Friday, October 13, 2017

Emigration, Immigration and Family Stories

A Down Home Maine Presentation, followed by a Brown Bag Discussion – and a follow-up Potluck in November – a great heritage celebration!

Starting with Marcel Polak, with a Down Home Maine presentation on Tuesday, October 17, 4:30-6:00 pm at McLaughlin Auditorium, Gould Academy: Marcel’s family immigrated to the U.S. when he was four years old. Through that lens, Marcel will tell his family stories of the 20th century in Poland, Romania, France, and Germany, including the murder of family members in the Holocaust, and will provide a history of immigration from Europe to the U.S.

The follow-up (but stand-alone) Brown Bag Lunch program on Thursday, October 19, 12:15-1:30 pm at the Bethel Inn Library: “Ethnicities: What’s your Family’s Story.” Participants will share stories of family immigration and other interesting family histories. You’re encouraged to bring artifacts if you want – and don’t forget your lunch.

Continuing the theme, the November Brown Bag Lunch program will be a Shared Heritage Potluck – Tuesday, November 14, 12:15-1:30 pm at the Moses Mason House. Participants should bring a dish to share, representing their family’s heritage. Anna Sysko, from DiCocoa’s Restaurant in Bethel, will be preparing some foods she learned from her Lithuanian and Polish grandparents and will comment on one or more of the dishes at the event. Participants may call Anna ahead of the event for suggestions on a representative meal – 207-450-2344.

For more information and to RSVP for Brown Bag Lunch, contact Liz Wooley (, 207-562-1089).

Down Home Maine and Brown Bag Lunch are sponsored by Western Mountains Senior College. The events are free to the public.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Be Safe in Your Home

To Your Health’s next presentation, “Be Safe in Your Home,” will be held on Thursday, October 12, from 4:30 to 6:00 pm at the West Parish Congregational Church in Bethel. In this interactive presentation, Jackie Cressy will address two areas of concern: falls prevention and fire safety. Participants will become more aware of the common causes of falls and fires in the home and learn about easy changes to make their homes much safer.

Participants will also have an opportunity to request installation of free smoke detectors for their homes, courtesy of the Maine Red Cross and area fire departments in Newry, Greenwood, Woodstock and Bethel, with the assistance of trained local volunteers. Jackie said many materials for this presentation are provided through the National Fire Protection’s “Remembering When Program.” She will be assisted by Brie Weisman, OTR/L Occupational Therapist, who will be available to answer questions about home safety.

Be sure to check out the “Adaptive Tool Kit” that will be on display, courtesy of the Age Friendly Community Initiative. There are tools and gadgets especially selected to make it easier to stay in one’s home.

This program is sponsored as a community service by To Your Health of Western Mountains Senior College with the collaboration of Bethel Family Health Center and MSAD#44/Continuing Education. The public is invited and admission is free. Light refreshments will be available. For more information, call R. Tifft at 824-2053.

October Events

Thursday, October 12 
To Your Health presents Be Safe in Your Home
WMSC member Jackie Cressy will address two areas of concern: falls prevention and fire safety. Participants will have the opportunity to request free smoke detectors, courtesy of the American Red Cross and local fire departments. Free and open to the public. FMI Rosabelle Tifft (, 207-824-2053)
Thursday, October 12; 4:30-6:00 pm; West Parish Congregational Church, Bethel

Tuesday, October 17
Down Home Maine: A Family's Immigration to the
Woodstock resident Marcel Polak came to the United States as a 4 year-old. He will share stories of his family in 20th Century Poland, Romania, France and Germany, including the murder of family members in the Holocaust. Free and open to the public.
Tuesday, October 17; 4:30-6:00 pm; McLaughlin Auditorium, Gould Academy

Thursday, October 19
Brown Bag Lunch Ethnicities: What’s Your Family’s Story?

As a follow-up to Marcel Polak’s Down Home Maine presentation, our discussion will center on participants’ stories of family immigration and other interesting family histories. Bring artifacts if you want – and don’t forget your lunch. FMI and to reserve a place: Liz Wooley (, 207-562-1089)
Thursday, October 19; 12:15-1:30; Bethel Inn Library

The following events are not sponsored by Western Mountains Senior College, but may be of interest to our members.

