Cold, windy weather and even the sun can damage your skin and COVID-19 precautions add a whole other dimension.

The winter weather, from which we are just emerging, causes dry, flaky, and irritated skin by reducing the number of cells in the outermost layer of our skin. In addition, the dry winter atmosphere can rob skin of valuable moisture. We also tend to drink less because our thirst sensation is decreased in cold weather.

As a result, many people suffer from dry skin that can crack and bleed. Some may have worsening of existing skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

What can you do to prevent dry skin? The first thing is to drink enough water. It is recommended that men drink about 16 cups of fluids and women about 12 cups every day. You can also use thicker, heavier moisturizers, especially after showers or baths.

Finally, make sure you are gentle on your skin! That means warm, not hot showers and gentle cleansers followed by gentle drying. If you’re still having dry skin or if you think you might have a skin condition, visit your primary care provider or dermatologist.

We usually associate sun damage and tanning with warm summer months, but the sunlight in winter can play a major role in skin damage. Excessive sunlight and ultraviolet radiation can cause aging of your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. 

What can you do to protect yourself? Wear sunscreen!

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, of at least 30 that is water resistant and broad-spectrum. That means it protects against both Ultraviolet A (UVA), which has a longer wavelength, and is associated with skin aging, and against Ultraviolet B (UVB), which has a shorter wavelength and is associated with skin burning.

Make sure you apply the sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and every two hours thereafter. Sunscreen does reduce your skin’s ability to make vitamin D so, if you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, please talk to your provider about options.

The best way we can avoid spreading flu and COVID-19 is wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing our hands. However, regular washing can disrupt our skin barrier and integrity, which can lead to dryness and skin rashes.

Wash your hands using cool or lukewarm water for at least 20 seconds. Then pat your hands dry without rubbing and apply moisturizer afterwards. (If you are using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, find ones with at least 60-percent alcohol with added moisturizers.)

Look for moisturizers in tubes instead of jars, so you do not double dip and contaminate the product. Try to avoid putting moisturizer on dry hands. Instead, wet your hands in lukewarm water for 20 seconds, then apply the moisturizer.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using ointments or creams instead of lotions, which can be more irritating. Look for products with jojoba oil, dimethicone, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, lanolin, mineral oil, petrolatum, or shea butter.

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Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services, including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.

Its funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging. Community Caregivers also provides services by phone in Rensselaer County to reduce isolation and make referrals for other needed services.

Editor’s note: Kanthi Bommareddy is a candidate for a medical degree in 2021 at Albany Medical College.

No doubt over the past year you have heard someone describe the many impacts on our daily lives because of COVID-19 as the “new normal.” Certainly, COVID’s impact on Community Caregivers normal operations has been profound.

The pandemic has presented many disruptions to the normal routines of our clients, and our volunteers.  Early on during this pandemic, our team members used their creativity to continue to find ways to support our neighbors, many of whom were affected by physically distancing protocols eliminating friendly visits, leading to even greater feelings of isolation.

While we continue to safely provide services such as grocery shopping, pharmacy pick-up, reassurance phone calls, and transportation, our friendly in-home visits have been placed on hold. Community Caregivers looked for another way to engage those at home and launched our weekly “Lunchtime Chat” sessions that have quickly become popular. 

These phone-in presentations and discussions feature interesting new topics each week with a variety of knowledgeable speakers from the Capital District. Over winter months, we have learned about the history of the New York State Thruway, partnered with AARP for a series called “Brain Health and Staying Sharp,” and enjoyed a conversation about the joy of storytelling to name a few.

Our upcoming “Chats” include another partnership with AARP on safety from phone scams; we also have planned a discussion about caring for houseplants. You can reach out to us for the full schedule.

The topics are varied and intended to inform and at times entertain. To join the chats, call into 518-992-6661 every Tuesday and Friday at 1 p.m.

We also offer a mindful breathing session. Everyone is welcome to join us every Monday at 1:15 p.m. and Wednesday morning at 9:15 to experience mindfulness — call 518 992-6661.

Our mission at Community Caregivers is to provide services that enable individuals residing in Albany and Rensselaer counties to maintain their independence, dignity, and quality of life within their homes and communities.

We can only accomplish this through the support of our generous and dedicated volunteers. Our volunteer recruitment is ongoing and we would love for you to get to know us through an orientation. Contact to find out how an hour of your time can have a big impact on one of your neighbors.

