The Block Island Times

A word about the Senior Advisory Committee

By Kathleen Mitchell | Nov 28, 2012

Did you know that the Senior Advisory Committee was established under the Town Council in 2007? Our objective is to identify and promote activities and services for the seniors on Block Island and to advise the Town Council of their inherent needs. The Senior Advisory Committee is chaired by Gail Pierce and has eight other elected board members that serve for three-year terms. Currently, board members are Sandra Kelly, Linda Spak, Ann Henault, Dorothy Graham, Betsy DeMaggio, Sandra Hopf, Betsy Theve and newly appointed, Deborah Martin. I was elected as your Senior Coordinator for a one-year term that started in July.

Just a short time ago, I was so caught up in my own family and our own needs that it was all I could do to keep track of the Mitchell kids’ calendar of events! I appreciate that many of you already have your very own busy lives, full of what you are already happy doing, and don’t see a need for additional activities. Perhaps the times are not convenient for everyone, and so I have more weekend and evening activities planned for the future. Perhaps we are not offering what it is that you are truly interested in. Realizing all of this, I see that my most important job as your Senior Coordinator is to find out exactly who is interested in what activities, so I can better serve your needs and wishes.

In the meantime, it is all trial and error, but it would really speed things up if I had more feedback. I understand that not everyone is on the computer and that is why I want to remind you that you can reach me at my work phone 466-5419, ext. 2, or home phone 466-7712, or in person or by good old mail.

Shared calendar

I envision a rolling community calendar that we can all share. I picture a color-coded calendar showing what is available for us, each day at a glance, for a month at a time. This would allow more of us to be able find our events in one central location. It would also provide us the opportunity to plan our schedules around these activities when possible, especially if we knew further in advance. Also, if each committee were able to view what others were offering, perhaps we could be better spread out, not offer a duplicate activity, or not step on each other’s toes when it comes to time and dates for planned activities. Until we have an island-wide calendar, the Senior Advisory Committee will be starting with a trial calendar with our activities that we will post on the “bibulletin.” In speaking with others, I understand that this idea of an island calendar has been discussed in the past and I am willing to set up a central meeting if there is an interest to see how we could pursue this further.

B.I. Bulletin Board

The Senior Advisory Committee as a free service for the Block Island community created The Block Island Bulletin Board, known as the “bibulletin,” for you. It is an email-based communication system for both full time and seasonal residents. This email-posting site provides residents a vehicle to communicate with each other about available goods and services, upcoming island-wide events, cancellations, items for sale, ride-share needs, missing pets, school events, senior happenings, and recreational programs. The usefulness of this site is limitless!

To join, (for free) please send an email to the following: Please include your name and island address. You will receive a welcome letter. As a member, you will be able to post a message to the board by going online using the following address: Once a member has sent a message, it will post to the entire B.I. Bulletin Board membership (only the members will receive the message). When you respond to a message, your reply will go to the message originator, and not to the entire membership. This is a non-commercial and non-political site. Please, no jokes. Inappropriate postings will be removed and may result in membership cancellation. The Block Island Bulletin has been operational for more than 18 months, now has 205 members and has proven to be a very user-friendly service. Members have expressed their satisfaction with how effective and easy it is to communicate with neighbors and the island community. We look forward to your participation!

Senior tax exemption

If you are looking for an even better tax exemption, you have just found it! Sandra Kelly was instrumental in working with the town so that the Town Ordinance Section 17-36(a) has now been amended to read as follows: “Applicants’ annual gross income does not exceed $40,000.” This tax exemption is an increase from the previous cut off of $30,000, and we hope this helps. Please contact Lisa Ommerle at 466-3217 for information and for an application to apply for your new tax exemption before December 31.

Heating assistance

Recently, we had Suzanne Carson of the South County Community Action Agency here to help us learn about Medicare. We are now in the process of setting up a program with the S.C.C.A for heating assistance. If you think you are eligible, please start to gather your documents, such as income, electric and heating bills, proof of residency. Please check out their website at or call 789-3016. They are a great resource and have a lot to offer, and are willing to come out to the island to serve us.

Affordable Care Act

The town hall has forwarded us a memo to share with you regarding the Affordable Care Act, which is designed to provide Rhode Islanders with insurance protection, preventive benefits and resources to improve care. This includes savings for Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage and free Preventive Wellness Visits. Your Senior Advisory Committee has been working on reviewing these benefits so that we can better assist you. Check out their website at

Coming up

Our last poll showed that you are interested in many other practical topics of interest and especially home and health care services on the island. Be assured that we value your ideas and we are working on ways of meeting your needs. Remember that the more we know what you are looking for, the better we can try to meet your needs. So, give us a shout!

May you have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving holiday, full of food and gratitude, with family and friends.





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