1.  Each person brings one (or more) White Elephant Gift, either a new or gently used item.   It should be wrapped, with no identifying tag so the contents are a mystery.  Each gift should be worth, roughly, no more than $20.  They may be “nice” gifts or “unusual” gifts” or “funny” gifts.
  2.  Each person will pick a number from “the hat” which will be the number order of how gifts are picked/
  3.   We will follow the standard rules of White Elephant Exchanges, as follows:
  4.  The first player selects a gift from the gift pool and opens it making sure everyone can see the gift!
  5. The following players can choose to either pick an unwrapped gift from the pool, or steal a previous player’s gift.
  6. Anyone who gets their gift stolen in this way can do the same – choose a new gift, or steal from someone else.
  7. A present can only be stolen once per turn, which means players who have a gift stolen from them have to wait to get it back.
  8. During the swapping of one person’s turn, after three swaps, the turn automatically comes to an end (otherwise things could drag on for a long time).
  9. After all players have had a turn, the first player gets a chance to swap the gift he or she is holding for any other opened gift. Anyone whose gift is stolen may steal from someone else (as long as that person hasn’t been stolen from yet). When someone declines to steal a gift, the game comes to an end.
  10. Note that for this last “extra” turn, the three-swap rule doesn’t apply. Players can keep swapping until someone decides to stand pat, or there are no other eligible people to steal from.

U. S. Rep. Mike Quigley

September 6, 2022 Northside AARP Community Group Meeting

Watch and learn all about what you can do, as 5th U.S.District Representative Mike Quigley shares his views and experiences on: Social Security; Medicare’s Future; COLA; Guns in America; Election Finance; Postal Service; Trip to Ukraine; Earmarks for the 5th District; Personal Experience on January 6th in Washington.

July 5, 2022 Meeting

Restore our Democracy – A non-partisan presentation bringing to light issues of concern to all

In case you missed it or want to review some or all of the timely information Mr. Ed Spire, from Restore Our Democracy Project, share at our July 5, 2022 meeting, click on the above video and you can watch the whole presentation or choose from the topics that include:

Organizing for Action
The Problem with our Democracy
Money in Politics
Princeton University’s Study
Suggestions on the Fix
What you can do.
Rank Choice Voting
Witness Slips.

Dr. Anne Scheetz, M.d.

Imagine, if you can, a healthcare system that covers everyone from birth to death, is automatic and does not change. This system covers all healthcare including vision, dental, mental, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, reproductive care, insulin…and all, with no out-of-pocket expenses to the individual. “Pie in the sky, crazy and not possible” you insist? Then you never met Dr. Anne Scheetz founder of the Illinois Single Payer Coalition.

Attendees at Northside AARP’s Community Group regular meeting, March 2, 2021 celebrated Women’s History Month and got to meet Dr. Scheetz (and now you can too by watching the above video) who not only described so well, what many of us would like from our healthcare, but also showed us how we can get there. She did this first by describing our present healthcare system which, according to Dr. Scheetz is expensive, has poor outcomes, with multiple barriers to access, care deserts, placing high financial burdens on individuals, and if all this isn’t enough it is highly inefficient and inequitable.

Dr. Scheetz through her above talk and Q and A tells us about the progress made to date and how we can go beyond imagining and actually achieve a more equitable and just healthcare system for all. She suggests that we all visit the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition webpage where we can find and sign a petition to Senators Durbin and Duckworth to stop taking money from the for-profit health care sector. She suggests that we watch the June 2019 video of the AMA action that was the final step in getting the the AMA to withdraw from the anti-Medicare for all Partnership for America’s Health Care future. Finally she seeks your input on the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition Working Group on Long-Term Care draft.

Northside AARP Community Group, nows your chance to make a difference in not only dreaming but actually bringing about a better healthcare system for all. Thank you Dr. Scheetz for your vision, inspiration and untiring work for all of us.

Dr. Anne Sheetz Helps Observe Women’s History Month 2021

AARP Northside Community Group will observe Women’s History Month 2021 by proudly presenting Dr. Anne Scheetz, an author, physician and founding member of the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition as the speaker at our March 2, Zoom meeting. In this post Dr. Scheetz shares some basic ideas of what makes a good healthcare system and some of her own work.

A single-payer health program, also known as national improved Medicare for all, is the only proposed reform of the US healthcare system that can guarantee access to all necessary health care for every person living in the US, with no financial barriers or burdens, and with free choice of providers. It is the only proposed reform that can address the serious racial inequities in health and health care that shame us as a country. It is the only reform that can raise millions of people out of poverty by eliminating all out-of-pocket medical expenses. It is the only reform that puts people over profits. It is the only reform that treats health care as a human right. 