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Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.

Its funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging and the United States Administration on Aging. Community Caregivers also provides services by phone in Rensselaer County to reduce isolation and make referrals for other needed services.

Editor’s note: Meredith Osta is the director of Volunteer and Community Engagement for the Community Caregivers.

Getting creative and finding solutions often is what gets us through tough times. During World War II, victory gardens became popular as a way to save money and also provide much needed nourishment. In the Great Depression, soup kitchens could be found in every city across the land, where the needy could find a warm meal and a friendly smile.

Today is no different. Not-for-profits continue to provide services while at the same time shifting the ways they reach not only their base, but also their benefactors. According to MobileCause, an organization that assists not-for-profits, digital happy hours have become popular as a way to raise funds for struggling and laid-off restaurant workers.

Not-for-profits that hold fundraising 5K races have shifted to individual virtual run/walks where participants gather pledges based on distance. And museums and galleries host “virtual tours” often guided by an expert who takes donors “behind the scenes.”

It is clear that the ability to adapt is how many organizations will survive these difficult times. Last month, the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce awarded Community Caregivers its Top Business 180 Award as part of the Chamber’s Annual Awards Celebration.

This distinction was given to a local business or not-for-profit that was forced to shift operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And, Community Caregivers, like many not-for-profits, is also changing the way it reaches out to its donors.

On Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m., Community Caregivers will host its 26th Annual Gala. The virtual event — Hail to the Heroes — will honor volunteers and community partners and is being held in the memory of co-founder Joel Edwards.

“We invite everyone to join us on Zoom for an exciting evening of musical entertainment, gala trivia, an online auction and much more,” said Community Caregivers Executive Director Lee Lounsbury. “We are thrilled to have Greg Floyd of CBS6 Albany as our master of ceremonies and Tim Wiles, the director of the Guilderland Public Library, hosting a trivia event. And, while we can’t be together in person this year, we hope that people will unite online and raise a glass to our dedicated volunteers, staff, and community supporters.”

For more information on the 2020 Community Caregivers virtual gala, visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call the office at 518-456-2898.

Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors. Its funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging.

Editor’s note: Kathy Brown is a consultant to Community Caregivers.

 

It goes without saying that times are incredibly difficult at present. Contributing to this is the complexity of the language around this pandemic.

Navigating new buzzwords and phrases can be confusing, and it is important that we overcome this obstacle to assure that we all are able to correctly interpret the constant information coming our way. In doing so, we can confidently and effectively respond to do our part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 — or, since we’re talking buzzwords, to “flatten the curve.”

The following is a breakdown of the different ways that we can maintain space from others to limit transmission of this virus.

Social distancing

On the light end of the spectrum, we have perhaps the most widely used term of all — “social distancing.” Interestingly, this refers to simply minimizing physical interactions with others. More specifically, it means avoiding unnecessary large gatherings (10 or more people, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as well as maintaining a physical distance of six feet or more when you absolutely need to be in public.

You’ll note the repeated use of the word “physical.” What is really vital here is not avoiding social interactions, but rather in-person contact. All that “social distance” truly looks to accomplish is a decrease in opportunities for sickness to spread.

By all means, you can still call your friends and family if you are able. Indeed, with many facing an increased amount of downtime, this is as good a time as ever to catch up remotely with those you care about.

Quarantine and isolation

Here we have two phrases that may be considered more official. Nonetheless, just like social distancing, “quarantine” and “isolation” have the same goal of preventing infectious spread.

They simply work toward this goal to a greater extent. In the case of both quarantine and isolation, people are separated and cut off from physical interactions (i.e., no outings whatsoever — unlike social distancing) until the risk of spread has run its course (about 14 days). The primary distinction between quarantine and isolation, however, is who they are intended for.

Whereas isolation should be practiced by all those who are already sick and/or tested positive for COVID-19, quarantine casts a wider net. In the present situation, this includes all those without symptoms who have had confirmed interactions with someone who has the virus, as well as those who have been in environments that are considered “high-risk” for transmission (e.g., traveling from/through heavily impacted areas — including here in New York).

In other words, we isolate those who are already sick from those who are healthy. By contrast, we proactively quarantine those who are healthy but may become sick. In either event, the risk of spreading the virus to more healthy people is mitigated.

