Looking Ahead

On Valentines, taxes, TVs and mah jongg

... Looking Ahead for February, 2008

by Jack Beckley, Executive Director, Melrose Council on Aging

Looking Ahead
Melrose Council on Aging      

February 2008 Valentine’s Tea
Wednesday, February 13, 1:30 PM

Please come to our Valentine’s Tea. There will be tea and delicious scones from Bread & Bits of Ireland for your enjoyment. A beautiful Valentine’s Gift Basket donated by Harborside Healthcare and an exquisite baby afghan made by Nina Gibelli will be raffled off.

If you would like, bring a picture of someone you love or once loved to share with others at your table. All the better if you have a story to go with the picture.
Please call 781-662-6886 if you plan to attend. There is a $1.00 suggested donation.

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 (no Schedule C, complicated D, or E forms will be prepared). Appointments with Tax-Aides are available Mondays, 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, starting February 4 (except Feb. 18), and continuing until April 7, 2007.

Please bring: 1. A copy of your 2006 return; 2. All taxes paid for 2007 (withholding and estimated); 3. All 2007 income report forms 1099s, W-2, etc.  If interested in the annual state income tax credit ( Circuit Breaker”) of up to $900, 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.

For appointments, call 781-665-4304 mornings. Time permitting, walk-ins are seen on a first-come, first-serve basis - after appointments.  

Mah Jongg Instruction

Mah Jongg instruction begins on Wednesday afternoons, starting Feb. 13, from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. with instruction provided by Ethel Swirka.  The cost is $5 per class. Students should expect to take at least four classes to learn the game. Registration is required. Call the Center at 781-662-6886.  

Computer Help

Senior citizens are invited to drop in for one-to-one computers help. Marion Ewell helps on Thursday mornings 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and Maureen Cotter on Friday, February 8 & 22 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. Learn to use email, send pictures, or use the internet to look up your ancestors, medical conditions, vacation spots, news, anything. There is no charge to use the computers, however a $3 suggested donation is requested for one-to-one assistance.
Citizens Drug Recognition Academy

Marilyn G. Belmonte, Presenter
Wednesday Night Workshops
February 6, 13, 27 MARCH 5
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Milano Senior Center
Designed for parents, elders may also find these workshops helpful. Register with Kara Showers.
kshowers@cityofmelrose.org or 781-979-4128

Storm Cancellation Policy

When storms force the cancellation or delay openings of Melrose Public Schools:

The Milano Senior Center will be closed. When a delayed opening occurs, the Center will open at 10:00 a.m.

When Schools are 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 when schools are closed. On delayed openings, road conditions will determine if the minibus will run. Call 781-665-4304 to find out.

The COA office will be open unless City Hall closes.

Boston Legal Services

Boston Legal Services provides legal consultation and representation thanks to a Mystic Valley Elder Services grant. Case priorities include housing (especially eviction defense), MassHealth, Medicare, Social Security, SSI, Food Stamps, veterans' benefits, guardianship defense and nursing home issues. Attorneys continue to give advice on many other issues, especially consumer collection and debtor relief. Please call (617) 603-1582 or 1-800-323-3205 if you have such legal problems. Home visits are available.

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 and 781-662-2030 afternoons. $1 per ride suggested donation.

Straight Talk on Health Insurance

Understanding the intricacies of the many health insurance plans is challenging, but help is available. SHINE counselor, Lillian Martin, provides unbiased information at the Milano Senior Center Wednesdays from 11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. SHINE (Serving Health Information Needs of Elders) is an Executive Office of Elder Affairs program. No appointments necessary, just stop in.

Senior Dining Program

Delicious noon-time meals are served each weekday 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’s calendar and the complete weekly menus are in the Melrose Free Press.

To reserve a meal call 781-662-6886 from 10:00-11:45 a.m. 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).

Remember Someone Special on
Valentine’s Day

This is the month when we’re expected to show our appreciation for someone special in our lives. Why not start with yourself? You are certainly special! And, you need to take care of yourself. Like a good valentine, we’re here for you! Mystic Valley Elder Services can provide information, suggestions, and home care services that can help you to remain living in the community. Be your own best valentine and call us if you need help! Call 781-324-7705 or visit www.mves.org.

Bridge Club

Meets Wednesday mornings. New members are always welcome. Recent winners were: Ruth Tracey 1st, Paul Frazier 2nd, & Esther Parons 3rd; Hank Porter 1st, Vinnie Markelionis 2nd, & Dorothy Lawry 3rd. Fran Venocchi 1st, Ann Donoghue 2nd, & Lorraine O’Neal 3rd; Henry Porter 1st, Fran Venocchi 2nd, & Vinnie Markelionis 3rd.

