U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson is introduced by Birchez Associate’s Steve Aaron at a press conference by Gibson introducing legislation that would re-authorize the Older American Act (OAA). Congressman Gibson says he chose the site because the Birchez Senior communities are a great example of how to care for our nation’s senior citizens by offering high quality, affordable housing that truly meets the needs of the areas senior population.
Posts Tagged ‘The Birches at Chambers’
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.
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.
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.
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
Recent projections on seniors living longer are certainly borne out at The Birches communities. Just last week members of the Residents Club for The Birches at Chambers and Chambers Court met to fete William McDonough on the occasion of his 100th birthday.
Bill was born November 23, 1911, and he considers himself “just an ordinary guy.” Bill didn’t know why people would make such a fuss. So he was surprised at the turnout that included residents, owners Steve and Judy Aaron, and staff of Birchez Associates and Rondout Properties. Or that we would want to interview him.
Earlier this year, Bill was honored as a centenarian by the Ulster County Office for the Aging. On the left, pictured before the luncheon began at the Hillside Manor, is Bill with his loyal helper Dorothea Schwenk, a resident of Chambers Court since 2004.
Since the County’s celebration, it’s been about six months of birthday acknowledgments. He brought one to the party this week, a birthday card from the President and First Lady (click on the photo so you can read it!). This was in addition to the number of declarations and proclamations from many local politicians and dignitaries including State Senator John Bonacic, Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, and Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.
Bill lived in the area for 25 years before moving to Chambers Court early in 2008. He values living in a safe senior community. Bill says he’s found a really nice place and values the new friends he’s made.
Bill served as a conductor for the New York Central Railroad for many years. His “route” was Grand Central to Buffalo on the 20th Century Limited. At the time it was the fastest train out there. Today Bill wonders why people want to go much faster. “When I think of some of these tiny cars speeding down the highway at 70 miles per hour, I don’t think it’s safe. Why is everyone in such a hurry?”
Bill is, at the moment, the only centenarian living at one of the Birches Communities but there are a number of residents close behind. Currently there are 43 residents aged 85 and over, with 14 of those 90 or over. In the picture to the right taken at the Residents’ celebration, Bill is pictured with Tess Glassman, a Birches at Chambers resident who turned 90 on November 20th. Between them is Steve Aaron, founder and managing member of Birchez Associates which developed and manages four senior communities in Ulster County.
Steve Aaron spoke about aging in place in independent living communities. “Bill’s a great example of why I believe so in the aging-in-place concept. It’s a better quality of life and much more economical for society than nursing homes or alternate level of care facilities.” Most units at The Birches Communities are handicapped ready if not fully ADA handicapped accessible. Home care and personal care aides from a number of local agencies can help provide assistance with daily living tasks which allows many seniors to spend their time “at home.”
Steve went on to say, “Annecdotally, we’re hearing that our residents, when they do have to be hospitalized or spend time in a rehab setting, are coming home sooner because the apartments’ features encourage that. They don’t have to wait for a ramp to be built or a bedroom created on the first floor or even the necessity to move from their home.”
– K.J. McIntyre, Director of Marketing, Birchez Associates
Town of Ulster, August 22, 2011 Wendy K. Rudder, LCSW and Care Consultant for the Alzheimer’s Association presented the basics of the disease to some fifty senior residents of The Birches at Chambers and Chambers Court who gathered today in the Community Room at The Birches at Chambers. This is the latest affordable senior community developed and managed by Birchez Associates. Ms. Rudder had been invited to speak through the efforts of Senior Advocate for Birches Associates, Alice Tipp.
Alzheimer’s Disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that affects memory, behavior, personality and muscle control. And the numbers are startling: While Alzheimer’s generally affects people 65 or older, a quarter of a million under 65 have the disease. Over the age of 65, one out of eight people has the disease. The likelihood of developing the disease doubles every five years after age 65 so that 49% of those 85 and over have Alzheimer’s — nearly one in two people.
