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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Aging in Place Continues to Help Reading’s Seniors

Last June, I paid Sandy and Jim Peplau a socially distanced visit. I was lucky to have chosen the date that I did to drop by. Their peonies—and they have dozens (hundreds?)—were in bloom. One of them caught my eye, a yellow flower. I had never seen a yellow peony before.

Sandy told me the name of the peony, bartzella, an odd name for a beautiful bloom. When I finally found them on the internet from a nursery based in North Carolina, I ordered two.

The nursery emailed me in early October to say that all orders were delayed due to the pandemic. The leaves changed color, the temperature dropped, the leaves fell, the snow fell, and finally, my peonies arrived.

Fortunately for my new plants, the temperature rose to early-September levels in early November. Last Friday, with the mercury in the high 60s, I got my plants in the ground. It felt odd to be digging in the dirt and smelling that earthy scent in November. Logic told me it was mid-fall. My senses told me it was spring. But I’m not complaining. Plus, I know it won’t last.

Something that is much more seasonally appropriate is happening in town starting Monday, November 16. On that day, the Giving Tree will be up at Town Hall. For new folks in town, the Giving Tree is a project run by the Reading-West Windsor Food Shelf and folks at Town Hall. Its purpose is to make the season brighter for some children and teens.

The Giving Tree has cards hanging from it. The card notes the age and gender of a child. The person who pulls the card from the tree buys an appropriate gift and brings it and the card to Town Hall.

This year, the pandemic has made things a little different. You can still select a card from the tree, but instead of purchasing a gift, you'll buy a gift card. You'll bring that and the card you picked from the tree to Town Hall. The suggested amount of the gift card is $30. You may choose to give cash instead.

Another way to help is to write a check to "Reading Seniors." Be sure to put "Giving Project" in the memo. You can mail the check to the Reading Town Clerk PO Box 72, Reading VT 05062.

I have included this information in past Novembers, and I have gotten it wrong, confused, admittedly, by the name. So this year, I checked in with Sara Norcross, who explained to me the genesis of Reading Seniors and its current purpose, which is to help people in need at this time of the year.

I am glad that I asked so that I now understand, and so I can also pass this additional information along to you.

Sara’s email continued to update me on some of the programs available now and coming soon to help seniors in Reading and West Windsor. The “Reading-West Windsor Aging in Place” committee has been meeting for several years. They have recently published a second edition of the “Resources for Seniors” handbook, which is available on the Reading and West Windsor websites as a download and at each town’s Town Hall in print at no cost.

Seniors with questions or who need advice on specific topics can call 802-952-0097 and leave a message. The call will be returned. Also, Reading-West Windsor Aging-in-Place has been working to foster relationships between seniors and children in elementary school. Part of this relationship, for example, is being pen-pals. I imagine that it is a rewarding experience for parties on both ends of the age spectrum.

In the future, Reading-West Windsor Aging in Place is looking to hire a part-time community nurse to serve both towns. The nurse will run clinics, such a blood pressure and foot checks, and offer help to seniors regarding health, home safety, and well-being.

I think you can agree that the work Reading-West Windsor Aging in Place does is vital to our town and our seniors and, therefore, our community. You will see petitions at Watroba’s and the Reading Greenhouse to ask for a modest appropriation at the 2021 Town Meeting. Please consider signing.

Reading-West Windsor Aging in Place will soon be a 501(c)3, or non-profit, organization. That means that donations you make to it will be tax-deductible. You can make out a check to Reading-West Windsor Aging in Place, Inc. and send it to PO Box 2 Brownsville, VT 05037.

The Giving Tree and Reading Windsor Aging in Place: two initiatives doing great work to strengthen our community. Please consider one or both as you find ways to express your gratitude at this time of the year.

Finally, in personal “Share the Warmth” news, my off-the-needles (or completed) tally is three hats. My on-the-needles tally is one scarf. If you want to lend your knitting or crocheting skills to this community effort sponsored by the Ottauquechee Health Foundation to provide hats, scarves, and mittens to people in need, visit or contact me to learn more.

That’s the news from Reading! See you next week!

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on November 12, 2020.

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