|March 06, 2014||Ulster County Community Effort Provides Free Tax Preparation Services to Seniors and Individuals ...||no comments|
|February 06, 2014||Woodland Pond Residents Create and Share Works of Heart||no comments|
|December 20, 2013||Woodland Pond Residents Play Santa Claus by Providing for Families in Need||no comments|
|October 25, 2013||Seniors Showcase Life Work at Kaleidoscope of the Arts Show||no comments|
|October 03, 2013||Active Seniors Lead Project to Build Scenic Viewing Platform||no comments|
|October 01, 2013||New Paltz Artist Sculpts Statue for Sojourner Truth Memorial||no comments|
All income earning citizens are responsible for filing their taxes, which is frequently done online. Seniors and people with limited incomes may not own computers, have internet access or possess knowledge about online tax programs or filing their taxes in general. In response to this need, members of the Ulster County community have come together to provide tax preparation services for seniors over the age of 55 and people with limited incomes. Woodland Pond, a senior living community in New Paltz, has donated a vacant apartment to be used as a call center, through which all tax preparation appointments are scheduled with volunteer tax preparers at seven sites throughout Ulster County. Woodland Pond residents and members of the outside community volunteer their time to run the call center. Internet and telephone service has been provided by Cornerstone Communications, at no charge to AARP or Woodland Pond. It is truly a community wide effort.
“It is important to provide these services for people that cannot afford them, as we all are obligated to file our taxes,” said Vici Danskin, a resident of Woodland Pond at New Paltz and coordinator of the call center operations. “I have been volunteering in the New Paltz community for much of my life, as I think it is important to help people. A typical call at the call center involves getting names and contact information of the people that call. We inform them of all the documents and items they will need to bring with them to their appointments. Then, we schedule a convenient time and location for them. Prior to their appointment, we give them a reminder call. Most of our available appointments for February filled up quickly and March is filling up fast too. We served over 3,000 people last year, so it is important to call as soon as you can to reserve a spot. The last day we will offer these services is April 12.”
The number for the call center is (845) 255-0791. The call center operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 1 pm. Should people call the call center any other time, they can leave a voicemail and volunteers will get back to them as soon as possible. It is highly recommended that people call during the hours of operation. Appointments are scheduled for Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. This is Woodland Pond’s second year to donate services and time for operating the call center.
“We are so grateful for the services Woodland Pond and other companies are providing to make this program possible,” said Margaret Taylor, a volunteer tax preparer in Ulster County. “If the tax preparers had to also handle calls and appointments, it would take away from the amount of returns we could process. We are grateful for the volunteers and services provided by Woodland Pond at New Paltz. They have been instrumental in helping us throughout the entire process. Their technical personnel set up the computers to go wireless, connected the internet and ensured that the entire system would connect with our computers at the tax preparation sites. Sometimes the idea of filing taxes gives people anxiety, especially if they are not familiar with preparing taxes. I think it is important to assist people who may not be in the best position to file their taxes. Each return varies in complexity, and usually they take 45 minutes to an hour to complete. All tax preparer volunteers are certified and are required to pass exams each year.”
“We are delighted to assist with the AARP tax program,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director at Woodland Pond. “Residents enjoy volunteering their time to this great cause. It is a beneficial program for fellow seniors and other residents in the surrounding community.”
The AARP tax program is in need of additional volunteers for the call center and for preparing taxes. If you are interested in volunteering at the call center, please call Vici Danskin at (845) 255-0791. If you are interested in volunteering your services as a tax preparer, please call Richard Dooley, the district coordinator for the program, at (845) 246-0696.
ABOUT WOODLAND POND AT NEW PALTZ
Woodland Pond at New Paltz is located in New Paltz, New York, and is a not-for-profit, upscale, continuing care retirement community (CCRC), tailored exclusively for those 62 and over. Nestled beneath the shoulder of the breathtaking Shawangunk Ridge, the community opened in 2009 and is the only CCRC in the Mid-Hudson Valley area. Woodland Pond offers an 83-acre campus that includes a professionally-staffed Health Center and a Community Center with an art studio, fitness center, heated indoor swimming pool, salon, market basket, billiard room, library, woodworking shop, game room, computer lab and more.
As a true CCRC, Woodland Pond at New Paltz offers independent living with a choice of a private residence (24 cottages and 177 apartments), services, and amenities. Under Woodland Pond’s Life Care program, residents are provided privileged admission to the assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing center. Life Care functions similar to a long-term care policy wrapped in a healthy and fulfilling resort lifestyle – so that residents can enjoy this chapter of their lives in an inspiring and supportive environment free from worrying about future escalating long-term care expenses.
