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Volunteers from Caroline County at Upper Shore Aging’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at the Easton Volunteer Fire Department. The programs honored included the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP), Senior Center volunteers, and Meals on Wheels volunteers.

Volunteers from Talbot County at Upper Shore Aging’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at the Easton Volunteer Fire Department. The programs honored included the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP), Senior Center volunteers, and Meals on Wheels volunteers.

Pictured left to right are Childlene Brooks, Manager of Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts, Jennifer Neal, Director of Senior Centers for USA, and Andy Hollis, Executive Director of USA.

Pictured left to right are USA Board members Amy Kreiner, Judy Musch, Secretary; Corey Pack, Vice President; Kevin Moran; and Andy Hollis, Executive Director of USA.

Upper Shore Aging Honors Volunteers

MAY 6, 2024
Upper Shore Aging (USA) recently honored its volunteers from Caroline and Talbot counties at its annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at the Easton Volunteer Fire Department. The programs honored included the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP), Senior Center volunteers, and Meals on Wheels volunteers.

Corey Pack, Vice President of the Board of Directors for USA, welcomed guests stating, “There is not an agency that I can think of that will not or cannot effectively do its job without volunteers. So the role that the volunteer plays in the agency is very, very crucial.  So, whether it be an hour of your time a week, or whether it be 50 hours of your time a month, we thank you for that because the agency could not fulfill its mission without the volunteers. What you do allows our doors to stay open, what you do allows those citizens who need services to be served, and it allows those citizens who are hungry to be fed.”

Judy Musch, Secretary of the Board of Directors for USA, reflected on the USA Board and its role, stating, “There are 12 members of the Board – four from each county. Your Board is a very active Board – one of the most active I've seen.”

Jennifer Neal, Director of Senior Centers for USA, who has been at USA for 12 years, gave an overview of Upper Shore Aging’s Meals on Wheels program, volunteering, and honored Wynona “Nonie” Thomas who was Caroline's Meals on Wheels coordinator for many years before passing away last June. She reflected, “Upper Shore Aging currently has 275 Meals on Wheels participants – 66 in Kent County, 131 in Talbot County, and 78 in Caroline County. While Kent and Talbot have an abundance of volunteers, Caroline has two regular volunteers for Meals on Wheels to deliver to 78 people.  We do have an extra three that occasionally can come in and drive for us if they're not working. So, to say that Caroline is in dire need of delivery drivers is an understatement.”

“Over the time I watched Nonie take route after route in Caroline County – some days using her rollator. Regardless of how hard it was for her to get around, she told me. ‘I still need to make sure these meals get out – help or no help.’ In the summers and when school was out, her granddaughters helped pack and deliver meals.”

Jennifer shared that since Nonie passed away, she delivers meals weekly and has also gotten her family involved and her children deliver meals.  She added, “I want to leave you with this – even if you can't volunteer yourself, get your family involved, get your neighbors involved, get your local businesses involved. To feed our most vulnerable population is something you'll never forget.”

Childlene Brooks, Manager of the Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts, shared, “I just want to say thank you to all of our volunteers. From April 1, 2023, through March 31, 2024, we had 45 volunteers who reported 4570 hours to our Meals on Wheels program. There were 23 additional volunteers who gave 1675 hours to other aspects of the senior centers. This does not include the volunteers from St. Mark's United Methodist Church Fishes and Loaves Program who help us with our food pantry every Friday.”

Andy Hollis, Upper Shore Aging’s Executive Director, commented, “Your willingness to share your time and your talents speaks volumes about each of you in terms of giving of yourself to your fellow human beings, to your community,  and to each one of us. Every one of you has some other choice that you can make about volunteering, but thank goodness you choose to help out Upper Shore Aging.”

Hollis reported that for Talbot County alone, the volunteer hours would have cost USA over $75,000 in wages. When he added in all of the contributions from Caroline County, that number was over $100,000.

“We would not have the program if you all were not helping us. So, from the bottom of my heart again, and from those on the board, we thank you very, very much,” he added.

Sandra Owen, Project Director for the Caroline County Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) shared that in addition to the Meals on Wheels volunteers in Caroline County, seniors volunteer for His Hope Ministries – the local homeless shelter; at the Samaritan House – a thrift shop and food pantry in Denton; and at Positive Strides – a therapeutic equestrian riding center in Preston.

Meals on Wheels Volunteer Ron Kornas, a retired contractor, of Easton has been volunteering three days a week packaging meals and delivering them throughout Talbot County for the last five years. He has met new volunteer Kenneth Fisher, a retired FedEx driver, who also delivers meals two days a week and the two have become friends and like working together at Brookletts Place packaging the meals.

Kornas states, “I like helping people and talking to them, providing socialization.”

Fisher adds, “I like meeting new people through volunteering.

St. Marks’ Fishes and Loaves Volunteers John Morris and Tom Barwick said that the ministry started as St. Mark’s COVID Fund five years ago. It currently has a crew of 11 people who pack food from the Food Bank on Thursdays and they distribute 85 to 90 bags through a drive through process at the Talbot County Senior Center on Fridays. About 35% of the bags go to seniors and the rest go to individuals and families. Participants get two meats and a full bag of groceries a week.

Morris comments, “When we started this program five years ago, we were doing 35 bags a week. Right now we're doing 85 and 90 bags a week and for Thanksgiving we did 100 bags and for Christmas we did 110 bags.”

Tanya Sherwood of Trappe has been volunteering at the Talbot Senior Center for three year, helping with the craft activity every month, assisting at the desk, and helping with the dining room set-up. She stated, “I get to meet people from all walks of life. It also gives me a place to be social. I love older people and guess I am an ‘old soul’.”

"It’s good to help other people – some day I might need someone to help me," shared Bessie Faulkner of Marydel.

Another volunteer from Caroline County, Doretha Cook Greensboro, added, “It makes  (me) feel good that I am doing something for others."

