Volunteer & Retirement Engagement Alternatives Program

VOLUNTEERING: “Volunteers Make the World a Better Place

JUNE 2018


The Brookline Council on Aging and the Brookline Senior Center (BSC) are always happy to enlist new volunteers who can share their talents and program ideas. 

Your contributions would enable us to expand the number and variety of high level programs and activities that are provided for all seniors in Brookline. If you would like to actively pursue volunteer service, please make an appointment with Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator (617-730-2743) for an opportunity to learn more about the Senior Center & opportunities where you might best share your time and talent. We are always eager to hear new ideas & keep a list of volunteers for special events and future opportunities.

The Brookline Council on Aging and the Brookline Senior Center (BSC) are always happy to enlist new volunteers who can share their talents and program ideas. 

Your contributions would enable us to expand the number and variety of high level programs and activities that are provided for all seniors in Brookline. If you would like to actively pursue volunteer service, please make an appointment with Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator (617-730-2743) for an opportunity to learn more about the Senior Center & opportunities where you might best share your time and talent. We are always eager to hear new ideas & keep a list of volunteers for special events and future opportunities.

JUNE SPOTLIGHTED VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: This month’s spotlighted opportunities include: Coffee Duty –Friday mornings 8-9am; Information Desk – Tuesdays 11-1 from June to October & backup for other days; Food Commodity program on 3rd Wednesday of each month – Russian interpreters morning and afternoon shifts and people able to help with phone calls and/or lifting 30-35 lbs. in the morning; Food Pantry - volunteers for morning and afternoon (able to lift 30 lbs.) set-up, shopping assistance and Russian interpreters for Tuesday afternoons (1-4); Smartphones and other Technology -1-on-1 assistance for seniors with their Smartphones and other technology.

If you would like to apply for these or other volunteer opportunities or have ideas for new opportunities at the BSC, please call Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator @ 617-730-2743 or email her at pburns@brooklinema.gov to make an appointment to talk about things you like to do, your skills and potential volunteer opportunities.

LEARN TO PLAY OR IMPROVE YOUR CHESS GAME: Are you a beginner chess player or have always wanted to learn how to play? Three Brookline High School seniors who are co-captains of the Brookline High School Chess Club will be at the Senior Center each Friday from 3-5. If you are interested, drop in for a lesson or a game! If you have questions, call Patricia @ 617-730- 2743.

LIBRARY CONNECTION: Are you a lover of library books and other resources, yet unable to enjoy the pleasures of browsing on your own? We have a solution for you! The Library Connection, a partnership of Brookline's Council on Aging and the Public Library of Brookline, provides delivery of library materials directly to homebound Brookline residents who are unable to leave their home. A volunteer from the community will deliver materials to you throughout the year. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or receiving this service, contact Volunteer Coordinator Patricia Burns at the Council on Aging 617-730-2743.
Volunteer Spotlight:

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Rhona Hirschowitz, Nominee for Volunteer of the Year 2018
: Rhona (the flower lady) was born and raised in South Africa, home to an extraordinary variety of flowers. Her father was a horticulturalist and her mother was ‘a natural’ flower arranger. Rhona became a volunteer at the Brookline Senior Center in October 2004 after responding to an ad for a flower arranger. She said that she started as the only person working with the flowers and soon realized she would need help. While Rhona has definitely been the mainstay since the program started, many other extraordinary volunteers have joined the team at and for various times. Mei Chu and Akemi Minami are her long term every week volunteers that she depends on the most. All the volunteers share the love of flowers and are able to leave their problems aside while working with beauty.

Another volunteer position that Rhona has done for many years is copyediting the monthly newsletter. She said that she has a real ‘typo eye’ and finds it fun to find errors before the publication goes to press. She said that she enjoys working with Maureen Deery, the editor.

Rhona closed by saying that Thursday is the best day of her week because of the flowers and that she is proud to be associated with the BSC.


2018 Community Partner of the Year:


Lisa Gaffey, Brookline High School SHOP Faculty Advisor receives award from Ruthann Dobek, Director of the Brookline Senior Center and Patricia Burns, Volunteer Coordinator

The 2018 Community Partner Award was Given to the Brookline High School SHOP Program at the Brookline Senior Center’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

The S.H.O.P. (Students Helping Older People) Program has been a collaboration between the Brookline Senior Center and the community service program at Brookline High School for many years. During these years, literally hundreds of students have helped dozens of seniors. It is a win-win volunteer opportunity whereby students grocery shop for seniors in Brookline and seniors share their actual history and experience with students in a friendly visit after shopping.