Woodland Pond caters to a diverse group of accomplished individuals with a variety of interests and a zest for life. The community is operated by HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, an integrated health care system committed to providing quality and compassionate medical care for patients, their families and the Hudson Valley community. For more details, please visit: http://wpatnp.org.
Stitch by stitch, creativity and love flow from the quilting group at Woodland Pond as they work on quilts for people whom they care about and for seniors in need. The ladies meet once a month to work on a variety of quilting projects. Sometimes these dedicated will work on separate projects for their family and friends, other times they will work on joint projects that benefit others. In the past, the quilting group has donated quilts to seniors in skilled nursing.
“It is never too late to pick up a hobby,” said Bernice Leonard, a member of the Woodland Pond quilting group and a member of the Wiltwyck Quilt Guild in Kingston. “I started quilting in my adult life and have found enjoyment in creating special keepsakes for my friends and family. Thirty years ago, I decided to the lead the project of assembling a 50th wedding anniversary quilt for my parents. I had each member of our family create a square that would make up an overall compilation of memories of them and their marriage. As the squares arrived at my house, it was always a fun and sometimes interesting surprise to see what someone had created. My daughter created a square with grandma’s cookie jar for her contribution, which I thought was really cute.”
Leonard’s favorite quilt is hanging in the north wing of Woodland Pond. It is a quilt with keepsake baskets sewn on it. The quilt has such special meaning to Bernice, because she used lace trim handkerchiefs that her mother made and crocheted handkerchiefs that a good friend made in the design of the quilt. She said this particular quilt has much sentimental value for her, because it encompasses special items that she delicately included to share with others.
“My husband likes to read, so I made him a quilt with a bookcase on it and stitched the titles of some of his favorite novels on the books,” said Leonard. “Everyone has creative pieces of art to share. We are inspired by our loved ones and by our experiences with them. This show is going to be very special.”
“After my mother passed, I discovered an incomplete postage stamp quilt that my grandmother had started years ago,” shared Joyce Gartrell, a member of the Woodland Pond quilting group and the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) quilting group. “My grandmother passed when my mother was only 12-years-old, so this quilt was special to me, a gift from the grandmother I never met. After discovering this special keepsake, I decided that I would like to finish the quilt. It was tedious, as the squares that make up that quilt are literally the size of postage stamps. It is neat to think that the grandmother I never knew introduced me to this creative hobby. I have been quilting for over 35 years.”
Gartrell says that after all this time she is still learning new techniques for quilting. She is fond of making quilts for people in need or to raise money for a good cause. In the past, she had made table runners that were sold to raise money for her church. She has made pot holders, aprons and lap robes to be sold to benefit women assisted by PEO. The group also makes baby blankets for Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie. The PEO quilting group meets weekly at Woodland Pond to work on these items. PEO uses the funds to provide educational opportunities for female students going back to college.
“My favorite quilted piece is the first jacket that I made in a quilting class,” said Gartrell. “I made it with a fall themed fabric with leaves and hues of gold. I had so much fun making that jacket, I signed up for two more classes and now I have three quilted jackets that I wear regularly. They are really unique pieces that I treasure.”
“The stories that we have heard and the pieces we have seen are extremely impressive,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director of Woodland Pond. “The residents have a vast amount of artistic creativity. We recently showcased their work in a special Works of HeART quilt showcase. The event was a huge success and everyone enjoyed sharing their work and family treasures.”
Imagine being in a position where you are struggling to make ends meet and provide for children that depend on you to survive and you’ll quickly realize that instead of a time of joy, the holidays present a feeling of dread and concern. Unfortunately, some families simply don’t have the means to provide gifts for their loved ones. This is happening to families in New Paltz. In response to their needs, residents at Woodland Pond bought items on each family’s wish list and were eager to make sure seven children and two mothers have a wonderful Christmas.
“Woodland Pond adopts two families in need every year, and this year we are playing Santa Claus for families facing financial challenges,” said Warren Duffy, a resident of Woodland Pond. “We have a Giving Tree that is situated in the dining room with ornaments that have items on each family member’s wish list. My wife and I decided to buy a gift for a 12-year-old girl since our grandchildren are around that age and are also girls. She only wanted one thing for Christmas, so fulfilling her wish was simple. We think she will be very excited and thankful on Christmas morning when she opens up what we picked out for her. Christmas is all about making a difference by sharing and providing for others in need.”
Woodland Pond adopts two families through Family of New Paltz’s Adopt-a-Family for the Holidays Program each year. The community collected unwrapped gifts until December 11. A staff member from the community delivered the gifts to Family of New Paltz who will wrap the gifts and give them to the children at a special Christmas party.
