Empowering Seniors

Birchez Associates was proud to sponsor the 9th annual Circles for Caring Conference presented by Jewish Family Services of Ulster County. This year’s theme: Empowering Seniors. The event was filled with entertaining, informative and engaging sessions, including a welcome by Lawrence Force PhD, Director of Center on Aging and Policy, and Keynote speaker Maria Alverez, executive Director, Statewide Senior Action. Sharon Murray-Cohen, LMSW, Executive Director of JFS, Ulster, explained why the not for profit, non denominational agency chose this year’s theme of Empowering Seniors:

“The grey wave is a demographic group of younger seniors to much older seniors as baby boomers come of age and have longer life expectancy. If a person lives a good long life, a third of it will be as a senior. How then does society empower seniors, a diverse group with unique needs and wants? We need to stay strong in raising the profile of senior citizens though awareness and education. The goal of today’s conference is to Empower Seniors by placing the senior at the center of discussions and planning for their lives.”


“You have to be in it. . .”

So starts the Lotto ad. And the same is true of our wait lists. If you don’t have an application in, you’re not on the list. Wait lists can discourage some, but we want to encourage you. When an apartment becomes available, it is available to the next qualified and ready applicant. But apartments are as-signed to particular income bands, and we have disabled and frail elderly preferences to consider as well.

What’s this all mean to you? You are on a subsection of the wait list based on your income and whether those ahead of you are ready to move in when the apartment becomes available. We’ve seen instances where we contact 20 applicants before we find a Resident. Plus should you not be ready when you are called it doesn’t affect your standing. You stay on the list.

Fill out an application soon! You can download an application, stop by at our communities (either by appointment or from the brochure display in the lobby) or just call toll free 888-980-0090 and we will mail you an application.


Welcome to the Team

We are pleased to welcome new members to our Birchez Associates Marketing group and Rondout Property Management teams.

Megan Donahue, a recent SUNY New Paltz grad, brings more than book knowledge to her job as Marketing Assistant for Birchez Associates. Megan served semester internships at both the County Executive’s office and Benedictine Health Foundation. Plus this Saugerties resident worked weekends and summers throughout college. Despite her extracurricular activities, Megan managed to attain the Dean’s List.
Theresa Walsh Miranda began her housing career in 2002 and joins us as an experienced property manager. Theresa is now the Community Manager at both Chambers Court and The Birches at Saugerties. Her professional accreditation includes Low Income Housing Tax Credit Certification, Accredited Residential Management, IREM Certification and Assisted Housing Management. Theresa is a graduate of the Ulster County Leadership Institute, and is a certified Health & Wellness Coach.
Mary Rauchet is the new Community Manager at Birchwood Village, our workforce family community sited in Kingston. Mary has extensive property management experience, having served as manager of 150- and 256-unit properties. She also worked for seven years as the financial manager for the Newburgh Housing Authority. Mary is a Certified Occupancy Specialist as well as a certified New York State Notary Public.


“Grandma, I’ve Been Arrested.”

A Look into Elder Abuse
Perhaps you’ve heard of phone scammers posing as grandchildren to get money from seniors. But you may be surprised by the variety and pervasiveness of Elder Abuse that can affect our relatives and neighbors.
Types of Elder Abuse include physical, emotional, neglect, financial, sexual and abandonment. Many affected seniors experience more than one type of abuse. Financial exploitation is the highest type of reported abuse.
Did you know that 5 million elder adults are abused, exploited, or neglected each year yet only 1 in 23 cases of Elder Abuse are reported? Why are so few cases reported? Because too often the victim relies on the perpetrator who is a family member and/or is the victim’s caregiver.
This summer, Birchez Associates worked with members of the Ulster County Elders Abuse Prevention Task Force to bring educational presentations on Elder Abuse to each of our senior communities. The Task Force, created by County Executive Michael Hein, is designed to raise awareness, increase education and improve prevention of elder abuse.
New York State is the only state that does not mandate the reporting of suspected Elder Abuse as is required for child abuse or abuse of persons with disabilities. While we are not mandated reporters, Birchez encouraged all community staff employees to attend the sessions held for our senior Residents.
“We have seen cases of Elder Abuse and either report these situations directly or help our Residents and family members to report to the proper authority,” said Judyann Fitzpatrick, who serves as Manager of Compliance.
“The cases have typically been financial abuse, where a family member gains access to the Resident’s bank account and misappropriates funds, or neglect in which a health aide leaves the Resident unattended. The Task Force sessions help our staff to be on the alert for any form of Elder Abuse that could affect our Residents.” Thank you to the skilled members of the Task Force, Dena Crane, Toby Krawitz and Colleen Mountford, for sharing their expertise in bringing the educational sessions to our Communities. This outreach was supported by the Office for the Aging and Jewish Family Services.