"It makes me happy to volunteer – it’s fun and it makes me feel good helping others," shared Veronica Hendrix of Seaford, Delaware.

Upper Shore Aging is looking for volunteers in Caroline, Kent, and Talbot counties. For further information, visit uppershoreaging.org/volunteer or call (410) 778-6000.

Theresa Barker, MS, the new part-time Health Educator for Upper Shore Aging’s new Diabetes Screening and Health Education Program.

Upper Shore Aging Launches Diabetes Screening and Health Education Program

MAY 1, 2024
Upper Shore Aging recently received a $279,500 grant from the Thome Aging Well Program to launch its new Diabetes Screening and Health Education Program and use that screening and outreach as a catalyst for engaging and re-engaging seniors in its Senior Centers. The Thome Aging Well Program, funded by the Edward N. and Della L. Thome Memorial Foundation, awarded $6 million to 10 Maryland and 12 Michigan nonprofits to support aging-in-place initiatives. The programs focus on improving older adults’ physical, mental, and financial health, supporting their productive aging, emotional well-being, and social engagement, as well as improving the built environment that enhances their physical safety. 

More than 100 applications were submitted for the grants, signifying the great demand for funding to enhance and expand proven programs in senior communities. Stephany De Scisciolo, VP, of Impact, Evaluation, and Population Health at Enterprise, commented, “There is a deep need for continued support of organizations that serve the growing population of older adults who want to age in their homes and communities.”

“For this round of grants, we built on our previous success and extended the grant opportunity to any organization providing home-based services, including those who help older adults modify their homes to make it easier for them to continue to age in place.”

Upper Shore Aging’s program is offered to seniors who reside in Caroline, Kent, or Talbot counties. Through a series of weekly health education offerings beginning in May 2024 at the Kent, Talbot, and Caroline senior centers, class participants can enjoy a fun setting with activities, challenges, and prizes – all with the focus of improving their health and their quality of life.

To kick off the program, Upper Shore Aging has hired Theresa Barker, MS, as its part-time Health Educator in implementing the program. Passionate about healthy lifestyles and disease prevention, Barker’s dedication and enthusiasm aim to empower individuals, foster community wellness, and build meaningful relationships in the communities served by Upper Shore Aging.

“Theresa is committed to enhancing the well-being of the seniors in our community. She possesses a unique blend of knowledge and compassion, essential for positive health outcomes. With contributions to health information services research at the NIH, blood and marrow cancer research at UM Medical Center, and support for palliative care patients and family members at Luminis Health, she brings a wealth of expertise applicable to human services organizations,” comments Andy Hollis, Executive Director of Upper Shore Aging.

“This is a unique opportunity for me to be on the front line implementing a program and serving as a resource to bring awareness and excitement in free community resources geared towards healthy lifestyles and ultimately increase our seniors' quality of life,” comments Barker.

Barker completed a graduate degree in healthcare administration from the University of Maryland University College in 2013. She recently enrolled in a graduate certificate program in industrial and organizational psychology at Grand Canyon University.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland College Park.

“I understand how to connect with and motivate people of all ages.  My hope is to empower our seniors to utilize the resources and also build connections with their peers, which many of this population are missing,” Barker comments.

“Seniors deserve to have social interaction with those who are there for them to support and enjoy in this journey that they're on in this part of their lives. I believe it takes an individualistic approach to building relationships with seniors to get them excited about participating in a program like this. A major part of my outreach will be going to senior living communities to spread the word about our program and Upper Shore Aging’s senior centers, as well as figuring out what we need to offer to re-engage seniors in the community,” she adds.

The program will initially focus on participants of the Meals on Wheels program with a free screening for diabetes, but will not be limited to them. It will reach out to individuals who may not have returned to their activities after COVID to re-engage them in classes and activities.   Meals on Wheels participants will also have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

“If we address the risk factors, we can help prevent diabetes and the associated comorbidities such as heart disease, kidney disease, and eye disease in this senior age group. It’s a preventative program for seniors who are at risk because of their diet and lack of exercise. We plan to offer exercise and nutrition classes, as well as integrate seniors into existing exercise and nutrition programs and fun activities at the senior centers,” Barker adds.

For further information, contact Theresa Barker at tbarker@uppershoreaging.org or call 410-778-6000.

Pictured left to right cutting the ribbon for the Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts updated computer lab are Andy Hollis, Executive Director of Upper Shore Aging, Inc., Mayor Megan Cook of Easton, Rita Hill, Brookletts Volunteer, Phillip Peerman, Supervisor of IT Infrastructure & Cybersecurity at Easton Utilities, Talbot County Council member Lynn Mielke, Kay Brodie, Upper Shore Aging’s Board President, and Childlene Brooks, Manager of Brookletts Place.

Pictured in the updated computer lab are seated Kathy Bosin of Dock Street Foundation. Standing left to right are Andy Hollis, Executive Director of Upper Shore Aging, Inc., Childlene Brooks, Manager of Brookletts Place, and Jennifer Marchi, Chairperson of Talbot County Commission on Aging.

Pictured left to right are Patrick Rofe, Executive Director of the St. Micheals Community Center, and Childlene Brooks, Manager of Brookletts Place.

Upper Shore Aging Opens Upgrades Computer Lab at the Talbot County Senior Center Brookletts Place

DECEMBER 21, 2023
Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts in Easton recently held a ribbon cutting to open its upgraded computer lab. Upper Shore Aging was awarded a $33,356 T-Mobile Hometown Grant to update the Talbot County Senior Center’s technology, including 20 new computer stations to provide the senior community with access to connectivity, classes, and hands-on learning opportunities. Brookletts Place, dedicated in 2009, is part of Upper Shore Aging, Inc., a nonprofit organization that is the designated Area Agency on Aging (USA) for Talbot, Caroline, and Kent counties.