Besides getting the groceries for the senior, the most important part of this program is developing meaningful multigenerational relationships. Some students have shopped for the same senior throughout high school and consider their elder an important part of their life; others continue to visit after graduating. The seniors tell us that they feel that their students are like family.

The SHOP program was a featured spot on Boston 25 News in March and also was one of the intergenerational programs discussed on Brookline cable last year. Patricia thanked the three outgoing Student Coordinators, Nick Brown, Shahar Hartman and Roy Golan as well as the Faculty SHOP Advisor, Lisa Gaffey and announced that this year’s Community Partner Award was awarded to the Brookline High School SHOP Program.


Eleanor RAD

Eleanor Small with Ruthann Dobek

Eleanor Small is the 2018 Volunteer of the Year. Eleanor has been volunteering at the Brookline Senior Center for more than 12 years. She has volunteered on the gift cart, in the Tuesday Food Pantry, at the Craft Fair and helping to prepare for the Annual Sidewalk Sale. She currently co-leads the Out-To-Lunch- Bunch and is an avid bridge player at the Senior Center.

One example of her warmth and love of helping and welcoming people was told to us by Ruth Geller. Eleanor was the first person that Ruth met when she visited the BSC for the first time after moving to Brookline from NYC. Ruth was observing the bridge game from afar. Eleanor told her to pull up a chair and a bit later invited her to join the game. They have been fast friends ever since.

Ruthann described Eleanor as someone who is always warm and welcoming, greeting newcomers and ‘regulars’ alike to the BSC. She never waits to be asked to help as she knows that programs at the BSC do not happen without volunteers. Eleanor is a true ambassador of the BSC and exemplifies the sharing, giving and paying it forward of John & Molly Dolan for whom this award is named.


QUOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR, RUTHANN DOBEK: “One of our strengths is recruiting volunteers. We have 408 volunteers of all ages – 12 – 97 performing 526 activities. Many are active in more than one activity; many have volunteered with us for ten years or more; 20 have paid jobs elsewhere; and 51 volunteer elsewhere. These volunteers, most of whom are seniors themselves, donate the equivalent number of hours of more than 20 full-time staff. Our volunteers are here and in the community every day. We would have to close our doors if we had to go without their thousands of hours of dedicated work.”  

Ruthann continues to ask that all of our volunteers add one more important job to their volunteering – being an ambassador for the BSC. She asks that we all be aware of new faces here or in our community – churches, synagogues, neighborhoods or social networks - and welcome and encourage seniors to come to the BSC.  Our volunteers know that the secret to longevity is active involvement and physical fitness

BROOKLINE SENIOR CENTER VOLUNTEERS IN THE NEWS: The Brookline Senior Center Food Pantry along with Springwell and the Brookline Food pantry will be filmed in June for airing on Brookline cable’s (BIG) Age Friendly City series. The topic of this episode is Food Insecurity in Brookline. Time and date of airing has not yet been announced – stay tuned! The SHOP Program between Brookline High School and Brookline Senior Center was featured on Boston 25 News on Thursday, February 22. The link to see the feature story can be found at https://t.co/9zECVvJDEd . The Brookline Senior Center Alzheimer’s Walk Team photo and blurb were featured on the Your News page of the Brookline TAB on September 28. Ruthann was quoted in a recent article in the Commonwealth Magazine (http://CommonwealthMagazine.org/economy).  Brookline shared an article with the Chicopee COA in the October issue of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Medex quarterly publication, Healthy Times. Brookline Senior Center intergenerational volunteers were spotlighted on Wednesday, March 29 on BIG, the local TV channel. If you missed it, you can find the ½ hour program link on the BCAN website or on the BIG Facebook page https://youtu.be/iDDCgi8vKCk. Patricia also updates the volunteer pages of the Town and BSC websites and contributes to the BCAN Volunteer page monthly. She urges everyone to check these websites (www.brooklineseniorcenter.org/, www.brooklinema.gov/) and http://www.brooklinecan.org/. Brookline Senior Center volunteers were featured in an article in the April, 2016 issue of the fiftyplus advocate entitled Volunteering: A Work of Heart at the Brookline Senior Center. The article can be found on line at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com.



