Proposed Adult Activity Center Update. Today, I met with Jim Parajon, Deputy City Manager for Economic Development and Capital Investment. I watched yesterday's afternoon City Council work session where the Mayor and Council heard an update from Lemuel Randolph, Director of Parks & Rec, on the new Adult Activity Center. I was disappointed to hear that it's entirely possible that the vote will be delayed again until May 2017. As you recall, we were hoping to see the referendum regarding funding for the new Center on the November 2015 ballot, then on the May 2016 ballot, then felt confident it was going to be on the November 2016 ballot, and now I expect that it's not going to make it onto the November 2016 ballot but will be pushed to May 2017. The reason is that the RFP for the commercial space surrounding the AAC won't be released until next week and the Council wants to see what kind of response/interest is generated by the RFP. (FYI, at Council, Charlie Parker spoke adamantly against another six-month delay). It's possible that it could still be on the November 2016 ballot, but in my opinion that's unlikely. The deadline for the Council's final decision to put it on the November ballot is August 22. The Council meets on August 2 and expects to make a decision then about when it will be on the ballot but if the RFP isn't released until the first week of July, that doesn't give very much time to receive responses in time for Council to make a decision on August 2. So we'll just have to wait and see. In defense of the delay, at the beginning of our conversation with the City about a new "active senior center," it was going to be only the Center, without consideration of a senior living community and wellness center (or other commercial space located on City-owned land). As you know, this commercial development through a public/private partnership will offset some of the capital and operating/maintenance costs, so it's important that the right developer be chosen. In the end, this is going to be a fabulous senior complex and so, in my opinion, while it's disappointing that we're looking at another possible six-month delay, it will be worth the wait to ensure that we get a beautiful senior complex on this site. We can be proud that it is going to happen, partially due to our advocacy efforts. I expect to have a copy of the RFP available at our July 11 meeting. I thought about asking for all of us to write our Council people asking for a November ballot, and we can talk about this further at our July 11 meeting. I need to hear from you about this.
Transportation. I learned from Jim that the Mayor has not yet appointed the Transportation Task Force that Mayor Williams mentioned when the Ambassadors' Action Team Leaders and I met in his office on January 4, 2016. He said he would appoint Peggy Masters, our Transportation Action Team Leader, to the Task Force. Jim confirmed today that Jim is going to either lead or be very involved in this Task Force when it is formed and he did confirm to me that Peggy Masters' name is on the list of prospective members.
Universal Design Principles. While I had Jim's ear today, I told him that on June 6 I met with John Dugan, Arlington's new Director of Community Development & Planning (the position that Jim Parajon held before he was promoted) just to educate John (and now Jim) about our desire to have builders design homes which are accessible and livable by people of any and all "abilities." We had quite a long discussion and we will keep talking about this. As I have explained in our meetings, UDP is a higher standard than "visitability standards" that we were asking for previously. We have work to do to get this done, but I believe it will happen eventually.
Take Me Home Program. I let Jim know about interest in the Take Me Home Program which was first funded by the Austism Society of America. I intend to visit with the Tarrant County Sheriff about the possibility of implementing the Take Me Home Program which enables a first responder who encounters an "enrolled" person who is unable to say their name/address, to know where to return the person to their home without delay. The Pensacola Police Department owns the Take Me Home software and makes it freely available to any law enforcement agency. Jim was very interested in this and intended to research it further on the web because he said that is and has been a problem in Arlington. I told him that Sgt. Jimmy Donahoe who runs the program for Pensacola is coming to Dallas in September to offer free training to any interested law enforcement agencies. Plano, McKinney, Waco, and other Texas cities have implemented it already. I'm hoping that Tarrant County will implement it "county-wide" (as San Diego County has done in California) but with the upcoming change in Sheriffs (Bill Wayborne will be replacing the current Sheriff, Dee Anderson, in January), the timing to request a new program is a bit uncertain at the County level.
I'm very happy to let you know that in response to my request for a new Action Team Leader to focus on volunteerism, Darla Peznell, enthusiastically stepped forward to accept that role. Darla has been a member of Ambassadors since August 2015 so some of you already know her (some of you met her when we went on the JPS Hospital tour last year).
Darla is well-known in Arlington for her various volunteer roles including serving as President of the Sam Houston High School Alumni Association.
In addition, for ten years Darla was the Assistant Administrator at an Arlington retirement/nursing home.
Darla will be helping organize the Ambassadors volunteer efforts, including a phone tree (for any who wish to sign up to receive a reassurance call and/or for socialization.