“I just think this is a wonderful asset for our community. We really do need it and I'm sure that our seniors are grateful to have this donation from T-Mobile,” comments Mayor Megan Cook.

“We are very grateful to T-Mobile for making these computers available. And I think it's very important to note that the computers are not only open to seniors, but they are open to anyone in the community who needs help, who wants to come in and get help with anything to do with computing,” adds Kay Brodie, President of Upper Shore Aging’s Board of Directors.

“I want to thank everyone for coming to this celebration and I want to thank T-Mobile for selecting us out of 25 grantees in the nation that received an award. We are blessed,” states Childlene Brooks, Manager of the Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts Place.

Upper Shore Aging has announced the appointment of three new board members;

Pamela Limberry of Cordova, Rev. L. Herbert (Herb) Cain of Chestertown, and Kevin Moran of St. Michaels

Upper Shore Aging Announces New Board Members

DECEMBER 20, 2023

Upper Shore Aging has announced the appointment of three new board members: Pamela Limberry of Cordova, Rev. L. Herbert (Herb) Cain of Chestertown, and Kevin Moran of St. Michaels.

Pam Limberry is currently the Owner/Operator of Team Legacy Transport, LLC, and a Nursing Assistant/Medication Technician at Benedictine Open Community, both in Ridgely. Before these two positions, she served as Program Coordinator responsible for the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP), the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at Upper Shore Aging, and the Information & Assistance Office of Talbot County. She also was the owner/operator of Heavenly Hands Cleaning Essentials for many years. She holds certifications as an Information and Referral Specialist for Aging/Disabilities (CIRS-A/D) Maryland Access Point and is a Certified Options Counselor and Maryland Certified Nursing Assistant. She attended Regent University.

Rev. L. Herbert (Herb) Cain is a second career pastor in the United Methodist Church, serving First UMC and Christ UMC in Chestertown.  He has pastored churches in Kent, Cecil, and Talbot counties. Before entering the ministry in 2010, Herb was self-employed for 27 years as the owner/operator of his commercial fishing business based in Rock Hall.  Since entering the pastoral ministry, Herb has implemented several church outreach ministries through his churches, including providing meals to those in need.  Herb served on the board of directors of the Ray of Hope Mission in Port Deposit, Maryland, and is currently involved with the Samaritan Group’s emergency rotating homeless shelter and the Chester Valley Ministers’ Association. He has a Bachelor of Science degree with an undergraduate certificate in Non-Profit Management from Wilmington University. He completed theological studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. and has an associate of arts degree from Cecil College. 

Kevin Moran has spent 40 years in the banking industry including employment with community and regional banks in various lending, credit, and business development positions. Most recently, he has worked at Provident State Bank (now Summit Community Bank) as an SVP/Market Executive. He took this position after retiring in 2019 as the Chief Credit Officer of 1880 Bank. During his career, Moran held management positions at the Talbot Bank and PNC Bank/St. Michaels Bank. He is a graduate of the University of Maine in Orono. He currently volunteers with the Bay 100 Youth Task Force and previously served on the Boards of Habitat for Humanity-Choptank, Londonderry Retirement Community, Channel Marker, and the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce.   
 
“We are thrilled to have these new members join our Board of Directors. Each one has deep community roots in the counties we serve and will provide invaluable insights into how we deliver our services to the aging populations in Talbot, Caroline, and Kent counties,” comments Andy Hollis, Executive Director of Upper Shore Aging.

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Pictured are Upper Shore Aging Board of Directors Executive Committee members (left to right): Judy Musch (Secretary), Mary Celeste Alexander (Treasurer), Kay Brodie (President), and Corey Pack (Vice President). 

Upper Shore Aging Announces New President and Executive Committee Members

NOVEMBER 9, 2023

Upper Shore Aging recently announced its new Board of Directors Executive Committee members. These members include Kay Brodie of Chestertown (President), Corey Pack of Easton (Vice President), Mary Celeste Alexander of Chestertown (Treasurer), and Judy Musch of Easton (Secretary).

“We are thrilled to have these members join our Executive Board at such an exciting time for our agency. Upper Shore Aging is going through a transformation. These individuals bring backgrounds that will help us achieve our strategic goals of operational excellence, a strong infrastructure, financial stability, and advocating for the needs of seniors in the counties we serve,” comments Andy Hollis, Executive Director of Upper Shore Aging.

Upper Shore Aging, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is the designated Area Agency on Aging for Talbot, Caroline, and Kent counties, Maryland, serving a potential market of nearly 31,000 persons over the age of sixty years. The organization develops and manages a coordinated program of services that work together to help elders to remain, and live well, in the community as long as possible. Upper Shore Aging, Inc. works closely with the Maryland Department of Aging to serve the needs of its clients.

Kay Brodie most recently worked at Chesapeake College, serving as the Director of the Learning Resources Center. Before that, she was Dean of Academic Support Services and Technical Services Librarian. She has also worked as an AARP tax aide. She completed a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College, a master’s degree in French from Rutgers University, and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Maryland. Kay currently is a Meals on Wheels driver for Upper Shore Aging.

Corey Pack retired from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, most recently managing several offices on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He then worked as a facilitator of the Talbot County Department of Social Services fatherhood classes before founding the Responsible Fathers Initiative. Corey served on the Talbot County Council for 15 years and served on many local and state boards and commissions. He completed a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at the University of Delaware and is a Fellow of the Academy of Excellence in Local Governance from the Maryland Association of Counties. Corey is the current chairperson of the Justice Reinvestment Act Local Government Commission.

Mary Celeste Alexander retired from Chesapeake College. She completed a bachelor’s degree from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. Her volunteer work has included being a board member of the Friends of the Kent County Public Library, a docent with the Historical Society of Kent County Maryland, and a volunteer with the Bordley Center Shop at the Historical Society of Kent County Maryland.

