Author Archive: berkslancasterlebanonlink

PA Link Service Area 13 YouTube series interview: Pat Lally

Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources Service Area 13 launched its YouTube channel.

One facet of the initiative was to highlight and introduce Service Area 13 partner entities to educate viewers to the array of services and programs available for persons in Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties.

“Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) are a nationwide effort to take a seamless approach in the way we assist seniors and adults with disabilities who need help with activities of daily living. The ADRC in Pennsylvania is known as the Link.

“How can the Link assist you and/or your family?

    • Easily connect you to local services/supports through any Link partner agency
    • Explore existing options to ensure a secure plan for independence
    • Assist consumers with applications to determine funding eligibility
    • Help consumers remain or return to their community because of a disability, an illness or accident, or to transition from an institution back to the community

“There is no charge for information and assistance provided by any Link or Link partner agency.”

Pat Lally

The first partner interview was conducted yesterday. Link project interviewer, Margie Pizarro, chatted with Pat Lally, Program Manager of the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources about the Aging and Disability Resource Center. Click here to see that interview.


If you are a Link partner agency/organization and would like to be a featured interview in this series, let us know.

Call or text: 717.380.9714 or email blllink@mail.com to get on the schedule.

Pennsylvania Relay is excited to announce the launch of our desktop Real-Time Text Trial. We are looking for testers in Pennsylvania.

pa relay

Register to attend here.

FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Reimbursement Program Opens Today

fema covid funeral assistance

Watch this video (Providing Financial Assistance for COVID-19-Related Funeral Expenses) click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgvN_9m58Z0

Has someone in your family died from COVID-19? Or do you know someone that is in this position? FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Reimbursement program opens for applications today. Click here to get more information on how to apply and be sure to share it with your networks to make sure everyone entitled to reimbursement has the information.

“Gov. Wolf and COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Announce that All Adults in Pennsylvania are Eligible Tomorrow to Schedule COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments”

Governor-Tom-Wolf-speaking-at-Bucks-County-Intermediate-Unit

Governor Tom Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced that effective tomorrow, Tuesday, April 13, all Pennsylvania adults will be eligible to schedule an appointment for the COVID -19 vaccine.

“We need to maintain acceleration of the vaccine rollout, especially as case counts and hospitalization rates have increased,” Gov. Wolf said. “Therefore, just as President Biden has brought forward universal adult access to vaccines from May 1 to April 19, we are moving Pennsylvania’s timeline of universal adult access to April 13.”

The Department of Health noted that there is ongoing appointment availability in many parts of the state even as Phase 1A and B continue and 1C begins today. With the change in eligibility, those in Phase 2 will become eligible, opening up vaccines to all. Our ongoing initiative with the Area Agencies on Aging to provide assistance to vulnerable seniors for accessing vaccine will continue, as will our other equity initiatives.

“Everyone needs and should be afforded the opportunity to access the vaccine as soon as possible,” Acting Sec. of Health Alison Beam said. “And, this change provides earlier access for many, including college students increasing the likelihood of completion of two-dose regimens prior to leaving campus for the summer. It also means simpler, streamlined operations for vaccine providers that no longer need to check eligibility of people making appointments.”

To date, Pennsylvania providers have administered more than 6 million vaccines and the state is ranked among the top 20 states for first-dose vaccinations. More than 2.4 million Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated.

Pennsylvanians can find providers on the COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Map here.

“Please get vaccinated,” said Sen. Art Haywood.

“It is precisely the bipartisan cooperation of this Joint Task Force coupled with the tremendous work of our provider network that has allowed our Commonwealth to make rapid progress in our vaccine rollout, now expanding eligibility so that every Pennsylvanian who wants to be vaccinated has the opportunity to do so immediately,” said Sen. Ryan Aument. “Because we have maintained our commitment to residents within phases 1A and 1B, we can now further accelerate the rollout and protect our communities, particularly by ensuring that college students can be vaccinated before returning home to their families for the summer.”

