Unlike last year, we seem to be enjoying a real summer. I hope you are reading this while engaging in some of your favourite summer activities whether at the cottage or beach, gardening, golfing or outdoor get-togethers with friends and family members.
I want to take this opportunity to say how much I appreciate working with the dedicated group of volunteers that make up your MURA Council and committees. Many hours are expended ensuring MURA members are well informed and Council members act as advocates working on your behalf when needed.
Those who are stepping down from Council include Gail Britton, Diane Coventry and Peter Sutherland. Gail led the committee that organizes the AGM and Christmas events for the last three years. Diane chaired the Constitution and By-Laws committee as well as serving as an hourly staff liaison. Peter Sutherland chaired the Pensions and Benefits Committee. Your contributions to MURA have been much appreciated and we thank you. A note of appreciation also to Deb Weisensee who fulfilled the Auditor duties this year.
Many Council members are continuing, of course, and we welcome our new members Cliff Andrews, Mahendra Joshi and Kathy Overholt. You will find the full slate of the newly elected 2018-2019 MURA Council here and new member bios here.
The Annual CURAC conference (the national body of College and University retiree associations) was held at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I attended as MURA’s delegate this year. It was an excellent opportunity to interact with members from other Retiree Associations to compare opportunities and challenges as well as hear from a number of speakers on topics both timely and informative. You can read a summary of the CURAC conference below.
Enjoy the rest of the summer, and consider sharing some of your stories and activities with us in our next MURAnews.
Heather Grigg, MURA President
Mail: Gilmour Hall B108, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8
Phone: (905) 525-9140, extension 23171 (voicemail is checked once a week)
At the June 6 MURA Annual General Meeting our speaker was Jennifer Heisz (Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and an Associate Director of McMaster’s Physical Activity Centre of Excellence — PACE). Her talk was titled “Physically Fit, Mentally Flexible: The Benefits of Exercise for Brain Health.” She presented a clear and engaging discussion of a topic of great interest to MURA members — the potential for physical activity to attenuate the cognitive decline that often accompanies aging. Jen described the results of an ambitious study of generally inactive seniors who volunteered to participate in research at the PACE facility. They engaged in various exercise programs over a 12-week period, and their performance on a commonly used test of cognitive functioning was evaluated. Those who engaged in a regimen of high intensity interval training (several minutes of vigorous exercise alternating with several minutes of rest) displayed a significant improvement in test performance. Jen elaborated on the neurological bases for exercise-induced cognitive enhancement in older adults, and concluded with hints for incorporating physical activity in our daily routines.
Following Dr. Heisz’s presentation, MURA President Heather Grigg called the business meeting to order, during which vacancies on the 2018/19 Executive and Council were filled.
President - Heather Grigg
Vice-President - Helen Barton
Past President - Les King
Treasurer - Beth Csordas
Secretary - Nora Gaskin
Serving until 2019 Brian Beckberger
As Marianne Van der Wel was unable to travel to Halifax to receive the CURAC/ARUCC Tribute Award, Heather Grigg presented it to her at the AGM. The award recognizes an exceptional contribution and/or achievement by a university or college retiree at the local member association level. Marianne was honoured for her enthusiasm, dedication and long service to the retirees of McMaster University, and for her participation in CURAC. For more information, see the Spring issue of MURANews.
Congratulations to Jackie Tucker and Helen Otrosina, who won the door prizes. Thank you, Gail, for lending us your wonderful organizational skills.
Retiree Benefits Reminder
The benefit year-end is June 30th. Be sure all benefit claims dated from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 are submitted to Sun Life no later than September 30, 2018. Late claim submissions will not be reimbursed.
Review all responses you receive from Sun Life and follow up with them at 1-800-361-6212 if there is any question regarding accuracy (e.g. denial of a claim due to excess of maximum limit).
If you still have questions regarding your benefits after contacting Sun Life, please contact the HR Service Centre at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247.
Many honest people are becoming targets of fraud because they have answered or politely returned a telephone call from an unknown number. The variety and number of fraudster calls has increased dramatically these past few years. There is a lot of information about scams on the Internet. Here are a few red flags you should bear in mind:
You do not recognize the telephone number, or the name of the caller is not shown on your caller ID. If a caller knows you, they can leave a message or call back. There is no need for you to pick up that handset.
The caller hangs up almost as soon as you answer. This might be a fishing expedition for active telephone numbers, which can then be sold by the caller to scammers. Do not indicate in any way that the caller has reached an actual person. Just hang up immediately.
