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


Germanfest! Birchez supports Shriners International

Summer has given us the opportunity to celebrate with our Residents at a variety of barbecues and festivals. The most recent: yesterday’s 18th Annual Germanfest, held by the Ulster County Shrine Club at the Town of Ulster Park (Robert E. Post Park). We are pleased to be able to support Shriners International through the Ulster County club. Birchez Associates treated Residents to the event which featured continuous serving of German bratwurst, hot dogs and burgers PLUS a main meal of Roast Pork and all the trimmings.Steve Aaron, Founder & Managing Member of Birchez had the opportunity to visit with Residents. Some of our Ulster neighbors were in appropriate dress (lederhosen & Tracten hat in the photo), but the river breeze made the warm day delightful. Lots of great music from the Jay Unger that had the crowd up and dancing. Our residents won several door prizes and the 50/50! Thanks to Kevin Costello and James Maloney for inviting us!


State Senator Amedore visits with Residents

A Chicken BBQ at a Hudson Riverfront Park? Count us in! Residents of Chambers Court and The Birches at Chambers were treated by Birchez Associates and its Founder and Managing Member Steve Aaron to a seriously impressive spread. As the event was held by the Town of Ulster Republican Party, it was also an opportunity to visit with some of our elected officials and to get to know some of the candidates. State Senator George Amedore was on hand to greet constituents, in this case, Steve Aaron. Sharing headlines with politics was the food! Each serving contained half a large chicken, and many took home containers of left overs. Thanks to Cynthia Wadnola for her culinary supervision (shown with fellow board member of the Town of Ulster Library – and Chambers Court Resident – Mary Nielsen). Vice Chairman of the Ulster Legislature James Maloney showed his ability to multitask, here serving the buffet along with Town of Ulster Board Member John Morrow. Former Town of Ulster Supervisor and Chambers Court Resident Andy Labarge is about to enjoy his plate of chicken and corn on the cob. And we couldn’t get one table of Residents to look up from their plates long enough to pose for a picture!




Chambers Elementary Students Serenade Neighboring Seniors

By KYLE WIND, Freeman staff, December 20, 2011

TOWN OF ULSTER — The Chambers Elementary School chorus on Monday spread some holiday cheer to its little corner of the world when students caroled and performed songs from their latest concert for residents of The Birches at Chambers and the Chambers Court senior communities.

Traditional holiday hymns 51 fourth- and fifth-grade students performed for their neighbors at the apartment complex, which is a short walk from the school, included “Joy to the World,” “The First Noel,” “Silent Night,” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

“It was wonderful,” said 80-year-old Fran Gillis, one of the 25 residents who watched the performance. “It means very much to me, and the kids are really great.” (To see the accompanying video, click here.

Chorus Director Mona Stovall said the carolling is part of a longstanding Chambers tradition she started in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Students have caroled in different places around town over the years ranging from the Golden Hill Health Care Center to Barnes & Noble.

Fifth-grader Kiera Gallo, who was excited for the chance to perform her solo in “The Holly and the Ivy,” described the visit as “a chance to spread cheer through The Birches and Chambers Court.”

“The children get great joy out of it, and so do I,” said Stovall, who said she began the tradition because she believes in community service.

Stovall said the experience often exposes students to elderly people with disabilities, and some of her former students went on to become special education teachers, perhaps being put on that path as the result of their early carolling rounds.


Holiday Party Has Seniors Rocking to the Beat

Holidays can be lonely for seniors living on their own. But at the Birchez Associates communities, you’ll find many ways to celebrate the holidays. In addition to cosponsoring the Kingston area senior New Year’s Eve party (to watch video, click here), Birchez owners Steve and Judy Aaron also hosted a holiday party for all their senior residents and staff.

