Editor’s Note: For the next several weeks, in addition to its regular coverage of happenings, Spotlight will focus on Council on Aging news and programs during the COVID-19 crisis.
The grab and go dinners offered during the month of May have ended. Council on Aging Director Debbie Thompson said the program was very popular, with 70 requests the final week, the highest number for the month.
The Adopt-a-Senior program is still working well. Thompson would like to assure everyone that volunteers have had training to keep themselves safe while making deliveries to adoptees. Those who would like to be matched with a volunteer to check in with them regularly, make trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, or provide other assistance, should contact the COA at 978-456-4120. Note that volunteers try to consolidate trips to limit their own risk, so they may not be able to go to a specific grocery store.
The COA’s cloth mask supply is starting to run low, so more masks are welcome. To request a mask for delivery or pickup, call the COA.
Thompson told the Press that even though Town Hall opened this week, opening Hildreth House to the public is not being discussed yet. She emphasized that the COA continues to “reinvent ourselves to make sure we serve our community as best we can in the midst of this emergency.”
The Council on Aging June newsletter will be emailed or mailed to residents on the council’s mailing list this week, and it will also be available on the town’s website. Contact the COA if you do not receive a newsletter but would like one. The newsletter contains this month’s program calendar; all meetings and events are being conducted with Zoom. Exercise classes are no longer free, but instructors will provide payment information to attendees in the class. There is at least one exercise class each morning during the week.
Thompson said she is trying to get a virtual knitting group started at 1 p.m. on Thursdays (the normal time the knitting group met at Hildreth House). Interested knitters should contact the COA.
Zoom meetings and classes can be joined via phone or computer. Instructions for joining will be provided upon sign-up. Volunteers are available to help with Zoom technical issues on Tuesdays and Fridays. To get help, call the COA, describe your question or issue, and a computer volunteer will get back to you.
Deadline extended for taxation aid
The deadline to apply for assistance from the Elderly and Disabled Taxation Aid Fund has been extended from May 1 to June 15. Anyone who turned 65 on or before July 1, 2019, or is disabled, and who expects they may have difficulty paying their property taxes in the next fiscal year (July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021) may apply. Applications and eligibility guidelines are available at the town website under “Boards and Committees,” “Elderly and Disabled Taxation Aid Committee.” Thompson told the Press that the eligibility guidelines document still shows the old application deadline of May 15, but says the deadline has been extended to June 15.
The deadline to apply for the means-tested senior tax exemption, instituted in 2019, has been extended from May 1 to Sept. 1. Anyone who qualifies for the Massachusetts Circuit Breaker Credit, and has lived in Harvard for at least the last 10 years, can contact the assessor’s office at 978-456-4100, ext. 315, or at firstname.lastname@example.org, to ask about applying.
Note that anyone who needs assistance applying for taxation aid can call the COA to make an appointment with Director Thompson.
Staff hours, Meals on Wheels, COA van
Hildreth House is closed, but the COA staff is available Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. by phone (978-456-4120) and email (email@example.com). If possible, contact the COA during its business hours when staff is available to respond. Meals on Wheels will provide packaged lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays to those who were already getting that service before the pandemic, and to anyone who came to the Tuesday/Thursday lunches at Hildreth House.
The COA van still offers rides for medical appointments. Only one rider is allowed at a time, and riders must wear face coverings. The Council on Aging will drop off masks to riders in advance if they are needed; the cloth masks should be washed before first use. The van driver wears a mask and gloves, and the van is disinfected in the morning and after every ride. The van is also available to pick up orders from Loaves & Fishes.
—Compiled by Joan Eliyesil