Judy Musch retired having worked in administrative jobs at Black & Decker, Memorial Hospital at Easton, and Bayleigh Chase. She has volunteered with the Hospice Pathways Program, Talbot Interfaith Shelter, Talbot Chapter of AARP, and on the Advisory Committee for Brookletts Place. Currently, she is a driver for Partners in Care and Financial Secretary for the Easton Church of the Brethren.

“I also want to thank the members of our previous Executive Committee for their years of dedicated service. In particular, I would like to thank Bill Shrieves, outgoing President for his years of leadership with our board and for his dedication to the seniors living on the Mid Shore,” adds Hollis.

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Pictured are local seniors participating in cooking classes at Upper Shore Aging (USA) conducted by Chesapeake Culinary Center. In the coming months, USA will use Meals on Wheels meals as a vehicle for diabetes/health screening and education, social connection, and engagement in Senior Center services across the Mid-Shore.

Upper Shore Aging Selected for 2023 Thome Aging Well Grant

NOVEMBER 9, 2023

Upper Shore Aging (USA) was recently awarded a 2023 Thome Aging Well grant to support the expansion of its diabetes education program for seniors. The goal of the grant project is to use the more than 84,000 Meals on Wheels meals delivered annually through USA as a vehicle for diabetes/health screening and education, social connection, and engagement in Senior Center services.

The Thome Aging Well program is a four-year, $19 million initiative from Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) to help older adults living in affordable communities age safely and securely at home. Funded by the Edward N. and Della L. Thome Memorial Foundation, Bank of America trustee, the program awarded $6 million in grants this year to scale aging-in-place initiatives with a track record of success by 22 nonprofits in Maryland and Michigan. 

According to Andy Hollis, Executive Director of USA, diabetes is a major concern for the population served by his agency. Rural residents have higher diabetes rates and higher obesity rates – the leading cause of diabetes – than their urban counterparts. Diabetes disproportionately affects racial/ethnic minorities, those with less education, and those with lower incomes. USA focuses its services on the elderly and economically disadvantaged, and more than 1/3 of its participants are minorities.

“This grant will help us re-engage with seniors who did not return to Senior Center services post-COVID. Our planned activity is to launch the National Diabetes Prevention Program and use that screening and outreach as a catalyst for engaging and re-engaging seniors in the available Senior Centers offered through Upper Shore Aging.  This becomes cyclical because engaging seniors in the Senior Centers engages them with all the services, including assistance with insurance which then become sustainable to deliver the National Diabetes Prevention Program screening and follow up for better health outcomes,” explains Hollis.

“By re-engaging seniors in the Senior Centers, we can include them in future planning of services to meet the needs of the changing population, continuing the cyclical nature that this grant project affords.”

“The Upper Shore Aging Board is grateful to the Thome Foundation for recognizing the need for this outreach and educational opportunity and for allowing Upper Shore Aging to address these needs in our rural communities,” comments Kay Brodie, Board President, Upper Shore Aging.  

In total, the 2023 Thome Aging Well grants will provide essential support to over 6,000 older adults to help enhance well-being, reduce isolation, and allow them to age with dignity in their homes. Best practices learned from the grantees will be shared across the field of affordable and public housing providers serving older adults. 

"There is a deep need for continued support of organizations that serve the growing population of older adults who want to age in their homes and communities,” said Stephany De Scisciolo, VP, of Impact, Evaluation, and Population Health at Enterprise. “For this round of grants, we built on our previous success and extended the grant opportunity to any organization providing home-based services, including those who help older adults modify their homes to make it easier for them to continue to age in place.”

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Pictured left to right are Childlene Brooks, Manager of the Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts, with Rosemarie Curlett, Manager of the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center.

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Pictured left to right are Otis Wilson and Beverly Lewis with the Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts.

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Pictured left to right are Carol Elburn, Charlene Fowler, and Carol Cox attendees of the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center.

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Pictured are attendees at the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center anniversary celebration doing a conga line.

Pictured is Hilda Hicks doing the twist during music bingo at the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center anniversary celebration.

Upper Shore Aging Holds 20th Anniversary Celebration for Adult Activity Center

SEPTEMBER 11, 2023

Upper Shore Aging recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center in Chestertown, Maryland. The Kent County Senior Center started in downtown Chestertown in the early 80s and a new facility named for Amy Lynn Ferris was built in 2003. The Constance & Carl Ferris Foundation gave funds toward constructing the Center as a memorial for their daughter Amy Lynn Ferris. Community Development Block Grant and funds from the Maryland Department of Aging Capital Fund were also used for the project.

Over 60 people attended the anniversary event, including seniors from both the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center and the Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts in Easton. It was the first time that seniors from Easton had visited the Chestertown facility. The celebration included a Staying Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) class, which focused on strength, balance, and cardio activity, followed by music Bingo, lunch, ice cream, and cake.

“They've had a ball today,” comments Rosemarie Curlett, Manager of the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center. “It’s been a fun day of fellowship.”

Participant Carol Cox added, “Everyone is really enjoying themselves. It’s good to see people really having fun.”

Upper Shore Aging operates five senior centers in Kent, Caroline, and Talbot counties.  These centers are a hub for activities helping seniors stay active and involved in their community.  The centers offer activities of interest to their senior populations, including classes in health and fitness, computer skills, arts and crafts, nutrition, entertainment, and travel.

“We are excited to be celebrating this important milestone in Kent County,” comments Bill Shrieves, President of the Board of Upper Shore Aging.

“Since COVID, many of our seniors are afraid to come back out and engage with others. We want to encourage them to visit our senior centers and take advantage of our new offerings.  Our board remains committed to growing those offerings to further engage the seniors on the Mid-Shore.”

