Archives for November 2014

November is National Family Caregiver Month

Care Managers: A Valuable Resource for Family Caregivers

A By Leslie May-Chibani


Free educational workshops offer information and support in a caring environment. Funded in part through the Northwest Suburban Health Alliance/CHNA 15 DoN funds from Lahey Hospital and Medical Center and Winchester Hospital. If you would like more information about upcoming classes, or if your organization would like to host a class, please call Amy DeAngelis at 781-221-7045.

Lexington: January 20 – February 24
Class meets Tuesdays for 6 weeks, 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM.

Please call 781-860-7084 to register. Classes will be held at Lexington Senior Center, 1475 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA


Minuteman Senior Services skilled and experienced Care Manager can be a stabilizing force during times of crisis and transition.  Imagine that someone you love has experienced a health crisis that changes their ability to accomplish basic daily living activities or makes the home no longer a safe or convenient place to live. Coping with increased doctors appointments, medications and the lifestyle changes often required can be overwhelming and stressful, as few of us are prepared to adapt to these changing circumstances. Difficult conversations may be needed among family and friends and decisions made to support a better future.

Most people begin their journey alone and try to work their way through the maze of private and government services making a lot of phone calls, internet searches leading to dead ends, and a lot of time spent just getting oriented to this new landscape. It can be very confusing and time consuming.

An experienced guide to help navigate these systems of care is invaluable, especially when family resources are needed to deal with the emotional aspect of the loss and the changing prospect of future care needs and responsibilities. Care Managers can save a family a lot of time because they know the existing community resources and will create a plan of action to focus the families’ energy and efforts expediting necessary changes.

What does a Care Manager do?

Care Managers begin by having a lengthy discussion with both the person needing assistance and the family to learn about what is important, especially quality of life preferences. Releases are obtained so that physicians can be contacted to review medical history (including current medications), financial information is reviewed to determine eligibility for government funded programs, and insurance information is reviewed to know what benefits are covered – all to establish a comprehensive understanding of the person’s needs and resources.  At this point a care plan with recommendations for the family to consider is created and discussed.  Care options are an important part of the plan, allowing the family to weigh alternatives and be a real partner in the process.

Building a care team is essential to optimizing health and preventing further decline, as well as maximizing the inner resources of the family caring for their loved one.  A Care Manager can help identify family and friends that might be able to help, augmenting the gaps with professionally vetted services, and creating a workload that is healthy and manageable for everyone. Care Managers can assist with medication management, medical appointments and transitions from hospital or another facility to home. They can help with relocation and/or home organization, serve as a liaison to health and social service providers, and communicate with family members near or far.  It is important to continually evaluate the care plan and the care team to ensure that it meets the needs of the entire family.  A Care Manager can monitor the situation and look down the road a bit, modifying the plan and adding members to the team as needed, in order to avoid a crisis whenever possible.

Frequently, caregivers wait until they are heavily stressed and depleted (sometimes to the point of their own health decline) before acknowledging that the workload is too great, instead of putting in adequate supports at the start.  If you think of a bridge and how many supports are needed to carry the weight safely, no one would cross a bridge with only one support or even inadequate support.  It is very dangerous!  Adequate supports strengthen families, often allowing the loved one to remain in the community longer and healthier.

Skill and experience vary among the many professionals offering care management services.  It is important to ask about the Care Manager’s expertise:  do they know the area and the community resources, what license does the Care Manager have, how long have they been practicing, what range of tasks will they provide, what if any financial incentives do they have with any other agencies, and what is their availability after business hours?

Help is just a phone call away.

Minuteman Senior Services is your local Area Agency on Aging, and offers over 20 different programs, including free information and referral to resources both local and long-distance.

The Family Caregiver Support Program is a taxpayer-supported, free service provided locally through Minuteman Senior Services to assist with resource information, emotional support, and a short term action plan with referrals to other services to help family caregivers better manage their needs.  Minuteman Senior Services has worked with hundreds of family members who are caring for an aging parent, an ill spouse, a grandparent caring for a grandchild when the parents are no longer able to, or other family situations.