The caller gives a seemingly convincing reason to ask you for your banking or credit card details. If that reason were legitimate, the caller would be supplying you with the information and asking you to verify that the data are accurate.
The caller threatens actions that are not consistent with normal business practices, such as arrest, bank account freezes, credit suspension and the like. Reputable businesses, including government agencies such as the Canada Revenue Agency, do not use telephone calls as a final resort to settle disputes.
The caller claims to be a friend or relative who needs money to get out of a troublesome emergency situation, and needs those funds sent through an entity such as Western Union or even paid for with iTunes gift cards. The well known “Grandma scheme” comes to mind. Legitimate businesses do not handle transactions this way.
If in doubt about the legitimacy or veracity of an unsolicited caller’s intent, tell the caller that you will investigate the problem, but do not call any number the caller advises you to contact. Instead, call the business or agency supposedly associated with the problem, using a phone number from a trustworthy source, and report the unsolicited call.
When you receive what seem to be scam calls, it can be helpful to report the calls so that authorities can warn other people and alert the media to reduce the chances of the scam spreading. Reports can be made by phone to 1-888-495-8501, or online at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
The MURA academic award endowment fund, supported by retirees and friends of MURA, provides an annual scholarship to a full-time student and a prize to a part-time student in the Department of Health, Aging and Society. Our goal for the last three years has been to raise an additional $15,000 in order to bring the fund to $85,000. With $85,000 the scholarship will be increased from $2000 to $2500 and the prize from $550 to $750.
Kathryn Overholt (no photo available) I spent 34 years in the School of Graduate Studies in various administrative positions. Since retiring in 2003, I have been involved in several organizations as a volunteer.
My hobbies include reading, knitting (and some crocheting) and yoga.
I served on MURA Council as a Councillor for six years and then stayed on Council for 4½ more years, serving as Chair of the newsletter committee and then as Secretary before leaving the organization for family reasons.
Cliff Andrews My working life at McMaster commenced in 1978 and ran until 2001. Originally my works title was electronics person, with the Operations and Maintenance Department. At this time a vast array of tasks beset myself, including audio systems, televisions, instrumentation of the heating-cooling systems, and alarm annunciating for fire and security, etc., plus many other now prehistoric devices around the University.
My working life began in 1955 as a radio and electrical apprentice. Television was just becoming the thing at that time. Following this I moved to one of the first semi conductor plants, which as I look back almost 65 years, one can only look in awe at the development. Transistors were all hand-made at that time.
On immigrating to Canada in 1963, I spent time working in television service. Now colour had arrived and industrial communications and electronics; thence to McMaster at which I saw and took part in many changes. At this time I took an interest in the company pension plan to which I belong.
Soon after my retirement in 2001, I was approached to act as the information liaison to MURA for the Hourly Pension Plan. At that time I agreed to do so for a couple of years and have so far not managed to hand this task on. So here I am, long in the tooth as the MURA hourly representative for the next three years, and knowing that the rest of the representatives are a great bunch to work with.
Mahendra Joshi arrived at McMaster in 1969 as an undergraduate student and graduated with a B.Sc. in Chemistry in 1973. He joined the Department of Medicine as a Research Technician in 1974. He moved to the Department of Neurosciences as a Research Assistant and then in 1986 to Health Physics as a Radiation Surveyor where he worked for 31 years and made a significant contribution to improve the Radiation safety culture at McMaster. During this time, he worked with thousands of students and researchers to ensure safe and compliant use of nuclear substances and facilities in the pursuit of the University’s research, education and operational priorities. He made many strong connections in the university community. Mahendra actively participated in University activities. He was on the Board of Directors of McMaster Savings and Credit Union for 24 years. He played cricket and hosted a cricket show on Cable Television. He has been married to Jyoti for over 40 years. They have two sons, two daughters-in-law and one brand new grandson. Mahendra is actively involved in social activities in the community. He has been a long-time volunteer at the Hindu Samaj of Hamilton. He has been a regular blood donor with the Canadian Blood Services with over 90 donations. He retired in 2017 after working at McMaster for 43 years, and was nominated for the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2016. He joined MURA as a council member at the first available opportunity in 2018.
Nora Gaskin is a transplanted Montrealer who came to Ontario in 1987 from McGill University to get a graduate degree in library science at Western University, and has called Hamilton home on and off (mostly on) since 1988. Nora was a librarian at McMaster for 23 years, first in the cataloguing department in the basement of Thode Library, and later as a music, reference and instruction librarian at Mills Memorial Library. She very much enjoyed working with students, faculty and staff, helping to facilitate effective research, from one-on-one research consultations to in-class presentations to online tutorials, help pages and library catalogue design. While working she served on the executives of MUPLA and MUALA, and on the MUFA Negotiating Committee.
