We had a good meeting with ~50 attendees. Our two speakers each had important information for us.
First, Mary Wilson, Adoptee Reunification Expert, spoke about her volunteer work over the last 20 years in reuniting adults who were adopted as infants/children with their biological parents (when all parties agree). She told some amazing stories of serendipity such as two Facebook friends who had never met but who turned out to be biological sisters, etc. One comment I heard after the meeting is "Mary's talk was so touching, it made tears flood my eyes." Mary can be contacted at email@example.com
Then Mark Joeckel, community activist, Founder of Arlington Proud, and local television talk show host, spoke about the importance of walkability in quality-of- life of cities, and how the walkability score can be seen for Arlington at this link www.walkscore.com/TX/Arlington (score of 37). Mark encouraged each Ambassadors member to let our City Council representatives that good sidewalks are important to us, as well as a public park within a few blocks of where we live. Mark can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Elva Roy thanked Rebecca Witte of Legend Senior Living for offering to provide refreshments, not only today, for each month for the rest of 2018. Rebecca can be reached at email@example.com Their facility is not open in Mansfield quite yet but the grand opening will happen later this year.
Elva gave an update on two on-going projects that the Ambassadors are working on.
1) Take Me Home project to enable first responders to quickly return a lost, diff-abled, non-verbal, person to their home, hopefully without the necessity of involving Adult Protective Services (example, Alzheimer's disease) or Child Protective Services (example, autistic teenager). Commissioner Andy Nguyen called a meeting of stakeholders who met on February 5 to discuss the project. It was the unanimous decision that such a program is necessary and advisable to cover Tarrant County instead of implementing it on a city-by-city basis. Attendees at the meeting in addition to Commissioner Nguyen and Elva Roy, were Sheriff Bill Waybourn, representatives from Tarrant County's IT Department including a project manager who has been assigned, Arlington and Fort Worth police department representatives, Sixty & Better, Linda Abel from Fort Worth First United Methodist Church who is running a series of Alzheimer's classes, Helping Restore Ability Exec. Director and she brought the mother of an autistic teenager. The County's IT Department decided that the free Take Me Home software made available to any law enforcement agency does not meet Tarrant County standards so another solution will be found, provided funding can be found through grants and possible contributions from local governmental entities. Below is a photo taken at the Feb. 5 meeting.
Other meetings to promote the Ambassadors' interests described by Elva:
Lastly, Elva mentioned that she responded to a plea on Facebook from a mother whose car had broken down, she didn't have $2,000 to get it repaired, and therefore, she had no way to get her 7 year old son to school and back. After watching some people who tried to refer the mother to Uber ($24/day) and Taxis4Kids ($150 month), Elva volunteered to provide a free ride to school and back until the Mom is able to make better arrangements (when she gets her income tax refund). It has turned out to be a very enriching experience for Elva and this precious little boy is just the cutest little guy who is teaching Elva all about Pokemon (how did Elva live for 72 years without knowing about this fascinating subject...which Pokemon characters are powerful, which are weak, what Pikachu can do, etc.). Elva made up a spelling game that she plays in the car with the boy during the commute to/from school. Very fun. Get with a kid if you have a chance. Elva had forgotten how much fun it is to be around a 7 y.o. boy since her three grandchildren are all girls. Brings back fun memories of when Elva's three sons were 7 years old.
See you next month on March 12, 1:00, 700 E. Abram St.
Trey Yelverton, Arlington City Manager. Everyone who attended yesterday's meeting left as a better informed citizen after Arlington's City Manager, Trey Yelverton, spoke for over an hour about various City business. We received an updated status of the new active senior center which the City will cause to be constructed for use by Arlington's citizens aged 50+. Currently, ribbon cutting is expected to be in the 2021-2022 time frame. He specifically said that City Council can change the order of 46 capital projects currently on the City's "to do" list scheduled for completion at some future time (he handed out the list). He said the Ambassadors will definitely be invited to participate in deciding on amenities/interior design based on the budget available at the appropriate time. He said town halls will likely be held to be sure that our citizen's have an opportunity to give input. He said that the Ambassadors will want to pay special attention to the 2018 Capital Plan, usually presented to City Council in February (2018) because we will want to make sure that the funds for design and initial engineering work is slotted into the Capital Plan. In February 2019, the 2019 Capital Plan should have funds for architecture and more engineering and this is when money is actually allocated to the project. Construction could then start in 2020.