Duplicate Bridge Played the first Wednesday of the month. Last month’s winners were Lou Froio & Bill Ciampa, N & S and Ruth Tracey & Nancy Mooradian, E & W.

Movies Movies Movies

Waitress, written by director and co-star Adrienne Shelly (who was murdered shortly before the film's selection for the Sundance Film Festival). Waitress is a frank and funny examination of the fears brought on by impending motherhood. Keri Russell plays Jenna, a waitress whose fabulous pies are about the only sweet ingredient in an otherwise dreary existence. An unwanted pregnancy, however, brings unexpected romance in this film co-starring Cheryl Hines.

All are welcome to this free showing on Weds., Feb. 20, at 1:30 p.m. Rated PG.


AARP Chapter 1124 Feb. 8 –– 1:30 p.m. at the Milano Senior Center. Business meeting followed by a presentation by Elder Law Attorney Stephen Spano entitled Decisions and Financial Disasters.
Melrose Veterans’ Club  Meets Fridays at 9:00 a.m., GAR Room, Memorial Hall. All are welcome!
Woman’s Club of Melrose  Feb. 20, 12:00, Most Blessed Sacrament Church. Program: Senior Health with Mary Baird. All women are welcome to join the Woman’s Club. For information call 781-665-7897.  


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. 4  - Leaves Cefalo Memorial Complex at 10 a.m.- returns at 1 p.m.
Feb. 11 - Leaves Julian Steele & McCarthy Houses at 10 a.m.- returns at 1 p.m.
Feb. 25 - Leaves City Hall at 10 a.m. - returns at 1 p.m.

200 CLUB

Feb 1 Surprise Bag Bingo and Luncheon, Wright’s Chicken Farm, RI Bingo follows an all-you-can-eat Rhode Island Style Chicken Dinner. Includes Bingo Card & Bingo with  Grab Bag Prizes.” Wright’s Gift Shop open for shopping. Pick Up: Pleasant St. (Stone Pl.) 10:00 a.m., Levi Gould 10:15 a.m., Cochrane House 10:30 a.m. $39

Feb 14: Venus De Milo, Swansea, MA Don  Who” Family & Friend Valentine’s Party. Dan, Don and his family have produced a brand new show plus special guest Dan Ryan, "One of the most powerful singers on the East Coast.” Luncheon Choice: Boston Schrod or Chicken Francese. Pick Up: Pleasant St. (Stone Pl.) 9:30 a.m., Levi Gould 9:45 a.m., Cochrane House 10:00 a.m. $49

March 12 St. Patrick’s Celebration, White’s Restaurant, Westport, MA Family-style luncheon – corned beef/cabbage & turkey, entertainment and floor show. Pick Up: Pleasant St. (Stone Pl.) 9:30 a.m., Levi Gould 9:45 a.m., Cochrane House 10:00 a.m. $49

For Information, Contact Rosemary Behrle (781) 665-3258. Checks payable to: The 200 Club.


Please support your senior center by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Melrose Friends of the Aging. Generous donations were made by Sally Stingel.

Donations made in loving memory of Dorothy Driscoll were also received from Josie Amicone, Frances Berger, Joe & Marion Connors, John & Eleanor Crowley, William & Ann Dailey,Carol & Richard DeRoche, Jo Donovan, Angela & James Falzarano, Dr. & Mrs. Arnold Fiascone, Joanne Gasparello, Mary Jane Hardiman, Monique Hardy, Sterling, Marci & Danielle Hardy, Patricia & Frank Kelly, Jane Merchant, Arlene Rice, Sheila Rourke, Richard & Kelley Shea, Frank Trischitta, Elyse Trockman, Mr. & Mrs Robert Trusselle, Alessio Ventura, and Sandra Widdall.

Donations made in loving memory of Ella Letterie were also received from Jack Beckley, Aurora & Roseann Cutroni, Jack Driscoll, Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas Giacobbe, Cynthia Hickey, Russ Priestley, Diane & Richard Rose, the SilverStringers, Mr. & Mrs. Trusselle, & Mary Young,


1: MYTH: Food Stamps are welfare. FACT: The Food Stamp Program is a nutrition assistance program, not welfare.

2: MYTH: Elderly people only receive $10 a month in food stamp benefits.   FACT: Ten dollars is the smallest amount of food stamps that you can receive. The average amount of food stamps for the elderly is much higher.

3: MYTH: Elderly cannot own a home. FACT: The home and lot are not counted as a resource in the Food Stamp Program.

4: MYTH: Elderly people must go to the food stamp office for an interview.   FACT If an elderly person is unable to go to the food stamp office, he or she may request a telephone interview. They may also send a relative, pastor, neighbor, etc. as an authorized representative.
5: MYTH: You must go to the food stamp office every few months to keep benefits. FACT: Elderly people can get benefits for up to two years at a time.

