The Village Common Newsletter - January 2020
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A New Year's Message
from the Executive Director

By Jo Ellen Mistarz
Happy New Year! 2020 marks the beginning of The Village Common of RI, and we are starting this year with so much to celebrate. We have: growing support for our vision to develop communities of mutual support across the State of RI; a newly named newsletter; a new website soon to be launched; and, most importantly, new friends in communities such as Barrington, East Providence, and other emerging Village sites. We will also have a new membership dues structure, which will soon allow us to include more members while being conscious of varying economic circumstances. Current members will receive additional information about this new fee schedule in January.
As we start this New Year, full of so much promise and hope, I would like to take a moment to express my appreciation for everyone’s contributions. We are so fortunate to have a remarkable Board of Directors and Advisory Council who work tirelessly to support our mission, admirable volunteers who contribute lovingly and selflessly to transforming the lives of older adults, and wonderful members who bring joy to all of us. On behalf of The Village Common, I also want to thank all of our donors and supporters: Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services RI, Neighborhood Health Plan of RI, Rhode Island Foundation, Tufts Health Plan Foundation, and many others who have provided us with additional financial resources for developing the Ocean State’s Village movement and making real differences in the lives of our members.

Our Village has accomplished so much since it started in 2015. With your continuing help and support, we will accomplish so much more in 2020 and beyond.
RI Foundation Award 
Best Practices Award for Leadership

On behalf of the Providence Village and the Village Common, Jo Ellen Mistarz accepted Rhode Island Foundation’s Best Practices Award for Leadership.  The annual Best Practices Awards are a collaborative effort on the part of the Rhode Island Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI to “recognize outstanding accomplishments by RI non-profits.”
Annual Member Meeting 
Providence Village - Village Common

By Rosalind Ladd
The Providence Village/Village Common held its annual members' meeting on December 8 at the Jewish Alliance of RI. The clear focus was on the people who are and have been at the heart of this organization. The first order of business was the presentation and vote on the amendments to the Bylaws, which formally confirms that the Providence Village of Rhode Island will now operate as The Village Common of Rhode Island.
Highlights of the changes:  a) Board membership no longer requires status as member or volunteer, but may include other individuals who can be helpful; b) current committees will be supplanted by steering committees in each village; c)  two persons from each village will serve on a Coordinating Council which will develop budgets for all.  The full set of Bylaws may be found on the web page. The amendments were approved by voice vote.

Also passed by voice vote was the slate of officers: Peter Viner-Brown, Treasurer for 2 year term; Anne Connor, Secretary, by nomination from the floor, since her name was inadvertently omitted from the paper ballot. Board members for 3 year term: Patrick Mattingly, Bonnie Ryvicker, and by floor nomination, Joe Santarlasci. For the Nominating Committee: James Maxwell, Susan McCalmont, and Marilyn Slomba were elected. Retiring Board members Jane Adler, Joe Fisler, and Gary Leib were recognized and thanked for their valuable contributions. Thanks, too, to Eliza Sutton, who continues as Village Coordinator.

A short Finance Report was given by Jim Maxwell, with promise of a full report in the first quarter of the new year, when current bookkeeping changes will be completed. In summary: we will be beginning 2020 in a stable position.

Anne Connor offered a moving remembrance for members who have died in the past year: Lois Atwood, Patricia Blough, Robert M. Dowben, Diane Goldman, Catherine Malloy, Gael MacPhail, and Barbara Marcure.

The business meeting adjourned, and with a short break for refreshments, discussion resumed about accomplishments and future plans. Jo Ellen Mistarz spoke briefly, beginning by saying: "We are changing the way people talk about aging." She urged people to think about bringing in new members and new volunteers. John Harkey was recognized as the winner of the raffle for recruiting new members/volunteers and several representatives of the newly forming Barrington village were introduced.
The Barrington Steering Committee announced their intention to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the Village Common. They also noted that a new fee structure will be announced in January.

