Looking Ahead

Tax time, but help is on the way

... Looking Ahead: Computers on-line, Tax assistance ...

by Jack Beckley, director, Melrose Council on Aging

Eileen M. Olsen, Chairperson
Jim Driscoll, Vice-Chairperson
Kay McCarte, Secretary
William Ahern
Peggy Kenny
Rosemary Behrle
George Nelson Torrey


Valentine's Day Tea

Please join us for a Valentine Day s Tea on February 14 at 1:30 p.m.  Bring a favorite Valentine's Day card that you have received or a nice story related to Valentine's Day. There'll be delicious refreshments.

At the Tea, a lovely crocheted baby afghan and a knitted baby sweater made by Nina Gibelli will be raffled off. Tickets are $1 or 6 for $5.

Please RSVP by calling 781-662-6886 if you plan to attend. We thank East Boston Savings Bank for sponsoring this Tea.

Free AARP Tax Assistance

IRS trained Tax-Aide counselors assist disabled persons and those age 60 and over with low to moderate incomes in filing their taxes again this year at the Milano Senior Center.

Appointments with Tax-Aides will be available on Mondays, from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, during February (except Feb. 20), March, and for the first two weeks of  April.

Please bring: 1: A copy of your 2004 return 2: All taxes paid for 2005
(withholding and estimated). 3: All 2005 income report forms 1099s, W-2, etc.

If you are interested in the annual state income tax credit (often referred to as the Circuit Breaker) of up to $840, bring your property tax valuation, annual income and property taxes paid and paid water & sewer services. You do not have to pay state taxes to qualify for the tax credit.

Call 781-665-4304 mornings for an appointment. Time permitting, walk-ins are seen on a first-come, first-serve basis - after the appointments.  Occasionally time may not permit accommodating all walk-ins.

This year tax assistance will be held in the Milano Center's Carriage House
Lounge.

Ask A Nurse

Starting this month in the health office in the beautiful Carriage House Lounge, Joan Farren, R.N. will provide individualized health care counseling courtesy of Hallmark Health Homecare. This will be in addition to Adult Wellness that occurs on the second Friday of the month at 11:15 a.m. courtesy of the Boston/Melrose VNA.

In additional to checking your blood pressure, heart rate and listening to your lungs, Joan can help you find a doctor, understand your medications and health care regime, or answer your uestions.

Ask a Nurse is free and no appointments are necessary. It will be held from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. on the last Tuesday of the month; starting February 28.  Come and meet Joan!

Health Plan Options for Seniors

On Wed., Feb. 22 at 1:30 p.m., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MA will present  Health Plan Options for Seniors.  The presentation will include an explanation of Medicare, including the Medicare Part D drug benefit. It will also show how Medigap plans and Medicare Advantage plans work with Medicare. A question and answer session will follow the presentation. All are welcome regardless of your insurance coverage.

Please note that the Medex Annual Open Enrollment runs from Feb. 1st to March 31st for a June 1st effective date.  All Massachusetts residents with Medicare A & B are eligible to enroll.

Grandparent and Grandchild Support Group

North Suburban Family Network in collaboration with the Melrose and Stoneham Councils on Aging, received a MVES Grant for monthly educational support group for grandparents.

Meetings are held on the last Friday of the month, 10 a.m. to Noon, through June 2006 at the Stoneham Senior Center, 136 Elm St., Stoneham. Limited childcare is available. Call 781-662-2722 to register for the Feb. 24 meeting.

Online Medicare Help

Going online to www.Medicare.gov is the easiest way to find out what Medicare Part D insurance plan is best for you. If you don t have access to the Internet, call the Milano Center (781-662-6886) to schedule an appointment with someone to help you at the Center.

Storm Policy

When storms force the cancellation of Melrose Public Schools:
    The Milano Senior Center will be closed.

    No congregate meals will be served at the Milano Senior Center. To find out if Home Delivered Meals will be delivered, call MVES at 781-324-7705 after 7:30 a.m. Cancellations are also listed on Channels 5 & 7 and on WRKO 680 AM radio.

    The Minibus will not run the entire day.
    The COA office will be open unless City Hall closes.


Senior Dining Program

Delicious noon-time meals are served each week day at 12 noon in the Milano Center. The lunch program is run in cooperation with Mystic Valley Elder Services. Entrees are listed in Looking Ahead calendar (printed version) and the complete weekly menus in the Melrose Free Press.