We are also investigating the possibility of working with a specific elementary school who would like a team of older adults to come in to read with the children (probably 3rd graders since that is known to be a pivotal time in a child's future educational success).
If you have an idea about volunteering that you want to do or think Ambassadors should be involved in, please share your ideas with Darla (or me and I will reach out to Darla). We will be discussing volunteerism more at upcoming Ambassador meetings.
Darla can be reached at email firstname.lastname@example.org
More info to come...please thank Darla for her willingness to devote some hours to making our community better for our wonderful Arlington residents.
Today, I plan to join a teleconference hosted by Caregiver Teleconnection. These telephone conferences are free to people who are caregivers or otherwise interested and I have joined several of them over the last couple of years. I'm looking forward especially to today's call because the "expert" is Tam Cummings, PhD. I listened in to a call with her previously and she is full of information about dementia. Her talk today is entitled "How to Communicate with Alzheimer's Patients." I encourage you to join these free calls to learn more about NCD (neurocognitive disorder, which is the new name for dementia/Alzheimer's disease).
The PrimeTimers group at Arlington's First Christian Church, 910 S. Collins, asked me to speak about Ambassadors on Wed, 6/22. I will join the group for a pot luck lunch and then tell them about our group, our goals and accomplishments. I met the senior pastor, Rev. Andy Mangum, through the Arlington Resources Sharing Group and a church member, Mary Francis, called to extend the invitation to speak.
This church has some great learning opportunities for old and young alike and great service opportunities as well. They have a large community garden in the back of the church, along with a chicken coop! So their children get to see how their food is grown and the children get to help collect eggs and care for the chickens, just like some of us did when we visited our grandmothers or great-grandmothers when we were kids. My great-grandmother, Sally Means, had a chicken coop in the back yard in Walters, Oklahoma. I helped collect eggs sometimes and had to help de-feather the chickens for Sunday dinner (a smelly job).
I just had a delightful lunch with Dave and Karen Raschio, owners of Abiding Joy Senior Care. Dave came to at least one of the Ambassadors' meetings and he told the group about the residential care home that he and Karen (a Registered Nurse) opened at 1133 Ridgewood Terrace, Arlington 76012. They have private bedrooms for 3 elders who need help with ADLs (activities of daily living). Dave invited me to come today to tour their residential home (Dave's family lives there...his wife, and their two children...guessing ages about 6 and 8, very well behaved children).
So at the lunch table, were Dave, Karen, Adam (son, maybe 8 years old) and a daughter (guessing 6 years old, already her name escapes me), and a wheelchair-bound resident, plus me. They served a delicious chicken salad on some kind of big, wonderful bun, with all kinds of side things which could be used on the sandwich or to make a green salad (fresh spinach, dried cranberries, walnuts, sliced tomatoes, finely diced red onions, raspberry vinairgette dressing). The 8-year-old, Adam, grows tomatoes in his back-yard garden near the swimming pool, and he loves to talk about gardening (and Star Wars).
I'm only writing this because I would recommend this place to my own family members should a need arise. If you have someone needing an assisted-living place, you will want to check out Abiding Joy Senior Care at this link http://www.ajoyliving.com/ .
I listed it under the Tab above called "Local Resources" a month or so ago, but after visiting the place today, I am impressed with the quality of the food, the peaceful atmosphere, the inclusiveness of the residents to participate as a member of the family (all sit together at dinner, etc.).
Dave and Karen are also open to providing other services such as transportation for wheelchair-bound people (room for 3 wheelchairs in their new van), and daycare.
If you know an older person who needs some assistance, I suggest that Dave or Karen be contacted at email@example.com
In the Austin Statesman newspaper today was an article about "Ride Austin" which is a non-profit startup to provide Uber-like rides in Austin. As you may know, Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin and some other Texas cities because of ordinances passed by cities requiring fingerprints and background checks for drivers (a reasonable requirement it seems to me for rider safety).
At any rate, some of the technology businesses/IT gurus have joined together to form a non-profit ride-share program which complies with Austin's new ordinance. Ride Austin intends to pay drivers a little more than other ride-sharing companies since Ride Austin is "non-profit" plus they will give riders the option to "round up" to make an even amount for the fare and the difference between the actual fare and the "rounding up" will be donated to local charities and/or used to provide free rides to low-income riders and elders.