At The Hillside Manor, a popular dining and events destination in Kingston, Birchez took over . A decorated Christmas tree welcomed guests in the foyer, with holiday decoration throughout. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres started the event in the front ballroom. Then festivities moved to the full back ballroom (complete with its own Christmas tree and Menorah) for dinner and dancing.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey pictured with Birches at Chambers Resident June Diamond (left) and Hostess Judy Aaron

Special guests included Congressman Maurice Hinchey who spun at least one senior on the dancefloor. County Treasurer Eliott Auerbach and his lovely wife Judy, County Clerk Nina Postupak, County Legislators Peter Loughran, Hector Rodriguez and Walter Frey, as well as Town of Esopus Council members Kyle Barnett, Gloria VanVliet and Donna McAuley also joined the party.

The band leader of “Outside the Box” thought he was doing the right thing when he mentioned a 92 year old resident was on the dance floor, only to have other dancers raise their hands to say “I’m in my nineties too!”  From the salad course through desert, the dance floor was in motion. Whether a classic melody or a cover of a contemporary song from Lady GaGa or Adele, guests were up and dancing. Chambers Court Resident and Centenarian Bill McDonough didn’t dance but had a front row table to watch others do so.

Host Steve Aaron (right) greets Centennarian Bill McDonough as Chambers Court Resident Dorothea Schwenk looks on.

Pointsetta centerpieces obtained through the local Boys & Girls Club were given to those residents who found a lucky penny underneath their place setting. In addition to peach melba for desert, plates of cookies from local Deising’s Bakery provided some extra energy for seniors to keep the dance floor full.

And for residents who no longer drive, A.N.N. Transportation provided a handicapped bus and van to get everyone to the event. After four hours of partying, there was even some grumbling when the announcement was made that the bus and van were ready for loading to take residents home. “Already?” some were heard to exclaim!

For additional pictures, see Holiday Party album on Facebook


Stylin’ Seniors

November 28, 2011 – As Baby Boomers take center stage, much is written on their spending patterns, use of technology, travel ideas, and more. But one of the most encouraging and inspiring takes comes from stylist Ari Seth Cohen in his blog Advanced Style, which proffers “Proof from the wise and silver haired set that personal style advances with age”. Ari’s subjects, male and female, are over 50 — and fabulous! He certainly demonstrates that age is no barrier to style.

To the right, meet Rose, age 100, as she poses for Ari’s blog.

Ari’s book, Advanced Style, is on pre-order with Amazon with an April 2012 publication date (that’s a shame because I would have loved to gift it this holiday season). As with his blog, the book promises insights from his subjects, an interview with a 91 year old subject, and delicious photos (many apparently candid, on-the-streets of New York photos).

Meanwhile, Ari’s blog also offers videos and enchanting tidbits on matching vintage items, and playing with different costumes and styles. Hats are plentiful and I predict an influx of designer canes!

I’ve seen many of our senior residents at the Birches communities, where the average age is in the 70s, styled and ready for their close up. Whether they are dressed for the fitness studio, the movie theater, or on their way out the door, many show great flair.

The old perception that the elderly dressed in dusters and wasted away their waning years in front of the TV just doesn’t play with today’s seniors. Fair warning, we’ll be featuring some of our own Stylin’ Seniors in future blogs.

Another of Ari’s elegant subjects is Ruth, shown to the left, who is also 100 years old.

-- K.J. McIntyre


On the Radio –

This Thursday, November 10, 2011, at 8:35am*, My Kingston Community Radio (, 920 am also known as WGHQ) once again shares the mike with K.J. McIntyre, Director of Marketing for Birchez Associates, for Senior Spotlight of the Month. This month’s spotlight is on Jewish Family Services of Ulster County and will feature Sharon Murray-Cohen, LMSW. Sharon, who is the JFS Executive Director, will speak about the services offered to seniors and their caregivers.

One often mistaken notion is that you have to be Jewish to utilize Jewish Family Services. Far from it; somewhere around one in ten clients of JFS is Jewish. JFS, in addition to programs provided by staff and licensed social workers, also has a volunteer program to assist seniors. Whether it’s just a call of reassurance, or accompanying a senior to the doctor’s office or shopping, these activities done by volunteers can make a huge difference in a senior’s quality of life. On Thursday during the live broadcast, you can call in to ask Sharon questions at 845-331-9255.

