Three Chelsea Jewish Residences Awarded CMS Five-Star Rating

Three Chelsea Jewish Residences Awarded CMS Five-Star Rating

For the second consecutive year, three Chelsea Jewish Lifecare (CJL) skilled nursing facilities have received the prestigious Five-Star Quality Rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

This designation reflects the highest number of stars allotted to a skilled nursing facility. Currently, there are a select number of nursing homes that have been awarded this distinction.

“We are pleased that all our skilled nursing residences have once again been recognized as being among the top nursing homes not only in Massachusetts, but throughout the country,” states Chelsea Jewish Lifecare President Adam Berman. “Earning this Five-Star designation is a testament to our skilled and compassionate staff, our strong commitment to excellence and our dedication as an organization to provide the highest caliber of care possible.”

The CJL homes include the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home in Chelsea; the Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick Center for Living in Peabody; the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, which is the country’s first urban model Green House skilled nursing facility.

These residences offer both short-term rehabilitation services as well as long-term comprehensive care.

To receive a five-star rating, nursing homes are judged by three components. Health inspections are one means of evaluating a residence. The rating is based upon information from the last three years of onsite inspections, including both standard surveys and complaint surveys. Secondly, a rating is given based upon staffing, which details information about the number of hours of care provided on average to each resident each day by nursing staff and other healthcare providers. The final category involves quality measures, which includes data on how well nursing homes are caring for their residents’ physical and clinical needs.

Today the five-star rating system has become a critical tool for the public to measure the quality and performance of a skilled nursing facility. Nursing homes with five stars are considered well above average quality.

Adds CJL’s Berman, “In reality, we work very hard, day in and day out, to achieve and maintain these five-star ratings. We are so proud of our staff at each of the three residences.”

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Massachusetts Greenworks Is an Investment in Our Present — and Future

Massachusetts Greenworks Is an Investment in Our Present  — and Future

The announcement last week by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo that the state will be investing $1 billion over the next decade to help communities across Massachusetts adopt technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fortify infrastructure is welcome news to everyone who realizes that time is running out if we are to offset the inevitable effects of climate change that already are taking place all around us.

The proposal – known as GreenWorks – builds on a long-standing approach by the House under Speaker DeLeo’s leadership to provide the means for our cities and towns (especially along the coast) to build sustainable and resilient communities that hopefully will prepare us for the impending threats posed by rising sea levels and catastrophic weather events.

Environmental groups and clean-energy businesses across the state have praised the plan. The $1 billion investment envisioned by the GreenWorks proposal not only will provide cities and towns with the ability to cut greenhouse gases and lower their long-term energy and operating costs, but it also will adopt Massachusetts-made innovative technologies that will put people to work on clean-tech infrastructure projects.

These competitive grants, to be administered by the governor’s Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, will provide funding for a wide array of projects, including energy-efficient buildings, solar, microgrids, energy storage, electric vehicle charging stations, and resiliency infrastructure.

Inasmuch as the GreenWorks plan presents an opportunity to pursue innovative approaches to funding clean energy and climate-change resiliency projects, the economic and environmental benefits of GreenWorks grants will be felt immediately, while also expanding the state’s commitment to embracing cost-effective investments in leading-edge clean technologies.

In our view, the GreenWorks program represents a timely part of the overall solution that is essential if we are to address the imperatives we face from the looming catastrophe of climate change. We applaud Speaker DeLeo for taking the lead in advancing a plan that acknowledges this reality and the need to deal with it immediately.

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Rep. Ryan Pleased with Assignments

Rep. Ryan Pleased with  Assignments

State Rep. Dan Ryan said this week he is pleased in what is considered a step up in becoming the vice chair of the Post Audit Oversight Committee – a powerful committee that runs investigations of government operations and actually has subpoena powers.

“I want to thank Speaker DeLeo for this appointment, and my House colleagues for voting to affirm his trust in me,” said Ryan. “I look forward to working with Chairman Linsky and other committee members in continuing to bring solid, cost-effective government programs to the electorate.”

Ryan said Post-Audit Oversight certainly isn’t a household name for most people in the Town, but said it has a unique mission and is a sought-after committee on Beacon Hill.
“The Post-Audit Oversight Committee is a select House committee that has a unique mission,” he said. “Members of the committee are tasked with ensuring that State agencies are abiding by legislative intent and the program initiatives put forth, by the legislature, through the budget process. When necessary, the committee will work with administrative agencies to propose corrective actions to best serve citizens of the Commonwealth.”