“The administration, our task force, and all of our local providers have collaborated together to achieve the goal put forth by President Biden,” said Rep. Bridget Kosierowski. “With the number of COVID-19 positive cases continuing to rise some areas of our state, it is imperative that everyone who wants to schedule an appointment for a vaccine can have that opportunity to do so.“

“I’m pleased we are able to speed up eligibility so that all Pennsylvanians who want a vaccine can schedule one,” Rep. Tim O’Neal said. “Western Pennsylvania has hosted a number of vaccine clinics in recent days where supply has outstripped demand. We were able to get approval to expand eligibility at one of these clinics, but it only makes sense to open vaccinations to all. The work of the task force has shown when all parties work in a collaborative fashion, we can accomplish a lot in a short timeframe.”

“This further-accelerated plan will move us much closer to the goal of vaccinating Pennsylvanians as quickly and equitably as possible,” Gov. Wolf said.

SOURCE: news release

“‘So Deep And So Rich’: Seniors Stay Connected Via Their New Life On Zoom” – NPR

senior zoom
"The memoir writing students at the DOROT Center found new closeness on Zoom." - Gwynne Hogan

by Gwynne Hogan

“Last March, I visited a senior center in Manhattan on its last day of programming before lockdown forced everything in New York City to a grinding halt. At that point in the pandemic, we were flying blind — elbow-bumping instead of handshaking, but not wearing masks, even in cramped indoor settings.

“I rode my bike to DOROT on the Upper West Side with a lump in my throat, fearing that maybe I was an unknowing vector of the virus. (A traveling group of coughing a cappella singers was performing and my fears abated that I’d be the one to get them sick.)

“I met a group of women in a weekly memoir class, right as the director broke the news that the center was closing because of the coronavirus.

“It came as a blow to the women, especially for Yvonne Rossetti, who was 65 years old at the time.

“‘I think depression is a killer, and certainly many of us are here because maybe we battle depression,’ she’d said to the room. ‘This place is a lifeboat.'”

Keep reading this article at NPR, click here.

For Lebanon Countians: Exciting news! Self-Determination Housing of Pennsylvania’s Home Modification Program is up and running again!

SDHP accessible program

We are reaching out to the community of Lebanon county to receive applicants for this program funded by DCED!  Multiple home modifications projects are currently underway across the state! Below is information about eligibility and how to get more information.  Please feel free to share with your Lebanon county community!

Eligibility criteria at-a-glance:

  • Income levels must not exceed 120% of area median income (all household income must be verified through proper documentation).
  • Priority given to individuals residing in counties not receiving financial assistance through other programs.
  • Homeowners need proof of homeowners’ insurance coverage.
  • Renters need a landlord letter of approval/permission for home modifications.
  • Applicant cannot be receiving other public funded assistance or waivers. (example: Community Health Choices (CHC) managed care organizations – MCOs)

Applications are now being accepted!

  • For more information and to receive an application, please call (610) 873-9595 or email Beth at beth.mckeown@inglis.org
  • See attached flyer for more information
  • Learn more about this program by clicking HERE

Study | “Medicare Advantage beneficiaries save more money on out-of-pocket costs than Medicare fee-for-service” – Fierce Healthcare

medicare advantage

“Medicare Advantage offers care for more low-income individuals compared with traditional Medicare, a new analysis from Better Medicare Alliance said.” (Getty/zimmytws) “Better Medicare Alliance is the nation’s leading research and advocacy organization supporting Medicare Advantage. Together, we are over 150 Ally organizations from across the health care spectrum and more than 500,000 grassroots beneficiary advocates united in our mission to build a healthier future through a strong Medicare Advantage.” – Better Medicare Alliance

by Robert King

“Medicare Advantage plan holders spend $1,640 less a year compared with traditional fee-for-service, a new analysis finds.

“The analysis released Tuesday from the advocacy group Better Medicare Alliance also found that lower-income Medicare beneficiaries are more likely to choose MA over the traditional program.

“Beneficiaries in MA reported out-of-pocket and premium spending of $3,354 a year in 2018, compared with $4,994 in fee-for-service, the analysis added. That was a $42 increase since 2017.

“’This results in a 40% lower cost burden for consumers than traditional Medicare’” said Allyson Schwartz, president and CEO of Better Medicare Alliance, in a statement. ‘The consumer savings in Medicare Advantage translates to meaningful financial security and peace of mind for millions of beneficiaries.’