Notably, although quarantines can be mandated by law, thus far, officials have largely enacted only measures such as shelter-in-place mandates that increase social distancing. Thus, the onus is currently on us to recognize our own risk and respond appropriately.

This is of especially high importance as COVID-19 has been shown to often manifest asymptomatically. If you may have been at risk to acquire this virus, please quarantine for 14 days while monitoring for symptoms. Otherwise, maintain your physical space while keeping up with loved ones from a distance.

Armed with proper understanding and action, we can each help flatten the curve and fight this pandemic.

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For over 25 years, Community Caregivers has helped those in local communities who may require a little assistance while they remain in their homes and live independently with dignity. Through a network of dedicated staff and volunteers, clients receive reassurance calls; friendly visits; and help with transportation, shopping, and light chores. Caregivers are also provided support through education and respite visits. Community Caregivers is always seeking new volunteers and clients. For more information, visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call 518-456-2898.

Editor’s note: Aaron Garcia is a student at Albany Medical College.

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By Everyone’s biggest concern right now is how to avoid contracting COVID-19, so let’s address some key preventative measures to keep ourselves safe and healthy.

It is believed that this disease is mainly spread from person to person, so the best defense is maintaining a safe distance from other people. COVID-19 mainly spreads through the air, especially when another person coughs or sneezes, so it is recommended that you maintain a six-foot distance from other people when you are in a public space (i.e. buying groceries, going to the pharmacy, etc.).

It is also extremely important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after being in public spaces, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used. All care should be taken to avoid touching your face.

Frequently-used household items, such as doorknobs, counters, appliances, desks, and phones, should be wiped down daily, if not more often. What can be used to effectively disinfect? Options include diluted household bleach solutions (one-third cup of bleach per gallon of water), alcohol solutions (at least 70 percent alcohol), and most household disinfectants registered by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “New York State on Pause” executive order, all nonessential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason have been temporarily banned. When it is necessary to go out in public, individuals should avoid crowds and maintain a minimum six-foot distance from one another.

The best way we can work together to prevent the spread of this disease is to practice social distancing by staying at home as much as possible, especially since New York State currently has such a high rate of COVID-19 cases. Even if you are feeling well, it is possible that you could still be carrying the disease and inadvertently be putting others at risk by going out. 

Additionally, “Matilda’s Law,” named for the governor’s mother, is currently in effect in New York State. The purpose of these guidelines is to protect residents who are older than 70 and individuals with otherwise compromised immune systems (i.e. cancer patients, transplant patients, individuals with HIV/AIDs, etc.).

In addition to the guidelines recommended for everyone, these individuals are instructed to remain indoors at home, except for going outside for solitary exercise. They should wear a mask in the company of others and any visitors should take their temperature before they enter their home.

One last note, although solitary outdoor exercise is still encouraged to stay healthy and fit, please avoid contact sports, playgrounds, basketball courts, etc. to help prevent the virus’s spread. We are all in this together; let’s work together to keep our loved ones and neighbors safe.

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For over 25 years Community Caregivers has helped those in local communities who may require a little assistance while they remain in their homes and live independently with dignity. Through a network of dedicated staff and volunteers, clients receive reassurance calls, friendly visits, help with transportation, shopping, and light chores. Caregivers are also provided support through education and respite visits. Community Caregivers is always seeking new volunteers and clients. For more information, visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call 518-456-2898.

Editor’s note: Caroline Weiss is a second-year Medical student at Albany Medical College.

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Volunteering results in positive benefits not only for the recipient, but for the volunteer as well, according to studies cited by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research website. Those who give of their time and themselves often feel less stress in their lives and have a sense of purpose and focus.

Volunteers suffer less from isolation and depression. Another benefit is that people involved in volunteering often develop relationships that enrich lives on both sides. 

Mary Morrison, Community Caregivers’ volunteer coordinator, has seen this firsthand.

“I have worked matching the Community Caregiver volunteers with clients requesting services since May 2007. It really isn’t work because the volunteers are so gracious about accepting assignments and so giving of their time. We could not do what we do without our volunteers,” said Morrison.

“As for clients, having a Community Caregiver volunteer provide service to them is a very personal and caring experience,” Morrison continued. “Whether it is a ride to an appointment or a visit from a volunteer, clients enjoy the time spent with their volunteers and, in many instances, both develop new and special relationships.”