One of the most visible investigations conducted by the Committee came several years ago in the previous administration when the Department of Children and Families (DCF) came under fire for its handling and management of numerous cases involving children.

Ryan has also been assigned as a member of the Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery Committee, and as a member of the Transportation Committee.

•Just across the North Washington Street Bridge, State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz came away with one of the biggest scores for the Boston delegation in getting assigned as chair of the powerful Ways & Means Committee.

Rep. Ryan said that having such an important chair nearby will be very good for Charlestown as well as the North End. That will particularly be apparent with projects like the North Washington Street Bridge, which affects the North End as much as Charlestown.

Michlewitz told the Patriot-Bridge that he is humbled by the appointment, and that while he has to build consensus across the state, he will keep his district and Boston in the forefront.

“I am honored that Speaker DeLeo believes I can do the job,” he said. “The first order of business is creating and debating a $42.7 billion budget. A lot of work has been done in committee, but we have a short timeframe to get a lot done. The thing I was to stress is my district is my number one priority.”

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Supt. Bourque Says Governor’s Budget Increases Still Aren’t Enough

Supt. Bourque Says Governor’s Budget Increases Still Aren’t Enough

Gov. Charlie Baker brought a short smile to the face of many when he unveiled an increase in education funding in his State Budget proposal two weeks ago, but this week Supt. Mary Bourque said the proposal needs to go further for cities like Chelsea.

“Although a step in the right direction for public education and in particular gateway cities, the Governor’s FY20 budget does not go nearly far enough,” she wrote in a letter on Feb. 6.

Bourque said the Chelsea Public Schools are facing another year where they will likely – as it stands now – have to cut another $2 million from their budget. That falls upon multiple years of cuts that have weighed cumulatively on the schools and taken away core services from students.

One of the problems is that salaries, health insurance and special education costs are rising so quickly. This year, she said, they are looking at increases in those areas of $5.2 million.

Gov. Baker’s budget proposal steers an increase of $3.2 million to Chelsea over last year, but in the face of rising costs, that still leaves the schools in the red.

It’s yet another year of advocacy for the schools to fix the Foundation Formula – an exercise that has seemingly played out without any success for at least five years.

“Once again we are facing another year of painful budget cuts because the foundation formula used to calculate aid to our schools is broken,” she wrote. “The formula from 1993 has not kept up with inflation, changing demographics or increased student needs. I am however, encouraged this year that all leaders at the State level have acknowledged that the formula is broken, including for the first time the Governor.”

Bourque also spelled out the complex nature of the Chelsea Schools, including numerous factors that are contributing to the reduction in funding.

One of the most startling situations is that there are fewer kids, and with education funding based on numbers of kids, that translates to even less money for the schools.

Bourque said this year they have begun to identify a downward trend in enrollment for the first time in years. She said fewer kids are coming in from outside the U.S. and families are leaving Chelsea for areas with lower rents and costs of living.

“In addition to the foundation formula undercounting critical costs, a significant portion of this year’s $2 million dollar gap is due to student demographic shifts taking place in our schools,” she wrote. “We are seeing a downward trend in student enrollment…This year we have noted fewer students entering our schools from outside the United States as well as a number of students and families moving from Chelsea due to the high cost of living in the Boston area.” The Chelsea Public Schools under the City Charter have until April 1 to submit their balanced budget. Bourque said they plan to lobby members of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the meantime to fix the funding gaps that now exist.

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Thank You, Bob Deleo

Thank You, Bob Deleo

It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since Winthrop/Revere State Rep. Bob DeLeo was elected the Speaker of the House by his colleagues. (Yes, time flies.)

We wish to make note of the 10th anniversary of Speaker DeLeo’s ascension to that post because it was marked by two significant events that occurred in January, 2009.

First, Bob was chosen by his colleagues after a succession of House Speakers had been forced to resign because of various scandals, the last having been Sal DiMasi, who was indicted on corruption charges by federal prosecutors for which DiMasi eventually was convicted and sentenced to time in federal prison.

The second was that Bob assumed the Speakership amidst the greatest economic downturn to face not only Massachusetts, but the entire country (and the world) since the Great Depression.

Needless to say, January of 2009 was a difficult period for anyone to become Speaker of the House, given the history of the House during the previous decade and the enormity of the challenges that the state was facing.

However, from the perspective of looking back over the past 10 years, it is fair to say that Bob DeLeo has been more responsible both for restoring the people’s faith in our legislature and for guiding our state through an incredibly-difficult fiscal

period than any other person in state government.

