President’s Message … Margaret Schieck

Happy New Year to everyone, with fingers crossed that it will be better than the last one!

We’ve gotten through this Pandemic together.  Let’s not forget that and keep in touch with one another on a regular basis.  The telephone committee has a new chair, Joy Walsh; please make sure that she has your current contact information.  Thelma, thank you for your years of service in this position, especially for the yeoman’s job you and your committee members have done this past year.

The Social Security office, via National, has sent out a notice that scammers have crawled out from under their rocks again.  If you get a call from the Social Security office, HANG UP. This office, as well as the IRS, is required by law to contact you in writing via “snail” mail of any issues.  Never give a caller your Social Security Number or any other financial information.  If a telephone number is visible, notify the local Social Security Office.

Welcome to a new year with new opportunities and new challenges.  I’m looking forward to working with our new officers and committee chairs.

AARP January Meeting … Margaret Schieck and Paul Levine

The speaker for our January 19, 2021, meeting will be Jan Masters.  She was born in Alameda and raised as an Air Force brat in various states and countries.  That probably accounts for her interests in languages, travel and cultural history.  She has a BA in art history from UC Santa Barbara and a MA in art history from San Jose State.

She has had 3 professional careers. Her first was teaching art history at West Valley College.  Her second (some 30 years) was in marketing communications and technical writing for several semiconductor firms in Silicon Valley.  Her current career (11 years) is teaching non-credit art history, music history and other cultural history classes for the Older Adults Program of West Valley College.

Topic for the meeting:

—Introduction of the Older Adults Program: purpose and benefits to participants.

—Summary of Spring Program via Zoom.

—Plans for the future.

Thoughts on Aging … Shelly Schwartz

– The aging process could be slowed down if it had to work its way through Congress.
– You’re getting old when you’re sitting in a rocker and you can’t get it started.
– You’re getting old when you wake up with that morning-after feeling, and you didn’t do anything the night before.

Membership … Shelly Schwartz

Don’t forget to send in your Membership dues for 2021. They’re due now. Membership application is in this issue of the Dispatch.  Wishing you all a safe, healthy, and happy new year.  See you on Zoom in January.

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

It looks as if we will all get our covid stimulus checks, albeit smaller than anticipated. Thank the extra addendums, riders that were added to the original bill.  The president tried to get bigger checks, but here is what is in the bill:

  • Stimulus payments: Americans will receive up to $600 per child and adult.
  • Unemployment benefits:  Two expiring CARES Act programs were extended for another 11 weeks:  Unemployment Assistance and Emergency Compensation.
  • PPP:  The Payment Protection Program is given another $284 billion.
  • Housing evictions:  The moratorium for evictions was extended through the end of January.
  • Schools: The bill gives $82 billion to schools and colleges.
  • Testing:  The agreement includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, $8 billion for vaccine distribution, $20 billion for states to conduct testing and $20 billion for health care providers.
  • Transportation:  $45 billion for transportation, including $16 billion for support of airlines, employees, and contractors, $14 billion for transit systems, $10 billion for highways, $2 billion for intercity buses, $2 billion for airports and $1 billion for Amtrak.
  • Tax provisions:  There are a host of tax provisions, targeted both at individuals and businesses.

So, we have a lot to look forward to, including president-elect Biden being sworn in on January 20th.  

In practical terms, individuals, families, and communities should see relief in 2021 – from COVID with vaccines, from economic downturn with reenergized commerce, opportunities, and activities. 

At AARP, we have many more battles and challenges to look forward to.  AARP has and is continuing to address critical Nursing Home issues at the State and Federal Level. We are continuing to raise this issue at the state and national level as immediate action is needed to protect the vulnerable in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

California’s Impact:  From October 2020 data, at least 6,159 nursing home and other long-term care facility residents and staff have died due to COVID-19, or 34% of California’s COVID-19 related deaths are from long-term care facilities (  More than 76% of California’s nursing homes had at least one confirmed resident COVID-19 case and at least 37.6% had at least one confirmed staff case.

AARP’s COVID19 Nursing Home Dashboard has demonstrated that deaths and cases are no longer declining as they did during the summer and in fact resident and staff cases are beginning to increase, presenting a considerable risk to nursing home residents, staff and to their families.

AARP Asks Members to:

  • Act NOW to ensure care facilities have adequate staffing, testing, and PPE they need to identify and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Act NOW to include guardrails to ensure that taxpayer dollars provided to long-term care facilities are used towards items and services that directly relate to the health and safety of residents and staff.
  • Act NOW to take action to ensure facilities are required to report publicly on a daily basis demographic information if they have confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.
  • Act NOW to take action to make virtual visitation available and facilitated as a safety measure between residents and their families.
  • Act NOW to reject blanket immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.

Please call or write your state and local legislators to keep fighting for Nursing Homes!

Some Interesting Facts About The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier … Angie Jaggars

Because we now have DNA technology, there will never be another American unknown soldier!

To be a guard a soldier makes the following commitments for the rest of his/her life:

  • To be a guard for 2 years and live in the barracks under the tomb,
  • Cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty,
  • And cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way.

After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as a guard of the tomb. There are only 400 wreaths presently worn.  The guard must obey the above rules for the rest of his/her life or give up the wreath pin.  All off-duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.  The tomb has been patrolled continuously 24/7, since 1930, even during Hurricane Isabelle in 2003. 

God Bless and keep them.