She currently sings in a small choir (see below), enjoys yoga, hiking, contra dancing and rollerblading, and is mother to rescue cat Allie. This is Nora’s second term on Council, where she serves as Secretary, Webmaster and as a member of the Communications Committee.
Join a Choir!
Nora Gaskin, retiree from Mills Memorial Library, sings soprano with Villanella, an a capella, SAB (soprano, alto and bass) choir. She is hoping fellow retirees might be interested in joining the choir. Villanella performs a wide variety of classical music with a preference for repertoire from the Renaissance. It practices and performs in Westdale, and is directed by Stéphane Potvin. Expenses are offset by members paying an annual fee.
Like to sing early music? Want to be part of a group of hard-working musicians who also enjoy good humour? Looking for a chance to improve your choral skills? Come audition for Villanella, currently seeking new members for all parts for the fall season.
Let Us Know If We Can Stop Mailing MURAnews to YOU
Please help MURA’s budget by opting out of the postal mailing of MURAnews. Email Helen Barton at email@example.com or call her at 905-518-5339.
You can print your own MURAnews from the PDF copy we send by email, just click the link in the email, or visit our web site and read online.
Biennial Statements for Retired and Former Members of McMaster University Pension Plans
In 2015, the Government of Ontario introduced legislation which requires that all retired and former members of Ontario registered pension plans be provided with biennial information statements. All former and retired members of the Salaried Original Plan, Salaried Plan 2000 and Hourly Pension Plan should have received their first statement from McMaster by the end of 2017. The statements issued in 2017 contained information pertaining to pension entitlements as at June 30, 2016. In accordance with the new legislative requirement, statements are now to be issued every two years. Human Resources will be issuing the next statements by the end of December 2018, which will reflect pension entitlements as at June 30, 2018.
If you did NOT receive a statement in 2017, or if you have questions about your statement, you are encouraged to contact the Human Resources Service Centre at 905-525-9140 ext. 22247.
Order of Canada Appointment
Jack Gauldie, professor emeritus of pathology and molecular medicine, has been appointed by the Governor General of Canada as new Member of the Order of Canada. One of our country’s highest civilian honours, Members of the Order of Canada are noted for their outstanding contributions at the local or regional level or in a special field of activity.
Jack, who is currently the vice-president, research for the St. Joseph’s Health System, was recognized for his groundbreaking discoveries as an immunologist specializing in gene therapy, aiding in the treatment of fatal diseases and contributing to the development of cancer vaccines.
The awards ceremony will be held at Rideau Hall in Ottawa later in the year.
Technology is an important and growing part of our lives; it is helping make day-to-day tasks easier and keeping us more connected than ever before. Some recent advances in technology include wireless sensor networks in smart homes that can monitor vital signs like breathing and heart rate; mobile apps that can gather information about physical activity done outside the home; video games that can involve social interaction with family members and friends; and ‘virtual environments’ where users can socialize through ‘representations’ of themselves (known as avatars). While it may still seem like something you’d only see in movies, socially assistive robots are now being designed to help older adults with many important tasks. They can also help with safety, giving caregivers greater peace of mind when it comes to a loved one living alone.
Technology and aging
Technology now impacts almost every aspect of life — including health and wellness. Embracing technology can be to our benefit, particularly when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.
Need help managing medications? Reminders delivered through text messages can help adults adhere to doctors’ orders when it comes to taking the correct drug doses at the right times. Read more:
The future is here. Socially assistive robots can help older adults perform their daily tasks, assist them in their care and keep them company. Older adults, however, have diverse views about the roles of socially assistive robots, their appearance and their ability to interact. Read more:
Making lifestyle changes for the good of our health is wise and can help us feel better, live longer and maintain mobility and independence as we age. When you’re ready to make some changes, there are many new technologies that can help!
Do you value credible health information? McMaster University has developed the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal to give you access to research-based information to help you age well and manage your health conditions. Visit their website for more evidence-based information to support healthy aging.
(College and University Retiree Associations of Canada)
by Heather Grigg
The conference was held on the campus of Dalhousie University and coincided with Dal’s 200th Anniversary. It was jointly sponsored by St. Mary’s University Retirees Association.
Senator Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard gave the opening address at the banquet regarding the ongoing African struggle for justice in Canada. The CURAC Awards were given out, including a CURAC Tribute award to our own Marianne Van der Wel (see above).
