Senior events

Thomas Junior High reunion set for October 2021

An all-class reunion for the former George C. Thomas Junior High School will take place on Oct. 2, 2021, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Galdo’s, 20th Street and Moyamensing Avenue.

Thomas opened in 1920 at 9th and Johnston streets. It became Mastery Charter School in 2009.

Tickets for the reunion cost $75. Checks or money orders can be made payable to Karen Kelly-Mandl and sent to P.O. Box 87, Hainesport, NJ 08036. 

For more information, email Karen Kelly-Mandl at kmkthomas@outlook.com or visit facebook.com/events/753740381820658/?active_tab=about.

Phila. High Class of ‘68 meeting Oct. 2021

Members of the South Philadelphia High School Class of 1968 will meet on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Waterfall Room, 2015 S. Water St.

Tickets cost $55 and include an open bar and buffet luncheon.

The luncheon is open to all classes of South Philadelphia High.

Checks can be made payable to SPHS Class of 1968 and mailed to Maria Leati, 26 Old Republic Lane, Marlton, NJ 08053.

For tickets and information, contact Stephen Michielli at 267-252-2740 or sdmichielli@yahoo.com. ••

Dept. of Aging releases study on financial exploitation of older residents 

The state Department of Aging recently released its study on the impact of financial exploitation of older adults.

The findings of the study reinforce the urgent need for the General Assembly to update the Older Adults Protective Services Act to strengthen protections against financial exploitation of older adults. The study included an independent audit of 446 case files from 10 Area Agencies on Aging covering 14 counties containing the largest number of substantiated financial exploitation cases during the fiscal year 2017-18.

The audit examined the types of financial exploitation that occurred, the combined amount lost and the financial impact of these losses on the victims, the economy and the state. The study also reviewed financial exploitation studies conducted by three other states as well as academic literature published on the topic.

“The results of this study are eye-opening and alarming. Financial exploitation is an underreported crime that not only harms its victims, but also has a corrosive effect on Pennsylvania’s fiscal health, as older adults whose income and assets have been drained by this crime are more likely to need financial assistance from publicly funded programs,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “Often, and heartbreakingly so, older adults are exploited by those they trust and depend upon most. Now that we have a clearer picture of this issue, the Department of Aging will call upon other state departments and stakeholders to collaborate on combating financial exploitation and work to proactively prevent older adults from becoming victims.”

The following are some of the highlights from the study:

  • The majority of the victims were female, lived in urban communities, non-Hispanic, widowed and lived alone. The average age was 79.
  • Many of the perpetrators were family members, most often an adult child or grandchild.
  • The average loss to each victim studied was almost $40,000, totaling close to $12.5 million. With 1,488 total financial exploitation cases substantiated statewide, older Pennsylvanians collectively suffered an estimated loss of $58 million during fiscal year 2017-18 to financial exploitation in reported cases alone.
  • Unauthorized bank withdrawals constituted the largest percentage of total loss, with more than $5 million, or 46 percent, in the sample cases lost to withdrawals via ATM, debit cards and checks. Scams constituted 28 percent of the total loss and included romantic and lottery-based scams.
  • Some 322 older adults in the study enrolled in Medicaid after their first reported incident of financial exploitation.

The study provides recommendations on how to prevent further financial exploitation in Pennsylvania. These include amending OAPSA to establish a defined process to report suspected exploitation for financial institutions; increasing prevention education; and forming a task force to explore barriers, identify potential solutions and develop a multidisciplinary approach to better coordinate and increase supports when the early detection of an older adult’s declining capacity is identified. 

“Amending OAPSA is critical for the department to further protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. We need to broaden who is considered a mandated reporter required to report suspected elder abuse and we need to provide appropriate training for these individuals on the signs of elder abuse. The legislation we support expands the list of facilities at which employees are required to report abuse to include care options that did not exist in 1987 when the law was first enacted – such as home health, hospice and assisted living,” said Torres. 