The evidence-based “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” workshop is a free, six week educational program that gives caregivers the opportunity to focus on themselves, come together with other caregivers who understand the difficulties faced in caring for a loved one over a long period of time, and begin to build the skills necessary to not only survive this caregiving situation but learn how to thrive.  Minuteman Senior Services and the Lexington Council on Aging are joining together to offer this class at the Lexington Senior Center beginning on Tuesday, January 20 through February 24, from 9:00 to 10:30. To register please call 781-860-7084.

Minuteman Senior Services now offers a care management option for seniors, disabled adults of all ages and caregivers. Some people may qualify for subsidized care management and others may access care management on a fee basis through our newest program, Minuteman By Your Side. We bring our 40 years of experience in serving your community to you and your family. Asking for assistance can be difficult but as you work your way over that hurdle know that there are many supports available that you can use to strengthen your situation and your own health.


PrintLeslie May-Chibani, Assistant Director of Minuteman Senior Services, has over 15 years of experience working with seniors and their family caregivers of all ages. Call her directly at 781-221-7096 for more information about Minuteman’s new program, Minuteman By Your Side. Please visit for information about all the programs available.

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November 2018

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Holiday Happenings in LexingtonCenter


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Shop Lexington First this holiday season and you’ll enjoy great gift selections, advice from experienced retailers you know, comfortable dining to recharge your batteries, and avoid the hassle of mall parking. SocialPlus, you’ll be supporting the local businesses that are here for you year ‘round.

Let the Holidays Begin Here is an exciting new series of shopping, dining and family events sponsored by The Lexington Retailers Association. Participating retailers, restaurants, and salons are offering extended hours, shopping and dining specials, raffles and surprises as their holiday gift to you. To add a festive feel there will be visits from Santa and Frosty, carolers on the streets and treats to be savored.

Holiday activities for adults and kids welcome everyone to shop, dine and celebrate in Lexington this holiday season.

Find out more about Let the Holidays Begin Here activities and get event updates by visiting and the Shop Lexington Facebook page. Follow @ShopLexingtonMA on Twitter. Spread the word using the #ShopLexingtonMA hashtag. Plan to joins friends and neighbors in Lexington this holiday season. Shopping Lexington first leaves you and yours more time to enjoy the holidays together.





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Resolution Run to Kick Cancer Celebrates Its 6th Annual Race January 10, 2015




Registration is currently open for the 6th Annual 5K Road Race in Lexington, MA on

Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 11 a.m. featuring a fast, flat route through the historic town


The Resolution Run to Kick Cancer (RR2KC) kicks off the New Year on    Saturday, January 10, 2015 at the Lexington High School Field House with its 6th Annual 5K Run to raise funds to help “kick cancer.”  Participants who register by December 1st will receive technical t-shirts with the RR2KC logo.


To date, the race has raised and donated over $100,000 to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, and the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.  This year, RR2KC will be donating the proceeds to the same organizations.

The motto of the Resolution Run to Kick Cancer is “Think winter running is hard? Try battling cancer.” “We are looking forward to a fun event that raises additional funds and awareness in the never ending battle to defeat cancer,” says Cathy Woodward Gill, RR2KC Co-Chair.  “We are thrilled to have so many people participating and supporting the cause!”


“It’s unbelievable that in 2010 we held our first RR2KC with a little over 250 participants,” says Christine Mitchell, RR2KC Co-Chair.  “In the past 5 years, we have grown to over 1000 registered runners and walkers and have raised more than $100,000.”


The RR2KC will also include a race expo beginning at 9:00 am in the Lexington High School Field House and remaining open during and after the race. The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation will be onsite at the expo where volunteers will be swabbing cheeks of participants willing to be a bone marrow match for cancer patients in need. “Last year at the RR2KC expo, 63 people registered in the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation donor drive and one was even identified as a match for a patient in need of a marrow donor” says Ines Fusco, another RR2KC Co-Chair. “It is exciting to see how much our race has grown and touched so many lives.”


This year’s event is welcoming several school teams, running groups, corporate teams, and family- and friend-based teams. This is a family fun event with awards and delicious food donated from some of our local wonderful restaurants and caterers. Registration is $30 ($35 day of event). Awards will be given for male and female top 3 finishers overall, top 3 in each age group, and top 3 cancer patients/survivors as well as top 3 teams.

Ipswitch, Inc. is proud to be the RR2KC Elite sponsor. Ipswitch is a Lexington-based software company that is committed to making a difference in its community.

Additional information and registration can be found at or on the RR2KC Facebook page.

