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News of interest to ARCRA members

  • 03/20/2020 11:20 AM | Anonymous

    Public health experts encourage people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 — fever, cough and shortness of breath — to call their health care provider before seeking care in person or going to the emergency room or urgent care.  Calling your health care provider first helps avoid spreading germs to others. Telehealth, including virtual visits and video check-ins, are a way to deter the virus from spreading in health care settings — especially to high-risk individuals such as older adults and people with underlying health conditions.  More testing facilities are becoming available but do require an order from your doctor to get the test. 

    To prevent the spread of this illness or other illnesses, including the flu:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water,
    • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze,
    • Stay home if you are sick or have any flu symptoms
    • Call your doctor if you think you're ill.
    • Contact your health care provider before visiting the emergency room, urgent care, or your doctor’s office
    If you think you may have been exposed and you have COVID-19 symptoms-fever, cough, and shortness of breath-contact your health care provider.  Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.   

    Call 911 if you develop warning signs of a serious health threat including:

    • difficulty breathing
    • persistent pain in the chest
    • confusion
    • blueness of lips and/or face

     Visit The Centers for Disease Control website for information on the Coronavirus.  Jay Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases at CDC, describes preventative measures to help protect older adults from COVID-19 in this  video.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjcoN9Aek24

    Also check out National Foundation of Infectious Diseases common questions and answers about COVID-19 for Older Adults and People with Chronic Health Conditions

  • 03/11/2020 2:09 PM | Anonymous

    At this time, the risk of exposure for the general public in the United States remains low. However, because this outbreak is changing, we strongly urge members to keep themselves well-informed.

    Information & Resources:

    Hand Washing Guidelines:

    Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds:

    • Whenever you arrive home or enter a building
    • Before food preparation and eating
    • After using the restroom
    • After coughing or sneezing
    • After blowing one’s nose or assisting a child with blowing their nose
  • 03/09/2020 12:54 PM | Anonymous

    The most consistent piece of advice on how to protect yourself from the Coronavirus and the flu is to wash your hands often and to wash them for 20 seconds.  How long is 20 seconds you ask?  Long enough to Sing Happy Birthday twice or to sing Your ABC's.  

    If you're tired of those options, consider these generational choices provided by CNN.  What about a hit from the 60s..."My Girl" by The Temptations.

  • 02/25/2020 10:05 AM | Anonymous

    If you or someone you may know is interested in any of these NHQ opportunities please email NHQVolRecruiter@redcross.org. Individuals can also express interest in an opportunity directly through Volunteer Connection by clicking the ‘Opportunities’ tab where you can see all opportunities (both local and national) that are available.

    The following Disaster Cycle Services positions require at least 2 years of Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services experience, a knowledge and understanding of Red Cross services and operations and deployment to at least 2 nationally led disaster response operations.

    Government Operations – Manager Volunteer Partner

    • This important position will oversee a team of skilled National Response Coordination Center (NRCC)/Disaster Operations Coordination Center (DOCC) volunteers and ensure sufficient communication and training. The position will also pro-actively identify and respond to challenges impacting the NRCC/DOCC volunteer team and their ability to support FEMA with steps to address those challenges and help develop and update documentation and guidance for the NRCC/DOCC volunteer team. Please note this position requires the ability to attend meetings at the Fairfax or NHQ office so being in close proximity to Washington, DC is required.

    Government Operations – National Exercise Coordinator

    • The purpose of the national exercise coordinator is to serve as the Red Cross representative at federal partners' national exercise meetings and coordinate Red Cross participation in such exercises. The coordinator essentially represents Red Cross interests and capabilities to federal partners during exercise planning and preparation, managing internal and external expectations. Candidates must have experience specifically in Sheltering, Feeding or Distribution of Emergency Supplies, and managing and/or designing exercises and coordinating exercise participation. This is a remote/virtual work from home position.

    Government Operations – NRCC – DOCC Liaison

    • National Response Coordination Center (NRCC)/Disaster Operations Coordination Center (DOCC) liaisons are responsible for ensuring Red Cross actions are aligned with, supportive of and complementary to government. They essentially represent the Red Cross to external partners at the NRCC, manage internal and external expectations, establish and monitor situational awareness, and seek, collect, evaluate and communicate critical information. NRCC-DOCC liaisons have the overarching responsibility of building trust and fostering collaboration between the Red Cross and government partners at the national level. Please note that this position requires the ability to attend meetings and travel to the Fairfax office so candidates should be in close proximity (4 hour train ride recommendation). This position also requires a minimum 2 years experience in Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services OR minimum 2 years management experience in an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). It is also preferred that individuals have deployed to Emergency Operation Centers at the State or FEMA Regional level in a large-scale disaster response operations.