I sent an email today to a representative of Ride Austin asking whether Arlington might participate somehow using Ride Austin's technology. Since they've just started up, I doubt they're willing to bite off Arlington now, but I said I will be in Austin for a different meeting in September, and would like to sit down to talk with them about the possibilities then. I said that I am confident that some grant money could be found to offset Ride Austin's costs to include Arlington.
Cross your fingers. We're not going to get a bus system in Arlington for reasons that I understand better than I used to, but ride-sharing could be the answer to our transportation issues (and a non-profit sounds almost too good to be true).
Here is a link to the article in the Austin Statesman newspaper or you can Google "Ride Austin" for more media stories about the new service in Austin. http://1.usa.gov/1Qc3T25
1. Announcements. Annalisa Lim from Cornerstone Assistance Network www.canetwork.org asked for volunteers for the RSVP Program (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), and focused on recruiting volunteers for the HOPE tutoring program in Arlington (other volunteer opportunities are available). Laurie Gagne, Activities Director at Arlington Villa nursing home asked for volunteers to help out with elders in various ways, including just being a friendly visitor. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Tips & Tricks. I showed a "board book" that I customized for my 2-year-old granddaughter called "When Your Daddy Was a Little Boy" (uploaded childhood photos/captions of "Daddy"). Good gift for grandchild or for baby shower. Cost is ~$25 + shipping. More info at http://bit.ly/25SOEST .
3. Today's speaker was me (Elva Roy) speaking about death & dying and options available since I have some expertise in this area from serving on the Board of Directors of Funeral Consumers Alliance of North Texas and it's subject of great interest to me.
Due to the distraction of the rainstorm which arose towards the end of our meeting, we ended a little bit early and didn't discuss the end-of-life documentation that everybody should execute (Advance Directive to Physician & Family, Medical Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney, Last Will & Testament with possible riders for pets and/or social media accounts, discuss Transfer on Death Deed, etc.). We need to talk about this very important subject.
A couple of people wanted me to discuss the Body Farm (which is a fascinating subject that I learned about in the book "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" by Mary Roach (available on Amazon.com "used" for ~$2.54), and Veteran burial benefits (including spouse in national cemetery in Grand Prairie), etc.
Therefore, at the next Ambassadors' meeting on Monday, July 11, we will spend the first hour finishing up the topics we didn't get to yesterday.
Repeat of Information. Several people came up after the meeting to say they wished their spouse could hear all that we talked about today and asked whether I will be presenting the same material again somewhere anytime soon. Because of those requests, I decided for this one time to repeat the program we had today at the Afternoon Meeting (recapped above) at the next Evening Meeting at 6:00 pm at the Arlington West Police Service Center, 2060 W. Green Oaks, Arlington (near Arkansas Rd.). Normally, agendas for the Afternoon Meetings and the Evening Meetings do not overlap but an exception is being made so that people who want to hear yesterday's presentation again, with or without a spouse, can have the benefit of the information.
If you have any questions that you would like answered at either of the upcoming meetings (next afternoon meeting or next evening meeting), shoot me an email. I've had a couple of questions already since the meeting such as "What happens to an organ donor's body after the organs are harvested?" in addition to the questions asked of me after yesterday's meeting ended.
Today, I sat down with John Dugan in his office at City Hall. Some of you know that about a month ago, he took this position (Director of Community Development & Planning) with the City. The interesting thing is that the former Arlington Director moved to San Antonio to take the Director's position there, and John left that position in San Antonio to take the Director position in Arlington. I didn't ask about the whys and wherefores because it really isn't my business and doesn't impact me/us.
At any rate, John and I had a good chat. I was not there to make any requests but simply to introduce him to the Ambassadors group and tell him about our goals. We talked about the new senior activity center. He said it's his understanding that the RFP (request for proposal) for developers to respond to with plans/quotes is scheduled to be released in July and we talked about the upcoming 1/4 cent sales tax referendum on the November ballot.
We discussed the work by Ambassadors toward requiring visitability/Universal Design Principles for new residential construction. San Antonio passed Universal Design Principle requirements for any new construction where the City of San Antonio offered the developer any kind of financing or other benefit (tax rebate).
We briefly discussed (or rather just acknowledged) that transportation is a serious issue for older Arlington residents who no longer drive. The City is well aware of this and John said he will serve on the Mayor's transportation steering committee (which has not yet been formed).
He said he appreciates what our group is doing and that he will help when and where he can. It's always good to build friendly relationships at City Hall and I encourage all of our members to do the same when the opportunity arises.
Elva Roy is the Founder & Lead Ambassador of the all-volunteer group "Ambassadors For Aging Well" which meets in Arlington, Texas.