Suzanne Francis reviewed the work of the Growth Fund Campaign.  Successful grant applications have included $80,000 over two years from the state of Rhode Island, $10,000 for each of 2 years from Tufts Healthcare, and a grant from The RI Foundation recognizing the service coordinators for best practice in leadership. Donations have already raised $155,000 and the committee will be asking for 3 year pledges for further donations.
On that high note, the group adjourned.
2020 Brings the Founding
of the Barrington Village

By Pat Keefe, Mira Meyer-Oertel, & Laura Young
Together, the Age-Friendly Barrington Steering Committee and the Village Common Steering Committee have made the decision to found a Barrington Village, a volunteer network of support in Barrington for older adults in the community. The Barrington Village will be a member of the newly formed Village Common of RI, along with other local Villages including the Providence Village.

The Village Common of RI will provide important infrastructure needed for sustainability, including policies and procedures for financial management; vetting, training and support of volunteers; member privacy. Our new website will be:

Stayed tuned for details of our launch plan, how to join, and volunteer opportunities. Here is a list of our initial goals and we will be sending a preliminary survey and look forward to feedback about needs and volunteer interests in these specific areas. Your responses will help us prioritize and shape our development.

Resource Navigation - assist in locating needed support and services;
Social Connection - promote social opportunities;
Home Tasks - help with home repairs and chores that have become challenging;
Transportation - supplement existing services with volunteer drivers;
Safety Net -  establish plans for safety and security at home;
Tech Support - learn new technology.

The combined efforts by Age-Friendly Barrington and its Report to the Community, along with the experience of the Providence Village, provided a basis for our goal development. Here in Barrington, we are committed to collaboration with local organizations and resources to meet these goals.

We would like to invite new members to our Steering Committee of 12. If you are interested, and can attend monthly meetings on Monday afternoons at 3 PM, please email Laura Young and Pat Keefe at Other start-up volunteer needs include: a photographer, member ambassadors, data and tracking gurus, resource navigators and member services volunteers.

Happy New Year! Stay tuned…
A Village for East Providence

By Polly Walker & the East Providence Steering Committee
For almost a year, a group of East Providence residents have been working to create a neighborhood village for East Providence based on the successful model in Providence and others in many cities around the country. Over the summer we met residents at various events: The East Providence Senior Center; Weaver Farmers’ Markets; and at Weaver Library Concerts. Articles in the East Providence Post and the East Providence Reporter publicized our goal. We sought input from senior residents via surveys as well as talking with neighbors and friends.  After input from all those activities, we now know that there is indeed interest for a neighborhood village here in East Providence.  

This Fall we had two successful Gatherings where we met with residents to hear their ideas and to discuss the Village concept.  At both Gatherings, there was considerable interest in becoming members and/or volunteers.  One of the main reasons people are interested in volunteering is to contribute to the community and to help combat isolation and loneliness among seniors. By providing transportation, errands, or a friendly call, these volunteers would make a big difference.  Those residents who are interested in membership look forward especially to having rides to appointments, shopping or to meet friends.  We believe we have sufficient numbers of both potential volunteers and members to launch the Village early in 2020. In the meantime, we welcome others from East Providence who are interested in being members or volunteers. Please contact us at  
The East Providence Village Steering Committee.
Intergenerational Arts Class Connects Teens and Older Adults

By Sue Bayley
I was looking forward with excitement to seeing the Intergenerational Performance produced by School One students with collaborating older adults presented on November 18 at St Martin’s Church. Truly unique in Rhode Island and nationally, School One’s intergenerational arts class connects high school students and adults over 65 to explore creative writing and performing arts together. Several Providence Village members have recently participated in the program.
As the parent of a School One graduate (1997), I knew I was in for adventurous entertainment, and was eager to observe how things might have changed over the years since my acquaintance with the school.
I was not disappointed. The performances ranged from comedy and fantasy through personal biography and deep emotional experiences.
In “Beach Stories,” Katherine Cousineau, John Lord and Hanna Ullman each described a poignant passage from their past. Presenting segments in turns, they painted word pictures as an interesting triptych of diverse experiences that shared in common having occurred on a beach.
Gerri Bain, Joseph Pannozzi and David Reynoso delighted the audience with “That’s Entertainment,” a retro dance presentation. 