  • 02/25/2020 9:56 AM | Anonymous


    AARP Foundation Tax-Aide: Offers free tax preparation assistance Feb. 1 through April 15. You don’t have to be an AARP member, and there’s no age requirement to get tax help from IRS-certified trained volunteers.  Check the Tax-Aide Site Locator for locations or call 888-227-7669 toll-free.

    Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA):  IRS-certified VITA volunteers provide tax-preparation services to older Americans, low- and moderate-income filers, people with disabilities and those with limited English language skills. Generally, taxpayers must have an annual income below $55,000 to qualify. Call 800-906-9887 to find a nearby VITA site. Online assistance is also available.

    IRS Free File:  About 70 percent of taxpayers are eligible to file federal tax returns online through IRS Free File, which connects single filers and families with annual income below $69,000 to free filing software from select partners like TaxAct and TurboTax. To browse options and confirm your eligibility, visit Free File Software Offers page.

    IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs)

    Help is also available at local IRS offices that host a Taxpayer Assistance Center. All TACs now operate by appointment; services may vary by office. Check the IRS site to find a location near you.

  • 02/25/2020 9:51 AM | Anonymous

    Read about a Hurricane Dorian survivor's desire to give back after losing so much. Pamela decided to become a Bahamas Red Cross volunteer to help others going through hardships following the hurricane. New photos and quotes from Hurricane Dorian recovery are available in the photo library as well.

  • 02/04/2020 3:38 PM | Anonymous

    Information taken from a message from Cliff Holtz, American Red Cross Chief Operation Officer.

    Over the past week, there has been much interest and discussion regarding the outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has recently been identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and other locations worldwide. 

    On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of this 2019 Coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. While there is uncertainty about how this situation will evolve, the immediate risk in the U.S. remains relatively low.

    Internal Taskforce 
    As an organization, the American Red Cross has decades of experience responding to these emerging global health emergencies, and is fortunate to have tremendous expertise and institutional knowledge on staff who are working closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration to collaborate and advise.

    Red Cross has pulled together an enterprise-wide taskforce from all lines of service and functional departments to ensure messaging alignment, coordinated outreach as needed, and line of sight into all related operational activities or process changes related to this virus. 

    Response Efforts
    At this time, the American Red Cross is closely monitoring the spread of this 2019 coronavirus. To ensure Red Cross is prepared and coordinated, a  nationally led level 3 Disaster Relief Operation and an Operation Order detailing potential American Red Cross services has been issued. The organization is currently working with government agencies and state officials to determine what Red Cross support may be needed in the coming days and weeks. 

    Overseas, the Red Cross of China is supporting its government to help meet the huge and sudden demand for medical items including masks and gowns. International Red Cross societies are also working with health authorities to educate communities about how to mitigate the spread of this virus and informing people how to stay healthy.

    Blood Safety
    Scientific experts state that the risk of contracting any coronavirus through a blood transfusion is extremely low because of the current domestic health screening process for blood donors.  To date, there have been no reported transfusion transmissions of respiratory viruses including coronaviruses and influenza-like viruses worldwide.

    Out of an abundance of caution, the Red Cross is working to implement a deferral for individuals who have traveled to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. Right now, the Red Cross asks that all individuals who have traveled to China self-defer, or to postpone their blood or platelet donation until 28 days following return to the U.S.

    On Feb.10, the Red Cross will formally implement this travel deferral, once employee training and process updates are completed.  Red Cross will continue to evaluate all emerging risks in collaboration with AABB, FDA and CDC to determine if additional intervention strategies will be needed as the situation evolves.

    Health Safety Tips
    As always, Red Cross urges simple precautions to prevent the spread of any respiratory infection. Here are a couple quick tips you can use now and all year-round:

    • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.

    For the latest information on the coronavirus outbreak, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.

  • 01/02/2020 3:16 PM | Anonymous

    On Monday, January 6, the American Red Cross will launch a critical need for blood types, especially type O, and platelet donations nationwide to help ensure blood products are available for ongoing patient care and emergencies.  Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of type O blood.  This blood type is the most needed blood group by hospitals but is often the first to run out...given its ability to help so many patients.  With more winter weather inevitably on the way and a wide-spread outbreak of influenza in 39 states, the Red Cross encourages all eligible individuals to give help to those in need.  Go to www.redcrossblood.org to make an appointment.