“We are grateful for the donation by The Constance & Carl Ferris Foundation 20 years ago to help construct this building. It has provided an important gathering place for our senior community and continues to enhance the lives of our seniors today,” adds Andy Hollis, Executive Director of Upper Shore Aging.

The Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center is located at 200 Schauber Road in Chestertown and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily. For further information on program offerings, visit uppershoreaging.org or call 410-778-2564.

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Pictured left to right are Bill Shrieves, USA; Spencer Rosenberry, T-Mobile; Dontay Taylor. T-Mobile; Trystin Gearhart, T-Mobile; Childlene Brooks, Talbot County Senior Center at Brooketts; Andy Hollis, USA; Jennifer Acree, USA; Joel Adams, Easton Utilities; and Jamar Martin. T-Mobile.

Upper Shore Aging Receives $33,000 T‑Mobile Hometown Grant for Computer Upgrades at the Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts Place

JULY 3, 2023

Upper Shore Aging was just awarded a $33,000 T-Mobile Hometown Grant to update the Talbot County Senior Center’s technology at the Brookletts Place computer lab, including 20 computer stations to provide the senior community with access to connectivity, classes, and hands-on learning opportunities. Brookletts Place is part of Upper Shore Aging, Inc., a nonprofit organization that is the designated Area Agency on Aging (USA) for Talbot, Caroline, and Kent counties.

T-Mobile has been investing in rural towns for over five years and to date, has distributed $9 million among 42 states for grant projects.  Projects supported have included upgrading and revitalizing community buildings to include bingo halls and libraries; installing free public Wi-Fi; creating a state-of-the-art open-air body weight exercise fitness court; restoring a water-damaged roof; and commissioning a mural to celebrate the people, their history, and honor their communities. 

Walter Black, who was the Master of Ceremonies for the award ceremony at Brookletts Place, commented, “My wife Clairdean and I are both members of Brookletts Place and actively participate in many of the activities they sponsor.  I am also a member of Blake Blackston American Legion Post #77, which has been an ongoing financial supporter of this facility since the very beginning.  As you may not be aware, Brookletts Place is a part of the larger Upper Shore Aging’s network of support for our senior community.”

“This Center was dedicated in 2009 and has offered numerous educational opportunities, including computer classes at all levels.  Unfortunately, the computers are now outdated and can no longer be upgraded, so teaching classes has become a challenge for our instructor and they are not user-friendly for those who need to use the computer for themselves. This grant will replace not only the 16 computers and monitors in the computer lab but the computers for staff as well.”

The initiative started in 2021 and is part of T-Mobile’s greater effort to connect rural areas and empower communities. T-Mobile awards up to 25 Hometown Grants each quarter with a population of 50,000 or less.

“T-Mobile's Hometown Grants initiative shows big love for small towns, driving positive change in communities nationwide by funding $25 million in projects over a massive 5-year commitment,” said Dontay Taylor, the Rural Market Manager from T-Mobile.

“I want to thank everyone for coming to this celebration and I want to thank T-Mobile for selecting us. The Center is one of 25 grantees in the nation that received an award. We are blessed,” stated Childlene Brooks, Manager of the Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts Place.

Andy Hollis, Executive Director of Upper Shore Aging added, “This is a senior center and also a community center. These computers in that computer lab are available for everyone in our community, not just for seniors. Make sure you get that word out. We want to make sure that we use this technology to the greatest extent possible.”

Jennifer Neal-Acree, Director of Senior Centers and Nutrition at USA, shared that the upgrades would not only benefit seniors at the Talbot County Senior Center but would enable other senior center attendees in other counties to come and learn as well.  Plus, according to Bill Shrieves, President of the Board of Directors at Upper Shore Aging, T-Mobile staff will also be available to help seniors with their cell phones.

“We are appreciative that T-Mobile chose to invest in the Talbot County Senior Center in the Town of Easton. As a recipient of a T-Mobile Hometown Grant, this will allow Upper Shore Aging to transform an outdated computer lab at Brookletts Place into a community space, where seniors and others can have computer class time and related internet access. This grant helps address the critical needs of broadband access in a rural community and is so very much needed. Like T-Mobile, Easton and Upper Shore Aging are in the business of connecting people, and because of this grant, we will be able to connect people in a new and exciting way,“ added Mayor Megan Cook.

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Pictured left to right are Chuck Callahan, President of the Talbot County Council; Childlene Brooks, Manager of Brooklett’s Place; Maryland Secretary of the Department of Aging Carmel Roques; and Andy Hollis, Executive Director of Upper Shore Aging.

Maryland Secretary of Aging Pays Visit to Upper Shore Aging Facilities

JUNE 23, 2023

Maryland Secretary of the Department of Aging Carmel Roques took a tour of Upper Shore Aging’s facilities while also providing a public forum for a discussion on aging issues facing seniors across the state and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Secretary Roques reminded participants at the gathering at Talbot County Senior Center at Brooklett’s Place in Easton that she wasn’t a politician, but rather had worked a long career in the private sector. She stated, “I was absolutely honored to be asked to serve in this role. I have many years centering my life around caring for older people, their families, and their care providers. And so, you know, I've had the privilege of serving as a licensed clinical social worker, doing direct therapy and care management of older people.”

“Maryland is a long-lived society. Half of the five-year-olds alive today will expect to live to 100. We need to begin to shape our policies and services around that. They will sit under the trees that we plant but that will never see.”

According to Secretary Roques, the Maryland Department of Aging is a $90 million agency comprised of federal and state funding. When she arrived, the agency had 40 full-time employees but was operating at a 30 percent vacancy rate. The agency oversees 19 area agencies on aging and Upper Shore Aging is one of them.