Friday, September 29 - Sunday, October 1
Great Maine Outdoor Weekend
Mahoosuc Pathways will offer a variety of events as part of this celebration of outdoor activities. FMI visit or call 207-200-8240.
8:00 am Friday, September 29 - 6:00 pm Sunday, October 1; various locations (see website for more info)

Saturday, September 30
Community Conservation Film Showing
Community Conservation, Finding the Balance Between Nature and Culture is a new film created by Mark Ireland of MI Media. This documentary, shot throughout four seasons, profiles four active land trusts in different regions of Maine, demonstrating their efforts toward conservation for all members of their community. Presented by the Mahoosuc Land Trust. FMI:

Saturday, September 30; 3:30-6:00 pm; The GEM Theater, Bethel

Sunday, October 1
Great Maine Outdoor Weekend
Activities and demonstrations from a mushroom walk to how to tie flies at Mahoosuc Land Trust's Valentine Farm.  Grand opening of our universally accessible trail. Maine Adaptive Sports will have gear for you to try out. FMI:
Sunday, October 1; 1:00-5:00 pm; Valentine Farm Conservation Center, 162 North Road, Bethel

Friday, October 6
10th Annual Aging Well Living Well Expo

More than 20 workshops and other programs including law, health, exercise, cooking and art. Keynote address by Lee Ann Szelog and will focus on creating a time capsule. Tickets ($25/person, includes breakfast, lunch and entrance to workshops) may be purchased at SeniorsPlus (800-427-1241). Advance registration is strongly recommended.
Friday, October 6; 8:15 am - 4:00 pm; Grand Summit Hotel, Sunday River

Friday, October 13
Appraisal Fair
Learn the value of your antiques and collectibles from Thomaston Place Auction Galleries at this fundraiser for Museums of the Bethel Historical Society and the Bethel Library Association. $10 per item or 3 for $25; verbal estimate provided of the fair market value. Comfortable seating and refreshments while you wait. FMI:
Friday, October 13; noon-5:00 pm; exhibit hall Dr. Moses Mason House, 14 Broad Street, Bethel

Thursday, October 19

Hiking Maine 
Greg Westrich, author of five Maine hiking guides, will present a slideshow on some of the best hikes in western Maine and nearby New Hampshire. Greg's books will be available to buy and get signed.  FMI: 207-364-3661.
Thursday, October 19; 6:00 pm; Rumford Library, 56 Rumford Avenue, Rumford

Wednesday, October  25
Community Supper

Free community supper the last Wednesday of the month. All are welcome.

Wednesday, October 25; 4:30 - 6:00 pm; Bethel Alliance Church, 251 Walkers Mills Road, Bethel

Thursday, October 26
Special Screening of “Being Mortal”

Kyla Greenwood, a volunteer coordinator from Beacon Hospice will host a screening of this groundbreaking PBS film based on the best-selling book by Atul Gawande, M.D. After the film, hospice specialists will lead a discussion of key themes and the implications for us all as we come to terms with our mortality.
Thursday, October 26; 6:00 pm, Rumford Library, Rumford

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Elder Abuse Is a Bigger Problem Than You May Think

Did you know that one in nine Mainers over the age of 60 experiences some form of neglect or abuse? And that in the majority of cases the perpetrator is a family member or spouse?

Betty Balderson (Elder Abuse Prevention Advocate at Legal Services for the Elderly) spoke to a small but appreciative group at To Your Health’s presentation on elder abuse last Thursday, September 21.  Abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological, and may involve neglect and abandonment, but by far the most common type of abuse is financial exploitation.

What’s financial exploitation? Perhaps a grandmother gives her credit card to her grandson to pick up a prescription, but the grandson also uses that card to pay his bills. Or a daughter convinces her mother to withdraw money from the bank and “give” it to her.

Why do family members do this?  Some may rationalize that they’re going to get the money anyway, why not take it now when they need it. Why does the senior not report it? They may feel they are dependent on the family for care, they may be in denial, or think that it is just a “family problem.”

