President’s Corner: April Delights

President’s Corner: April Delights


Spring has officially sprung in Washington DC. Our spectacular blossoming cherry trees get most of the attention, but let’s not overlook the many less well-known charms of the season.  During the first week of this month, ERCV volunteers are leading special wildflower walks in Rock Creek Park. Depending on the day, you may see bluebells, trillium, star chickweed, wild ginger, or white and yellow violets. These fleeting moments of beauty remind us to enjoy each day and to savor the season with neighbors and friends.


On a celestial note, mark your calendar for another April de-light on Monday, April 8th, when a major solar eclipse will pass across the US. In the DC area the sun is expected to be only about seven-eighths eclipsed. Still, this promises to be an impressive sight. As we all know, looking directly at an eclipse can permanently damage one’s eyes. If you would like a pair of protective eclipse glasses to wear, we have about a dozen to offer ERCV members. Let’s all enjoy this amazing phenomenon safely and with wonder.


From the cosmic to the local: we will celebrate Earth Day a little early by participating in a neighborhood spring cleanup on Tuesday, April 16th. Join fellow ERCVers at Butternut Street and Georgia Avenue, near the fire station, and help neaten the area.  You can volunteer at ERCV’s information table or join the cleanup crew. Afterwards we will go to lunch at the Ledo Pizza a few blocks north, which will graciously be offering a 20% discount to helpers. Thanks go to a long-time ERCV supporter, Commissioner Erin Palmer (ANC4B02), for organizing this community service opportunity.

For those interested in art and culture, we have a special field trip scheduled for Thursday, April 11th, to see the Whistler exhibit at the Freer Gallery on the National Mall. It’s a chance to visit or revisit a local treasure and surround ourselves for a time with the works of James McNeill Whistler, including his famous Peacock Room. And, if you’re looking for adventure from the comfort of home, please join us on Thursday, April 18th, for our online Armchair Travel Series. This time we’ll be visiting Patagonia and Easter Island with wonderful photographs taken by ERCV’s very own Ralph Blessing.

We will finish the month with a happy hour on Thursday, April 25th, outside on the patio at Olive Lounge in Takoma Park. Come join us and unwind, meet new people, catch up with friends, and enjoy the good food and (I hope) pleasant weather.


As we travel through April, let us embrace the spirit of renewal and possibility that spring so generously offers. It can be time to delight in our environment, to notice, to grow, to connect, to create memories together that we might cherish in the future. I personally look forward to seeing many of you at upcoming events. Please stay safe and enjoy the community and the beauty that surrounds you.

President’s Corner — Marching On

President’s Corner — Marching On

The change of seasons from winter to spring in DC is always welcome. The shedding of heavy outer wear, the colors of flowers and trees as they begin to blossom, and the sweet songs of birds repeat each year but don’t grow old, no matter how many times we experience them.

ADVOCACY: Age is a hot topic these days, especially in our national politics, where stereotypes and fears are weaponized. Here at East Rock Creek Village, we know that each of us is a unique individual with different capabilities, circumstance and needs. Still, there are local government services that do much to help our community of elders. We are deeply grateful for the support of DC’s Department of Aging and Community Life (DACL), but fear there may be budget cuts affecting our seniors in the next October-to-September fiscal year. AARP’s DC chapter agrees. Check out their priority issues and consider adding your voice to this important call to action.

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: Now, let’s talk about what we have planned for March, starting with an online Open House in honor of Women’s History Month on Thursday, March 7th.  Who are the women in history or in your life who most inspire you? Come share your stories about remarkable women and listen to those of others in our community. Or just come to learn more about ERCV.

AQUARIUM FIELD TRIP: On Monday, March 11, please join our field trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Thanks to our own Bob Learmonth, who is a volunteer diver there, we have a limited number of complimentary tickets still available, and ERCV will be providing rides. Before Bob hops into the tank to feed the fish, he will answer questions and tell us something about his experience as a long-time volunteer. Those of us who went had a wonderful time last year. This may be the last time we will be able to offer this excursion for free, so register while you can!