Andy Hollis, Executive Director of Upper Shore Aging hosted the Secretary’s visit, which included seeing the Caroline Senior Center in Denton and Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center in Chestertown. He added, “Secretary Roques’ visit underscored the critical importance of Upper Shore Aging’s partnership with the Maryland Department of Aging.  Upper Shore provides senior services on behalf of three counties, and the Secretary’s remarks about her vision for the department, and her focus on bettering the lives of our state’s seniors, will serve the citizens of Caroline, Kent, and Talbot Counties well.  She has worked in the field for decades and knows the challenges that lie ahead.  Her comments expressing her commitment to meeting those challenges and overcoming them was inspirational.”

Among the issues raised by participants at the discussion at Brooklett’s Place were affordable housing and long-term care, food insecurity among seniors, the need for gap-filling services like adult day care, and transportation.

Secretary Roques added that nationally, the United States hasn’t made a commitment to long-term care and that moving forward recommendations for improving nursing homes are needed as they are closing around the country due to not being as profitable as they used to be.

“Older Americans are healthier than previous generations and living long enough to outlive their resources and require complex supportive care, but more people are choosing assisted living or staying at home because they can’t afford private pay at these facilities,” she explained.

“Under 3% of the housing in this country is assessable for older adults with disabilities.”

In looking toward the future, Secretary Roques explained that the new Governor is setting in motion a couple of initiatives – the biggest one being a multi-sector planning process, which involves cabinet-level leaders working together to better use state or federal funds to solve some of these problems and issues, as well as working with each other to influence policy across these issues.

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Pictured is the staff at Upper Shore Aging, Inc.’s headquarters in Chestertown, Maryland displaying the agency’s new logo and branding – representing its new direction in serving the Mid-Shore’s aging population. Front row, left to right: Ursula McEntee, Fiscal Specialist; Debbie Beaver, Upper Shore Housing Fiscal Manager; Jensen Vandyke, Nutrition Specialist; Sheila Wilson, Administrative Assistant; and TreShawn Todd, Operations Director. Back row, left to right: Judi Bianco, Finance Director; Deborah Nicholson, Ombudsman; Andy Hollis, Executive Director; and Jeff Scott, Senior Care Case Manager. 

Upper Shore Aging’s New Brand Reflects Agency’s Future Direction

JUNE 3, 2023

Upper Shore Aging, Inc. (USA), the nonprofit Area Agency on Aging serving over 31,000 seniors in Caroline, Kent, and Talbot counties, has a new logo. It is no accident that the logo the organization selected includes a lotus blossom – the symbol of strength, resilience, and rebirth – selected with staff input and representative of USA’s renewal in serving some of the Eastern Shore’s most vulnerable – its aging population. Under the leadership of a new executive director, Andrew Hollis, and his leadership team, and board president Bill Shrieves, the organization is tackling the growing demand for the services that the agency offers.


“Andy Hollis has brought a fresh new approach to the work being done at USA since his arrival a year ago. He has engaged the community in learning about the gaps in service and the growing needs, as well as tackled the agency’s staff vacancies. We are now fully staffed and can serve those in need on the Mid-Shore,” comments Bill Shrieves, president of the board of USA, who has been the driving force in the agency’s recovery. Shrieves, a pancreatic cancer survivor, opened Comfort Keepers and is an active volunteer with the Mid-Shore Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, the Bay Hundred Community Volunteers, and the St. Michaels Rotary. This year he received the Community Impact Award from Talbot County’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism.


Hollis is no stranger to working with the senior population as before his appointment at USA, he worked for Delmarva Community Services, Inc., as County Manager for Talbot County, and for Londonderry on the Tred Avon Retirement Community. He adds, “My experience over the years has shown me that our most vulnerable seniors don’t know they have a voice and suffer in silence, often not asking for the services they need. We now have a dynamic team to address some of the challenges seniors are facing today – food insecurity, re-engagement at our senior centers, the equipment and resources to age safely at home, the rising costs of prescription drugs, and the gaps in meeting the costs for assisted living today. I believe with our new staffing; we can start to impact the needs in these areas.”


Tracey Watters, RN, BSN, BC, Kent County Health Department Director of the AERS Program, refers clients to the USA’s programs. She comments, “My role is to see what services can help the seniors most. These are the elderly who are low-income residents who may not have a family to care for them and who are on Medicaid. Andy Hollis has a heart for the clients he serves. He desires to serve them and get them what they need.”


“As the new Executive Director of USA, he reached out to the community to see where the problems existed and began addressing them systematically. He has hired a phenomenal team that is also based on heart. The new team is about helping people and if they don’t know the answer, they will find it. The client is at the center of this care delivery no matter what the obstacle is.”


Upper Shore Aging develops and administers programs and services and serves as the chief advocate for the seniors it serves. Its programs function cooperatively to maintain and improve the quality of life for seniors, working to help them remain healthy and independent. Among the programs offered through the agency include:

  • Operating five senior centers in Kent, Caroline, and Talbot counties.  These centers are a hub for activities helping seniors stay active and involved in their community.
     

  • Operating the Meals-On-Wheels program which delivers meals to homebound seniors. 

  • Providing a Senior Care Program that supports seniors aging in place, keeping seniors living in their own homes, and at a lower cost than a long-term care facility. Services vary according to need but may include personal care, light housekeeping chores, and emergency response systems, and case management services. 

  • Managing the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), sponsored by USA and funded by AmeriCorps, which recruits and places older adults (age 55+) in a diverse range of volunteer activities to meet various community needs.

  • Providing one-on-one counseling, information, and group seminars on Medicare, Medigap and Medicaid insurance programs, private health insurance issues, and long-term care insurance.

  • Operating Maryland Access Point (MAP) a one-stop source of information and assistance for family members, caregivers, disabled adults, and seniors, which helps them navigate through the maze of long-term care services and links them with local and state programs.

  • Providing Senior Medicare Patrol to educate clients about these programs and to prevent incidents of fraud and abuse.

  • Providing a Long-Term Care Ombudsman who investigates and resolves complaints of elder abuse and neglect in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living facilities.