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Cary Library Celebrates a Retiring Lady of Letters

Cynthia Johnson

Cynthia Johnson

By Jane Whitehead

Cynthia Johnson wanted no fanfare to mark the end of her three decades’ service at Cary Library, most recently as Assistant Director. No speeches, no presentations, she pleaded. But colleagues stealthily plotted an elegant, low-key Regency-themed tea party that took place in the Administrative offices on Thursday, October 30. (The theme was a salute to Johnson’s authorship of 15 historical novels set in the British Regency period, from 1811-1820.)

Among the guests who gathered to eat scones and wish Johnson well were all four Directors of Cary Library with whom she has worked; Bob Hilton, Carol Mahoney, Connie Rawson, and current Director Koren Stembridge, together with current and former staff, Library Trustees, patrons, and members of the Cary Memorial Library Foundation and the Friends.

Recently retired Cary librarian Elizabeth Dickinson presented Johnson with a handsome scrapbook filled with pages created by colleagues and friends. The volume reflects her wit, kindness, sense of humor, athleticism (she swims and runs every day), writing, style (think Burberry raincoats and Mont Blanc pens), and her years of service to Cary Library from her arrival in 1983 as Reference and Young Adult Librarian through two stints as Head of Reference Services, and two periods as Assistant Director. In all these roles, said former Library Director Carol Mahoney, Johnson proved herself “the consummate professional librarian.”

On October 30, 2014, Cynthia Johnson retired after 31 years of service in various capacities at the Cary Library. On hand to celebrate with Cynthia were all 4 library directors with whom she has served. From left to right, Koren Stembridge, Connie Rawson, Cynthia Johnson, Carol Mahoney, and Robert Hilton.

On October 30, 2014, Cynthia Johnson retired after 31 years of service in various capacities at the Cary Library. On hand to celebrate with Cynthia were all 4 library directors with whom she has served.
From left to right, Koren Stembridge, Connie Rawson, Cynthia Johnson, Carol Mahoney, and Robert Hilton.

To the surprise of no Cary Library insiders, Dickinson appeared in a raccoon mask and tail. Raccoon references also peppered the scrapbook. A page headed “Cynthia’s Retirement Reading” featured spoof titles including Day of the Raccoon, and Raccoon on a Cold Slate Roof. Teen Librarian Jennifer Forgit explained that on a winter evening in 2004, a patron at one of the internet terminals gave a cry of alarm as a raccoon fell out of the ceiling, where a tile had become dislodged.

“Wearing her suit and high heels, and not a hair out of place, Cynthia captured it in a recycling bin and took it up Belfry Hill to release it,” said Forgit. “Raccoons have been showing up in her office ever since then,” said Stembridge. “Cynthia’s so well known for being a lover of nature that the staff have endless fun redecorating her office every time she goes away – there’s always some tableau, with animals in costume.”

Jane Eastman, Johnson’s long time colleague on the Reference desk, also witnessed the raccoon ejection. “Cynthia will tackle anything – she’s very dauntless!” said Eastman. Eastman, who retired in 2003, but still works occasional hours in the Library, recalled challenging queries she and Johnson fielded in the pre-internet era. “Do you have a video on making rubber gloves?” “How many stoplights are there in Rio de Janeiro?” “What’s the electrical code of Las Vegas?” From Johnson, said Eastman, she learned two essential qualities of the public reference librarian: “to listen well and have endless patience.”

“Cynthia set a high bar for the rest of us to aspire to,” said Stembridge, noting that Johnson’s “deep research capability” and boundless curiosity made her an excellent match for the intellectually demanding Lexington community. Cary’s impressively broad and deep adult book collection is “really Cynthia’s creation, after all these years,” said Eastman. “She would think about things that people needed to know about, and if she could find a book that would meet the need, she would get it.”

Another part of Johnson’s legacy, said Eastman, is the Lexington Authors’ Collection now housed in the Periodicals Reading Room. Building on a small collection started in the late 1960s, Johnson has gathered over 500 volumes by people who live and work in town, from Nobel Prize winners to first-time novelists. “It’s a great way to demonstrate what a diverse community Lexington is,” said Johnson, noting that the collection spans subject matter from “religion to radar to Shakespeare to politics.”

