President’s Message…Ken Schieck

This will be my last letter as your chapter president.  It has been an interesting and challenging four years.  Even before the pandemic broke, the board and I had to deal with losing our vice-president and taking care of matters related to the Treasury.  Fortunately, we took care of both issues.

I would like to express my deep gratitude for many of the board and committee chairs who, like myself, stayed on beyond the normal two-year period. Hopefully, there will be more new members willing to take their places when the time comes.

Two lessons I learned this year:  (1) be conversant with the latest technology and  (2) understand the importance of personal bonding.  Many of us had to learn to use Zoom as a platform to conduct and attend board and general meetings; this type of technology will continue to be part of our communication program for the indefinite future.  Our organization is held together, in large part, through the publication of the monthly Dispatch and the telephone committee’s calls to members each week.

I have found through conversations with other chapter leaders that it is not common for AARP chapters to issue a monthly multi-page newsletter.  So special thanks to Harry Kiesler and Jeanne Ulrich for keeping the Dispatch going and to Thelma Bridges for organizing the weekly calls to members. These calls have been gratefully received.

I would also extend thanks to our vice-president, Paul Levine, for providing monthly speakers during these challenging times.

Thank you for your support and encouragement during the last four years. Please continue to provide it for Margaret.    

Happy Holidays!

AARP December Meeting…Paul Levine

The entertainer for our December 15, 2020, meeting will be Mark Wallace, a talented singer, guitarist, and songwriter.  Mark was born in 1949 in 29 Palms, CA, and lived in the Bay Area for many years where he worked as a professional handyman (Jack-of-All-Trades and Master-of-Many.)  He was a long-time member of the San Jose Peace Chorale and entertained at many area weddings as well as at the Unity Temple, Moraga Concert Hall (Santa Cruz), and the Great Hall at Betty Peck’s (Saratoga).  He recently moved to Colorado to be with his childhood sweetheart, Tori Palmer, a retired veterinarian.

For our program, Mark will be singing favorite and obscure seasonal songs of Joy and Praise that people can sing along with (as long as they are muted).

Email invitations will be sent on December 13-14 for members to Zoom or call-in on the 15th.

Campbell Toy Program…Marilyn Clough

Here’s an opportunity to help brighten Christmas for Campbell area children, especially necessary for young families this difficult year.  Collection boxes will be available until Saturday, December 12, for toys, games, books, school supplies, art/craft supplies, balls, etc.  Most of our local shopping areas will have them.  Check for details before you go shopping (carefully, of course!).

Legislative News…Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

In early 2020, the CDC realized the most vulnerable Covid-19 population was senior citizens.  Despite advances in protocols, there are still two ways for seniors in nursing homes to get Covid: staff and visitors.

Testing nursing home visitors is important.  Current guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) restrict the number of visitors and focus on temperature checks and screening questionnaires, as well as observing for signs or symptoms of illness.

This may have been reasonable early on in the pandemic when any sort of a screen was better than no screen, but it’s insufficient now.  We have had point-of-care testing for months now, and more recently, rapid antigen tests that require no special lab equipment and no specialized storage.

Stronger mitigation measures for nursing home staff.  It is likely that infected staff are driving the rise in cases, as visitations are relatively restricted.  An AP report shows a proportionate increase in the number of staff cases and resident cases.  This is naturally difficult to control because the staff live in the community and work in the nursing homes.  Their job is vital.

The latest CMS guidance on staff testing frequency are intended to test often enough to detect cases early enough to stop transmissions from staff to residents.  Clearly that hasn’t been enough.  We need more targeted testing to detect early cases, and that has to be done every time someone leaves and reenters the nursing home.  No effort should be spared in procuring what is needed to test everyone going into a nursing home, whether visitor or staff.

Key to making this work: the FDA should lift restrictions requiring all tests be reviewed at a lab, so rapid tests that don’t need lab equipment can truly live up to their promise.

We need to make sure that our members of Congress understand our determination to keep everyone healthy in those facilities, we mean business, and we need them to pay immediate attention.

On another note, prescription drug prices in the U.S. are sky high and rising.  The Federal Government is beginning to work on securing lower drug prices and trying to ensure that America will no longer pay more than our peer nations for expensive prescription drugs.  We must let the Administration and Congress know that this is a top-tier priority for all seniors and that they must work together to address this critical need.

Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season and 2021!

Great Plates Delivered…MaryAnn Scrivano

Were you aware of the California State program set up by Governor Newsom this past April, 2020, to provide lunch and dinner meals free of cost?  First responders, doctors, nurses, and Seniors qualify. The program is called “Great Plates Delivered.”  It is sponsored by Silicon Valley Strong and Sourcewise.  They connect older adults at high risk from COVID-19.  You can learn more about the program at

It is very easy to sign up (yourself or a relative).  Call Sourcewise at +1 408-350-3230 (option 1) or go to their website at  I signed up my mother, who qualifies, and can report the food is good and plentiful.