Jewish Family Services has new quarters at 280 Wall Street in Kingston above the Board of Elections. Their phone is (845) 338-2980, email and their website is

*If you miss the half-hour broadcast you can hear it online. Just go to, click on program archives, and fast forward about 2/3rds through the recording.


Alice Tipp Appreciation Day

August 22, 2011, Town of Ulster: It’s not easy surprising Alice Tipp, the Senior Advocate for Birchez Associates, but the Birchez staff and the residents of The Birches at Chambers and Chambers Court managed to do just that. Today it was Alice Tipp Appreciation Day!

Alice has served in her position for the last six years. And as Steve Aaron, Founder and Managing Director of Birchez Associates, often says, “Alice works five days a week and is the first one in every morning.”

Alice has plenty of experience showing up and being on time having served thirty years in the Ulster County Legislature before accepting her position as Senior Advocate. Alice’s experience is invaluable as she matches resources to the needs of the residents in the four Birchez communities she services.

Appreciation was apparent in the applause, warmth and laughter expressed in the room of fifty or so. Among the attendees were several surprise guests including her son Tippy (Walter Scott Tipp II), her daughter Cheryl and son-in-law James McTague.

The residents presented Alice with a candle and candle holder to express the sentiment: “You Light up Our Lives.”

Steve and Judy Aaron presented Alice with a pearl necklace, and the staff gave her a basket of goodies and flowers. Ice cream cakes and pound cake rounded out her luncheon. Alice even read the sentiments of the many cards aloud and admired the stealth with which her friends had operated to pull off her surprise party.

The crown from Senior Property Manager Judy Fitzpatrick was just the right touch for a lady who deserves to be queen every day.


Centenarian William McDonough Honored

Chambers Court resident William McDonough’s 100th birthday won’t be until November 23, 2011, but the celebration has already begun. Bill was honored at the Ulster County Centenarian luncheon organized by the Office for the Aging on Friday, May 6th, 2011, held at the Hillside Manor, sponsored in part by Birchez Associates.

County Executive Mike Hein presented Bill and 16 other centenarians with a proclamation; each birthday “boy or girl” also received certificates from State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill. The photo to the left shows Mike Hein handing Bill his own proclamation.

Ann Cardinale, head of Ulster County’s Office for the Aging, remarked on the growing number of centenarians country wide and that this year’s recognition represented the largest class ever. The oldest recognized this year is 106 years young.

Ms. Cardinale also presented some of the qualities that lead to such longevity including a positive attitude. This certainly characterizes Bill McDonough, a gentleman who continues to live on his own with the assistance of his loyal caretaker Dorothea Schwenk (also a Chambers Court resident and pictured with Bill in the photo to the left). Bill still votes in person; although he said maybe this year he’d consider an absentee ballot he’d prefer to go to the polls.

Birchez Associates salutes Bill and looks forward to celebrating with him throughout his 100th year. Chambers Court, the first of Birchez Associates affordable senior communities, opened in the town of Ulster in 2004/. As with all of the company’s communities, it is designed to help seniors live successful, independent lives of quality as they age in place. Adjacent to the company’s latest community, The Birches at Chambers, Chambers Court residents now enjoy all the amenities of the latest community, including a fitness studio with trainer who specializes in senior exercise, a media room — a small state of the art theater, library/game room, crafts room and more, all at no cost to the residents.


Scary Stories come to The Birches

Ulster, NY 10.29.10 –  Chambers School elementary students, all members of the Nature Club, accompanied by Club member Charlotte Adamis and parents walked over after school for a Halloween gathering at the  community room of The Birches at Chambers, the senior housing community that adjoins the school property. Greeting the students were residents of both The Birches at Chambers and Chambers Court, many of whom in costume, ready with treats for the students. The students showed off their costumes,chatted with residents and entertained with a scary reading of Scaredy Cat, Splat! by Rob Scotton.

The new book, a recent acquisition to the library, was read without prior rehearsal by two of the students to much laughter and applause. In the picture to the right, club mentor and school librarian Adamis speaks to some of the audience. Even the parents got into the spirit of the event sporting costumes — some scarier than the children’s! The event was one of several intergenerational activities with the neighboring school’s Nature Club.