Friends and neighbors can learn to recognize the red flags of elder abuse:
  • Changes in appearance and personality
  • Change in routine -- no longer participating in events enjoyed in the past
  • Social isolation or family not allowing visitors
  • Sudden loss of ability to meet financial obligations
  • Senior states or implies problems/conflicts with caregiver

Watch, Listen, Do Something!
  • If worried about immediate danger, call 911.  Or try talking with the senior about your concerns.
  • Report your concerns to Adult Protective Services -- it’s confidential.  800-624-8404
  • Help the senior call Legal Services for the Elderly (free to everyone over 60). 800-750-5353
  • Contact Oxford County’s Area Agency on Aging -- Seniors Plus.  800-427-1241

Betty Balderson says there is no wrong choice in who to contact -- all of these agencies know about the others and will help you find the right person to talk to. If you do something, you’re doing the right thing!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Introducing New Board Members

At the Annual Meeting next Wednesday, September 6 we will elect two members to the Western Mountains Senior College Board of Directors: Liz Wooley and Marvin Ouwinga.

Liz Wooley says, “As I approached retirement, I knew I needed a plan. I had seen a Senior College advertisement in the Maine Senior magazine. This is what I liked about what I read: attend classes, participate in discussions, take no tests, and meet people my age with similar interests. All the things I wanted. I chose Western Mountain Senior College because of its location in the Bethel area.

“I enjoy the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics - Great Decisions, Digital Devices, and Counterpoint to Cakewalk for a few. Topics I have wanted to know more about but did not have the time to do while working. Also, important to me is the social aspect of the Senior College. I have met so many people who are knowledgeable, fun loving, and approachable. I look forward to continuing to participate in WMSC as a "student" and as a participant on the Board. The Senior College offers so much and I want to be a part of making sure that continues.”

Marvin Ouwinga needs no introduction to those of us who have been around for a while, having served six years as a board member and two more as chair. But we have had a number of new members join since then, so we asked him to tell us a little about himself anyway! Here’s what he says.

“My wife Tineke and I came to Bethel in 1976 to work at Gould Academy. We retired in 2007 and moved up to our house on Paradise Road. The Senior College has been very important in our lives since then. Tineke has been involved in several plays put on by members of the College. I have taught several classes, mostly in art history, and continue to participate in Great Decisions. I have been on every committee and chaired the College for two years. I will be happy to get back on the Board after a two year break.”

We are very happy to welcome Liz and Marvin to the Western Mountains Senior College Board.

Liz Wooley, Nurrie Caviness and Marvin Ouwinga.  Nurrie Caviness was appointed to the board in March when former board member Jan Settele moved to Falmouth.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, May 29, 2017

Remembering Walter Brough

by Tineke Ouwinga

Walter Brough passed away on May 23rd, his and Beth's 58th wedding anniversary.
Walter and Beth Brough

Walter was always good with timing. He would come up with just the right joke, the right quip, at the right time. He was a wonderful, interesting, sensitive, intelligent, humorous Senior Player and friend.

Remember his performances in 'A Little Something for the Ducks' or his role as father-confessor in the Joan of Arc play? Walter was very flexible, always adapting to the situation and filling gaps when needed. He was never judgmental and very supportive of his fellow players.

Walter loved the German language, its poetry and songs. He would make these funny German comments on the side and sing German folk songs with me.

Music was the family's hobby. To hear three generations of Broughs sing together was a real treat. One year all the Broughs came to several houses on Christmas Day to sing carols; what a beautiful, surprising, moving occasion that was!

Several of us were privileged to be in the West Parish Congregational Church choir with Walter and Beth for years. His tenor and Beth's alto kept us on track.

Who can forget the blueberry picking in Walter and Beth's garden combined with songs and poetry? Their flowers and veggies were always admired and appreciated.

What about the watermelon seed spitting contest Walter held during a Senior College gathering?

Walter leaves behind lots of fun memories, which make us smile. We will miss his wit, wisdom and friendship!

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Age-Friendly Community Has a Website

The Age-Friendly Community Initiative has launched their new Website:   Take a look - you will see a lot of familiar faces!  The website is still under construction, but when the resources link is active there will be a link to Western Mountains Senior College.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Minimizing the Risk of Heart Disease

Ever-popular cardiologist Dr. Daniel van Buren recently spoke to a To Your Health audience on the risk and prevention of heart disease. Some risks (age, race, sex, and family history) are non-modifiable; but others, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and lack of physical activity can be modified.