Governors have come and gone, as have State Senate presidents, but the one constant has been the steady hand of Bob DeLeo at the helm of the House of Representatives.

Not only has Bob DeLeo been the principal architect of a state budget process that has been both prudent and forward-looking, but he, more than any other person on Beacon Hill, has been able to bring together disparate groups and has worked with both the Senate and Republican administrations to create an atmosphere of collegiality that is unparalleled in our nation today. The achievements in our state over the past decade under the Speakership of Bob DeLeo are a testament to the ability of one person to have a profound effect upon the lives of the people he serves — and Massachusetts unquestionably is a better place thanks to Bob DeLeo’s tenure as Speaker of the House for the past 10 years.

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Thank You, Jay Ash

Thank You, Jay Ash

When Governor Charlie Baker was elected to his first term of office four years ago, his first major announcement was the appointment of Jay Ash to the post of Secretary of Housing and Economic Development.

The announcement by Gov. Baker, a Republican, came as a surprise to many political insiders because Ash was a lifelong Democrat and at the time was serving as the City Manager for the City of Chelsea, a post he had held for almost 15 years. Moreover, the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development is among the most important members of a governor’s cabinet, and typically goes to a person who is among those most trusted by the governor to implement his broad policy objectives.

However, Ash’s appointment by Gov.-elect Baker signaled two things about the incoming administration: First, that Baker was going to “reach across the aisle” to Democrats and second, that he was seeking the most-qualified persons he could find to serve in his administration.

During the past four years, Charlie Baker’s appointment of Jay Ash, who officially stepped down from his cabinet post in December to become the new president of a nonprofit business group known as the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, has proven to be a win-win for Gov. Baker — and the people of Massachusetts — on both scores.

Ash, who had served for many years as the chief of staff to former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Voke, not only knew the ins-and-outs of the legislative process, but also was on a first-name basis with many legislators, most notably House Speaker Bob DeLeo, who played a key role in working with Jay in implementing the many initiatives put forth by the Baker administration.

In addition, Jay Ash brought to the table his experience as the City Manager of Chelsea, a small city that is the prototype for both the potential and pitfalls of economic development of urban areas throughout the state.

During his tenure, Jay Ash brought to fruition many projects that will bring economic benefits for future generations of our state’s residents. Among Ash’s signature accomplishments, he played a key role in bringing the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester, which included the redevelopment of the city’s Canal District with $35 million in infrastructure and affordable housing funds; he brought $12.5 million in state funds to the Berkshire Innovation Center, which will focus on life sciences in Pittsfield; he played an integral role in persuading General Electric to locate its world headquarters in Boston’s Seaport District; and he was instrumental in bringing about a significant reduction in the number of homeless families living in motels.

All in all, Jay Ash’s tenure as Secretary of Housing and Economic Development has been among the most successful and remarkable of any Cabinet member of any administration in the state’s history.

We know we speak not only for the residents of his native Chelsea, but also for citizens throughout the state, in thanking Jay Ash for his years of public service and wishing him well in his future endeavors.

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State Rep Dan Ryan Inaugurated Wednesday for New Term

State Rep Dan Ryan Inaugurated Wednesday for New Term

Chelsea’s State Rep. Dan Ryan has been inaugurated for another term in the legislature this week, and he said he is ready to tackle issues from transportation to opiate recovery research in the new term.

On Wednesday, with the new class of the state legislature, Rep. Ryan took the oath of office along with Gov. Charlie Baker and the rest of the Commonwealth. It will be his third full term in office, and he said it will be an interesting term with new faces and a Republican governor in his second round.

“I think the voters of Chelsea and Charlestown first and foremost for giving me two more years,” he said. “It will be my third full term and Gov. Baker’s second term. We’ll have some big changes in the House and it will be very interesting to see what those changes look like. It will be interesting to see what happens with Gov. Baker’s second term. He was easy to work with in the first term with very moderate Republican stances. Second terms are different so we’ll see what that dynamic looks like.”

Ryan also praised House Speaker Bob DeLeo for his leadership in 2018, and his new term in 2019 – having also been sworn in as the House Speaker again on Wednesday.

“I’ll be supporting the Speaker in this next term,” he said. “He’s had a strong hand in this legislative session with everything going on in the Senate, the House needed to be the grown up in the room and the Speaker was very pragmatic in moving things forward.”