SHINE: Open Enrollment for Medicare supplemental insurance is in full swing! SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) is administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs in partnership with Councils on Aging and other aging service access points. SHINE helps people on Medicare and other seniors understand complex insurance options. SHINE volunteer counselors educate and provide unbiased help to choose an insurance program best for the individual. Seniors interested in making an appointment with a BSC SHINE counselor at the BSC (All appointments during this year’s open enrollment are full.) should call 617 730 2777.

SHINE trains counselors in a 2 days/week - 6 week course. Meetings to get support and meet with other counselors occur monthly. Once certified, you will be assigned to work 6 hours per week in a senior center or other public setting. If you are interested in becoming a certified counselor, call Dorene Nemeth, MetroWest Regional SHINE Director: 781 455 7555, ext. 202.

MASS COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND: Help a visually impaired person by reading or shopping with them. No special skills needed. Call Kyle Robidoux, Director of Volunteer Support Services, Mass Commission for the Blind – 617 926 4312.

The Brookline Senior Center is collaborating with the MA Commission for the Blind (MCAB) on a new grant to train vision impaired seniors on new technological equipment that has been installed in the BSC computer lab. Jeremias Feliz will be taking over for Sassy (Sassy has been promoted to a new position at MCAB), as the new VIBRANT Program Trainer and will be available with other volunteers by appointment on Wednesdays from 1-5 and most Thursdays.

BROOKLINE’S EMERGENCY FOOD BANK: The Brookline Emergency Food Bank needs donations of instant coffee and tea, sugar, oil, flour, spices, pasta, canned tomatoes and sauce, canned soup, beans, vegetables, fruit (low salt and low sugar) dry beans, healthy snacks for kids, granola bars, and fruit cups. They also need toiletries such as: shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and sunscreen (not covered by SNAP).

Donations may be left in the bin under the table in the reception area at the BSC.

CAPPELLA CLAUSURA: This Newton-based choral group focuses on performing and supporting the music of women composers. Concerts from November to May take place in Newton and Boston. Cappella Clausura would like to offer warm and welcoming Brookline Senior volunteers free admission to their concerts in exchange for helping to greet patrons, direct audience members to ticket lines, usher and hand out programs. Interested volunteers should contact Anne Kern @ manager@clausura.org or 617 993 0013.

GENERATIONS INCORPORATED: Generations Incorporated is recruiting older adult volunteers to help improve reading skills for kindergarten through 2nd grade students in classroom settings twice a week at either the Winship School in Brighton or the Lydon School in West Roxbury. To find out more about the program please call 617 423 6633 or email volunteerinfo@generations.org to RSVP.


Retirement Engagement Alternatives Program

The REAP program for Brookline senior residents 55 or 60 and above (depending on the program) is designed for people who wish to remain engaged and active in the community while in retirement or partial retirement. The goal of this program is to enhance the retirement experience by linking participants with either part-time paid or volunteer work in the community or at the Brookline Senior Center (BSC) itself.

The BSC partners with several other local organizations to offer fulfilling and interesting opportunities. These include, but are not limited to: BrooklineCAN (BCAN), Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), Brookline Adult and Community Education, Executive Office of Elder Affairs and Various Brookline Town departments. In addition, opportunities exist for Tax Work-Off, and limited grant funded employment at the BSC for income qualified Brookline residents.

The REAP program provides the following free services: individual, confidential and free consultation around skills and interests, on-going skills based workshops and training for employment seekers, employer-employee matching service, consultation and matching for participants seeking meaningful volunteer opportunities and on-going opportunities to network and explore avenues and options for self-fulfillment in the retirement years.

To enroll or for more information, call 617 730 2767 or email Deidre at dwaxman@brooklinema.gov

 Brookline seniors – Boomers & Beyond - are eligible to receive free individual help with resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles as well as tips on phone, skype, in-person and mock interviews. To schedule an appointment, call Patricia at 617 730 2743 or email her at pburns@brooklinema.gov



The Tax Abatement Program has a few slots to fill in the coming 2019 fiscal year. Potential participants must be over 60 years of age and property owners in Brookline. They must meet low income guidelines (below $56,800 on 2017 income tax return). Participants will be expected to work for 125 hours between July 1, 2018 and March 15th, 2019 in a Brookline Town Department in order to receive the abatement on their real estate taxes. While we try our best to find placements in town departments, we cannot guarantee that a placement will be available. Please call Deidre Waxman, LICSW with questions or to set up an interview – 617 730 2767.