“Fantastic Four Comic” was an inspired monologue in which Carolyn Morey morphed through a sequence of ideas and characters using an evocative and magical staff as her only prop.
The presentations included several monologues, including “Streets of Laredo” by Tom Kerrigan; “Invisibility Hurts” by Talis Cable; “Legally Blond” by Mack Meaders; and “Our Town” by John Lord. Each artist offered an honest and heartfelt performance, delivered with poise and courage. There were several other dramatic presentations as well.
Needless to say, I felt right back at home, recognizing the achievements of students and elders who reach across the years that might separate them and share experiences that enlighten and enliven their lives.
In a welcoming note in the program, School One Principal Jennifer Borman wrote, “I am inspired and impressed by the creativity and bravery of our performers, both younger and older. We have only recently begun collaborating with older adults, and it’s been magical. Intergenerational Arts at School One bridges the gap between generations with writing, storytelling, sharing and art-making. Let us know if you would like to be a participant in the future!”
Daniel Siegel
Advisory Board member Daniel Siegel has passed away.  Dan was one of the first members of what is now the Village Common Advisory Council.  Dan was a dealer in rare and antique publications.  His most notable accomplishment in that area may have been finding and publishing the full manuscript of George Orwell’s 1984.  The manuscript was rich with Orwell’s revisions and editing notes.  In the past, Dan had been active in Common Cause Rhode Island, serving as a board member, vice president and then president of that organization.  He is remembered for being a tenacious advocate for establishing ethics and constitutional separation of powers in Rhode Island.
Memorial - Robert Dowben

Memorial Service for Robert Dowben, Jan. 18, 2 PM. Providence Meeting House, 90 Morris Ave. Providence, RI. Inclement weather date: Jan. 19. 
Volunteer and Make a Difference for Providence Schools:

How “Inspiring Minds” Provides Tutoring, Mentoring and Hope for Providence Students
Intergenerational Arts Class Connects Teens and Older Adults

By Norma Rossi Mead
The purpose of the Inspiring Minds program is empowering Providence public school students to succeed. And, according to Executive Director Melissa Emidy,  “With the cooperation of the teachers and administrators from the ten schools qualifying for the program, we are able to identify those students most needing attention and can make a life changing impact on their achievement in reading and math skills.  What adds to this experience,” she explains,” is that they build relationships with tutors and mentors. 
The students’ progress and enthusiasm for learning inspires volunteers and donors, as they see directly how their gifts of tutoring and funds make a difference in grade school students’ lives.” For the 2018-2019 school year, Inspiring Minds provided 914 students with more than 15,000 hours of support that would have cost the schools and district $345,000, and retained 561 volunteers.  They are on track for including more volunteers this school year.  Here are some of the volunteer opportunities:
  • Tutoring and Mentoring:  Volunteers receive training and provide support for students identified by faculty as those who would benefit from intervention.  They build academic skills through structured activities and develop trusted relationships.
  • Power Lunch: Caring volunteers are matched with school children for once weekly lunches together to encourage conversations and interaction about school and topics of interest to the students.
  • Donations are helpful in providing a variety of services including programs to help prepare pre-kindergarten students who have not experienced pre-school, to be kindergarten ready or to address the language needs of students when English is their second language.  Inspiring Minds is a 501 © (3) organization. 
How you can become involved:  You can call Inspiring Minds at 401-274-3240 or check the website at For further information, call Norma Rossi Mead at 309-472-8878.

The ten Providence schools are:
Carl G. Lauro, Mary Fogarty, Harry Kizirian. Asa Messer, Kennedy, Fortes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Lillian Feinstein at Sackett Street, Veazie Street

Providence Village
Group Activities January 2020

NOTE: In the future, we will publish the full list of Providence Village, Barrington Village, and East Providence Village activities on the Village Common Website rather than in the newsletter. However, there will be selected events listed in the newsletter for each village.
Tuesday, January 7 at 3:30pm
I Heung Lee
Classical Piano Concert. Details at registration. Free.

Monday, January 13, 3:30pm
Book Club
We will be reading “The Handmaid’s Tale and Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Private home. Register by January 9. Details at registration. Free. 

