...our thanks to a working team
Newsletter crew working on the April 2001 edition. From left to right are Hilton Nickerson, Carolyn Norton, Olga Giannetti, Ruth Jefts and Al Bertulli.
Each month 5-8 dedicated volunteers spend a few mornings or afternoons readying for distribution 2,750 copies of the Council On Aging newsletter "Looking Ahead". The majority, around 1,800, are mailed to the homes of senior residents. Another 600 are delivered to Melrose's six elderly housing buildings, with the remaining copies left at various locations around the city, including the Milano Senior Center, COA office, City Hall and library.
Asked what has kept her coming for over 10 years, Martha Pitts quickly jokes, "It's the scintillating conversation." Olga Giannetti says, "It is something to do, and it gets me out of the house." Another chimes in, "I come, because Hilton (Nickerson) keeps calling me." Carolyn Norton, who has been coming with Ruth Jefts for about 20 years says, "People really enjoy getting the newsletter. Knowing that I am speeding it on its way makes me feel good."
The volunteers' task consists of four steps. First, the newsletters are folded in half. Once folded, volunteers give the address labels the once over for any changes and then place them on the newsletters. Next, the folded newsletters are taped closed (a postal requirement). The last step, which is overseen by Al Bertulli, is counting the newsletters for placement in the bulk mailing boxes and bundles for drop-off around the City. Al admits that he has been getting some help with his job now that is vision is failing.
"Folding the newsletters with a sharp crease is important so that they don't slide all over the place and fit easily into the postal bulk mailing boxes," says Hilton Nickerson. To make a sharp crease, Hilton designed a device modeled after a "folding bone" that he purchased in 1935 for a work-related project. The original folding bone, which he still owns, was made out of whalebone. For the ones he makes today, he uses masonite.
A grant from the state office of Elder Affairs pays the postage, so the newsletter can be mailed to all Melrose residents, age 60 and over, who wish to receive it. Advertisers cover the cost of paper and newsletter printing, so there is no cost to residents. Non-residents may receive the newsletter by paying for postage, $4.00 annually. Using bulk as opposed to first-class mail saves 13 cents on each newsletter for a total monthly savings of around $234 a month. The big drawback to bulk mail is that the postal service can, and often does, take the allowed ten working days to deliver the newsletters rather than 2-3 days with first-class mail.
All the volunteers agree that getting the newsletter out is a concrete project that provides them with a sense of satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment.
To receive your copy of "Looking Ahead", call the COA office (781-665-4304) with your name and address.