6: MYTH: Elderly people are only allowed $2,000 in resources. FACT: The resource limit for elderly households or households containing one elderly person is $3,000.

7: MYTH Elderly people do not receive credit for medical or prescription bills. FACT: Out-of-pocket medical expenses exceeding $35 a month may be deducted.

8: MYTH: Food stamps are only for the families with children. FACT: Food stamps are for eligible individuals and families, including the elderly.

9: MYTH; Other people need food stamps more than the elderly individuals. FACT: The Food Stamp Program is an entitlement program. In other words, everyone who applies and is determined eligible will get food stamp benefits.

10: MYTH: Elderly households that receive food stamps cannot receive meals-on-wheels. FACT: Households can receive food stamps and still get meals-on-wheels.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. For more information or to have an application mailed to your home, call 1-800-221-5689. If you need assistance filling out the application, SHINE counselor Lillian Martin is available to help at the Milano Senior Center every Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

FISH Volunteers Needed – Please Help!

One of Melrose’s most dedicated volunteer groups, FISH, needs drivers and one or two people to match callers with volunteer drivers. Calling can be done from home with training provided and no driving required. If you can help even once a week, it will be much appreciated. Be a hero to someone in need. For further information, call Preston Johnson at 781-665-1796.

Did you miss the Part D Open Enrollment?

Enrollment for the Medicare Part D prescription drug plans ended December 31, 2007. Fortunately, Massachusetts residents can still join a Medicare Part D plan by enrolling in Prescription Advantage, the state’s pharmacy assistance program. Medicare allows Prescription Advantage members to join a Medicare plan without having to wait until next November.

If you are concerned about added cost, you will be happy to know that there is no charge for Prescription Advantage for members with an annual income less than $30,630 for a single person and $41,070 for a married couple. And, depending on your income and the Medicare prescription drug plan you choose, Prescription Advantage may help pay all or part of your Medicare prescription drug plan’s monthly premium, deductible and drug co-payments.

There is no reason not to have coverage for your prescription drugs. Call Prescription Advantage today for an application form.

You can reach Prescription Advantage Customer Service toll-free at 1-800-AGE-INFO (1-800-243-4636) or TTY for the deaf and hard of hearing at 1-877-610-0241. If you need assistance filling out the application, SHINE counselor Lillian Martin is available to help at the Milano Senior Center every Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Melrose Mirror Online

The Melrose Mirror is an ever-changing online publication with lots of pictures and interesting stories. It is written and produced by Melrose residents, SilverStringers, at the Milano Center. Take a look at it at http://melrosemirror.media.mit.edu.

The SilverStringers welcome new members to their Wednesday afternoon meetings at 1:30 PM. During meetings members receive training and discuss story ideas.

Fuel Assistance

Tri-City Community Action Program (Tri-Cap) should be your first call for help paying for heating fuel or repairing your heating system. Generally, eligible households must earn 200% or less of poverty ($20,410 for one or $27,380 for two-person households), but it would be a mistake to assume that you do not qualify for any assistance. Eligible households also receive discounts on their monthly utility and telephone bills.

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 and the Salvation Army’s Good Neighbor Energy Fund 1-800-262-1320.

Property Tax Exemption

If you or your spouse reached age 65 before July 1, 2007, you may be eligible for a $700 tax exemption. In order to qualify, an individual’s total income for 2006 must be under $20,000 (after deducting $3,841 in Social Security or Railroad Retirement income for a retired worker). An individual drawing on his/her spouse’s retirement benefits may deduct only $1,921. A single person cannot have more than $40,000 in assets. A couple’s income must be under $30,000 (after deducting $5,762 in Social Security or Railroad Retirement income. A couple cannot have more than $55,000 in assets. Application deadline is March 31, 2008.

For additional information, call the Assessor’s office at 781-979-4104.

Getting Ready for Analog to Digital Television

At midnight on February 17, 2009 -- a year from now -- full power broadcast television stations will stop broadcasting in analog format. Digital TV will replace the analog system. To prepare for this change, you can buy a new TV that has a built-in ATSC tuner, buy a Digital-to-Analog Converter Box or subscribe to a Cable TV or Satellite TV service.

To reduce the cost for analog TV owners, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce developed a converter box coupon program to allow analog TV owners to request coupons towards the purchase of a digital-to-analog converter box. Coupons will be available from January 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009. All households that own a TV using over-the-air analog reception are eligible. Coupons, which will look like plastic gift cards, will be redeemable through local electronic stores.

Households may request two $40 coupons toward the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes beginning by calling 888-DTV-2009, (1-888-388-2009) or on-line at www.DTV2009.gov, which also provides answers to frequently asked questions. Coupons will be forwarded via U.S. mail.

February 1, 2008

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