  • 12/30/2019 11:29 AM | Anonymous

    We all know a Red Cross staffer or volunteer who made an impact on us personally and that we would like to pay tribute to in a special way.  Consider making a donation to ARCRA "in honor of" that person.  The "honoree" will be notified of your thoughtfulness.

    Donated funds to ARCRA are used to support and further the mission of the association and also to cover the annual membership fee for fellow retirees who are no longer able to afford it.  

    To make a donation, click on the DONATE button in the navigation bar at the top of the ARCRA website.  Note information about the honoree in the comment section so that we can contact them.  You can also send a check.  Make the check payable to ARCRA and send to ARCRA, PO BOX 1581, Vienna, VA 22180.  Please include contact information about your honoree.

    Because of our tax status, as a membership organization that advocates for its members, gifts are not tax deductible.

  • 12/03/2019 5:47 PM | Anonymous

    by Jack Campbell, ARCRA Treasurer

    Many retirees have wrestled with tax planning issues, especially as we enter our mid-sixties and seventies.  I am not a tax professional but my financial planning adviser has been very helpful in pointing out things to consider in order to simplify family finances and reduce income taxes.  My situation may be similar to some of you so here are a few things to consider. 

    !.  Consider consolidating multiple tax deferred accounts.  When I left Red Cross in 2004 I had accounts with several investment companies by virtue of participating in various 403(b) and 401(k) tax deferred savings programs.  The same thing occurred with my subsequent employer.  When I retired, I continued to get statements from each vendor.  In addition, depending on when each account was established, there were different asset allocation strategies (higher to lower investment risk) which did not reflect my current appetite for market risk.  Consolidating all of your tax deferred accounts into one IRA, with an updated asset allocation strategy, should be considered.  In addition, it can simplify withdrawals, especially once you hit 70 ½, when Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) kick in.

    In your first RMD payout year, you have the option of delaying your payment until April 1 of the following year.  Example:  I turned 70 1/2 in 2019 so I had to withdraw a prescribed percentage of my tax deferred account(s) value as of December 31, 2018.  People like me, who were taking their first payout, had until April 1, 2020 to do so.  However, think twice before delaying that first payout since you can’t delay future payouts beyond December 31, which would result in two payouts in one year, (in this example, 2020). 

    Also, if you have hit 70 ½ and still have multiple IRA and 401(k) accounts, payout criteria can be different.  Remember that 401(k) payouts cannot be aggregated like IRA payouts can.  If you have multiple IRA accounts, you can take all of your IRA RMDs from one IRA account versus a little bit from each one.  If you have two or more 401(k) accounts, you have to take the required amount from each one based on their values on December 31 of the prior year.

    2.  Consider reducing your taxable RMD withdrawals with Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD).  Each person’s financial situation is different but if you have been fortunate enough to still have significant tax deferred account balances (whether you consolidated or not), you can reduce the amount of the annual RMD by a contribution to a 501(c)(3) charity.  This allows you to reduce the taxable amount of your RMD by the donation, and still take the full standard deduction.  Also, by reducing your Adjusted Gross Income, you may be able to lower your Medicare premiums if you are paying in excess of the standard monthly amount due to your income level.

    Let’s say that you give periodic contributions to a religious institution or charity during the year.  With the new tax law in effect in 2018, including higher standard deductions, you may not get any tax benefit from those contributions, because the standard deduction is higher than your total itemized deductions.  Enter the QCD!  You can direct some or all of your annual RMD, up to $100,000 annually, to one or more charities.  Instead of weekly or monthly contributions to the same charity with no tax benefit, send them one donation from your RMD and reduce your taxable income. 

    Just be aware of several things about QCD’s:

    a.  As noted before, you can only distribute to 501(c)(3) charities.

    b.  You can only do this with distributions from IRAs.  QCDs can’t be used to reduce income from pension payments or 401(k) payouts.

    c.  The 1099-R you will receive from your IRA provider will not reduce your RMD amount by the QCD.  You have to do this yourself before entering the amount on your tax return.

    d.  Most importantly, consult with your tax preparer or advisor regarding how to distribute the QCD and disclose it on your return.

    Let me stress that some of the considerations above were a result of advice I received from a financial planning professional, but everyone’s tax and financial situations are different.  Consult your adviser to discuss these and other options that will fit your particular situation.

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