Monday, January 13, 1-2pm
Alan Rosenberg
Alan Rosenberg, Executive Editor of The Providence Journal, will talk and answer questions. Hamilton House. Register by January 9. Free.
Tuesday, January 14, 12-1pm
Brown Bag Lunch
Larry Sullivan, Technical security expert. “How to avoid being scammed.” Temple Beth-El. Orchard St. Register by January 13. Free.

Tuesday, January 21, 2 pm
Jack Craig
Singer, Jack Craig (interactive music highlighting Frank Sinatra.) Details at registration. Register by January 20. Free.

Thursday, January 23, 12:15 pm
Lunch Bunch
Lunch at the Providence Art Club on Thomas Street. Very reasonable prices. We welcome new people. Very friendly group. Dutch treat. Register by Tuesday, December 10.

Sunday, January 26, 5pm
Our fabulous Dinner Club
We are going to Jacky’s Waterplace & Sushi Bar, 200 Exchange St, Prov. This beautifully decorated restaurant has a reputation for good food, and good service. Check the menu on the website. Register by noon, Wednesday, January 22. Dutch treat. (Providence Village transportation is not available on Sunday. We will try to carpool.)

 If you’d like to go to any of these activities, it would be appreciated if you would please register promptly to avoid being put on a wait list. Also, some of us have waited until the last minute to register and discover something we wanted to attend has been cancelled because of a lack of response. Please register as soon as possible so we know how many are coming, and please let us know if you will not be attending after you do register to make room for another person. Thank you. All events are subject to rescheduling. Must register for all events.
Home Safety Check List
Are you interested in making your home safer for you to age in place? 
Check out this Home Safety Checklist, compiled by Physical Therapist Joy Twelves.  For more information, or if you are interested in having Joy come to your house to help you assess safety issues, call Eliza at 228-8683.
STAIRS:  (all stairs including entry)
  • Secure railings on all stairs preferably on both sides
  • Good lighting
  • Secure tread
  • No clutter on stairs
  • Doors and faucets have lever style handles
  • No scatter rugs – Large area rugs have non-slip grips to prevent tripping or slipping
  • No electric cords in pathways
  • Toilet appropriate height
  • Can install accessible toilet (18” high)
  • And/or get riser or versaframe
  • And/or install grab bar on wall next to toilet
  • Shower/tub
  • Non-skid surface
  • Place to sit for shower (built in, or shower seat, or transfer tub bench)
  • Grab bars
  • Night light
  • Store frequently used items in easy to reach places. 
  • Pull-out cabinetry or shelves beneath counters
  • Easy D shaped pulls
  • Task lighting
Every home and every resident is different. What may be recommended for one may not be for another.
If there are any questions or concerns, an in-home safety check can be done at your convenience by Joy Twelves, a retired Physical Therapist who has many years of experience doing this. Call Providence Village if you are interested.
Snow Help

Providence Village’s Snow Help program is here to help you arrange dependable snow shoveling at your home. Please call 441-5240 and ask for Snow Help. 
Providence Village
Board of Directors 
Suzanne Francis, President
Jim Maxwell, Past President
Anne Connor, Secretary
Peter Viner-Brown, Treasurer

Tony Allen, Lenore Bunting, Deborah Dunning
David Francis, Pat Mattingly, Bonnie Ryvicker, Terry Percelay, 
Joe Santarlasci, Phil West

Providence Village
Advisory Council

Deborah Dunning, Barry Fain, Patricia Gifford, Jay Glasson,
Beverly Ledbetter, Lynette Lopes, Marcus Mitchell, Herbert Rakatansky,
Corinne Calise Russo, Dan Siegel, Barbara Sokoloff, Bill Twaddell, Phil West

Newsletter Staff:  Editor: Wendy Oliver    
Writers:  Jane Adler, Sue Bayley, Rosalind Ladd, Vivian Malloy, Wendy Oliver, Diane Strommer, Eliza Sutton, Phil West 
Photography:  Phil West, Jane Adler
Obituary Assistance: Anne Connor, Phil West

Copyright © 2020 Village Common of RI, All rights reserved.

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