“Amending OAPSA will help us increase awareness of financial exploitation of older adults and promote collaboration with other state agencies, such as the Department of Banking and Securities and financial service providers, to improve reporting of the abuse and action that can be taken before an older adult is victimized.

“The bills that the Department of Aging helped shape will expire in December, so I urge the General Assembly to work together and pass a much-needed update to OAPSA.”

The department’s Protective Services Office investigates and supports older adults who become victims of abuse. Anyone suspecting elder abuse should call the statewide reporting hotline at 800-490-8505. The hotline operates 24/7.

KinConnector.org to support caregivers and the children they’re raising 

State Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller and Department of Aging Secretary Robert Torres launched kinconnector.org, a resource designed to help kinship care families connect to services and supports that can help children and their caregivers.

Grandparents raising grandchildren are among the most common type of kinship caregiver, but kinship care families can also include an aunt or uncle, adult sibling or a non-relative caregiver such as a close family friend raising a child when their parents cannot care for them. Kinship care arrangements help maintain family bonds and reduce trauma experienced when children cannot be cared for by their own parents.

“Kinship caregivers make a selfless choice to care for young loved ones so they receive care and support from a family member they know and trust. As children navigate their own emotions around their family situation, this connection and familiarity can be a grounding force necessary to help children process and heal,” said Miller. “While this can be an easy choice for kinship caregivers, navigating this new family situation can have its challenges for both the caregiver and children. KinConnector is here to be a resource and support to ease this process for the entire kinship family.”

KinConnector was established through Act 89 of 2018 and is part of a kinship navigator program for Pennsylvania. After a competitive procurement process, The Bair Foundation was selected to administer the kinship navigator program coordinator and will work with kinship care families around Pennsylvania to help them access resources and supports and connect with families in similar situations around the state.

Kinship caregivers can visit the KinConnector website to find resources in their communities, learn about trainings and services available for kinship families and find support groups and networks of other kinship care families and family care professionals.

“All across Pennsylvania, there are grandparents playing a vital, leading role in caring for their grandchildren,” said Torres. “These grandparents provide the love and stability that children need and deserve. The KinConnector website is one tool to help provide support to and make life a little easier for these special families.”

KinConnector also runs a helpline that can be reached by calling 866-KIN-2111 (866-546-2111). The KinConnector helpline is staffed by knowledgeable, compassionate social service professionals prepared to help kinship care families understand and access resources that may be able to help them.

The helpline is available from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. The KinConnector helpline can support callers needing assistance in English and Spanish. 

Visit kinconnector.org for more information.

PennDOT resumes issuance of REAL ID

The state Department of Transportation announced that it has resumed issuing REAL IDs at reopened Driver License Centers offering driver licenses services throughout the state.

PennDOT paused REAL ID issuance throughout the state in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the federal Department of Homeland Security postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID from Oct. 1, 2020 to Oct. 1, 2021. 

REAL ID is optional in Pennsylvania. There is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID; PennDOT continues to offer standard-issue driver’s licenses and photo IDs.

REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes. A federally acceptable form of identification (whether it’s a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a valid U.S. passport/passport card, a military ID, etc.) must now be used on and after Oct. 1, 2021 as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building that requires a federally acceptable form of identification ID for access.

Customers can obtain a REAL ID by presenting documents for verification and processing at any driver license center. Federal regulations require that to be issued a REAL ID-compliant product, PennDOT must verify the below documents:

  • Proof of identity: Examples include original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics with a raised seal/embossed or valid, unexpired U.S. passport
  • Proof of Social Security number: Social Security card, in current legal name
  • Two proofs of current, physical PA address: Examples include a current, unexpired PA driver’s license or identification card, vehicle registration or a utility bill with the same name and address
  • Proof of all legal name changes (if current legal name is different than what is reflected on proof of identity document): Examples include a certified marriage certificate(s) issued by the County Court for each marriage, court order(s) approving a change in legal name or amended birth certificate issued by the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics; if current name is the same as what is reflected on proof of identity document (usually birth certificate or passport), a customer does not need to show proof of legal name changes