LUNCH BUNCH & MORE: On Thursday, March 14th, our Lunch Bunch will meet for the first time at Miss Toya’s Creole House in Silver Spring. In honor of “Pi Day” (3/14), be sure to leave room for some Key lime pie! One week later, on March 21st, we’ll have a Spring-themed online bingo game with flowery prizes.

POETRY SALON: On Wednesday, March 27th, we’re having our first Poetry Salon! ERCV is partnering with Day Eight, a local literary nonprofit, which will be supplying us with lunch and a poet! Thanks, Day Eight. We will gather at Takoma Village Cohousing to hear Brandon Douglas, a local award-winning poet, read some of his poems. Afterwards, there will be an opportunity to participate. You can discuss what you’ve heard, share a favorite poem, or bring one of your own to read.  We hope to offer these Poetry Salons quarterly, so come help us introduce this new program and make it a success.

So, with a roar of excitement, let’s start our March, embracing the change of seasons and the vibrant community that is East Rock Creek Village.

–David Mackoff

President’s Corner: January 2024

President’s Corner: January 2024

Bracing For and Embracing the New Year

Happy 2024 to all my friends and neighbors. This year looks to be particularly challenging for many people around the world and for us as citizens of the United States. Conflict and political unrest sweep the globe just as the brisk winds of January sweep our beautiful neighborhoods. There will be much to sort through, much to confront and, I pray, much to celebrate throughout the year. I hope all of you are ready to embrace this new year with warmth, purpose, and a sense of community. I have no doubt that East Rock Creek Village will do so, as it has since it opened its doors eight years ago this month.

Looking Back

Looking back at 2023, we have many things to be proud of. Last year volunteers provided over 600 services for our members. This included hundreds of rides and grocery shopping deliveries, as well as lots of visits, calls, small household tasks, and help with technology. Our compassionate and capable case manager, Barbara Scott, helped ERCV members during times of uncertainty, such as before and after hospital stays, applying for inclusion in government programs, and planning for the future.

We have also helped our members stay active, connected, and engaged. In 2023 we hosted over 500 wellness, educational, and social events. Every season had a special highlight: last spring we kicked off our field trip program at the National Aquarium in Baltimore; in summer we hosted our first live jazz concert at the Parks at Walter Reed; in fall we held our community picnic in Rock Creek Park; and just a few weeks ago we hosted a winter holiday party where more than 80 members, volunteers, and friends came together to enjoy each other’s company, honor our volunteer drivers, celebrate our many 90+ year old members, and generally have a  great time.

What’s Next?

During the pandemic ERCV’s online Armchair Travel program allowed us to explore the world when physical travel was restricted. Post-pandemic it is still a great way to enjoy a winter afternoon at home. On January 18th we will virtually travel to Switzerland with Board member Peter Kramer. On January 25th home organizer Judy Tiger will tell us how decluttering and getting organized can “change chaos to calm” in the new year. Plus, I hope you will register to join the ERCV Lunch Bunch at Jinya, the new ramen restaurant at the Parks at Walter Reed, on January 31st.

So, what’s next for ERCV in 2024?  Why don’t you tell us what you’d like? We’ve posted an online survey to help us select good days, times, and places for upcoming Lunch Bunch and Happy Hour gatherings. We’re elated that so many neighbors regularly attend our activities, but we’re always open to suggestions. At the end of the survey there is an opportunity to propose new programs, so if you have any ideas, please share them. All it takes is an idea and the energy of a few volunteers to make things happen!

Inspired by MLK

This month, our country celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. He famously said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” There is certainly more than enough that needs to be done. Many of us have answered that call in part by serving our neighbors, by supporting and sustaining East Rock Creek Village right here where we live, and, by extension, helping to grow a national Village movement.

As we embark on this new year, let’s ensure that our community thrives. I want to express my sincere thanks to those who have generously contributed year-end donations, and hope all who want to be part of ERCV will decide to join or renew their membership. Together, let us continue to build a caring community that will help us do our part to make 2024, near and far, a year of unexpected blessings.