Mr. Yelverton said that the City is in discussion with a Houston senior housing developer who will likely be contracted to build a senior living complex adjacent to the new active senior center and it's possible (though not decided) that the operations of the new senior center could be outsourced to a third party, just like Arlington outsources it trash and ambulance services. Elva Roy asked whether it's possible that the City would direct the developer to build "affordable" apartments for seniors since there is such a dearth of available affordable senior housing in Arlington. He said "Sure, if that's the way Council wants to go." He asked the 50-ish members present how they feel about tax credit low-income apartments (no objection from the group); then he asked about Section 8 (groans). He said he would like to come back and explain more about Section 8 housing since he used to be Executive Director of the Arlington Housing Authority and has some expertise in that area. "Many people misunderstand Section 8 housing." Elva pointed out that while crime is an issue in some Section 8 apartments, that when a complex is "age qualified," that crime doesn't materialize because we "outgrow" being troublemakers and older people desire a quieter/gentler lifestyle than younger people sometimes want. Elva will definitely book Mr. Yelverton back as a speaker so we can all learn something we don't know today about "affordable housing." Maybe we can get a "panel" together to hear various perspectives for that meeting.
A decision has not yet been made about whether the City-owned land at the Pierce Burch property set aside for the new active senior center will be "sold" or "leased" to a developer/operator. Elva asked whether the City's Request for Proposal (RFP) would have to be amended and re-released since the original RFP only garnered two responses. It required a 50-year-lease after which time the land would revert to the City and it specifically said that "no changes can be made to the RFP" (e.g., a responder would have to agree to a 50-year-lease if they responded to the RFP and the City could "accept" the proposal exactly as submitted with no further negotiation if the City so chose). If a submitter had known that the City would, indeed, have considered a proposal for a land "sale" instead of "lease," perhaps the RFP would have been more competitive (and responders wouldn't have to worry about being non-compliant). Mr. Yelverton said he didn't think the RFP would be amended and re-released.
An engaged group of Ambassadors in the room had a litany of interests and Mr. Yelverton was kind enough to stay beyond his scheduled time to be sure that all of our questions were answered. Anthony Nagy shared some interesting statistics regarding the increase in Arlington's population of people 60+ and he asked Mr. Yelverton if the City is paying attention to the changing demographics and the aging population. Mr. Yelverton said that the City is aware, but then stated that Arlington is a "young" city. We know that's the image the Arlington would like to project for economic development (we all know that only the demographic of 25-34 counts) with our "entertainment district" but Elva said that Arlington can make our city a good place to live for all ages if we all work together instead of retiring to our stereotypical silos.
[Note: after the meeting, Elva sent a "thank you" email to Mr. Yelverton for his time yesterday and she asked for a meeting sometime in the next few weeks to discuss who the developer in Houston is, talk about convincing the City Council to require the developer of the senior living facility to be "affordable" for seniors and for Elva to make a 10-minute pitch about Universal Design Principles (UDP) to be required in new residential construction since Mr. Yelverton was not present when we made our initial pitch and he said he could use some education regarding UDP. Elva is waiting to hear back about a date for such a meeting.]
Peggy Masters, the Ambassadors' representative on the Mayor's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), gave a 15-minute overview of the Committee's final recommendations as presented to the City Council on Sep 26. She explained the "corridors" within the City and how a ride-share service using vans or similar might be the mid-term solutions. The final report of the TAC is available at this link for any who care to read it in its entirety. http://www.arlington-tx.gov/tac
See you all in 2018 unless I run into you before then (maybe at the Oct. 26 meeting or someplace else). Peace Out.