Customers have three options for obtaining a REAL ID product:

  • Customers may order their REAL ID online if they have been pre-verified, and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 15 business days
  • They can visit any PennDOT Driver’s License Center that is open for driver license services, have their documents verified and imaged, and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 15 business days
  • They can visit one of 12 REAL ID Centers and receive their REAL ID product over the counter at the time of service

Visit dmv.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx for a full list of opened driver license centers and their services. 

When customers get their first REAL ID product, they will pay a one-time fee of $30, plus a renewal fee (current renewal fee is $30.50 for a four-year non-commercial driver’s license and $31.50 for a photo ID). The expiration date of their initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on their existing non-REAL ID project, plus an additional four years, unless the customer is over 65 and has a two-year license.

This expiration date structure means that the customer won’t “lose” time that they’ve already paid for. After the initial REAL ID product expires, the customer will pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.

Residents invited to participate in new Safety Citizens program

The state Department of Transportation invites Pennsylvanians to participate in its new Safety Citizens program, which encourages community members to answer traffic safety questions in original and creative ways.

Bi-monthly traffic safety topics will be introduced, posing a question for the public to answer. Participants can answer by submitting a short video, a poem or an original piece of artwork.

Selected submissions will be displayed on PennDOT’s statewide social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

According to PennDOT, being a Safety Citizen is being a leader by “inspiring your family, friends and community to practice safe behaviors on the road. Whether traveling by vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle or on foot, everyone has the opportunity to be safer on the road.”

Individuals, classes, families, clubs or other groups are encouraged to consider this new safety initiative as a program challenge.

The program is now open, kicking off with “Teen Driver Safety” as the first topic. Participants are asked to submit a response to the question, “What do you think every teen driver should know before getting behind the wheel?”

Submissions are due by Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Upcoming topics include impaired driving, highway safety laws and distracted driving.

Additional information on the program, including the details and guidelines for participation, can be found online at PennDOT.gov/SafetyCitizens, or questions can be emailed to SafetyCitizen@pa.gov. Interested participants are encouraged to check the website frequently for updates about future topics.

PennDOT accepting applications for Multimodal Transportation Fund

The state Department of Transportation announced that applications will be accepted to fund new transportation improvement projects under the Multimodal Transportation Fund through Nov. 6

“The Multimodal Transportation Fund enhances connectivity in our state and allows local projects to benefit all regions,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “Projects are selected based on safety benefits, regional economic conditions, technical and financial feasibility, job creation, energy efficiency and operational sustainability.”

Eligible applicants include municipalities, council of governments, business/nonprofit organizations, economic development organizations, public transportation agencies, public airports, airport authorities and ports and rail entities.

Projects that will be considered should coordinate local land use with transportation assets to enhance existing communities; improve streetscape, lighting, sidewalk facilities and pedestrian safety; improve connectivity or utilization of existing transportation assets; or advance transit-oriented-development. 

In FY 2020-21, 27 projects were awarded more than $30 million in MTF funding through 23 counties, including construction of trail and road access to the new 10-acre Bridesburg Riverfront Park; the installation of of 4,100 feet of curb and 2,100 feet of sidewalks/related streetscape work in the northeast region of state; and converting two traditional intersections into modern roundabouts to reduce congestion, improve air quality and enhance pedestrian mobility in the southeast. 

PennDOT expects to announce grant recipients next year, and funding will become available in July 2021.

Act 89 of 2013 established a dedicated Multimodal Transportation Fund that stabilizes funding for ports and rail freight, increases aviation investments, establishes dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and allows targeted funding for priority investments in any mode.

Visit penndot.gov/ProjectAndPrograms/MultimodalProgram/Pages/default.aspx for more information.