“I’ve been in denial about Cynthia leaving,” admitted Forgit. “I can’t imagine the library without her,” she said. Calling Johnson “the first real mentor of my adult life,” Forgit recalled how tactfully Johnson had made her realize that she needed to upgrade her fresh-from-campus sartorial style, by asking her to re-write the Library’s dress code.  “She is amazingly good at leading you gently into the light,” said Forgit.

In a conversation in her airy office a couple of weeks before her retirement, Johnson was keen to deflect attention away from her personal history and focus instead on the “outstanding organization” that has been her professional home for decades. Over the years, she said, Cary Library has been “blessed with wonderful directors who hired great staff and let them do their thing while quietly orchestrating possibilities in the background: Bob Hilton set the gold standard for the collection with his bibliographic knowledge and expertise; Carol [Mahoney] built us the building, Connie [Rawson] heard the community when they said they wanted programming, and Koren  [Stembridge] is the most fabulous yet, identifying community talent and showcasing it here so that Cary remains at the heart of the community in so many ways.”

The library was also the heart of Rockford, Illinois, the prosperous manufacturing town where Johnson grew up. “My mother always took us to the library,” she said, describing her family as “bookish to a fault.” “We had complete sets of Thackeray and Walter Scott, and you never knew that Dumas wrote so many books,” she said. As a girl, she devoured biographies of American historical figures, historical fiction, and on a snow day when she was in high school, discovered Jane Austen. “That was my true love,” she said, and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice still stands as her “all time favorite” novel, closely followed by George Eliot’s Middlemarch.

Growing up in a house full of books and no television, with parents who read the Wall Street Journal rather than the Rockford Register Star, Johnson said she often felt “totally isolated” from her schoolmates. Ahead of their time in many ways, Johnson’s parents rode bicycles, kept a compost heap, did their own yard work, and drove a foreign car, the first in town. Johnson’s father, a reconstructive plastic surgeon who learned his skills treating scarred Battle of Britain pilots in England and leprosy patients in India, “felt firmly that you should leave a place better than you found it, and he instilled that in all of us,” said Johnson, the eldest of three children.

After majoring in English and French at Wellesley College, where another Illinois native, Hillary Rodham, headed the student government in Johnson’s freshman year, Johnson took a Master’s in Library Science at Simmons College. Her first full-time job as a librarian was a four-year stint as Reference and Young Adult Librarian at Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Massachusetts.

Although Johnson enjoyed her time in Andover, she returned to the world of academic scholarship, taking a master’s degree from Northwestern University in 18th-century English and French literature. On completing the degree, poor academic job prospects made her give up the idea of continuing with doctoral studies, but she had polished the research skills that would underpin her success both as reference librarian and writer.

“They do say you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than to sell a book without an agent,” said Johnson. But her experience shows that persistence and knowledge of the publishing industry can sometimes lift a manuscript out of the slush pile. Johnson wrote her first novel in the early 1980s, as a diversion from the stress of job-hunting. When she tried to sell it in 1988, she received polite rejections from three publishers before approaching Signet: New American Library.

Cynthia Johnson’s publicity photo as Evelyn Richardson. Cynthia has published fifteen Regency Romances under her pen name.

Cynthia Johnson’s publicity photo as Evelyn Richardson. Cynthia has published fifteen Regency Romances under her pen name.

After losing the first copy of the story, Signet asked her to send it again, then called her at the reference desk at Cary to offer her a two-book contract. The Education of Lady Frances, published in 1989, was the first of fifteen Regency romances written under the pen name Evelyn Richardson. (The pseudonym is a nod to English novelist and diarist Fanny Burney’s most famous heroine, Evelina, and Johnson’s maternal grandmother, whose name was Richardson.) Johnson’s “Regencies” have been praised by Booklist for their deft incorporation of historical details and “superbly nuanced characters.”

Johnson’s current writing projects are a “fictional biography” of the scandal-prone Swiss-born painter Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807) that she has been working on for five years, and the first book in a trilogy of “Regency Historical” novels. The distinction between the “Regency” and the “Regency Historical” genre is very fine, explained Johnson: the latter being slightly longer, with “more sex.”

As she moves on from full-time work at Cary, Johnson looks forward to writing more, skiing more, and learning to travel at a more leisurely pace. “I just want not to be rushing from one thing to another,” she said. But Cary is a famously difficult place to truly retire from, as attested by the many former librarians, including Eastman and Dickinson, who regularly make encore appearances when needed.