 

In addition, USA provides senior legal assistance, refers senior housing needs to Upper Shore Aging Housing Corporation, administers the Senior Assisted Living Subsidy program for low and moderate-income seniors, providing access to participating assisted living facilities; provides case management services for Medicaid-eligible seniors to receive home or community-based services, provides a Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program and Family Caregiver Support Program, partners with Delmarva Community Transit to provide transportation to its senior centers, and offers a shopping service for seniors in Kent county who unable to shop for themselves.


“Last year my wife and I moved to St. Michaels from North Carolina where we lived for 30 years. The staff at Upper Shore Aging helped us to enroll in a better Medicare Part D drug plan and helped us evaluate Medicare supplemental insurance, as well as our enrollment in Medicare. They really helped us find the best coverage for our medications and the best coverage for the payments we were making, taking a comprehensive look at what we were getting. This was an undiscovered gem for us,” comments resident Stephen Parr of St. Michaels.


“Upper Shore Aging is giving services back to people in the community – especially services that are impactful like Medicare Part D. Their success is only possible based upon the professionals they have on their team, not only volunteers but more importantly the staff who have a passion for their work.”


Chuck Callahan, President of the Talbot County Council adds, “I have been so impressed at the response of Upper Shore Aging in meeting the growing needs of our seniors. Their staff, led by Andy and Bill, are making a significant impact on the quality of care our seniors are getting every day across the region. We applaud their hard work and tenacity in moving the agency forward in a positive way.”

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Pictured is Gil Slagle of Worton, an RSVP volunteer, who helps to run the Upper Shore Aging Senior Care Farmer’s Market, held at the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center in Chestertown. RSVP, launched in 2021, recruits and places older adults (age 55+) in a diverse range of volunteer activities to meet various community needs on the Mid-Shore.

Upper Shore Aging’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Seeks Volunteers and Volunteer Stations

AUGUST 8, 2022

Volunteering has never been easier!  Upper Shore Aging’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), sponsored by Upper Shore Aging, Inc. (USA) and funded by AmeriCorps, spans three counties on the Upper Eastern Shore of Maryland: Kent, Talbot, and Caroline. RSVP, launched in 2021, recruits and places older adults (age 55+) in a diverse range of volunteer activities to meet various community needs. 

Mavis Jones joined the program in August 2021 as the Kent County Project Coordinator for Upper Shore Aging’s RSVP. She states, “My job is to recruit and place senior volunteers over the age of 55 to work with nonprofit organizations that are willing to host a senior volunteer. These nonprofits partner with USA to become a volunteer station, signing a Memorandum of Understanding which outlines the organization’s responsibilities. 

Currently, in Kent County, these organizations include the Chester River Hospital Center Auxiliary, Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center, Meals on Wheels, Kent Association of Riding Therapy (KART), Eastern Shore Rabbit Rescue and Education Center, Main Street Rock Hall, AARP Tax-Aide of the Mid-Shore, and Upper Shore Aging. Adds Jones, “I am also looking to build relationships with any organization that wants to host senior volunteers so that we can expand the volunteer opportunities available.”

Upper Shore Aging’s website for RSVP, volunteersontheshore.org is a centralized place for anyone seeking a volunteer opportunity in Kent, Caroline, or Talbot counties. The site includes information on the enrollment process and a listing under each county of volunteer opportunities. 

That is how volunteer Gil Slagle of Worton found the site in May while looking for places to volunteer. Slagle, who volunteers at the Farmer’s Market held at the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center, recently returned to the area after retiring from a career with Southern States and cooperative agriculture and living in North Carolina. 

“I was born and raised in Kent County and was looking for a way to give back. I got on the Internet and searched for volunteer opportunities and this program came up,” he states.

“I enjoy interacting with the seniors coming through the Farmers Market and helping them with their produce. I am interested in doing additional volunteering with the Chester River Hospital Center Auxiliary.”

In addition to the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center, volunteers can work at several other locations, including the Eastern Shore Rabbit Rescue and Education Center in Rock Hall. Here they can feed and groom the bunnies, clean cages, and provide rotational play time in a large pen. At the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, volunteers can assist nurses and other hospital staff by performing messenger duties, patient, and specimen transportation, and conducting COVID screening of visitors.

Jones adds that RSVP is always looking for new organizations to place volunteers with so that the program can get volunteers in the right places right off the bat.

“The benefits of the RSVP are that I can screen them to determine what might be a good fit for their volunteer service and help them navigate getting connected to that organization. This can be a real timesaver as there are a lot of nonprofits in Kent County. Our volunteers also become part of a network of volunteers,” Jones comments.

“This program serves a dual purpose. It's not only giving the senior volunteer a meaningful volunteer experience that suits them, it’s serving the needs of the organization, which also means meeting critical community needs.”

Some of the advantages of being an RSVP volunteer are that the volunteers are covered under a supplemental accident and liability insurance policy, they can get meal and mileage reimbursement, and they receive volunteer recognition and ongoing support.

Currently, there are between 25 and 30 people in the program and the average age of RSVP volunteers is in the 60s. Jones schedules each volunteer commitment based on the terms of the volunteer. 

“I'm finding with senior volunteers that they want flexibility - some just want a few hours at a time and others want to give more of their time.  The majority probably also want to do something different from what they've done in their careers. 

Upper Shore Aging serves Kent, Talbot, and Caroline counties, so the RSVP has coordinators like Jones in each of the counties to help match volunteers to services. Volunteer service opportunities are as diverse as the communities in which volunteers serve and can include areas such as delivering meals to the homebound, offering to transport a senior to an appointment, helping with a home repair, socializing with a senior in person or by phone, teaching or leading an activity at a Senior Center, assisting with tax preparation, or offering legal aid, helping with a community garden, packaging and distributing food at a food pantry, tutoring or mentoring a child, supporting a child in school or during a summer program, or working with developmentally disabled children or adults.