To reserve a meal call 781-662-6886 from 10:00-11:45 AM at least a day before you plan to attend. A $1.50 donation is requested for each meal.  Rides are available by calling 781-665-4304 ($1 suggested donation).

Ride in COA Van

The Council provides transportation within Melrose for residents age 60 plus. The van runs Mon .- Thurs. from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

To reserve a ride, call the COA office (781-665-4304) mornings. In the afternoon, you may check on a ride or make a last minute cancellation by calling the Milano Center at 781-662-6886.

$1 suggested donation.

"Do Not Call" Registry

Since 2003, consumers have been registering their phone numbers on a national Do Not Call list to limit marketing calls from telemarketers.

Many consumers do not realize that you can register your cell phone number as well. This is important since, depending on the plan that you have, you may be paying for telemarketing calls.

To prevent this, call 1-888-382-1222 from your cell phone: It is the National "DO NOT CALL" Registry. It takes only a minute of your time and blocks your number for five years.

You may also do this online at www.donotcall.gov.

Looking Ahead

The COA monthly newsletter (printed version), Looking Ahead, is distributed in bulk around the City. If you prefer to receive it by mail, please send a $4 check payable to the Melrose COA, 235 West Foster Street, Melrose, MA 02176. Those who are homebound and unable to afford the $4 can receive the newsletter without charge.

Bridge Club Meets Wednesday mornings. New members are always welcome.

Recent winners were: Jean Pulsifer 1st, Lorraine O'Neil 2nd, and Bob Morrison 3rd; Dottie Lawry 1st, Gloria Frazier & John Lawry 2nd and Ester Snow 3rd; Henry Porter 1st, Mary Manning 2nd, & Arthur Hughes 3rd.

Duplicate Bridge meets the first Wednesday of the month.

December winners were: Lou Froio & William Ciampa N & S, and Frank Cain & Arthur Hughes E & W.


CLUB MEETINGS

AARP Chapter 1124 Feb. 10, 1:30 PM at the Melrose Highlands Congregational Church.

Ham & Bean Supper, February 18, 6:00 p.m., Green Street Baptist Church, 179 Green St. $7 adults (children 12 & under FREE with parents). No reservations needed. For information, call 781-665-7331.

Melrose Arts and Crafts Society: Feb. 27. 9:30 AM. First Baptist Church. Craft classes and Program, Portraits.

Melrose Veterans Club meets Fridays at 9:00 a.m., GAR Room, Memorial Hall/ All are welcome!

Womans Club of Melrose Feb. 15, 12:00, Most Blessed Sacrament Church. Program: Donald Wilkinson, Baritone and Pianist.

TRIP INFORMATION

Minibus to Square One Mall   Call 781-665-4304 to reserve seats on the bus. There is now a two person minimum for the van to make the trip.

Feb. 6 - Leaves Cefalo Memorial Complex at 10 a.m.- returns at 1 p.m.

Feb. 13 - Leaves Julian Steele & McCarthy Houses at 10 a.m.- returns at 1  p.m.

Feb. 27 - Leaves City Hall at 10 a.m. - returns at 1 p.m.

200 Club: Call Rosemary Behrle at 781-665-3258 to register for trips. Checks payable to: The 200 Club.

Feb. 8 - Lincoln Greyhound Park, RI. Trip includes: $5 cash voucher; $5 food coupon; race program; race dedication, video slot machines, deluxe motor coach transportation. Pick up: Cochrane House 9:15 AM/Levi Gould 9:30 AM. $12.00

March 8-16 Greece: 3-Night Greek Island Cruise aboard Louis Cruises  Perla, 9-days/7 nights. Package includes sightseeing to some of the most beautiful and famous attractions in Greece; most meals, staying at first-class Divani Palace in Athens including a visit to Ephesus in Turkey!  $1,599 (outside cabin) $1,529 (inside cabin)

April 14 Mystery Trip: Something different that you have never done before!  Trip includes: buffet luncheon, afternoon mystery activity, deluxe motor coach transportation. Pick up: Cochrane House 8:00 a.m./Levi Gould 8:15 a.m. $51.00

MELROSE FRIENDS OF THE AGING

The Melrose Friends of the Aging gratefully acknowledges generous contributions from an anonymous donor, Rita Quinn Dietrich, the Silver Singles, Sally Stingel, and the Wednesday Bridge group. A donation was also received from Mildred Austin in memory of her husband Ralph Austin.