“I think their eyes will light up and they will have bright smiles on their faces when they see all the packages,” said Duffy. “No child should feel left out on Christmas and it warms my heart to know that I played a part in making sure that does not happen. Beyond the gifts, I think we bestow hope in these children. I believe that we show them that there are kind people in the world who care about them and hopefully we are setting an example of the importance of sharing and giving to others.”
Woodland Pond residents believe that everyone should take time to see how they can help others. They feel the true meaning of Christmas can be found in giving back and helping those who need it, whether it is by donating time, money or material goods. Every wish on the Giving Tree gets fulfilled each year.
“The spirit that fills Woodland Pond during the holidays is contagious,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director of Woodland Pond. “The residents are always eager and excited to do something for others who need a little extra help. It was heart-warming to see them actively shopping for children and to see their delight in providing for a family beyond their own.”
Creativity and emotion embodied several works of art on display at the annual Kaleidoscope of the Arts show on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents of Woodland Pond were eager to share their life work and creative spirit with neighbors, friends, family and the public. Everything from books, jams, paintings, sculptures, ceramics and carvings were on display. Many of the items on display were also available for purchase. Dick Barry, a resident of Woodland Pond, premiered his latest novel, Experiencing Woodland Pond, at the Kaleidoscope and signed copies sold. Additionally, there was a bake sale and gift basket raffle. The proceeds from the bake sale and raffle benefited the Woodland Pond Foundation, which serves residents at the Woodland Pond community.
“Experiencing Woodland Pond is a personal memoir of laughing, learning, loving and living in a continuing care retirement community, and I was very excited for its premiere,” said Barry. “It is a wonderful book about my experience to move to a senior living community; the move itself, meeting new people in the community and the lifestyle at Woodland Pond. This is one of seven novels I have completed during my retirement. I finished this book in mid-September.”
Barry had his other six books on display as well: Crosscurrents, The Qualities of Mercy, Personal Wars, An Inappropriate Death, An Evil’s Vortex, and Infinite Gestures. He also had his latest novella, History of the Smiling Young Lord, available as well. Barry has found that writing has brought him a lot of joy in his retirement. He writes five days a week for at least three hours a day. He was excited to share his passion with others at the Kaleidoscope show.
“Woodland Pond is an incredibly diverse community filled with dynamic and interesting individuals,” said Barry. “The Kaleidoscope of the Arts demonstrates to the wider community that Woodland Pond is filled with talented seniors that are still creatively active. This art show portrays the livelihood and vibrancy that fills this community.”
“This is such a colorful and interesting event, and one to which all of the staff and residents look forward to each year,” said Robert Seidman, executive director of Woodland Pond. “The Kaleidoscope of the Arts gives the residents the opportunity to showcase their passion, their work and their talent. We all enjoyed this year’s showcase and the premiere of Dick’s book as well.”
Retirement for some seniors is a chance to do something good with their time, something they may not have otherwise done if they were still committed to Monday through Friday jobs. Residents at Woodland Pond, a senior living community in New Paltz, are taking advantage of this newfound free time by initiating a project that they hope will enhance the lives of fellow residents. This group of residents sought to build a scenic viewing platform at the end of a natural trail that extends from the back of the community down to a small pond. The committee of residents that executed the project hosted a dedication ceremony on September 24 during National Active Aging Week. Douglas McBride, Trina Greene, Ray Smith and Anne Smith, all leaders of the project, enjoyed the ceremony and are encouraging everyone to check out the new platform.
“I was in the wooded area where the viewing platform would eventually be built, walking alongside the conservation stewardship officer from Wallkill Valley Land Trust, when the idea of building a viewing platform came to mind,” said Doug McBride, a resident at Woodland Pond. “I really enjoy spending time outdoors and I feel it is important to explore the world around us. I like to go down there by the pond and observe the wildlife, insects, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, migrating water fowl and the beavers that call the pond home. I initiated the project, as I wanted to share my experiences with others so they too could enjoy what I have come to love. It also gives the residents an opportunity to do something active.”
The Woodland Pond Residents Council started the Mill Brook Preserve Committee in February 2011. In May the committee decided to initiate the viewing platform project. The whole process took two years to complete. The Bruderhof, a community that performs pro bono public service, provided the labor for the project. Trina Greene, a resident at Woodland Pond and current chair of the committee, led the fundraising efforts and was able to collect $5,000 from 50 residents in 3 weeks for this project. The money went toward the required materials to build the platform.
