Monthly Archives: November, 2015

“How children with disabilities came to be accepted in public schools” – The Conversation

special needs in school Children with and without special needs attend the same class. IIP Photo Archive, CC BY-NC

by Jean Crockett | Professor and Director of the School of Special Education, School Psychology, & Early Childhood Studies, University of Florida  

“When Alan joined my class in September, I knew he needed help.

“So did I.

“Alan had lived in an orphanage ever since he was an infant and faced many challenges: he was older than the other kids and did not want to play with them. He didn’t use words – although he could make sounds. He was very different from his classmates and stayed to himself.

“But then, every afternoon he was a bundle of energy, imitating the barking of a dog and crawling on the floor around his classmates at circle time. He also had a passion for shredding my teaching materials.”

Read this article at The Conversation in its entirety, click here.

“How loneliness makes us sick” –

lonely_man_1170-770x460“The ‘danger signals’ activated in the brain by loneliness ultimately affect the production of white blood cells. (Credit: iStockphoto)” –

“Scientists know that feeling alone can have a negative effect on health, but now they think they may have uncovered one reason why.

“Loneliness can lead to fight-or-flight stress signaling, which can ultimately affect the production of white blood cells.

“The findings are from a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that examined loneliness in both humans and rhesus macaques, a highly social primate species. The human subjects were participants in the Chicago Health, Aging, and Social Relations Study, a longitudinal study that began in 2002 with adults aged 50-68.”

Read this article at in its entirety, click here.

“So why do Americans eat Turkey on Thanksgiving Day?” – A British view of the American Holiday

Thanksgiving_1918_3504346bAmerican servicemen chow down to a turkey dinner in 1918

Here’s a look at our holiday of Thanksgiving from across the ocean; The Telegraph of London asks

Thanksgiving: What is the history of the holiday and why does the US celebrate with turkey? – Roast turkey, candied yams, giant balloons and American football – what is Thanksgiving Day really all about?

Click here to read the complete article in The Telegraph.

… and Happy Thanksgiving!

“Affording Utility Service: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Universal Service Programs”

accessing utility services

You can listen to the audio for the Webinar that accompanied this presentation; click here.

“A caregiver’s story: Living and loving through the slow process of dying” – The Reading Eagle


by Harry Dietz | The Reading Eagle

“The nights were long, but sleep came in minutes rather than hours. The darkness wasn’t enough of a blindfold, and the accompanying quiet was momentary and bathed heavily with the tension of anticipation, waiting for the piercing call of my name, over and over.

“‘Harry, Harry, Harry …’ The cycle repeated every hour, and sometimes more frequently. It grew louder and more intense, until at last the brief rest was over, again, and I stumbled to answer a pressing and very real need.”

Department of Aging wrap-up for Friday, November 20, 2015

PA department of aging logo

Each week the Pennsylvania Department of Aging releases a Friday newsletter with information relevant to activities, issues and events for older Pennsylvanians and persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth.

Click here to read the November 20 newsletter.

Do you know about StoryCorps’ “Great Thanksgiving Listen?”


“StoryCorps is working with high school teachers across the country to ask students to interview a grandparent or elder over the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

“Using the new free StoryCorps mobile app, participants will be able to upload their recordings to the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. In one holiday weekend we will capture an entire generation of American lives and experiences.”

Continue reading about this project.

Click here to watch the Dave Isay, StoryCorps Founder and President’s TED Talk announcement.


Cold weather on the horizon – call 2-1-1 or visit the Website for heating assistance information

The unusually warm fall we’ve been experiencing surely will give way to colder winter temperatures.

Colder temperatures create higher heating costs; there are programs available to provide assistance for low-income families who may struggle with increased costs.

There are many resources that can provide assistance for human services needs, but your first resource should be 2-1-1. Pennsylvania 2-1-1 East is a free, confidential, non-emergency, comprehensive information and referral service that connects … residents with the health and human services they need.

2-1-1You can reach 2-1-1 by dialing 2-1-1 or (855) 501-6785.




The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, helps low-income families pay their heating bills. LIHEAP is a grant that offers assistance in the form of a cash grant, sent directly to the utility company, or a crisis grant for households in immediate danger of being without heat.

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WX) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Funds are used to improve the energy performance of dwellings families in need, using the most advanced technologies and testing procedures available in the housing industry.

Click here to find information about the Weatherization Assistance Program for Berks, Lancaster and/or Lebanon Counties.

Low-income Rate Assistance
Pennsylvania’s major gas and electric utilities are required to provide Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs), which generally provide a percentage of bill plan or a percentage of income payment plan, wherein low-income customers’ utility payments are based upon their incomes and/or utility bills.

pplPennsylvania Power & Light (PPL) Payment Assistance

  • OnTrack –  A special payment plan that offers reduced monthly payments, protection from shutoffs and debt forgiveness. Administered by local agencies.
  • WRAP – Customers may qualify for energy education, energy-efficient appliances and home weatherization services such as insulation and caulking. WRAP is administered by local agencies. 1-888-232-6302


met-edMet-Ed | Assistance and service programs

  • CAP – CAP offers a reduced bill that is based on a percentage of income, and debt forgiveness. Eligibility: at or below 150% federal poverty guidelines.
  • WARM Program – Met-Ed partners with community-based organizations and energy conservation contractors who perform energy-saving home improvements and energy education for customers. Eligibility: electric heat or electric water heat, or an average electric bill of about $55 a month. 1-800-207-9276



UGI Utilities Inc. – Gas Division – Customer Assistance Programs – 1-800-844-9276 –

  • Customer Assistance Program (CAP) – The CAP offers a monthly payment based on a percentage of your household gross income, household size and usage at the property. In most cases, this program will help make UGI bills more affordable. When CAP bills are paid on or before the due date, the difference between the amount billed and the actual amount used may be forgiven. 1-800-844-9276
  • LIURP – Offers free energy conservation measures to high usage, low-income households to help make energy bills more affordable. Possible energy saving measures can include ceiling insulation, floor, duct and hot water pipe insulation, caulking and weather-stripping, gas heater repairs and water flow restrictors. You must be a residential UGI customers at the same address for at least 12 months before you can qualify for these services.

Customer Outreach Programs are available to help you afford your UGI bills:

“As Lives Lengthen, Costs Mount” – The New York Times Magazine

costs mount

This article in The New York Times Magazine takes a look at the issues of “Some elderly New Yorkers (who) receive too much income to be eligible for assistance, but not enough to pay for the services they need.”

But the challenges are not just New York’s elder citizens.

Click here to read the article in its entirety – there are links in the article to a series of articles about people “age 85 and older” and the challenges they encounter as they navigate life at the “upper end of old age” in New York.

85 and up

“Losing Katie: A Boyertown couple describes daughter’s battle with heroin” – The Reading Eagle

katieCourtesy of Strohm family | Mary Kaitlynn “Katie” Strohm, a former Boyertown High School cheerleader, was 23 when she died at home on Nov. 4. Authorities are treating it as a possible drug death.

Boyertown, PA –

“It was before dawn on Nov. 4 when Jim Strohm walked down the basement steps into the bedroom of his daughter, Katie, to wake her up so she would be on time for her first day of work at Dunkin’ Donuts in Boyertown.

“Mary Kaitlynn ‘Katie’ Strohm was 23. She had blue eyes and blonde hair and had been a cheerleader at Boyertown High School, but had struggled with heroin addiction after her 2010 graduation.Jim and his wife, Carol Strohm, repeatedly had their daughter in rehab and asked her regularly if she was using drugs. In fact, Jim had asked her the previous night and Katie had said ‘no.'”