BOOK REVIEW. Elva gave a short review of a new book (released 8/22/17) she just finished reading entitled The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale Bredesen, M.D. (neuroscientist and professor at UCLA, Buck Institute). Dr. Bredesen claims to have reversed completely or at least significantly reversed symptoms of dementia for people in the early/mid-stage of Alzheimer's disease who follow his rather strict protocol which he calls the "ReCODE" (Reverse Cognitive Decline) protocol.
Some of the components of the ReCODE protocol involve diet (low carb, no processed food), physical exercise, brain exercise, detox poisons from your body (eat cilantro, sweat out toxins in a sauna, etc.), and he recommends getting your DNA report from "23andMe.com" to determine whether you might have one or two copies of the ApoE4 gene variant (can inherit one copy from each parent...some people inherited none, some inherited one copy and some inherited two copies). If you were unlucky enough to have inherited one or two copies of this gene, your chances of getting dementia increase.
Elva consulted with Dr. Peter Whitehouse, M.D./PhD (author of The Myth of Alzheimer's: What You're Not Being Told About the Most Dreaded Diagnosis) to get his opinion about Bredesen's book. Dr. Whitehouse's opinion and Elva's opinion are the same. It's a very optimistic view/title and won't work for everyone (because our individual body chemistry is very different) but everything on the protocol contributes to a healthy lifestyle and certainly won't harm anybody, so why not try the protocol? Dr. Bredesen does make the point that it won't do to "go halfway" on the protocol. You need to follow it to the letter to get the expected results. Elva noted that at least Dr. Bredesen is not "selling" herbs/supplements even though he recommends taking some.
1. Member Kay Reynolds, recently retired school teacher and healthy lifestyle promoter extraordinaire, talked to the group about harmful chemicals which are present in our everyday lives. She recommended that we learn about how to avoid some of the worst chemicals by reviewing the website maintained by the "Environmental Working Group" and sponsored by the USDA. The link to their free website is www.ewg.org and there is valuable information housed there, including a free water report for review by putting in your own zip code. I found Arlington's water report at this link http://bit.ly/2fb8baT
2. Boomer Benefits VP and Medicare expert, Danielle Kunkle, unpacked some of Medicare's complexities for us. She explained the differences between original Medicare, original Medicare with a Supplement Plan (aka "Medigap), Prescription Drug Plan, and Medicare Advantage (including some plans which include vision, hearing, and dental insurance for an extra premium). She explained why she normally recommends Medigap Plan G instead of Plan F (same coverage except for 2017, Plan G has a deductible of $183 and Plan F has $0.0 deductible but the monthly premium is higher for Plan F). The net savings is ~$300/yr to buy Plan G instead of Plan F but she said some people opt for Plan F, even knowing that it will cost more because they want the peace of mind that they will not be receiving a bill for any of their medical coverage, not even a $183 one-time bill). We all learned a lot, and after her talk, Danielle stuck around to answer individual questions on a one-to-one basis.
WELCOME. Elva welcomed everybody attending and thanked Kathy Wilkinson and Stacy Schooler from Overture Highlands for providing refreshments for our meeting. As is customary, Overture Highlands was given 5 minutes at the mic to tell us about their new luxury independent living senior apartments in exchange for providing refreshments for our meeting. This new complex will be a wonderful asset for many of Arlington's residents.