Already more than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s and yet the Baby Boomers are just crossing the age 65 threshold. It is estimated that without a cure, Alzheimer’s will move up from the #7 cause of death among adults to number one by the middle of this century.
Ms. Rudder shared the 10 Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease with her audience, careful to explain that just forgetting where you put the keys last night or temporarily forgetting someone’s name or a movie title you saw two weeks ago are probably more senior moments than symptoms of the disease. www.alz.org gives some good examples of the difference between senior moments and symptoms under “Know the Ten Signs”. The 10 Symptoms are:
- Memory loss that affects everyday living
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place (even familiar places)
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities (initiative)
- Changes in mood or behavior.
Wendy suggested that the above symptoms may merit a visit to a neurologist. And she stressed that one or two of the symptoms by themselves may not mean an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Sometimes the combination of medications, or the body’s inability to absorb B12 is enough to mimic these symptoms.
The Alzheimer’s Association can help in many ways including education, referrals and caregiver groups. Their helpline and website is www.alz.org. The Hudson Valley/Rockland/Westchester, NY Chapter is housed in Poughkeepsie. If you are calling from Ulster County, use 845-340-8474. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s raises funds for global research and to provide support services locally. In this area the Walks to End Alzheimer’s will be Saturday, October 15th in Poughkeepsie and Saturday, October 22nd in Stone Ridge. To sign up, www.alz.org/hudsonvalley or call 1.800.272.3900.
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.
Business Journal week of August 8, 2011
by Theresa Keegan
Baby boomers are continuing to do what they’ve been doing for the past six decades – defining the country’s demographics. Only now instead of toy purchases, clothing trends or musical tastes, collectively, they’re “trending” the housing market. Today, one of the few bright spots in the real restate industry are communities focused on senior or retirement living and those communities are often built with great attention being paid to green design.
“There’s a general awareness and also an environmental enterprise about senior housing,” said Joseph Malcarne, a Dutchess County contractor who specializes in energy-efficiency construction. He recently was involved in the construction of Birchez at Chambers Senior Community and utilized numerous improvements to make the project not just energy efficient but also healthier for the residents.
“You have people with various different health issues in the building,” he said. With a site plan that accommodates people in multiple stages of aging, the Birchez is designed as an age-in-place facility. But Malcarne discovered that while such a plan is popular and sought after, it also poses some challenges such as you don’t want the air from one unit circulating to another.”It came as kind of an ‘aha moment’ after reviewing the design,” he said. “Anything that’s airborne could be moved throughout the building.”
The LEED-certified expert devised an energy recovery ventilator system for each unit that recovers humidity and air temperature and individually exchanges it with fresh outside air every few hours. The result is a system that eliminates any chances of air-borne germs being spread to other units. And senior sensitivity to temperature was another main concern.
Although the main floor uses radiant heat and cooling, the individual senior units each has its own thermostat in a ductless format. “The heat core and energy core has the air go through a fine tube that they pass through,” he said. “But there’s a lot of surface area so the temperature remains constant. The energy-efficiency steps have resulted in Birchez earning a platinum LEED ranking. The solar thermal and photovoltaic panels came from local sources, so there wasn’t even a large carbon imprint from shipping the energy efficient products.
There are 66 units in the newest Birchez development, which is located in the Town of Ulster. It is served with public transportation options and on-site there is a fully equipped fitness studio, movie theater, crafts room, library game room, computer lab with internet access, as well as a Community Room for senior meetings and activities (that comes with a complete kitchen). The grounds have wheel chair and walker access from one end to the other, including patios and a gazebo.
But the project’s overall appeal is not just in energy efficiency. It also includes flexibility to meet residents’ needs. Every apartment is handicapped ready, and conversion to full ADA standards can be completed in less than a day. Nine units are already fully handicapped accessible. The result is that seniors can return to their home sooner after hospital stays or an illness because the building can accommodate their new needs, whether it be ramps for a walker or handicapped bathroom facilities. Many residents also have home health aides who assist them in living independently. The need for senior housing in the region is great, according to a report by Family of Woodstock.