Ryan is now the vice chair of the Substance Abuse/Mental Health Committee, and also serves on the Transportation, Post Audit and Veterans Affairs Committees. He said he has also been appointed to Task Forces charged with looking at the Commuter Rail and looking into issues related to the Opiate Bill passed last year.

“There’s going to be a lot of movement in the chairmanships, but I think I’m going to be on the same committees,” he said. “I’ll be spending a lot of time doing transportation work. That’s not always the issue that gets a lot of attention, but it’s very important.”

Ryan said the last session was very progressive, including legislation on criminal justice reform, the opiate bill, pay equity, the transgender accommodation bill and banning bump stock firing devices for firearms.

“We got a lot of progressive legislation though in the last two years,” he said. “Even though some didn’t think we were progressive enough, I think it was one of the most forward looking sessions in a long time.”

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Berkowitz School Drum Corps Keeps the Beat Going

Berkowitz School Drum Corps Keeps the Beat Going

Fourth-grader Yandeliz Rodriguez-Gonzalez confessed this week before the Berkowitz School Winter Concert that

Berkowitz fourth grader Yandeliz Rodriguez-Gonzalez is shown drumming during Tuesday’s Winter Concert at the school. She is one of about 20 kids from the Berkowitz that are part of the Berkowitz Advanced Drummers – a program that is three years old. She said drumming is just in her blood.

drumming is just in her blood.

Her father is a drummer, often playing the bongos around the house, and the rhythm has rubbed off on her as well.

So when her school began offering the Drum Corps, she signed up immediately two years ago and hasn’t stopped keeping the beat since.

“I love the salsa rhythm; it’s just in my blood,” said Yandy. “I got inspired to play the drums from my dad because he is a drummer. My dad is Puerto Rican and he’s been playing the drums since he was little. He has taught me the salsa rhythm and I have enjoyed playing at school now too. It feels great to play with others. They are with me and understand me and understand why I’m so obsessed with drums.”

Yandy is one of about 15 young people that participate in the Berkowitz Advanced Drummers (or B.A.D. for short) , a program championed by Berkowitz music teacher Richard Romanoff to help bring instrumental music experiences to the children.

Beyond the drumming, kids are able to also play keyboards, violin or ukulele.

“The drumming group has been a very positive experience and has become very popular with the students here,” he said. “I’m just trying to open up opportunities for students and give them as many opportunities as I can to help them make music.”

Romanoff came to the Berkowitz three years ago, and Principal Adam Deleidi said he had been at Somerville High School for 11 years prior. However, he wanted to experience how younger kids seek musical experiences, which drew him to the Berkowitz.

“He’s done a lot with instruments and the drumming group is one example of that,” he said.

Fourth-grader Daniel Booth has been involved only four weeks, but already he has found that drumming is an outlet for his creativity and also a way to better understand math – which is his favorite subject.

“It is like math because you really need to look at the symbols and have to know when to start and end and stop,” he said. “It takes math to know what you’re going to do. My teacher, Mr. V, taught me math is always going to be in your life even when you’re not in school.”

Booth said it has been his first chance to play a musical instrument, and he realized that he probably should have been playing the drums for a long time.

“I’ve learned you can do different tones on a drum and you can really do anything on a drum,” he said. “Drumming has become one of my favorite things of all because I always have been thinking about the beat in my head. Every time I drummed on a desk or on a book, I felt like it had a good beat to it.”

For Yandy, she said being able to drum at school has been a relief in the mornings.

“To me, it’s kind of calming,” she said. “It’s like talking with music.”

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Jordan Boys & Girls Club News

