the summer heat rises. Here are some of my favorite remedies:

SOCIALIZE: Talk with friends about the heat and how to beat it. Staying connected helps us get through all kinds of things, including heat-waves. Call 441-5240 (400-5599 in Barrington) and ask a Village Service Coordinator to arrange a Friendly Call.

FANS: Even if you use air conditioning, a fan cools you a bit more. Too hot to sleep? If you don’t have air-conditioning, try setting a fan in an open window near your bed. Blowing the fan over a bowl of ice increases the cooling effect.

USE VILLAGE COMMON “ERRANDS” to buy a fan, and a power strip if you need an extra outlet. Call 441-5240 for a Village no-contact drop-off.

HYDRATE: Dehydration is a real danger, and it sneaks up on you. Avoid caffeinated drinks, and alcohol as these dehydrate you! Alternate water with these, if you must drink them. Sip water all day. It’s a great habit to form.

GOING OUTSIDE: If you MUST go out in the heat, use an umbrella. (“Umbrella” means “a small shadow,” from Latin via Italian). Early or late in the day is cooler and safer.

CURTAINS AND BLINDS: Shut out the direct sunlight with curtains, blinds, or shades. If you don’t have AC, hang a damp sheet over an open window for evaporative cooling.

AIR CONDITIONERS: A clean filter means better air for you, and your unit will work more efficiently. Ideally, filters are cleaned or replaced annually. Need help with that? Call the Village at 441-5240 (400-5599 in Barrington) for a Home Help volunteer.

Village Hosts Telemedicine Program
By Anne Connor

On June 5, The Village Common hosted a telemedicine information program with Dr. Allen Dennison, a 40-year practitioner and geriatrician, who offered and experienced practical tips on preparing for a televisit with one’s medical provider.

How to prepare?

  1. Gather current prescription and over-the-counter medications on a tray to review (called “rooming”) with medical assistant. Check expiration dates (dated medicines should be disposed of properly). The Medical Assistant will review the reason for the visit as well as prepare refill requests.
  2. If the doctor needs to see where something hurts (for example, a bruise), dress in a “wrapper” so the doctor can view easily. Certain conditions do not lend to a televisit; for example, a diabetic’s feet need to be examined regularly.
  3. Spouses/caregivers are helpful participants who can observe and take notes. Accurate diagnoses are based on 90% history and 10% examination.

Make sure the natural lighting is good, for example; sit in front of a window. Practice with your “kids” and ask for a critique. Dr. Dennison’s wise advice, illustrated with good stories, was helpful.

By Joy Twelves

Many accidents occur in the bathroom, especially first thing in the morning. Here are some things you can check in your own bathroom to prevent falls:


  • Appropriate toilet height
  • Can install accessible toilet (18" high)
  • And/or get safety rails
  • And/or install grab bar on wall next to toilet


  • Non-skid surface
  • Place to sit for shower (built in, or shower seat, or transfer tub bench)
  • Hand held shower head


  • Rugs are rubber-backed, or secured with carpet mesh
  • Water heater set at or below 120 to avoid scalding
  • Faucets have easy-to-use handles
  • Night Light
Providence Journal Publishes Editorial by Village Member Phil West
By Sue Bayley

These days there is so much news, so much to see, read and hear, that it is hard to take it all in. Occasionally, something stands out as easy and uplifting, presenting soaring vision and basic common sense. Phil West, who has been a founding leader in the Village Common since day one, wrote such an essay that was printed in the Providence Journal on July 10, 2020.

Inspired by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals, Phil let his imagination loose to envision a “Dream Team” for a President Joe Biden. Drawing from the spectrum of Democratic primary hopefuls, possible women vice presidents, political independents, and even talented Republicans, he offers a vision of competent qualified leaders to carry the US into 2021 and beyond.

In case you missed it, here it is again. It’s a short, easy and enjoyable read:
A Dream Team of Biden's Rivals 

It is with sadness that we share the passing of Village Common member, Roberto DiPippo, who died in June. Son Alex called the Village because his father had recently spoken with our ambassador, Bonnie Ryvicker. The following obituary was excerpted from The Providence Journal.

ROBERT FERRARI DI PIPPO, AGE 86, passed away peacefully at home on the morning of Sunday, June 14th, surrounded by his loved ones.

