News Briefs April 2021

Coronavirus COVID-19 news story summary photo set in concept of covid-19 effects to people life behavior, economy, social and medical service caused by outbreak of 2019 coronavirus disease.

Area Agency on Aging
expands outreach efforts

In ramping up services the past 12 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Area Agency on Aging funded more than 1.2 million meals to homebound seniors since last March and over 2,100 cleaning supply kits, among other services and resources.

To assist in the efforts, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust awarded the Area Agency on Aging two grants totaling $150,000. A $50,000 grant is providing transportation for older adults to COVID-19 vaccine sites, and a $100,000 grant is being used to develop elderSHOP through which Area Agency staff and volunteers grocery shop for older adults who need and pay for groceries but are unable to go to nearby stores.

“The funding from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust enabled us to expand our services to assist older adults who wanted to get COVID vaccines but didn’t have the means and others who were unable or afraid to go to the supermarket. We are deeply grateful for that support,” says Area Agency on Aging President and CEO Mary Lynn Kasunic.

“On a broader scale, our staff and volunteers really went the extra mile to ensure that essential needs in the community were covered.”

To help homebound seniors celebrate holidays, Kasunic said food bags with special ingredients and recipes were provided for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day.

“When the pandemic took hold, we knew that older adults would be particularly affected, and our team reacted quickly and strategically to ensure a solid lifeline was established for those who needed our help,” Kasunic says.

Individuals needing assistance are encouraged to call the 24-Hour Senior HELP LINE at 602-264-HELP (4357) or toll-free number at 1-888-783-7500. For more information, visit

Ashton Applewhite to speak at event

Bureau Jewish Education will host Ashton Applewhite as its featured guest at its annual Art of Aging Event on Sunday, April 25.

The virtual celebration highlights information about adopting positive attitudes believed to guide ways to age with vibrancy and vitality. Rabbi Ruth Sandberg, Ph.D., will open the program with Jewish thought on valuing elders. During the program, there will be a special dedication to past board member Joan Stiver.

Applewhite has been recognized on the PBS site Next Avenue’s annual list of 50 influencers in aging as their Influencer of the Year. Applewhite is an anti-ageism activist and a leading voice in a movement honoring age as vibrant and tapping into the possibilities of late life.

Sandberg is the Leonard and Ethel Landau Professor of Rabbinic at Gratz College, and is the director of the BA Jewish studies and Jewish professional studies and the MA in interfaith leadership.

Stiver will be honored at this year’s celebration. Stiver was an integral part of the Building Jewish Education’s Wise Aging program, as a participant and planning the 2020 Wise Aging Celebration. She was a model Wise Ager. After teaching for over 30 years, she lived with joy, resilience and spirit. The third chapter of her life was filled with family, music, books, Jewish learning and enhancing Jewish life.

Tickets are $36, and sponsorship starts at $180. The virtual event will begin at 10 a.m., and the program will host a silent art auction.


Seniors failing to claim tax refunds

Arizona senior renters who are older than 65 neglect to claim a property tax credit that they’re eligible for, passing up a refund of more than $100 that the state is prepared to put into its pockets every year. 

If they do not file for the Arizona State Property Tax Refund Credit by April 15, seniors forfeit that money. A new website,, aims to alert Arizona seniors who live and pay rent in Arizona about their eligibility for these funds.

“Unfortunately, Arizona seniors who aren’t aware of the Arizona State Property Tax Refund Credit can’t claim a refund for any year in which they did not file,” says Carletta Lino, creator of the new online resource explaining the refund. 

“When I’ve made presentations about this tax credit to local business owners, no one in the audience, including instructors and visiting experts, knows about it, and ditto when I talk to the local businesses that I frequent.”

The Arizona State Property Tax Refund Credit program provides for eligible seniors who pay monthly rent to receive a refund of a portion of the rent that they pay to their leasing agent, property manager, owner or landlord over the course of the year if their rent is taxed. 

The state refunds a credit for the “property taxes” it allows leasing agents, property managers, owners and landlords to add a retail tax rate of 1.5% up to 3% (except Flagstaff and Tucson) to the senior’s monthly rent payments whether the senior is aware of it or not. 

Lino says the state does not send reminders to senior renters to file for the credit, and most seniors assume that if they have no earned income to report, there is no point in filing either a federal or state tax return. Therefore, she says, “I am providing the reminder to our seniors to check their eligibility for the refund credit.”

Sun Lakes Democratic Club to host meeting

The Sun Lakes Democratic Club will host a virtual meeting via Zoom beginning at 6:30 p.m. with a social hour and the meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, April 12.

The guest speakers are Jan Turhune, executive director of Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank, and Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, LD 17, who will offer a legislative update.

To participate, email and request the Zoom meeting on April 12.

Banner Olive Branch helps seniors with various services

Banner Olive Branch Senior Center, in partnership with the National Council on Aging, is offering eligible Arizona seniors a way to help with their food and utility bills and to sign up for other services they may need.

Banner Olive Branch is one of 40 community organizations around the country stepping up efforts to assist older adults in applying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“We know that for many of our seniors getting food, especially healthy, nutritious food, can be very challenging, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it more difficult,” says Dawn Gielau, director of Banner Olive Branch Senior Center. “Yet healthy food is essential in treating diabetes, heart conditions, depression and fall prevention, and many other health problems.

“Many seniors don’t want to talk about this issue or ask for help. But we see eliminating food insecurity as an important part of successful, healthy aging.”

Banner Olive Branch is a hub that connects Arizona seniors with social workers, home health aides and others. To learn more about the program, call the senior center at 623-465-6001. Callers don’t have to be a senior center member to receive this service; it is available to seniors throughout Arizona.

Kaleidoscope Dance gets back in the groove

Kaleidoscope Dance’s Trudy Sherman will teach a series of classes in April.

Gentle Tai Chi Sequences, 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, is slightly more rigorous than the Gentle Tai Chi-Qigong class. Individual moves from Easy Tai Chi-Qigong are combined in continuous fluid sequences that are stationary. This class starts with 15 minutes of qi gong warmup activities that are a subset of those used in Gentle Tai Chi-Qigong.

The remainder of the class is spent working on sequences of moves from Gentle Tai Chi. Each sequence consists of moves with similar philosophical concepts.

Taught by Sherman, Gentle Tai Chi-Qigong consists of gentle stretches and exercise that help improve circulation and release stress. Because the moves are stationary, it is an ideal form of exercise for anyone who has balance issues. This class starts with 30 minutes of warmup activities from the 4,000-year-old practice of qi gong. The second half of class is the practice of stationary movements taken from the 2,000-year-old practice of tai chi. Each movement is repeated three to five times to each side using either gentle forward-back or side-to-side rocking motions. The class is 10 to 10:55 a.m. Tuesdays, and 1 to 2 p.m. Fridays.

The Crane Dance-Gentle Tai Chi is similar to the Gentle Tai Chi Sequences class. Stationary crane, qi gong and tai chi moves that are not part of Gentle Tai Chi-Qigong class are taught and combined in a continuous fluid sequence representing the movements of the crane. This class starts with 15 minutes of qi gong warmup activities that are a subset of those used in Gentle Tai Chi-Qigong. The remainder of the class is spent learning and practicing the Crane Dance moves and sequences. It runs from 9:15 to 10:10 a.m. Saturdays.

To register, call 480-692-0332. Visit for more information. Cost is $12 per person drop-in; $40 for four-punch card, good for 60 days.