Dr. van Buren divided prevention of heart disease into two types – primary prevention (lifestyle changes) and secondary prevention (medication prescribed after disease has been diagnosed). This presentation focused on primary prevention.

Inactivity, obesity, and diabetes are among the greatest risks for developing heart disease. The good news is that there IS a magic pill – it's called 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. (Examples of moderate exercise: a brisk walk, snowshoeing, or using a treadmill). Regular exercise coupled with eating a healthy variety of foods in moderation can work wonders in reversing the risk associated with inactivity, obesity and diabetes.

Dr. van Buren left us with a prevention list of seven things to do:
  • Get regular medical checkups.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Check your cholesterol.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Manage stress.

And one thing not to do:
Don't smoke.

Dr. Daniel van Buren with To Your Health committee members Jan Stowell, Ellen Crocker, Rosabelle Tifft and Judy Whitman.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, April 10, 2017

On Arthritis

At To Your Health on April 6, Christopher P. FitzMorris, D.O., M.P.A. introduced the causes and symptoms of arthritis to an interested group. There are several types of arthritis, but Dr. FitzMorris concentrated on osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is by far the most common type, resulting mostly from wear and tear or injury. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling of joints, which may be worse first thing in the morning or after sitting for awhile. Anti-inflammatories can help, but for severe arthritic pain, you should see your physician. Injections and drugs can relieve the symptoms.

More debilitating is rheumatoid arthritis, which usually presents between the ages of 30 and 50. Diagnosis and treatment by a physician are required.  While the causes of rheumatoid arthritis are still under investigation, there are drugs which can alter the disease, not just treat the symptoms.

Whatever kind of arthritis you may have, take control of the situation! Discuss self-management strategies with your primary care provider. Research credible sites, such as the Arthritis Foundation (  Manage your weight. Eat a healthy diet. Remain active as much as possible. If you are not active, begin a gentle exercise program, remembering that small increments provide the most benefit.  Use assistive devices (cane or walker) when necessary.  And perhaps most important, form a support team of your medical professional, your friends, and family.  But remember, you are the captain!

To Your Health team members shown with speaker:  Linda McDonough, Judy Whitman, Jan Stowell, Dr. Christopher FitzMorris, Donna Coe and Rosabelle Tifft.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The "What's New?" Tab

We now have a “What’s New?” tab at the top of the blog. As new information becomes available, we'll announce it in this new tab. For example, two Brown Bag Lunch discussions have recently been planned, and they’ve been added to the Public Events listings. But you wouldn’t know about these new events unless we announced them somewhere. That’s where the new tab comes in. Whenever you click on “What’s New?” you’ll see the latest updates. It’s up at the top between the “Home” and “Membership/Registration Form” tabs. Give it a try! (To get back here click on the "Home" tab.)
What's new.JPG 

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Takeaways from “Ask the Pharmacist”

On Thursday, March 23 two local pharmacists, Scott Fraser, RPh and Retief Orffer, RPh spoke at To Your Health’s “Ask the Pharmacist” presentation. More than 30 people attended. Following are several points that they made:

  • A varied diet will supply most necessary vitamins and minerals, and it is better to get them from food. It is difficult to get enough Vitamin D and calcium, so supplementing these is beneficial. But avoid megadoses!
  • Ask your doctor for a printout of all the medications you are on and take this to your pharmacist. Your doctor and your pharmacist commonly discuss issues of drug interaction, but your pharmacist is not usually notified when you are taken off a drug. This list will keep him or her up to date. 
  • When you visit your doctor, take a list of questions so you don’t forget. Bring a friend or family member with you - two sets of ears are better than one. Ask how long you will be on a medication, if you are starting at the lowest dose, and if there is a lower-priced generic equivalent available.
  • Your pharmacist is the only health care professional you can see and speak with without an appointment!

Scott Fraser and Retief Orffer offered three handouts - “Patient Guide for Food and Drug Interactions,” “Vitamins and Minerals” and “How to Interact with Your Pharmacist.” If you were unable to attend, copies are available in the Adult Education office at Telstar High School.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at