“The analysis also found that more than 40% of beneficiaries who make under 200% of the federal poverty level were enrolled in MA, compared with 27% of beneficiaries that make more than 400% of the poverty level.”

Click to continue reading this article at Fierce Healthcare.

Link Service Area 13 partners launch YouTube channel.

youtube channelWe’ve been announcing this project for several months at the separate Link cross-training meetings — now the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources | Service Area 13 YouTube channel has launched.

You can access it here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZwmzU3Q5WW8SZK4COihQMA

Margie Pizarro will be interviewing Service Area 13 Link partner agencies to learn more about their services and programs in 15 minute ZOOM interviews. Those interviews will be posted at the Link Service Area 13 YouTube channel for everyone to view and share.

If you are a Link partner agency/organization and would like to be a featured interview in this series, let us know.

Call or text: 717.380.9714 or email blllink@mail.com to get on the schedule.

Saturday webinars | Link Service Area 13’s second “Let’s get Tech Savvy” webinar video on Windows 10 is here.

baby steps webinar

“In the USA, only 59% of people over the age of 65 use the Internet daily, as opposed to 86% of all adults under 65.”

That’s the entire reason the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources’ Berks-Lancaster-Lebanon Service Area  scheduled the Saturday morning (March 6 and March 27) webinars. These are the first two in a series of planned webinars that are designed to erase and lessen the fears that many people may have about using digital technology.

It’s tough trying to deliver taking training about how to use a smart phone, a tablet or a computer to persons who may not have the technology, the experience or the connectivity. It’s also tough to not have internet access and technological skills needed to find a Covid vaccination site. Or to file an online unemployment claim. Or to schedule a medical appointment.

But the intent of this series of webinars is to lessen the trepidation and the uncertainty of the technology in small bite-sized blocks of 30 to 40 minute online webinars. The Link coordinator hopes that caregivers, family members and agency resources who interact with persons with low or no digital savvy will share the webinar information with them.

Here are the video recordings of the first two Saturday’s “Baby Steps” Webinars: https://1drv.ms/v/s!Agtzmyc10ssBgxni4YdAzYOFpFiO?e=Sdb3wR

The next Webinar will be scheduled for Saturday morning, April 17 and will be announced at the Link Website and hopefully in local media. For more information about upcoming Webinars, send an email to blllink@mail.com or call / text: 717.308.9714.


Those who’ve ventured into owning a smart phone know “how many times a day your phone, computer, tablet, watch and other gadgets buzz or ding. It gets annoying and distracting.”

Upcoming webinars will deal with smart phone questions, but here’s a Kim Kommando column that’s especially topical: “How to stop junk text messages and spam for good.”

VA and Department of Labor releases high demand occupation list for the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program

va logo

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is preparing to launch the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) as part of its continued effort to support Veterans seeking retraining and economic opportunities in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

VA in partnership with the Department of Labor published a list of high-demand occupations. The list is available here and includes healthcare, education, media, engineering, and high tech opportunities.

The new program, part of the American Rescue Plan, will allow qualifying Veterans between the ages of 22 and 67 to receive up to 12 months of tuition and fee and monthly housing allowance payments, based on Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. VA will provide further information soon on how Veterans can apply for this program.

The week of April 4th, VA will release a participation agreement and begin to work with educational institutions interested in participating in VRRAP.  VA will require educational institutions to commit to a participation agreement that will outline VRRAP requirements and specify which training programs are covered under VRRAP. Once reviewed and approved by VA, a comprehensive list of VRRAP educational institutions and programs will be published and made available.

For a program of education to qualify for VRRAP, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Be approved for GI Bill or VET TEC
  • Not lead to a bachelors or graduate degree
  • Provide training for a high-demand occupation

The payment model for VRRAP tuition and fees (paid directly to the VRRAP education institution) is milestone based:

  • 50% when the Veteran begins the program
  • 25% when the Veteran completes the program
  • 25% when the Veteran finds employment in the field of study

The program is limited to a maximum of 17,250 participants and up to $386 million.

If you are aware of any GI Bill Beneficiaries who require assistance, please have them contact the Education Call Center at 888-442-4551 between 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday-Friday to speak with a representative.

To learn more about the program and for updates, go to our website, or visit our Facebook page.