One such relationship evolved between Judy, a Community Caregivers volunteer, and Clark, her client who recently passed away. Judy wrote to Community Caregivers and included the following:

As I think about Clark’s death, he wasn’t just a Community Caregivers client to me, he became my friend. I hope this does not sound cliché, but I sincerely feel it was an honor and a privilege to know Clark, a decorated World War II veteran.

My time volunteering with Clark began in May 2015. I drove him to see his wife at a nursing home. On our rides, we got to know each other. He was surprised and delighted that I knew Blauvelt, New York where he had lived for many years.

Clark taught me a lot about aging well. I appreciated that he knew what he wanted and was always making choices especially when it came to food. He introduced me to his two favorite ice-cream flavors, and I learned that he liked his sunflower seeds roasted and salty.

Clark and I had many interesting conversations about politics. We learned early on that we did not watch the same cable news. But we respected each other and could converse pleasantly. It was a joy to be in Clark’s presence. I am going to miss him.

If you, a family member, or friend has been thinking about giving back or paying it forward, consider Community Caregivers. For 25 years, we have helped those in local communities who may require a little assistance while they remain in their homes and live independently with dignity.

Through a network of dedicated staff and volunteers, clients receive reassurance calls; friendly visits; and help with transportation, shopping, and light chores. Caregivers are also provided support through education and respite visits.

Community Caregivers is always seeking new volunteers and clients. For more information, visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call 518-456-2898.

Editor’s note: Kathy Brown is the Outreach and Communications coordinator for the Community Caregivers.

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Our knees age as we age, so taking precautions may help them age a bit slower.

They are the biggest joint in the human body, consisting of three compartments. Any of these compartments are susceptible to wear and tear which may be painful.

At a certain point in our lives, joint damage will happen. However, according to an article by Stacey colino, published by AARP in September, steps can be followed to help with the protection of aging joints. These may include:

— Maintaining your weight: Excess weight can put extra pressure on the knees. One extra pound is equivalent to four times that pressure on your knees;

— Moving around: Movement maintains joint function, strength, and motion in our knees. Running is a great way to keep moving, but only every other day. Other activities include: low-impact bike riding, Pilates, swimming or using an elliptical;

— Developing strong muscles that support our knees: Our thigh muscles have a big influence on knee support so keeping these muscles strong can have a beneficial impact on your knees. These muscles can be strengthened by doing squats and lunges: For people aged 50 or older, do not squat below a 90-degree angle. Some exercise machines that can be used for the same effect include: leg press, hamstring curl, knee-extension and abductor machines;

— Focusing on your posture: To achieve good posture: First, stand up tall, then make sure your head lines up with your shoulders and your shoulders are over your hips. Next, your hips should line up with your knees. And lastly, align your knees up with your feet. This type of posture can relieve pressure off the knees;

— Owning a pair of shoes that are right for you: The shoes you wear should be comfortable and supportive so that alignment in your lower joints is not compromised but improved. A medical professional can recommend what type of shoe is best for you and your needs.; and

— Reacting to your knee pain: If you feel any pain or swelling while doing moderate exercises, take a break! The RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, elevation), is a great way to recover quickly, along with taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.

Following these steps may help reduce any pain and may postpone the time when your knees begin to degenerate.

Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.

Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call us at 518-456-2898.

Editor’s note: Mary Alsunna, a University at Albany student, is currently volunteering with Community Caregivers. She will be writing columns on topics of interest for seniors during fall 2019 semester.

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Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and spread to people through tick bites. In the United States, many infections occur in regions including the eastern states, northern midwestern states, and the West Coast.

For Lyme disease to exist in an area, both ticks and animals who have been infected with the bacteria must be in the environment.

For the tick to be able to transmit the Lyme-disease bacteria, it must be attached to the skin for 36 to 48 hours. Many people get infected by immature ticks called nymphs.

They are tiny, difficult to see, and most prevalent in the spring and summer. Adult ticks are larger, more likely to be seen and removed, and more common in the fall.

Ticks can attach to any part of the human body. They prefer areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. This does not mean they won’t bite and stick onto any other part of the skin.

To prevent tick bites, the use of insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus may help. Treating clothing with 0.5-percent permethrin can help also.

After spending the day outdoors, take a shower as soon as possible, check for ticks in areas like the groin, hair, armpits, and knees and put clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes in order to kill the ticks.