Don’t Hesitate. Call.
Among Ulster County (UC) resources to contact if you suspect Elder Abuse:

  • UC DSS Adult Protective Services 845-334-5153
  • UC Crime Victim’s Office 845-340-3443
  • UC Sheriff’s Office 845-338-3640 or local police agency
  • UC District Attorney’s Office 845-340-3315
  • The person’s physician or bank

Or contact the Community Manager at the Birchez Community in which you, or your loved one, lives and he or she can direct you to appropriate resources.


Birchez Doubles Underwriting Commitment to Kingston Community Radio

Tony Marmo, cohost of “Feel Good Friday”, announced today that longtime Kingston Community Radio supporter Steve Aaron from Birchez Associates, doubled his underwriting support for KCR (920 AM). “We thank Steve. He’s a generous guy in the community and much of it goes unnoticed. We thank him for his support of KCR and keeping us on the air.” Nina Postupack, Rich Mathews and Lew Kirschner joined in thanking Steve Aaron, Founder and Managing Member of Birchez Associates. Birchez is an original underwriter of KCR, going back to 2002. Under the unflagging efforts of the late Walter Maxwell, KCR has served the greater Kingston area for the last 14 years and we want to help keep it going.

If you would like to send a contribution to keep KCR a vibrant community service, you can mail donations to Kingston Community Radio, 82 John St, Kingston, NY 12401 or get on their website MyKCR.org to contribute through the NobleActs button as a guest to set up a one-time or ongoing contribution.

KCR programming airs weekdays between 7am and 9am on WGHQ, AM 920, in Kingston, NY. Volunteer hosts interview guests and take listener telephone calls (at 845-331-9255) to discuss various topics of interest in the community including local, state and national issues. Birchez has been a frequent guest, speaking on senior issues, and we know that many of our Residents are regular listeners of KCR. To see the weekly roster of talented hosts, go to https://mykcr.org/content/kcr-host-schedule



Resident wins top prize!

St. Mary’s Benevolent Society held its Annual 20 Week Raffle Party Sunday afternoon at it’s hall near the Hudson River beach in Kingston NY. But with the fabulous spread of food and a chance to win over $2,500 in prizes, attendees were happy to be inside for a few hours.

Steve Aaron, Founder & Managing Member of Birchez, treated eighty Residents and staff to the event, which also included entry into the big drawing. And a Resident from Chambers Court won the top prize, shown here being presented with the check and celebrating with her twin sister and Steve Aaron! Among the guests, Alderman Tony Davis and his lovely wife Ginger. We found a couple of surprise servers behind the bountiful buffet: Candidate for Surrogate Court Sara McGinty, shown with Birchez’ Community OutreachCoordinator Shirley Whitlock. And of course Birchez’ Senior Advocate Alice Tipp held court at her table! All of the senior communities of Birchez were represented, and we left happy and full


Radio Interview with Steven L. Aaron, Birchez Associates LLC

Dubbed the “Taste of Ulster”, Thursday morning’s Kingston Community Radio show starts off with a tribute to the late Walter Maxwell. Hosts former Legislature Chairman Fred Wadnola and chef extraordinaire Cynthia Wadnola welcome Steve Aaron, Founder and Managing Member of Birchez Associates LLC.
Listen in on a wide-ranging discussion, featuring the latest Birchez community in Schoharie and what’s on the drawing board for proposed affordable senior housing in the Hudson Valley.
Plus, find out how to arrange your own tour of a Birchez community. Despite waiting lists, Steve Aaron encourage seniors to get their applications in to get the process started: “I can’t tell you the number of times we go down the list and #1 isn’t ready to move, #2 situation has changed, etc. Plus the income band of the apartment dictates who may qualify for a given opening. I’ve witnessed going down 20 names before we find someone ready to move.”
Steve also shares details on green building at Birchez: LEED Platinum at The Birchez at Chambers, early adapter of radiant heat for senior housing at The Birchez at Saugerties. The trio also reviews Birchez’ latest newsletter, with a nod to First Responders, and the profiles of The Birches at Saugerties resident Art Baum and the scholarship winner at Birchwood Village. To see the video of the radio show, go to http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/90605545 Click on 8.18.2016 show and once past the opening commercial, advance to 25:00 for the start of today’s KCR show. Runs til 1:21:00