            –David Mackoff

President’s Corner: Embracing Discomfort, Finding Inspiration, Giving Thanks

David Mackoff, President


More than one thing can be true at the same time. It can be mid-autumn and be nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The sky can be bright blue, colorful leaves can decorate our neighborhoods, and the world can be in crisis. The last few weeks have been especially fraught, from the horrific massacres by Hamas in Israel and the heartbreaking violence that has ensued, to the uncertainty of the People’s House functioning and our federal government staying open. We can appreciate the good and be stricken by the bad. How do we keep our hearts open to the discomfort of awareness without being immobilized by it?

ERCV Can Help.

We can stay connected, active, and caring. Come take a walk with us to see the leaves turning, volunteer and help a neighbor, meet with our Lunch Bunch, or welcome new members and volunteers at our online Open House. Any of these are chances to talk about the challenges of the day and share gratitude for the good that surrounds us. In these days leading up to Thanksgiving, let us help each other keep moving forward together.

Perhaps we can take inspiration from those who have come before us. On Monday, November 13th, we will take a field trip to the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) to see the paintings of Alma Thomas. Ms. Thomas began her professional career as an artist when she was almost 70, after retiring after 35 years as an art teacher at DC’s Shaw Junior High School. As a bonus treat, our museum docent will be Melissa Clark, who led our Armchair Travel SAAM virtual tours throughout the pandemic. Don’t miss this special field trip. Register now.

Part of the Village Movement.

Remember, we are not alone in this journey. We ERCVers are an integral part of the Village Movement, a force reshaping the aging paradigm and enhancing our quality of life. Recently, I had the privilege of attending two National Village Gatherings — one virtual, one in person in Silver Spring — alongside a remarkable group of ERCV volunteer leaders. There we engaged with Village leaders from all over the United States and learned ways in which Villages are improving people’s lives. It was inspiring.

In the face of adversity, let us give thanks for our sustenance, for our loved ones, for the strength we find in one another, and for the caring communities we build. Together, we can overcome any obstacle. Together, we can do our part to create a kinder, more compassionate world.

— David Mackoff

President’s Corner: Into Autumn  October 2023

President’s Corner: Into Autumn October 2023

Into Autumn

John Keats’ ode “To Autumn” celebrates the fleeting beauty of these months as a “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”. Truly this is a time to savor the weather, share our bounty with others, and take time to plant seeds for future feasts. In a nutshell, that’s what we at East Rock Creek Village are doing this month.

To begin, if you are reading this note on Sunday, October 1st, it may not be too late to come to our community picnic at Carter Barron in Rock Creek Park. We will be there between 3:30 and 6:30pm at Picnic Area #24 with plenty of free food and, I’m sure, having fun with ERCVers we know or are just meeting. I hope you can come join us!

In addition, we have an abundance of activities on offer throughout the month, some online via Zoom, some in person. Online you can come to our Open House and discussion on Thursday, October 12th, or, if you’d like a good chance to win prizes and have a laugh or three, come in costume (or not) to our spooky Halloween-themed online bingo game on Thursday, October 26th. Every Friday at 3:00pm you can stretch with friends at our chair yoga classes. Plus there is plenty of room for new participants in our latest StrongerMemory brain exercise group.

In person, you can join us for neighborhood walks on Mondays and Wednesdays amidst the falling leaves, or come to our Otago Fall Prevention classes every Tuesday and Thursday at the Shepherd Park Library. Or you can kick back with friends at our popular happy hour gathering at Olive Lounge on Thursday, October 19th. And don’t miss our field trip to the East Wing of the National Gallery at the end of the month. There is something for everyone to enjoy!

Do remember that October is the beginning of Medicare Open Enrollment. This is a good time to see what, if anything, you need to update or change. Please let us know if you need help sorting through your options. This is also an important time to get vaccinated. Getting your flu, RSV, and new COVID-19 shots now will help protect you through the winter months. We have masks and tests for those who need them, and volunteers who are ready to help you.

Let’s stay rooted even as cooler breezes begin to blow. I hope we’ll make this October one to remember by taking good care of ourselves and each other and celebrating our neighbors’ presence in our lives. East Rock Creek Village thrives when we all contribute and connect – as volunteers or simply as neighbors. I hope to see you this month, whether at our picnic today or at one of our upcoming activities.