Movies - Movies - Movies

Cinderella Man  Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger star in this triumphant, powerfully inspiring true story.  Set during the Great Depression in a time when America needed a champion, an unlikely hero would arise.  Boxer Jim Braddock proves how hard a man will fight to win a second chance for his family and himself. Shown at the Milano Senior Center on Wed., February 15 at 130 PM.

Plan for Disabled Residents

The Melrose Emergency Management Agency is asking residents with disabilities to register with the City so public safety officials will know how to respond in case those residents need to be evacuated from their homes.  Residents with special needs of any kind, ranging from hearing or sight impairments to mobility issues and other chronic medical issues, are asked to fill out a survey.

Public safety officials need to know which residents are hearing impaired and therefore might not hear an emergency summons by a doorbell or public address system. For residents in wheelchairs, emergency management officials would then be alerted of the need to send special transportation.

All information will be kept confidential. To participate, call Richard Pitts at  781-979-4111.

Art Workshop Resumes in March

The Art Workshop will resume on Tuesday mornings, at 9:00 a.m., starting on March 7. Anyone with an interest in art who wishes to further develop their skills is encouraged to join. The instructor is Bill Kadlec and the cost per class is $5.

Computer Lessons & Support

Starting this month, the computer classroom will have open hours with volunteers on hand for coaching, if needed. For those needing more help, one-to-one peer assistance may be scheduled for $3 per hour. Formal classes in Microsoft Word, and Beginners and Intermediate Computer are also being given for $25 for 3 lessons. As long as space permits and a formal class is not in session, the computers may be used without charge at any time.

Please call the Center for additional information.

Surf the Net!

The computer classroom in the Carriage House Lounge is finally on the Internet! Classes are scheduled to start in February. Please call 781-662-6886 for information about the classes and to register. Class size is limited to seven students at a time.

You are welcome to come down to surf the net for free at your convenience as long as no classes are in session. If peer assistants are working with someone, please be considerate of their time together. If you need help surfing the net or with some other aspect of computers, schedule to have a peer assistant help you.

The cost ($3 per hour) offsets expense. The peer assistants are volunteers.

Tai Chi for Balance

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese exercise that is especially beneficial for older people. It has been shown to improve circulation, increase strength, improve flexibility and, remarkably, balance. Since the risk and consequences of falling rise dramatically as we age, Tai Chi is a healthy way to reduce our risk. On Thursday mornings at 9:00 a.m., Rick Wong gives Tai Chi lessons at the Milano Senior Center. New students are encouraged to attend.

Property Tax Relief Expanded

Governor Romney recently signed into law legislation to lower the property tax burden for Massachusetts senior citizens. Under current state law, homeowners 65 or over who meet certain income eligibility requirements may receive an annual state income tax credit of up to $840 if their house is valued at $400,000 or less. The new law raises the property value threshold to $600,000, making more seniors eligible for tax relief.

A qualifying taxpayer is one whose real estate payment exceeds 10 percent of total income, and whose joint income does not exceed $60,000, or $40,000 for a single taxpayer.

Additional information is available online at www.mass.gov/dor. You may also call the Massachusetts Dept. of Revenue at 1-617-887-6367 or schedule an appoinment with the AARP Tax Aides at the Milano Senior Center by calling 781-  665-4304.

Fuel Assistance

Tri-Cap's Fuel Assistance, Weatherization, and Heartwap Programs help homeowners and tenants pay their home heating costs, conserve energy, and, in emergencies, repair, retrofit, new burners, and even replace heating systems. Eligible households also receive a 25-35% discount on their monthly utility bills and a discount on their phone bill.

For additional information, call Tri-Cap at 781-322-6284 for fuel assistance and 781-322-4190 for energy conservation. You can also visit the web site at www.tri-cap.org

Other resources include Citizen s Energy - 1-877-JOE-4OIL, Salvation Army's Good Neighbor Energy Fund 1-800-262-1320, and Cold Relief Hotline 1- 800-632-8175.

Starting the New Year off Right



The Chair Exercise Class began meeting in January on Thursday afternoons at the Milano Senior Center. This picture was taken at the first class with the instructor Debbie Small seated in the front row fourth from the right. The occasion was new year's resolutions -- something about losing weight.


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