Live, Laugh and Learn: Seniors go to College for a Day

Live, Laugh and Learn, put on by the Ulster County Office for the Aging, invites Seniors to a day in a college setting at the SUNY Ulster campus in Kingston NY. Twenty-eight workshops ranged from serious (legal issues, insurance and avoiding scams) to exercise (Silver Sneakers, Tai Chi, Swing Dance, Laugh Yoga and Zumba) to fun hobbies (crafts, gardening). Monkey Joe’s provided breakfast treats and MVM-Home supplied nutritious wraps for lunch. Birchez Associates represented with a booth staffed by Senior Advocate Alice Tipp, along with K.J. McIntyre and Megan Donahue of the Marketing team. 

Congratulations to our raffle winner at the Live, Laugh, and Learn senior day event . The winner is Betty Ferracane of Saugerties who won the nostalgic penny-candy jar from Kingston Candy Bar!


Resident Profile: Arthur Baum of The Birches at Saugerties

Don’t Fence Him In

Resident Arthur Baum is joined by his daughter Chris, far left, and granddaughters Veronica, Tiffany and Olivia.

Arthur Baum loves his independence at The Birches at Saugerties, although convenience and security are close seconds when he lists the reasons why he likes living here. Baum has lived on the campus for about seven years. Previously, he spent time living with his daughter and her family after moving out of his Samsonville home.

The former full-time pianist at the old Fallsview Resort Hotel in Ellenville, Baum’s fondest memories during his 32-year tenure were his interactions with guests. “I became friendly with many of the guests,” he recalled. “It was a pleasure to talk to them.”

“When I played one particular tune, my signature song, there would be dozens of people dancing on the floor. Even if they didn’t know the song, they knew the second line of the song and they’d always sing it:  ‘Don’t fence me in.’ It was spontaneous.” And at The Birches at Saugerties, Baum isn’t “fenced in.”

Baum, 78, still considers himself ‘in recovery mode’ from a stroke about five years ago. “So I like the idea that my unit is all on one floor; that’s very good,” he said. “When I go outside, I’m outside without taking any steps, which matters to me, because my independence is so important.”

“My daughter shops for me,” said Baum. “I don’t drive. An aide comes in three times a week and helps with cleaning and cooking. It’s so much easier when she’s here. On an average day, I’m at the computer or by the TV or reading.” During the winter months, Baum stays inside for the most part. But in the warmer weather, Baum said he’s happy to walk around outside. “I’d like to get out a little bit more,” he added, “but I do have some balance issues.”

Baum said he’s most happy when he has a chance to see his family. His daughter lives only five minutes away and his son is 40 minutes. “The greatest pleasures in my life are my granddaughters,” said Baum. “They’re beauties, all of them, and a pleasure to talk to. One’s 20, another is 23 and another is 26.”

But he’s also happy that he picked The Birches at Saugerties as his place of residence. Birchez Associates developed Saugerties, three other affordable senior housing communities in Ulster County, and the latest in Schoharie County to rival the quality of retirement communities built to rent at market rates.

“I’m very glad to be here,” added Baum. “I’d tell people that the place is convenient, the surroundings are pretty and nice. They are fair and good to everyone who lives here.”And I do hope to play the piano again, once my hand gets better.” Yes, “Play it again, Art!”


Keeping Affordable Housing Affordable

Senior affordable housing is a major benefit to retirees living on fixed incomes, but the public-private partnerships required to sustain such housing often bring about vigorous discussions over property taxes, specifically payments-in-lieu-of-taxes. In this Point of View, Steve Aaron sets out the steps that led to Birchez’ request to amend the original PILOT agreement.

The following article appears in the Saugerties Times, Oct. 16, 2012. (Reprinted with permission)

Point of View: Agreement will keep Birches at Saugerties rents down

By Steven L. Aaron

A lot has been said recently about The Birches at Saugerties’ amended payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement [PILOT]. The issue can be easily misunderstood. I’d like to walk you through it to put the matter in perspective. First, The Birches at Saugerties exists to meet the affordable-housing needs of an important segment of our local residents — seniors on fixed incomes.

Ask anyone who lives in this or any other Birchez community and you’ll immediately sense the pride and security they feel in having award-winning housing that’s clean, safe and affordable in their home community.

Second, it’s vital to these residents and to the entire town of Saugerties that we keep the rents affordable. (more…)