Twenty five associations were represented, with approximately 60 people attending the Conference. Attendees came from far and wide including: Atlantic provinces 22, including 16 from the host universities; Quebec 7, Ontario 22, Prairie provinces 5, British Columbia 3, and one from AROHE, CURAC’s American counterpart.
Two opening roundtable sessions were held on best practices in retiree associations and on what the associations want from CURAC. A subsequent session was held on oceans research and on improvements needed for housing for seniors.
A health session was devoted to three topics: dementia, frailty, and the movement to ‘de-prescribe’ medications, especially sleeping pills. A highlight was an insightful talk by a person living with dementia. A final session dealt with higher education for seniors, drawing on the experience of SCANS, the Seniors’ College Association of Nova Scotia. This included lively presentations on the lecture courses on spying and on modern geology, focusing on plate tectonics.
Planning has already begun for the 2019 CURAC Conference which will be held in Guelph – a great opportunity for Mac retirees to participate, as the conference will be held close to home. More details on the conference are available via the CURAC website.
MURA Christmas Lunch
Mark Wednesday, December 5, 2018, on your calendar for MURA’s annual Christmas Lunch. The lunch will be held in the CIBC Banquet Hall on the 3rd floor of the Student Centre on the McMaster campus.
Look for more details and a reservation form in the Fall issue of MURAnews.
McMaster Alumni and Friends Travel Program
We are heading to some amazing destinations in 2019, and we invite you to join us!
Explore the world with like-minded people on one of the many educational trips we offer through our reputable travel partners. From river cruising to railways, land tours to food and wine experiences, there is something for everyone. Connect with other alumni and travellers who share your sense of adventure, with all of the details taken care of!
There is a lot of world out there to see, are you coming?
To request a 2019 travel brochure, additional information, or to be added to the mailing list, contact Jessica Lounsbury at 905-525-9140 ext. 24882 or 1-888-217-6003, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parking Permit Expiry Renewal Reminder
Retiree parking permits are issued on a 12-month basis and must be renewed annually. Renew prior to your expiry date, online at McMaster Parking Services "Retiree Parking" web page, or in person at the Parking Office (E.T. Clarke or Campus Store). Your transponder number is on the back of your transponder (see picture).
Parking Services will send email reminders each month to those who have a permit expiring within the next 30 days. To receive an email reminder, ensure that Parking Services has your current email address on file.
If you have questions or have not made note of your expiry date, please contact McMaster Parking Services by email at email@example.com or at (905) 525-9140 ext. 24232.
Don’t want to volunteer alone? Sign up with a friend.
The Cancer Assistance Program is a community based, not-for-profit organization, led by a team of staff and volunteers, offering free services to ease the physical, emotional and economic impact of those in the greater region of Hamilton and surrounding communities affected by cancer. On an annual basis, CAP provides services for over 2000 clients, offering over 3000 rides and issuing over 5000 pieces of medical equipment – all free of charge. CAP receives no government funding and relies on the community for support. In addition, CAP’s volunteers serve in every area from planning to service delivery. Over 130 volunteers contribute their time and energy every year. Through the engagement of volunteers, CAP is able to keep costs low compared to organizations that rely primarily upon paid staff. Retirees are invaluable contributors to our volunteer base because of their emotional maturity, experience and, of course, daytime availability!
We are seeking to fill the following volunteer roles:
Driver *imminent need*: Drive individuals to and from cancer related medical appointments.
Client Services Assistant *imminent need:* Greet, engage and register clients for available services and issue requested equipment and personal care products.
Equipment Technician: Repair and/or sanitize home health equipment.
Board and Governance Committee Member: Provide governance and oversight of organizational activities as a board member. Offer subject-matter expertise as a board committee member.
Event Planning Committee Member: Offer assistance in the planning and facilitation of various fundraising events.
Event Assistant: Provide assistance during fundraising events in a variety of roles.
Administrative Assistant: Offer support for such things as data entry, inventory management, mail processing, etc.
Visiting Library Service — Hamilton Public Library (HPL) and Burlington Public Library (BPL)
Volunteer to deliver library materials to homebound neighbours. Both the Hamilton and Burlington Libraries need volunteers to deliver library materials to those unable to get to the library on their own due to health or mobility limitations.
Visiting service volunteers typically commit to 3-4 hours of service per month
HPL asks for a minimum one year commitment
BPL asks for a minimum commitment of 4 months
Once a month, you pick up library materials from your selected library branch, deliver to your customer(s), and return completed materials to a library branch, advising staff of changes and respecting confidentiality
Volunteers need to be physically able to lift and carry bags of library materials, be reliable and trustworthy, and have good interpersonal skills
A recent Police Vulnerable Sector Check (dated within the last 12 months) will be required after acceptance into the program. The cost of this check will be refunded to you.