MUSICAL MEMORY SINGERS. Though not in time to be on the Agenda, Elva introduced Velma Bogart, leader extraordinaire, who has taken over the leadership of the community chorus (now called "Musical Memory Singers") for people with Alzheimer's/other dementias, which we've been discussing in our meetings for over six months. Velma spoke briefly about where we are and what is needed. We need volunteers mostly to spread the word that the chorus is forming. The first public meeting and brief rehearsal (just to give a taste of what we're about) will be held at the Pantego Lion's Club, 3535 Marathon St., Arlington, 9:30-11:00 am on Thursday, October 5 and everybody is invited to come check us out. No auditions. Singing in a group is not scary (and don't worry if you, like me, can't carry a tune in a bucket...we're all about the fun of singing). Please plan to join us. Ambassadors member Kay Reynolds has graciously agreed to be President of the 501c3 Board of Directors that is forming. Dana Lobough is Artistic Director. Questions can be directed to Elva or to Velma's email address which is firstname.lastname@example.org .
KINDNESS INITIATIVE. Elva spoke briefly about Mayor Williams' kindness initiative for our City and how the "Ask Arlington" smartphone app is set up to receive notifications about acts of kindness performed by Arlington citizens. You can download the app on your iPhone from iTunes or your Android phone from the Google Play Store (search for "Ask Arlington"). The City's goal is to log 400,000 acts of kindness and Elva asked all Ambassadors to participate and she passed out a list of 50 small acts of kindness, many of which don't cost anything. Elva is going to do #46 and #50 on the list and will report on "Ask Arlington" when that is done.[Note: No. 46 was done and reported on Ask Arlington.] If you were not in attendance and would like to receive the list of suggestions, just email Elva email@example.com and she'll email it to you.
TRANSPORTATION. Member Peggy Masters gave a quick update on the Mayor's Transportation Advisory Committee ("TAC") which Peggy has been serving on as a representative of the Ambassadors group. She said the final report is expected to be delivered to Mayor and Council in September. She said that there aren't any quick fixes and that the report will focus on solutions that are long-term. All of the Ambassadors members are interested in what the TAC is going to recommend for Arlington.
PROJECT UPDATE. A quick update on the Ambassadors' Top 5 Projects (out of 11 identified Projects) was given by Elva. The Top 5 Projects are:
The balance of the Agenda was not covered because of time constraints but will be covered at a future meeting.
COMMUNITY HOSPICE. Three representatives from Community Hospice (Robin Carter, Karen Godfrey M.D., and Parrish Horton R.N., gave a very interesting talk about hospice in general and about their own hospice service specifically. We learned that Community Hospice is the largest non-profit hospice in Texas and that they never turn anybody away, regardless of ability to pay. They offer in-patient service (at their own facilities) and in-home services. They are the only pediatric hospice in the DFW area. A member from the audience asked the question about what's the difference between a "for profit" and a "non-profit" organization. Remember that "for profit" corporations must satisfy their shareholders and give them the highest return on their investment (returning part of the profit to shareholders). A non-profit does not need to pay shareholders and thus the pressure to earn big profits is much reduced. The only way to earn profits is to charge the most $$ that the market will bear and deliver less service for the same $$.
Ambassadors Meeting 7/10/17
First of all - good news! At the Planning & Zoning Commission last evening, the Ambassadors had a good representation in support of the two "affordable senior apartment complexes" on the Agenda. Both (i) "Residence at Arbor Grove" 126-unit brought by OVP Group on Gibbins Rd (near Cooper@Randol Mill) and (ii) "Secretariat, 74-unit complex brought by NRP Group on Debbie Ln (between 360 and Collins) were approved and move to City Council for final approval at the City Council Meeting on August 8. We expect that City Council will give their final approval and then the developers will have to obtain the tax credits administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (VERY COMPETITIVE). Developers who want to provide affordable housing to seniors must jump through a lot more hoops than those developers who offer "market rate" apartments or "luxury" apartments for seniors. I SO appreciate developers who are willing to go through all government approval processes (!) in order to offer "affordable" options to seniors who can no longer endure the upkeep of a house. OVP and NRP could ignore the "affordable" market and just focus on "market rate" and/or "luxury" because they both build complexes for those markets, but they don't. So I say "thank you" (!) to them.