In Kent County, RSVP is looking for volunteers to help with the senior care programs, senior reassurance phone calling, answering phones, making calls, and greeting visitors at Upper Shore Aging’s office, as well as engaging seniors in an activity at the Senior Center.

“Anyone with crafting abilities, health promotion skills, or any kind of special talent is welcome to come to offer that to our seniors,” Jones adds.

Jones, a retired public health nurse took this volunteer coordinator position because she was not ready to stop working completely herself. “I love working with the volunteers – just the whole networking part of this. I still think that we have not tapped into the growing number of volunteers out there who want to volunteer but just haven't pulled the trigger yet,” she states.

“We have got a lot of organizations doing a lot of good things, but they are sort of operating in silos. I like the idea of trying to bring people together to serve the needs of the county. For organizations that become a part of RSVP, they become aware of some other organizations that are doing something similar so that they can coordinate services.”

According to Andy Hollis, Executive Director of Upper Shore Aging, “We are currently looking for people to serve as project coordinators in Caroline and Talbot counties. It’s a great opportunity for someone who is connected to their community. We are not only looking for volunteers in each county for this program, but we are also looking at developing new relationships with volunteer organizations to serve as volunteer stations.”

To volunteer or to become a volunteer station in Kent County, call Mavis Jones at 410-708-6610. If you are interested in applying for a position as a project coordinator for the RSVP, contact Andy Hollis at (410) 778-6000. For further information, visit volunteersontheshore.org.

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Pictured is Mary Sellers, Family Caregiver Program Manager & Guardianship Program Manager for Upper Shore Aging, talking with a family member about services. Upper Shore Aging is currently seeking a manager for its Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The ombudsman investigates and advocates to resolve complaints from residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

Upper Shore Aging Seeks Ombudsman to Advocate for Mid-Shore Seniors

OCTOBER 28, 2022

Advocating for a senior or learning to navigate the world of home care, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home can be a daunting task. Upper Shore Aging (USA) offers several programs in Caroline, Kent, and Talbot counties to assist individuals and families protect the safety, welfare, and rights of seniors. One of the programs that the organization is currently seeking a manager for is its Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The ombudsman investigates and advocates to resolve complaints from residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

“Our Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program plays such an important role in being the eyes and ears for our senior population and people of all ages, who may be experiencing issues in an assisted living facility or nursing home.  The ombudsman in the county is the advocate for people in helping them resolve their complaints, but also develops relationships with these facilities to improve the quality of life for residents there,” states Andy Hollis, Executive Director of USA. 

“Recently, we have had to rely on the State’s representatives to oversee this role because we have not had this position filled locally. While the State has provided excellent support, residents on the Mid-Shore need to have an advocate locally who can work with these facilities regularly to address concerns and issues as they develop.”

According to Stevanne Ellis, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman for the Maryland Department of Aging, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is a program under the Older Americans Act.  

“Whether you are in a nursing home for short-term rehabilitation or a longer stay, the ombudsman in the county is the advocate for that person. The ombudsman provides a minimum of monthly nursing home visits and quarterly assisted living visits. The ombudsman also responds to any complaints or requests between these visits. We have more than 1800 assisted living facilities and 227 nursing homes,” Ellis states.

“During these visits, we go and see how the resident is doing and what life is like for them. We want the resident to know that if he or she has a complaint, then we can help resolve the complaint to their satisfaction. Complaints can range everything from issues related to the building to hands-on care to staffing to cold coffee to physical and emotional abuse. We are also available to help people navigate the long-term care system, which can be complicated and confusing at times.”

She adds, “There are some facilities that they see us as a big help. We are focused on the same thing – that their residents are happy, receiving good care, and want to stay in the facility. That's what we advocate for.”

In getting issues resolved, the ombudsman’s goal is first to empower residents – to help them figure out how to take care of their issues first. And if this is not successful, the ombudsman can go with residents to address concerns or get permission to talk to facilities without the resident being present. The majority of complaints are initiated by residents and residents’ families; however, friends, family, physicians, and ministers also can make complaints on behalf of the resident.

The Ombudsman Program Manager position provides leadership and direction for the Ombudsman Program, overseeing operations, fiscal performance, and effectiveness of the program.  In addition to investigating and resolving resident complaints, the ombudsman provides educational training and information presentations to residents, staff, and members of the community on resident rights, services available, and good health and safety practices.

“The position requires someone who cares about residents and genuinely has a passion for helping people in long-term care and helping families. I think the ombudsman job is a prestigious thing because it's a form of social justice. By making the world a better place, you're going to have the satisfaction that you truly made a difference in the quality of life for someone,” comments Ellis.

Other qualities of an ombudsman include an interest to learn new things, experience in health care or working with the aging community, a mediation background, strong community relations skills, and experience with volunteer recruitment and retention. Preferred qualifications for the position include a bachelor’s degree in human services, social work, or nursing and five to eight years of working with the elderly population providing case management.

The Department of Aging offers a comprehensive Ombudsman Training Program and there are mentors available to support the local ombudsman from the State.

Mary Sellers, Family Caregiver Program Manager & Guardianship Program Manager for USA sees the Ombudsman Program as an extension of her work in assisting individuals and families to keep seniors in their own homes or helping them when a family member has been discharged from a nursing home. She states, “My programs help connect seniors and families to community resources when they are living independently. The Family Caregiver Program is preventive service to connect families to community resources to help keep them in their own homes or help them when a family member has been discharged from a nursing home.”

“Through our Family Caregiver Program, Guardianship Program, and Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, our hope is we can also offer families important information about resources ahead of time, before they need it for a loved one, and to ensure seniors get the best care in whatever situation they find themselves,“ Hollis adds.

For further information about applying for the Ombudsman Program Manager position, contact Andy Hollis at (410) 778-6000. For further information, visit uppershoreaging.org.

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