For information, contact any BPL branch or the Central Branch (555 New Street, 905-639-3611). Pick up a volunteer application form at any branch, or download the form from the online web page https://www.bpl.on.ca/volunteer
Symbiosis Co-Housing Program for Seniors and McMaster University Graduate Students
After a successful pilot year evidenced by student-senior pairs’ testimonials and their decision to continue their co-housing arrangement beyond the pilot, we are pleased to announce that we are continuing our program in 2018-2019.
Symbiosis matches grad students (masters and PhD) looking for lower cost housing with older adults (age 55+) who can offer a clean, furnished bedroom in their home or apartment. Students agree to help the senior around the house with some basic tasks such as groceries, yard work, etc. This matching would be based on initial application, interviews, and then agreed upon contracts. The contract is for a pre-determined amount of time, with the option to extend if mutually desirable. We are now offering long-term (1 year) and short-term (3-4 months) stays, ideal to try the co-housing experience out and get your feet wet. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Symbiosis team or visit: https://gs.mcmaster.ca/graduate-student-life/spices/2018/symbiosis-students-and-seniors-co-housing-program
The Red Book of Hamilton, published by the non-profit organization Information Hamilton, is a directory of services for people who live, work, learn, and play in the greater City of Hamilton. The Red Book database lists over 4,000 programs and services including community services, consumer protection, disability services, employment, environment, faith groups, financial need, health, housing, immigration, landlord tenant issues, legal, recreation, senior services and more.
For those of you who like to knit (or crochet) items of use to people with medical issues, Knitted Knockers may be something you would like to check out.
Knitted Knockers are soft, comfortable, knitted breast prostheses which can be used by those who have lost a breast(s) to cancer. These knockers were created as a substitute for ones made of silicone. The knitted prostheses can be worn almost immediately after surgery and will fit in any bra.
There are many web sites devoted to these knitted treasures. One of the best is http://knittedknockerscanada.com. The purpose of the Knitted Knockers of Canada web site is to help connect volunteer knitters with breast cancer survivors to offer free Knitted Knockers. The site includes patterns and videos, drop off sites, yarn choices (VERY important for comfort), and how to find the best yarns in Canada.
Here is a fairly simple pattern that includes information for a variety of sizes.
Please note that it’s very important to make knockers from suitable soft, washable and breathable yarns. A full list of approved yarns is available on the Knitted Knockers of Canada web site. Two of the approved yarns most commonly available in Canada are Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima and Patons Grace.
This pattern is for Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima Fine, sport weight cotton (Ultra Pima, DK)
invites McMaster retirees, partners and friends to join them for their December pre-Christmas event, Abbamania & Guests. Reserve seating using the form below, and then arrive in good time to choose your seats at the tables reserved for RAMC.
Carmen’s Banquet Centre, 1520 Stone Church Rd E., Hamilton
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
11:30 am - 4:00 pm ■ Cost: $52.00 Person
“Upon the release of Mama Mia 2, AbbaMania returns to once again have you singing and dancing to all your favourite Abba songs. Special guest tributes to Cher and Neil Diamond complete the show.”
Contact: Donna Dunlop, 123 San Francisco Ave., Hamilton ON. L9C 5T8
Phone: 905 388-2394 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Retirees Association of Mohawk College 2018 Christmas Luncheon Event
Carmen’s Dinner Theatre: Abbamania & More
Wednesday, December 12, 2018; 11:30 am – 4:00 pm
Please reserve: _____ seats @ $52.00 each for members, partners & friends TOTAL: $_________
Please make cheques payable to: Retirees Association of Mohawk College dated no later than October 1, 2018. Note: Cheques will be deposited on October 1, 2018, thus there will be no refund after that date; however, substitution after that date can be arranged by the subscriber.
Mail to: Donna Dunlop, 123 San Francisco Ave., Hamilton ON., L9C 5T8
MURAnews is produced by MURA members Helen Barton (News Editor for this issue), Phyllis DeRosa-Koetting (Production Editor), Marju Drynan, Bruce Frank, John Horsman, Mary Johnston, Kathy Overholt, Anne Plessl, Carolyn Rosenthal and Marianne Van der Wel. We welcome submissions from MURA members.
If you do not have access to a computer and would like a copy of any of the items for which we have provided computer links, please leave a message on the MURA phone (905-525-9140, extension 23171) and we will print a copy and mail it to you.