“The demographics of our community is changing. Ulster County’s aging population is increasing and will become a larger percentage of the population. While the county’s population is projected to only increase 6 percent from 2000 to 2035, the number of seniors over 60, 65 and 85 years old will increase 72 percent, 79 percent, and over 100 percent, respectively it is reasonable to question who will take care of seniors in their home if the outward migration of young people continues. Further, in planning needed services, it is important to note that nearly 50 percent of seniors over the age of 75 have a disability.”
KINGSTON — As Ulster County’s population ages and energy resources grow scarcer and more expensive, there will be a need for more affordable housing, especially for those on a fixed income and the working public.
The Birches at Chambers in the town of Ulster is a 62-unit senior affordable housing complex and is the first multi-unit facility in the Hudson Valley to be given a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) award for its green building technology.
Willie Janeway, regional director for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said that as housing remains in demand for baby boomers and the workforce, The Birches at Chambers fits the bill.
“The state is encouraging and doing all it can to support housing such as the housing we are celebrating today that is affordable for seniors and is also built ‘green,’” he said.
Steve Aaron, founder and managing partner of Birchez Associates, which operated The Birches at Chambers, thanked U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, and Ulster County Executive Michael Hein for helping to create a climate that’s conducive to going green on a mass scale.
Hein, in turn, praised Aaron’s efforts to combine pressing needs to build more affordable housing that have minimal impact on the environment.
“It’s an enormous undertaking that you’re meeting the highest standards of building (technology),” Hein said.
Kingston, NY. MyKCR hosts Fred Wadnola (Chairman of the Ulster County Legislature) and Fred Teetsel (Former Alderman, City of Kingston) welcomed Steve Aaron, Founder & Managing Member of Birchez Associates LLC and K.J. McIntyre, Director of Marketing. Fred Wadnola, who was a guest at the presentation of the LEED Platinum award to The Birches at Chambers on Monday, opened the program with his comments on how impressed he was that this certification, the only multifamily in the Hudson Valley, had come to Ulster County.
Steve Aaron and K.J. McIntyre spelled out what it took to achieve LEED Platinum and how few affordable communities have received it. To hear the radio broadcast, click here and hit listen. The broadcast starts about 5 minutes in and lasts for a little more than 20 minutes and we suggest you turn up your sound especially in the beginning. MyKCR (Kingston Community Radio) broadcasts from 7am to 9am each weekday on WGHQ 920AM.
Discussion points included economics, health, affordability, population projections, and the local green connection. Others who spoke about the importance of green building, sustainability, and affordable living were Steven L. Aaron, founder and managing member of Birchez Associates LLC, Greg Watson, assistant commissioner for regional affairs for NYS Homes and Community Renewal, William C. Janeway Region III director, Department of Environmental Conservation, and Joseph Malcarne LEED AP and president of Malcarne Contracting.
Following the formal remarks outside The Birches at Chambers, the multi-apartment, affordable senior housing received its LEED Platinum certificate, the highest attainable green building label by the U.S. Green Building Council. Tours of the facilities, conducted by LEED knowledgeable guides, followed.
The Birches at Chambers is the only Hudson Valley multi-family to attain LEED Platinum certification. With 66 one- and two-bedroom apartments, it is the third largest low-rise multifamily affordable project in the US or Canada, and one of only two on the East Coast (the other being a 32-unit project). The building is also a NYSERDA Energy $mart Building. In addition, the cottages and caretaker’s unit that are part of this senior community achieved LEED Gold certification.
The Birches at Chambers is the fifth affordable community developed and managed by Birchez Associates LLC of Kingston. Completed in spring of 2010, the 66 apartments are for seniors age 62 and over, at up to 60 percent of area median income. The units are powered by solar thermal and photo voltaic (PV). All units are handicapped ready and many are handicapped accessible.
The Birches at the Chambers is one of five of Birchez developments. For more information about Birches at the Chambers or any other Birchez development visit Birchez.com