MSAC and Community Services Updates

3 more spaces left in Great Decisions - our popular current events discussion program - Online with MSAC, open to the public
Facilitators: John Turner & Barbara Thompson | 9 Wednesdays, starts 1/27| 10:00—11:30 am | via Zoom online | $50 member/$75 public| Ages 15+ 
Great Decisions (GD) gives opportunities to focus on important topics in world affairs, learn from others, and reach informed opinions. The largest, longest running civic-education program on U.S. foreign policy and global issues, GD is created by The Foreign Policy Association, which develops educational resources about critical global issues facing America today. The 2021 topics are: 
Global Supply Chains and National Security; Persian Gulf Security Issues; Brexit and the European Union; Struggles Over the Melting Arctic; China’s Role in Africa; The Korean Peninsula; Roles of International Organizations in a Global Pandemic; and The End of Globalization?  Registration fee includes a briefing book; links to related videos are available by discounted subscription to registrants. Each week, participants will read the briefing book topic before the discussion group meets. Links to other GD resources can be found at: www.fpa.org.      

Registration for the above and other January-March programs continues online, via mail, or drop-off to our lock-box at side door. You can find the Winter Program Guide and Registration forms you need here for dozens of affordable, diverse classes open to younger people, too.  

Not familiar with Zoom yet, frustrated, or nervous? Don't worry, we've got you covered: call Andrew at 262-6287 for individualized help or to sign up for a future group training!

MSAC's Tax Clinic with AARP Tax-Aide Foundation Starts in February, Appointment making begins January 19

Protocols for the 2021 clinic are still evolving in coordination with AARP, and pandemic changes to decrease contact will certainly be in place, with health screening and face coverings required for anyone entering the 58 Barre Street facility. Eligibility information may be read in the MSAC January newsletter, page 4-5, here. This tax preparation service (at no charge) is generally for households with relatively simple returns. To make an appointment, starting on January 19, call 223-2518. Please note: appointment slots fill up quickly!

Parks to offer Intergenerational Walks and other Outdoor Events:
(group events will run only if COVID safety guidelines that day allow)

Green Stormwater Infrastructure Walk
Monday, Jan. 25 | 10 am | Montpelier High School
Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) works by mimicking natural conditions. Specific locations in urban areas are identified where vegetation, soils, and porous substrates are used to soak up stormwater. Using GSI to manage stormwater not only helps to improve water quality, but also beautifies cities. Join Page Guertin, of the Montpelier Conservation Commission, and Sarah Hoffmeier, a landscape architect, for a walk around downtown Montpelier to learn about our city's GSI.  To inquire on COVID status of this event or register, contact Jacqueline Huettenmoser, Montpelier Parks Supervisor at City of Montpelier - Parks & Trees Department, (908) 566-8280 | jhuettenmoser@montpelier-vt.org. More February events will be announced next week if guidelines allow! 

Volunteer Request: Kitchen Help with Prepping FEAST To-go and Meals on Wheels and/or Dishwashing 
Want to make a difference in our FEAST Kitchen at 58 Barre Street? Chef Mike says that morning and early afternoon shifts are available to help with either or both needs: food prep and dishwashing. Food service interest or experience is helpful but not necessarily required. For interested volunteers, training is also provided in using our commercial dishwashing machine. Volunteers are required to do State of VT COVID Safety training and be willing to cooperate with following strict safety protocols. Some flexibility in hours and numbers of shifts per week; occasional subs also welcome to apply! Adults who are not in high-risk categories for COVID-19 are encouraged to contact us at 262-6288 or email feast@montpelier-vt.org to express interest.

Parks Winter Trails for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing
The Parks & Trees Department collaborates with Onion River Nordic Ski Club, the North Branch Nature Center, and a number of other groups to maintain winter trails throughout the city. We update our trail conditions every morning on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/MontpelierParks. Our Winter Trails Map can be found on the Parks web page at https://www.montpelier-vt.org/211/Park-Maps. Trail conditions this week are pretty good despite the thin snow cover, with open areas being in particularly good shape. If you’re interested in local skiing, please check out these resources and consider joining the Onion River Nordic Ski Club.

Older Announcements

Supporting Towns Funding Requests 2021 and Volunteers Needed to Advocate! (No petitions) 
Each year, MSAC submits a funding request to appear on the town ballot of six surrounding communities: Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex, Moretown and Worcester. Typically, the amount of these requests is based on the number of residents who participated in MSAC programming throughout the past fiscal year and the increasing costs of MSAC operations. However, this year we decided that it would be inappropriate to ask for an increase in funding for these reasons: our offerings have changed in the pandemic, all towns are facing budget challenges, and collecting petition signatures is not a safe prospect this year.

We are submitting level funding requests in five of the supporting towns. The exception is Worcester, where we have decreased our request in response to conversation at last year’s town meeting and recommendation of their Social Concerns Committee. We have put forth requests for a total of $39,500 from the six surrounding towns for fiscal year 2022.

How can you help? We still need our requests approved by voters on Town Meeting Day. As March draws closer, we will be looking for residents of these towns to post to Front Porch Forums and to submit letters to the editors supporting MSAC. Best of all, talk to your friends and neighbors about the impact and value of MSAC in your life, and then vote! Want to help? Questions / concerns / other ideas? Please contact Becca at bjordan@montpelier-vt.org.