            –David Mackoff

President’s Corner: Embracing the Season

President’s Corner: Embracing the Season

Schools are reopeDavid Mackoff, Presidentning and Labor Day is approaching. Temperatures are slowly beginning to cool. Before we know it, autumn will be here. September is a time of transitions and an opportunity for fresh starts and exciting adventures.

What kinds of adventures, you may ask? How about a field trip to see the wonders of the Glenstone museum? Our Village will have a group going there on September 7th. If you are interested, please register for it today, so our volunteers will know how many complimentary tickets and rides to arrange.

Last month’s online Open House offered a treat when ERCV member Rima Shaffer shared her beautiful photographs of her summer garden. You can see a few of her “Amaryllis Series” photos on our website here. Who knows what we will see, hear, and learn at this month’s gathering on Thursday, Sept 14th?  I hope you’ll be there. Also in August, we had a sizeable turnout for our happy hour at Olive Lounge, and we’ll be meeting there again this month. Come have a refreshing drink and perhaps an early dinner with your fellow Villagers on Thursday, September 21st.

Don’t forget that our October 1st community picnic in Rock Creek Park is just around the corner. Now is the time to register to join us. We will supply all the food and drink, but we would appreciate the help of a few more volunteers to assist with planning, setup, and cleanup.

Remember, every day is a chance for a fresh start, and the crisp autumn weather to come can give us renewed energy. I encourage everyone to seek and embrace new opportunities, nurture friendships, and cultivate healthy habits. Being an active member of East Rock Creek Village is an excellent way to get a jumpstart on the season. I hope that we will all enjoy my favorite month of the year!

I want to wish the most important man in my life, my father Benjamin, a very happy 90thbirthday. May he celebrate many more! And finally, to all who celebrate the Jewish High Holidays, I wish a sweet new year and a meaningful time of reflection. L’chaim! To life!

            –David Mackoff

Amaryllis Series by Rima Shaffer — Summer 2023

Amaryllis Series by Rima Shaffer — Summer 2023

Here are some of the beautiful photographs taken this summer by ERCV member Rima Shaffer.of the amaryllis flowering in her front yard garden She shared them at our August Open House. Do you have art that you want to share either online or in person? We want to celebrate ERCV Creatives all year long.


President’s Corner: Summer Heat and Cool Connections

DC is hot, hot, hot! Perhaps our sidewalks are not as scorching as those in Phoenix nor our waters as scalding as those off Miami Beach, but it’s still steamy in this city built atop a swamp. Our area is heating up in other ways as well: positively, with new businesses opening in The Parks at Walter Reed and new neighbors moving into our community, and negatively, with an upsurge in violent crime that has directly harmed so many and diminishes the well-being of us all.

In such times, it is important that we are here for each other, celebrating and supporting one another in both good and challenging times. The strength of East Rock Creek Village lies in our being a caring community. Together we can beat whatever heat comes our way.

One new way ERCV and the other DC Villages are supporting our communities is through the creation, as I mentioned in my last column, of the DC Villages Collaborative (DCVC). I am pleased to be representing ERCV on the supervisory Collaboration Council which plans to hire a director as soon as possible. Once up and running, the DCVC will focus its attention on some things the individual Villages have been doing informally for years, namely working together and sharing resources for Villages’ mutual benefit. Its other mission, over time, will be to help establish new Villages in unserved areas of the city. I hope that in the coming years we will connect more people with Villages and enhance the support and services available to older adults throughout the city.

This month, please take some time to rest and relax. Pour an ice-cold drink and join our “Staying Cool” online Open House on August 10th. If you’re inclined to brave the heat, come improve your strength and balance by participating in our in-person Otago fall prevention exercise classes. Or join us as we visit the MLK Library on August 14th to see a rare exhibit of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and explore the many other excellent exhibits on display. For the MLK Library trip sign up here to register, and do let us know what other field trips you would like to see us offer in the future. And, as always, be sure to let us know if you need a ride to the doctor or help with your groceries.

There are so many ways that ERCV can be here for you. Consider becoming a neighbor-helping ERCV volunteer and help us prepare for the cooler days ahead. Meanwhile, I want to express my gratitude to all of you for making East Rock Creek Village a welcoming, thriving community. Stay cool!