“We have a gorgeous pond behind the community that is deep down in the woods,” expressed Ray Smith, a resident at Woodland Pond. “The trail existed before we built the platform and the actual building of the platform did not take very long at all. There were a lot of approvals, applications, fundraising, building permits and other forms of red tape that extended the length of the project. We are all delighted that the project is finally finished. I’ve taken many residents down there to see the platform and the scenic view already. I am eager to share this with anyone that I can.”
The committee purchased two benches with the remaining funds for the purpose of offering places to stop and rest on the way to the platform. One bench is placed at the trailhead, and the other is halfway between the trailhead and the platform. The platform itself has two built-in benches. The platform will have a plaque honoring The Bruderhof. One of the benches will have a plaque honoring the residents who made the platform possible.
“It is beautiful and well constructed,” said Anne Smith, a resident at Woodland Pond. “Everyone worked really hard on the project and it shows. We wanted to give people a place to go that is beautiful, peaceful and quiet. Birdwatchers will appreciate it, as well as those who are fond of nature. We also wanted to encourage people to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.”
“This new viewing platform is an excellent feature for residents to enjoy,” said Robert Seidman, executive director at Woodland Pond. “We are all very impressed by the committee’s work and devotion to the project. Their motivation made this idea a reality.”
Trina Greene, a resident of Woodland Pond, was commissioned to create a sculpture of an 11-year-old slave named Isabella, who would grow up to become Sojourner Truth, a nationally known activist for equal rights and truth. Greene sculpted the statue using her imagination and research, as no photographs of Isabella exist. The Town of Esopus is hoping her creative work will make a statement about children and slavery and that the memorial will serve as a commemoration for Truth, as she spent much of her childhood and part of her adult life in Ulster County.
The memorial committee hopes that depicting a life size version of this young girl will help further educate people, especially children, on the cruelty of slavery. The Sojourner Truth Memorial Dedication was held on Saturday, September 21 at 2 pm. Nancy Giles, an Emmy Award-winning on-air contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning was the guest speaker at the event. Music was performed by the Amadu Diallo Drum Group, a musical group noted for African drums.
“I worked from pictures of the African people of Kau and pictures of Truth as an older woman, as there weren’t any available photographs of her as a slave child,” said Trina Greene, a resident of Woodland Pond. “Photography did not exist during this era, and even if it did, no one would have been interested in capturing the picture of a slave child. My imagination and research guided much of this project.”
The sculpture portrays Isabella walking and carrying two jugs, one labeled rum and the other is blank, as she was often sent to buy what her master required. She has closely cropped curly hair, is walking barefoot and is wearing a burlap dress that hits right above the knee. There are not buttons on the dress as slave children wore clothes that were merely pinned together most of the time. The back of her dress is pulled apart slightly to show scars from being beaten with heated rods by her master, John Neely. Neely severely beat her because she only knew how to speak Dutch and couldn’t speak English. With her baggy sleeves pulled up her arms, she walks with a look of innocence and determination on her face, a look that says she is the one that is going to make the better life for herself, because no one else would or could do that for her.
“Working on this sculpture for four months lead me to moments of reflection on who this young girl would grow up to be and what a role model she had become for so many people,” expressed Greene. “That a child from an early age could have such a proud sense of identity and a sense that she was not molded by her circumstances, really inspired me and made me appreciate the woman Truth had become that much more. Truth was self-contained, strong, confident, possessed innocence and was not embittered or warped by her abusive circumstances.”
Green has been sculpting since her early ‘30s. She attended Boston Museum School and majored in painting. However, she preferred three dimensional arts, so she pursued sculpting. She had taken a few sculpture classes at school, but is almost exclusively self-taught. She did not want someone else critiquing her work, so she decided to develop her skill on her own and critique her own work. Greene has been sculpting for 30 years, with many of her pieces belonging to museums and private collections.
“I am honored to have been selected to sculpt the statue of Isabella for the memorial,” said Greene. “I had not been a part of a celebration like this before and I was very excited to meet people who have a deep love for the work and life of Sojourner Truth. The celebration commemorated Truth’s life’s work for women’s rights, emancipation, abolition and justice.”
Fellow residents and staff members at Woodland Pond supported Trina and her work on the memorial. The senior living community scheduled transportation for residents from Woodland Pond to the Sojourner Truth Memorial Dedication for added convenience.
“Many of the residents were eager to see what Trina had been working on for the past 16 weeks,” said Sarah Hull, Resident Service Director at Woodland Pond. “This was a historical experience for everyone. It was also a way for us to support Trina and show her how much we value her as a neighbor, a friend and a person. We all enjoyed seeing the completed sculpture of Isabella and attending the dedication.”