City of Montpelier Budget Workshops and Public Budget Survey about FY22
Jan. 21 | via Zoom
MSAC is part of city government! The City Council meetings scheduled this month will include budget workshops, discussions and public input sessions. To view agendas and find links to connect, visit this website: 
https://www.montpelier-vt.org/129/Agendas-Minutes. The city has also launched a Public Budget Survey online, still available at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SMJZ68Q

Try something new (or again!) with MSAC this Winter! You can find the Winter Program Guide and Registration forms you need here 

  • There is still a lot of space remaining in many of our classes, and a new year is a great time to try something new with our amazing instructors who share their skills, passion and care with the community to bring us affordable and diverse offerings!
  • If you’d like to flex your creativity, how about Painting, Drawing or Rughooking?
  • Want to write more? How about Making Poems or Creative Writing?
  • Like discussing current events of global significance? Try Great Decisions (starts 1/27)!
  • Do you know you need more movement in your life? How about Bone Builders, Pilates, or Somatic Movement?
  • Love or curious about Tai Chi or Qigong? Ellie has a new approach with Qigong to Enhance your Tai Chi!
  • Is Yoga your thing, or have you been wanting to try? We have seven yoga classes at various vigor levels to meet your needs!
  • Most of our affordable, diverse classes are open to younger members of the public - spread the word! 
  • 21 Winter classes have recently or will soon start online, and several may pivot to in-person (masked, distanced, health-screened) if State COVID guidance allows after January 18 (Painting, Drawing, Rughooking and Gentle to Moderate Yoga).

Montpelier Village Update and Survey Available 
MSAC’s Village initiative remains poised to continue its progress in the year ahead. The year ended with a number of projects being successfully implemented, including Fall Chores outdoors and most recently the Wellness Calls starting up, as well as the newly formed partnership between MSAC and a group of Montpelier High School students belonging to Club Action who began helping with technology assistance questions. An electronic survey to gauge interest in the next steps of the Village is available by visiting the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/village_engagement. If you would like to learn more about the Village model or explore ways to get involved, please contact Andrew Gribbin at msac-americorps@montpelier-vt.org or 262-6287.
 

MSAC Volunteer Laura Morse recognized as a Local Hero by Times Argus!
Laura Morse is one of the friendly faces who distributes FEAST To-go curbside on Tuesdays and Fridays, a role she began while assisting Norma early in the pandemic and has continued into this winter.  Additionally, Laura leads Bones Builders online and Arthritis Foundation Exercise classes for MSAC, (the latter on hold during COVID), serves on our Advisory Council and other committees, helps plan trips and drive the van, and makes crafts – all as a community-oriented, kind and devoted volunteer! To learn more about Laura’s service, click here for the full story in the Times Argus, written by Spaulding High School student Indira Dzano, a Green Mountain United Way volunteer.

sunflower 2020, MSAC’s Literary Magazine, Released Online! 
2020sunflowerword thumbnail Opens in new windowsunflower 2020 is an online issue this year with 25 prose and poetry selections written by 17 MSAC members. The issue encompasses a broad range of creativity including topics such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, doing a jigsaw puzzle, traveling to England, playing tennis, nuances of fruitcake, questions concerning racism, navigating and reflecting on the pandemic, and more. The 2020 issue is dedicated in gratitude to our amazing MSAC staff and volunteers whose resilience, fortitude and loving effort have kept our Center vibrantly alive in spite of the many challenges brought on by these unprecedented times. To view the document in its entirety, along with three earlier issues also posted there, please visit this page.  

MSAC Partnering with Montpelier High School and CVCOA to offer Technology Assistance to Older Adults
Andrew Gribbin, AmeriCorps Aging in Place Coordinator at MSAC since September, is leading local efforts to create deeper partnerships with the high school and Central VT Council on Aging to learn best practices, train trainers, share resources and assist older adults with the three challenges many face in connecting online effectively: procurement of devices, internet connection, and technical training. Older adults seeking assistance with technology are encouraged to contact Andrew at 262-6287 or msac-americorps@montpelier-vt.org.  

Check out our Helpful Resources webpage and new additions!
We've posted some new resources on our "Helpful Resources" page recently and wanted to encourage you to check them out. In addition to a lot of other links, you'll now find:   COVE's 2020 Aging in Vermont Resource Guide & Directory,  Finding Help: VT's Abuse, Exploitation & Neglect in Later Life Help Guide and MSAC 2020 Wellness Call Volunteers Training Resources Guide. 

Montpelier Park Maps (including Winter Trails) Available Online to View/Print!
Heading out for some fresh air and exercise alone, with your household members, or safely distanced with a friend? Did you know there are over a dozen different maps available on the Parks website? Included are detailed trail maps for Hubbard Park and North Branch River Park, plus orientation/directions for finding Dog River Field & Beach, Elm Court Park, Elm Street Playground, Gateway Park, Mill Pond Park, Montpelier Recreation Field, Peace Park, Turntable park, Barre Street Playground, Blanchard Park, Summer Street Park, and best of all for this season, Winter Trails in Montpelier Parks and on the North Street Ridge! It’s a great time of year to explore new parts of our beautiful region, and the Parks and Rec crews continue to maintain beautiful outdoor resources for Montpelier area residents’ enjoyment!