“We’re not going to let Cynthia go!” said Stembridge, laughing. “She’s still going to stay connected and we’ll benefit from her institutional knowledge and her years of experience. This is her library, and she won’t abandon us completely!”



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Support Holiday Lighting in Lexington!



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As we anxiously  await the holiday season and the magical lights that transform Lexington Center each year, dozens of volunteers and many more citizens and organizations are hard at work to make it possible. The lighting of Lexington Center is a private/public partnership and no town funds are used. The entire project is funded by donations from citizens and Lexington businesses.

In past years the Lexington Chamber of Commerce has partnered with a dedicated group of volunteers and the Lexington Department of Public Works to make this possible. Starting this year, as the Lexington Chamber of Commerce undergoes a reorganization, the Lexington Retailers Association has stepped up to lend their support.

Lighting Committee chairperson Beverly Kelley says, “The Lexington Retailers Association deserves a lot of credit for coming forward to take on the role of the Chamber of Commerce this year.” In her role, Kelley is responsible for fundraising and for coordinating the massive project. The total cost is around $13K which is completely supported by generous contributions. Several years ago, the committee switched over to energy efficient LED bulbs making the project both more affordable and environmentally friendly.

To support the fundraising goals of the committee a special Holiday Lighting Button will be available for $5. The buttons were purchased for this purpose by Cambridge Trust Bank and Stacey Sheehan, the manager of the Lexington branch is organizing the sale of the buttons. “We are delighted to support this effort,” Sheehan says. “All proceeds from the button sales will go directly to the Holiday Lighting Program.”


You may purchase your Holiday Lighting button at Cambridge Trust, Crafty Yankee, Michelson’s Shoes and Brookline Bank.


It takes more than lights to make the center merry! Don’t forget the charming whisky barrels that line the avenue planted with a mini evergreen by Mike Keegan of Keegan’s Landscaping and Keith Hoffman of Eastern Brothers Landscaping each year. Once they are firmly in place Lisa Gravallese of Patriot Community Bank and her team of Lexington High School volunteers follow up by decorating each tree in seasonal finery. The students receive community service hours for their participation.

Turn your attention to Emery Park where the lampposts are wrapped in greens and topped with a bow. Thanks go to Peter Kelley and Brian Kelley of Woodhaven Realty for their work decorating this part of the center. But they don’t stop there. Peter and Brian head over to Wilson Farm where Jim Wilson loads them up with over 400 feet of real evergreen garland that they use to decorate the block running between Wales Copy and Valentines. Wilson also donates the wreaths that hang up and down the avenue.

On Holiday Tree Lighting Night at Emery Park, hundreds of children will wait for Santa to throw the switch and officially light up Lexington Center. Part of the ceremony will include the lighting of the tree with multicolored lights at the edge of the park. That tree is one of three large evergreens donated by Laura Hopkins of Seasons Four. The tree is picked up and delivered by Marquis Tree Service and is erected and decorated by Bob Barnard of R.L. Barnard Landscape in Lexington. Seasons Four also donates the tree that is erected and decorated at Hastings Park by Lexington Boy Scouts and the tree that stands beside the Police Booth in the middle of Lexington. John Carroll of J.P. Carroll decorates both the tree and the booth there as well as the booth at the entrance of the center parking lot.

Finally, we have to acknowledge Matt Foti of Foti Tree Service for the glorious tree that always sparkles in front of Cary Hall. Matt used to work on the trees in the Public Gardens in Boston so he really knows how to wrap those branches and make it glow! We look forward to it every year!

When everything is ready, set, go—master electrician Scott Caron of Caron Electric makes sure everything is safe before he makes the connection.
The Lexington Tree Lighting is truly a community effort and a great example of a successful public/private partnership! Without the efforts of all these people our center would be dark throughout the long winter months. Please help to keep it going by purchasing a special Lighting Up the Center Together button for just $5! You can also head over to Lexx and have dinner and they will donate $2 toward the lighting campaign and enter you into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate (visit Lexx for complete information)! Don Rosenberg and Chris Bateman hope to see you this holiday season.

Beverly Kelley says it’s the enormous cooperation between organizations, volunteers and businesses that makes lighting come together each year. “That’s why it works so well each year!”



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