Jordan Boys & Girls Club News

Member All Stars and October Members of the Month:  Congratulations to the following members who were great role models for their peers, who were helpful, kind, and friendly last month and were selected to be the Jordan Boys & Girls Club’s Members of the Month!  1st grade: Cristian Chicas; 2nd grade: Arwa Ait-Chaib; 3rd grade: Jainaba Kamara; 4th grade: Elmer Flores; Pre-Teen: Susana Garcia; Teen: Gino Gillis.  And also a big congrats to all of the Area All Stars who are recognized for being outstanding members in their favorite areas at the Club. Week of Oct. 8-12, 2018:  Game Room: Allison Quinonez (3rd), Computer Club House: Elvis Rodriguez, Gym: LJ Bland (4th), Music: Susana Garcia (4th), Teen Center: Cameron Bourgea (teen), Membership: Sophia Sostre (2nd), Pool: Kevin Martinez (4th), Pre-Teen Lounge: Alison Lopez (5th), Life Skills: David Garcia Meza (3rd), Cadet Room: Aura Hernandez (1st).   Week of Oct. 1-5, 2018:   Education: Jesus Santiago (3rd grade), Game Room: Elmer Flores (4th), Art: Emely (2nd), Computer Club House: Thania Simon (4th), Gym: William Diaz (4th), Music: Laney Vargas (4th), Membership: Cristian Chicas, Pool: Kevin Martinez (4th), Pre-Teen Lounge: Luis Ajtum (“Danny”) (preteen), Life Skills: Valeria Ortiz (4th), Cadet Room: Alexi Rios (1st).  Week of Sept 24-28, 2018:  Education: Miguel Ramirez, grade 3, Game Room: Wilbur Chicas, Art: Sebastian, Computer Club House: Susana Garcia (preteen), Teen Center: Angel Del Valle Cardenas (teen), Membership: Arwa, Pool: Izabella, Wilbur Chicas, Pre-Teen Lounge: Troy Arnold (preteen), Life Skills: Santo Rivera (preteen), Cadet Room: Jyzelle Artica (1st grade)

Schedule Changes:  This Friday, October 26th, the CLUB IS CLOSED!  We will only be open for Haunted House- more info below under Special Events!  (The Boys & Girls Club does not provide transportation on Friday, Oct. 26th either.)

On November 12th, the Club will be open from 9am-4pm (no school day due to Veteran’s Day); on Nov. 13th, the Club will be opening at 12noon, as it is a half day of school for CPS.  On Wednesday, Nov. 21st, the Club is open 9am-4pm (no school day- day before Thanksgiving).  And the Club will be closed on Thanksgiving, Nov. 22nd, as well as Friday, Nov. 23rd.  And for those planning ahead, we want to remind Club members and families that we close during the winter holiday break, closed Dec. 24th- Jan 1st.  The Club will re-open on Wednesday, Jan. 2nd.

Special Events:  This Friday, Oct. 26th is Haunted House!  Tickets are available now until 6pm on Oct. 26th. If you purchase tickets in advance, please be sure to arrive by 6pm that night, as doors close at 6pm with or without tickets.  In order to attend the Haunted House, you have to be a Club member and attend with an adult. Thanks to those who joined us this past week at the annual Breast Cancer Awareness event, Popping in Pink Party!  Lots of pink-filled games and activities, with music, food, and a celebration of survivors and families members who have experienced breast cancer.  And earlier this month, we also celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with the Club’s annual Celebrando Latino, sharing our stories of our families, flags for our countries, and lots of the food, games, and music of so many different cultures.  Thank you Chili’s for once again provided chips and salsa for everyone!

CLUB FUNDRAISERS:  The Club’s Annual Online Auction opens on Black Friday!  If you or someone you know is interested in donating an item, it is greatly appreciated!  We are seeking all kinds of gifts, such as sports memorabilia; unique items, such as dinner with a  politician, ball boy/girl at Celtics; adventures, such as ski packages, timeshare weeks, or airline tickets; services provided- legal, such as a will; accounting, such as taxes; dinner prepared in the home; birthday party/event planning; music lessons; cleaning services; gift cards to stores,  restaurants, online buying, movies, theater tickets.  And once we are ready to launch the Auction, you can help by forwarding a link to anyone and everyone…you never know what someone may be looking for!  Lastly, we will be selling raffle tickets as part of this event, which will be available next month at the Club.  Every dollar and hour given helps the Club.  If you would like to add your email to the mailing list, send to Lisa at LGillis@bgcb.org

 

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Stand Up for Equality: Vote Yes on 3

Stand Up for Equality: Vote Yes on 3

Two years ago, Massachusetts joined 17 states and Washington, D.C., by enacting protections for transgender individuals in public accommodations that serve the general public. As I sat in the House of Representatives gallery on the day the vote was taken, I could not help to be overjoyed by the ongoing effort to make Massachusetts an inclusive and welcoming state.

On the November 6 ballot, Massachusetts’s voters make a simple decision: to uphold commonsense public accommodations protection for these individuals by voting YES or get back equal rights by voting NO.

I urge people to vote YES on question 3. Without those legal protections, transgender people would face a multitude of discriminatory challenge on a daily basis. The sky has not fallen since the 2016 vote and we are better as a society for it.

For the past two years transgender people have enjoyed the same rights and protections as everyone else in the Commonwealth, that was not the case before hand. To lose these rights now would be a terrible reversal in efforts to give all people equal protections under the law.

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