Where to volunteer on the MLK Day of Service

It’s a cinch to locate opportunities to help out

By Richard Eisenberg for Next Avenue

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In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service Monday, consider for a moment these two quotes from the esteemed civil rights leader:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” and “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”

With those words in mind, I hope you’ll look for a way to do something for others on MLK Day and volunteer. Be great. (Some nonprofits have Martin Luther King Jr. Day volunteering projects on Tuesday, too.)


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30-day declutter challenge: What I’ve learned

Halfway through, I’ve got a pile of junk and gained some wisdom, too

By Liza Kaufman Hogan for Next Avenue

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I used to be able to put all of my belongings in a 1985 Honda Accord and still see out the back.

Now, I can barely see out of some of the windows of our four-bedroom house. What happened?!

Here’s what happened: Marriage, kids, dogs, hobbies, a reluctance to let things go and years of living in progressively larger apartments where I could stash the stuff without having to look at it.

Now that I’m turning 50, it’s time to take stock and get rid of some stock. On Aug. 1, I decided to take the Next Avenue 30-Day Declutter Challenge, getting rid of one item on Day 1, two on Day 2, and so forth for 30 days.

By the end of the month I will have collected 465 items to give away, throw away or sell on eBay. That’s 465 items that I no longer need at midlife — like toys from when my daughters were six and four, books I have read but don’t need to keep in the age of Kindle and clothes that clearly, and embarrassingly, date back to the 1990s.


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The 1 New Year’s resolution to improve your finances 4 ways

Here’s what it is and how to put it into practice

By Jack Fehr for Next Avenue

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Credit: Thinkstock

New Year’s resolutions: so easy to make, so hard to keep. But what if you could make just one financial resolution that would improve your life in four ways?

Here’s how: Make a habit of reading between the lines of your financial statements from your bank, mutual funds, credit card issuers, insurers and mortgage company. Many of these companies, sadly, shroud their products in confusing terminology that requires a linguistic scholar — or at least a person with some time — to decipher.

Learning how to sort through and interpret the financial and legal goop that confuses and abuses can help you…


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7 ways to keep your New Year’s resolution

Are you sabotaging yourself? Here’s how you can fulfill your commitments.

By Linda Melone, CSCS for Next Avenue

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Credit: Getty Images

It’s that time of year again. A new beginning, a clean slate. But how often do you actually make good on your New Year’s resolutions? If the answer is “not very,”  you’ll want to read the seven ideas below that can help you follow through in 2017.

The start of a new year naturally creates incentive for making changes. Days that seem like transition points motivate people to take advantage of the “fresh-start effect,” research shows. Birthdays, the beginning of a semester, and the start of a new week all fall under this new transition time. Researchers at the Wharton School came to this conclusion after they discovered that visits to the university fitness center spiked during these turning points.


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5 New Year’s resolutions for older adults

How to set your sights on the big picture at New Year’s

By Bruce Rosenstein for Next Avenue

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In 2007, British psychologist Richard Wiseman followed more than 3,000 people attempting to achieve New Year’s resolutions including the top three: lose weight, quit smoking and exercise regularly. At the start of the study, most were confident of success. A year later, only 12 percent had achieved their goals.

To make meaningful New Year’s resolutions that you’ll really keep, set long-range resolutions for your second act. This way, you can help reach the goals that matter to you in the context of your entire future, not just a single year.


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Meet Michelle Iott, new business office director

img_0149-2If you haven’t yet had a chance to meet new Business Office Director Michelle Iott, you’re in for a treat. She’s not only warm and compassionate, she’s also a highly skilled problem solver. And although she’s had many years of experience in the senior living field, it may come as a surprise to learn what she studied while in college.

“I graduated from Ottawa University in 1998, with a bachelor’s in liberal arts, a degree in elementary education. You have to pass an exam to get your teacher’s license, and for some reason the math portion kept giving me fits. I took it five times. I was disappointed then, but looking back, I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I was hired by Rhonda Parks, regional director of operations at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor years ago. I worked there for a year and fell in love with the atmosphere. I love helping people,” said Michelle.