If you find a tick on the skin, you must take steps to carefully remove the tick to prevent becoming infected. You should firmly grasp the tick, using tweezers, and steadily pull the tick off of your skin. Lastly, you should clean the area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

Late Lyme disease can be prevented with the help of an early diagnosis and antibiotics. Lyme disease is rarely life-threatening; however, the disease can become more severe if treatment is delayed.

Some symptoms of Lyme disease include: erythema migrans (skin rash), fatigue, chills and fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes.

Erythema migrans is a reddish or purple colored rash. It usually appears three to 14 days after the bite. The rash occurs at the site of the bite and is shaped round or oval. The rash can spread over a couple of days and feel warm.

Some infected people do not develop a rash, but instead have flu-like symptoms.

Late Lyme disease may not appear until weeks or months after an infected tick bite. Some symptoms include: arthritis (especially in knees), nervous system symptoms (numbness, pain, nerve paralysis, meningitis), memory or concentration problems, sleep disturbances, and very rarely irregular heart rhythms.

Diagnosis includes measuring the antibodies in the body that are made to fight against Lyme disease bacteria. It can take many weeks after the infection has occurred for the body to make a sufficient amount of antibodies.

This means that it is possible for a Lyme disease test to come back negative in the first couple of weeks. After the infection is gone, the body continues to make antibodies for months to years. This makes it hard to use a blood test to determine a new as opposed to an old infection.

Usually those who are treated with antibiotics for early Lyme disease recover quickly and completely. The most common antibiotics for Lyme disease are: doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil.

Those patients who have persistent or recurrent symptoms may take another course of antibiotics. A vaccine for Lyme disease is not currently available.

Information for this column was taken from literature produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, printed in a brochure and also available online: “Lyme Disease: What You Need to Know.”

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Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services, including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.

Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call us at 518-456-2898.

Editor’s note: Mary Alsunna is a University at Albany student who is currently volunteering with Community Caregivers. She will be writing columns on topics of interest for seniors during the Fall 2019 semester.

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Twenty-five years for a not-for-profit to still be operating is phenomenal. In each of those 25 years, there’s been a gala. They’ve grown, they’ve moved, they’ve honored people who serve the community. They’ve raised money.

The Silver Anniversary Gala takes place Nov. 16 at the Albany Country Club.

Ellen Kaufman is chairing the gala. Greg Floyd, anchor at TV’s Channel 6, will be the master of ceremonies. Jason White, a  Community Caregivers board member, is developing a video to highlight the 25 years. It will include interviews with the two living founders, Joel Edwards and Mary Therriault, as well as archival materials to show CC’s growth over the quarter century.

Honorees are Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and The Guardian Society Executive Director Ken Harris.

Committee members number 14. These people make the event happen. They’ve been working since February. Here they are: Nicki Armsby, Linda Bourgeois, Eileen Bray, Midge Bulgaro, Donna Cavert, Tricia Gannon, Carol Huber, Richard Jung, Adam Knaust, Petra Malitz, Arnie Rothstein, myself, Nancie Tindale, and Ilona Weisman.

As a not-for-profit, Community Caregivers depends on grants, donations, and fundraisers. All of this is to create a system to match volunteers with people of all ages who need help — non medical — in the communities we serve.

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— Photo from Community Caregivers

Behind the scenes on the greens: Linda Bourgeois, at center, and Mary Ann Singleton, at right, co-chaired the Community Caregivers’ golf tournament. Stacey Roussin, at left, was in charge of the raffle and silent auction.

At 10:30 a.m. on June 10, one-hundred-and-twenty-three golfers got into their carts and waited for the shotgun start. This was Community Caregivers 15th annual golf tournament at Pinehaven Country Club.  And the weather held for the players.

Linda Bourgeois and Mary Ann Singleton co-chaired the event. Stacey Roussin was in charge of the  raffle and silent auction. The Title Sponsor was Adirondack Environmental Services Inc. The Eagle sponsor was Berkshire Bank. Par sponsors were AYCO, In Honor of Caregivers and their Loved Ones, and  PHRMA. Our thanks also to the 28 Tee Box sponsors and 53 local businesses and individuals who donated items for the raffle and silent auction.

The tournament committee consisted of Eileen Bray, Midge Bulgaro,  Regina DuBois, Petra Malitz, Arnie and Judy Rothstein, and Stacey Roussin.

The golf tournament is one of two fundraisers that supports Community Caregivers.      

Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.

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