Combined, these two developments only offer 200 "affordable" apartments which is a drop in the bucket but it's a start. Each of these developers has a stellar reputation for the senior apartments they have developed in other cities and I hope they will come back to this area (either in Arlington or a contiguous municipality) to propose more "affordable" apartments.
So now, to "recap" Monday's meeting of the Ambassadors:
Elva Roy with the Prop 1 Victory Cake
1:00 Elva Roy showed a PowerPoint about how hospitals are ranked and rated. Which are the top ranked hospitals in the U.S. for various conditions/disease/afflictions and which in DFW are highest ranked, and which in Arlington are highest rated (and for what). This info is available at http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals Elva tried to upload her PowerPoint with this information but got an error message. If you want the PowerPoint just drop Elva an email request and she'll gladly send it to you. firstname.lastname@example.org
2:00. Jacqueline Flynt, J.D., Executive Director of Dispute Resolution Services of North Texas spoke about services available to residents to help them resolve disputes through mediation (which is different from arbitration). Jacque explained what medication is and what kinds of cases it can help resolve (family matters, disputes with retailers, disputes between neighbors, etc.). She explained that the costs are so much lower and disputes can be resolved so much quicker than going to court to resolve a dispute. If the dispute involves charges for under $10,000, the fee is only $15 for each party, etc. Elva mentioned that years ago, she was a volunteer mediator with DRS North Texas. More info can be found at:
Dispute Resolution Services of North Texas, Inc.
4304 Airport Freeway, Suite 100
Fort Worth, Texas 76117
Great job Ambassadors! We did it! Some of us gathered for a fun Election Watch Party tonight at Havana Bar & Grill. We left elated at the results: 69% in favor of the bond to fund the new world-class senior activity center; 31% against. We are going to have so much fun at the new Center and we know that it will help Arlington's older residents to age-at-home for longer than they could if they had no place like this to exercise and socialize. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen, including, but not limited to, Mayor Jeff Williams, Councilman Charlie Parker, and Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon.
Above photo is Elva Roy being interviewed by Zack Maxwell, Editor of the Arlington Voice. His article can be viewed at this link https://arlingtonvoice.com/arlington/politics
The PowerPoint used for the discussion tonight is available upon request from you to email@example.com The PowerPoint is pretty much self-explanatory and lists some interesting Arlington historical and other sites to visit, including a list of relatively unknown Arlington restaurants recommended by the Star-Telegram columnist, Bud Kennedy at the recent "Arlington on Tap" meeting hosted by O.K. Carter and Mark Joeckel. I tried to embed the PowerPoint into this Recap, but it "hung" and didn't load.
Announcements - Elva Roy
1:00 Ingrid and John Sullivan, Downsizing Experts, (and members of the Ambassadors group from the beginning) gave us a very interesting presentation on "downsizing" from a larger home than we might need into smaller living quarters. They defined for us some terms such as
Book suggestion. I mentioned a book on organizing and decluttering a home that I found helpful and which has sold millions of copies around the world, called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. If you search her name, you will see that she wrote a subsequent book and also there are YouTube videos about her methods of organizing. Highly recommended.
2:00 City Councilman Charlie Parker came to talk about Proposition 1 on the upcoming May 6 ballot to fund the construction of a new "active senior adult center" in Arlington to be located on the east side of west Green Oaks Blvd, just north of Arkansas Lane. The City owns a 36-acre tract of land at this location and the land not needed for the new Center will be leased to commercial developers with the lease fees expected to offset some of the maintenance and operating expense of the Center after construction. Charlie has been a tireless supporter of seniors in Arlington and has made sure that the City Council pays attention to its older residents who have given (and continue to give) much to this City (not only in taxes, but in untold thousands of volunteer labor hours). Charlie said that Arlington will have 80,000 seniors 65+ next year, and >100,000 who are 50+. And he said "Seniors deserve this new Center." I couldn't agree more. Thank you, Charlie!
Elva Roy is the Lead Ambassador of the all-volunteer group "Ambassadors For Aging Well" which meets in Arlington, Texas.