Michelle rejoined the PMMA family in November 2016, and her current duties include monthly billing for residents, Medicaid billing, hospice billing, HCPS billing, resident trust funds, accounts payable, daily census update and many other things. She helps out wherever she’s needed.

“I love working with the residents. I makes my day when they come in with a problem, and I can help them find a solution. It makes me really happy.”

When she’s not solving problems and enjoying time with residents at Presbyterian Manor, you’ll find her with family. With three children, two step-children, and six grandchildren, she stays very busy.

“I keep really busy with kids and grandkids, but when time allows, my 12-year-old daughter and I enjoy volunteering at the Topeka Humane Society. I also try to help with her school PTO as much as I can too.”

While Michelle is still learning the day-to-day ins and outs of her position, she’s confident she’ll soon be strumming along.

“I want to make sure residents know they can come to me for whatever they need. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out for them. We’ll get it taken care of.”

Topeka Presbyterian Manor honored with Emerald Award certificate

Bill Taylor, PMMA chief operating officer, left, and Bruce Shogren, PMMA president and chief executive officer, right, present Heather Pilkinton, Topeka executive director, with an Emerald Award certificate for meeting safety goals.

Bill Taylor, PMMA chief operating officer, left, and Bruce Shogren, PMMA president and chief executive officer, right, present Heather Pilkinton, Topeka executive director, with an Emerald Award certificate for meeting safety goals.

Topeka Presbyterian Manor received a certificate of recognition from Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America for reaching goals in fiscal year 2016, July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.

The recognition came through PMMA’s new Emerald Awards Program, designed to encourage its 17 locations to achieve high levels of resident and employee satisfaction, meet financial goals, build philanthropic support for the organization’s mission and meet marketing goals. There are 11 areas measured for the Emerald Awards.

To receive an emerald, a community has to meet its goals in all 11 areas. Certificates of recognition were given out to communities that reached their goals in one or more category.

Topeka was recognized for reaching safety goals.

“This recognition is a visible sign of Topeka Presbyterian Manor’s commitment to the mission of PMMA of providing quality senior services guided by Christian values,” said Bruce Shogren, chief executive officer for PMMA.

Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America has been providing quality senior services guided by Christian values in Kansas and Missouri for more than 65 years.

For more information about Topeka Presbyterian Manor, contact Marketing Director Jami Colson at 785-272-6510 or jcolson@pmma.org.

The joy of fostering a senior dog

You and your adopted companion benefit when you open your home

By Debbie Swanson for Next Avenue

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Credit: SecondHand Hounds

 

Carol Byers already had two dogs when she decided to foster a third. Byers, an active woman in her early 70s, set her sights on an older pet.

“Like most seniors, I’ve experienced loss and know how important quality of life is,” she says. “To give a senior dog an opportunity to live out life with a loving family, a lap to curl up in, a comfortable bed and tummy rubs, means a lot.” (A senior dog is one in the last 25 percent of his or her life; the average lifespan of most breeds is nine to 15 years.)

At a visit to Muttville, a senior dog rescue in San Francisco, a pug/shih tzu named Peggy caught Byers’ eye. Peggy’s owner had died.


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Fighting ageism means paying attention to our stereotypes

By Debbie Reslock for Next Avenue

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Credit: John Gilman Aging adults often struggle to be seen behind a one-dimensional stereotype of “old”

 

Writer Ceridwen Dovey didn’t think it would be difficult to write a novel from the point of view of a man in his late 80s. Dovey, a 30-something novelist, concocted a generic old man who was crabby and computer illiterate. Another main character was an eccentric old woman who wore magenta-colored turbans and handed out safe-sex pamphlets.

But as Dovey wrote last year in The New Yorker, her effort revealed the problem with assumptions. After reading her first draft, an editor inquired, “But what else are they, other than old?”

What a great question.


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Keep the momentum going

Your generosity can extend hope beyond today

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The end of the year puts many of us in a reflective mood. We think about the ups and downs we’ve had along the way and the special moments that touched our hearts.

When you review your personal highlights for 2016, don’t forget to count the positive impact you’ve had on others this year by supporting causes important in your life, such as Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America. Your generosity is an encouragement to those we serve.


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