In addition to practicing law in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and continuing to engage in his various political activities over the years, Mr. Di Pippo loved spending time with his two children, Alex and Trudy, and pursuing his passion for music, art and history. Jazz and classical music were a constant in Mr. Di Pippo's life. A jazz aficionado and skilled jazz drummer, one of his favorite and most frequent pastimes was attending jazz concerts with his children and friends. His funeral was held in June at the Sacred Heart Church in East Providence.

Memorial donations may be made to:
Sacred Heart Church
118 Taunton Avenue, East Providence, R.I. 02914

(This obituary was excerpted from The Providence Journal, June 2020)

Photos and quiz by Phil West

Summer in Rhode Island brings a bouquet of new flowers, each trying to attract pollinators with their colors and fragrances. Humans cherish them for their beauty and medicinal power. Here are six, photographed in July sunshine, to test your knowledge and memory. For each, please answer three questions. (Answers appear at the bottom of this newsletter.)

1. What is the common name of this flower? (Bonus if you can give genus and species. Even with the Internet, several baffled me.)

2. Where is it native?

3. Does this flower bring back memories for you? (Bonus if you share that memory with someone)

medicare dot gov

Avoid COVID-19 scams

Have you gotten robocalls, text messages, or emails offering free face masks? Or maybe you've seen social media posts about free COVID-19 testing kits, "cures," or protective equipment? 

Unfortunately scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to steal your Medicare Number and personal information. If anyone reaches out to get your Medicare Number or personal information in exchange for something, you can bet it's a scam.

Prevent Medicare Fraud

Stop scams before they happen. Watch this short video and visit for tips on preventing Medicare scams and fraud. If you suspect fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE to report it.

Medicare fraud video, click to watch
100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

August 25, 4-5:30 PM

Celebrate the anniversary of women's right to vote by watching an online presentation by Living Literature, directed by Barry Press. Further details to come via e-mail.


(Thanks to Wikipedia and several smart friends.)

  1. LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia) is often called “English lavender,” even though it originated in the Mediterranean region. An evergreen shrub, it spreads tiny flowers on long stems above its evergreen boughs. Reduced to an essential oil, lavender goes into soaps, bath oils, and perfumes. Used sparingly as a condiment, it may add flavor. In closets, it may to deter moths.
  2. BLACK-EYED SUSAN (Rudbeckia hirta) is native to eastern North America and is related to sunflowers. The Ojibwa people used its roots to treat snakebite. The Menominee and Potawatomi tribes used it as a diuretic. The State of Maryland celebrates the black-eyed Susan as its state flower.
  3. ROSE OF SHARON (Hibiscus syriacus) may have originated in southeast China but gained vast popularity in Korea. Its name in Korean is “mugunghwa,” and “mugung” means “eternity” or “inexhaustible abundance.” This Korean hibiscus is the national flower of South Korea. Europeans imported the plant in the 16th Century. Despite its name, this is not the Biblical “rose of Sharon” celebrated in Song of Songs 2:1, which scholars think was more likely a kind of tulip or lily.
  4. HOSTA (Hosta pachyscapa? or Hosta capitate?) comes from northeastern Asia, where some varieties are identified by the Japanese name “giboshi.” Asian cooking often includes hostas, which are edible by people but contain compounds called sapolins make this plant toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. Hosta are popular in cemeteries, this one in Riverside Cemetery, Pawtucket.
  5. COMMON MULLEIN (Verbascum Thapsus?) fooled me. I thought it was hollyhock until Margaret Brookner, a board member at the Blackstone Park Conservancy, saved me from an embarrassing mistake. Native across the old world, common mullein was probably introduced to North America as a medicinal herb in the 18th Century. An invasive species, it spread so rapidly and widely that several botanists wrongly described it as native. This weed thrives in disturbed soil, this one in an abandoned gravel pit in Pawtucket.
  6. LACECAP HYDRANGEA (Hydrangea macrophylla gakuajisai) comes from Japan and has become naturalized in China, New Zealand, and the Americas. Hydrangea blossoms vary dramatically in color, depending on soil acidity. Leaf extracts from hydrangeas are being tested as treatments for malaria and diabetes, possibly lowering blood glucose, triglycerides, and free fatty acids. The tiny inner flowers in the lacecap hydrangea are fertile, while the ornamental outer blooms have sterile pistils.
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
Copyright © 2020 Village Common of RI, All rights reserved.

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