The enemies of single-payer health care are powerful and wealthy: health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, investor-owned for-profit hospitals and nursing homes and dialysis centers, hedge fund operators that invest for profit in mental health and addiction treatment, among others. In order to win against these powerful enemies, we must work together across many lines.

Some of my own work involves organizing with disability rights activists toward home-and-community-based long-term care services under national improved Medicare for all; supporting the struggles for justice of organized labor; and joining with groups fighting for Chicago’s public mental health clinics, for the U of C trauma center, and for Mercy Hospital as it is threatened with closure. We work together through one-on-one meetings, petitions, talks to groups, social media campaigns, and public actions, among other means. We recognize that we are in a long difficult struggle and we will continue, however long it takes, until we win. 

Come March 2, listen to Dr. Scheetz and get involved by sharing your own experience and thoughts around healthcare and the important contributions women have made and continue to make in bringing justice and hope to all.

How We Got to Today

A Conversation with Don Bell

In our last post, Participate: Transform your World, we invited you to “…transform your world by listening to a possibly different view of American History than you were taught.” We hope you were able to join us, but just in case you were not, we are posting Don’s presentation today and inviting you to join in the conversation by making a comment below.

In his presentation Don begins by sharing his experience on January 6 of this year watching the TV coverage of the certification of the United States November 2020 election results. If you watched it, you probably shared his astonishment and wonder leading his to ask himself: “How did we get to this?” Don being a retired higher education administrator, a community activist and a history buff had some ideas, ideas he agreed to share with Northside AARP Community Group at our February monthly meeting. 

At our February meeting, Don mentions racial reckoning and invites us all to suspend our beliefs and venture beyond what we were taught opening ourselves up to another view. If you are like me, you were taught: that the American Continent was settled from East to West; that Africans first came to the United States in 1619; that only Africans came here as slaves… Don points out some discrepancies in these “facts”.

Don talks about our common ancestry and how we all came out of Africa thousands of years ago. He points out that “White” is not biological trait, but rather a socio-political one–a measure of ones status in our society. He reminds us of men like Benjamin Banneker and Jean-Baptiste DeSable. He tells us how free Africans helped establish the oldest American city, St. Augustine, Florida .

Thanks, Don for an enlightening and challenging presentation of a history I personally was somewhat familiar with, but with little of the laser focus you presented. I personally never thought of “White” as a social-political quality. I thought of it as a biological marker. I now know that I was mistaken. I knew a little, but very little of the facts you present from the US Census Bureau. Wow! so much injustice. Thank you. You have given me much information I need to think about but maybe more importantly begin to do something about.

Dan O’Donnell retired from Chicago Public Schools where he taught at the now closed Montefiore Special School from 1970 – 1980 and then again from 1997 -2007. From 1980 to 1997 he sold life insurance as an Agent for the Mass Mutual and broker for many other companies. Presently Dan spends his days writing and developing online learning opportunities. During his sixteen-year hiatus from teaching he remained in contact with Montefiore serving on the PTA and Local School Council as the community representative. 

To the total chagrin of his sister Marianne, a stay-at-home mother of four, Dan’s proudest recognition came when Montefiore Principal Bernie Carlin nominated him as the Parent of the Year. Dan, as Marianne would tell you, never spent one night up with a colicky child… 

Dan’s work experience taught him to respect and learn from people whose life’s paths differed from his own. Dan believes, that despite often feeling like an outsider, he belongs right where he finds himself, and that all that is gift. 

Participate: Transform Your World

If your school experience was anything like mine, you were taught to seek “truth” and avoid innuendo hearsay and rumors. “Just tell the facts and let them speak for themselves”. I was further told that I could get the truth by reading certain books, newspapers and magazines as well as avoiding others. No one told me that all those suggestions were biased, that is they had a political agenda.

Paulo Freire (1921-1997) a Brazilian educator and author, growing up poor during the Great Depression of the 1930’s in Brazil and losing his father at the age of thirteen dedicated his life to improving the lives of the poor and marginalized. He saw the world differently than many of his contemporaries in Brazil often putting him at odds with those politically in control. Eventually, he prevailed and told his story leading to many awards and honorary degrees among them, the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education.

Freire taught that while there may be one truth, we all, and that includes the poorest and most marginalized among us, have a distinct view of the truth based upon our experience. He further taught that we all need to listen to everyone, maybe especially to those whose experience is much different than our own, and hence their view of the truth may also be very different. In short he:

believed education could not be divorced from politics; the act of teaching and learning are considered political acts in and of themselves. Freire defined this connection as a main tenet of critical pedagogy. Teachers and students must be made aware of the politics that surround education. The way students are taught and what they are taught serves a political agenda. Teachers, themselves, have political notions they bring into the classroom.[49] Freire believed that Education makes sense because women and men learn that through learning they can make and remake themselves, because women and men are able to take responsibility for themselves as beings capable of knowing—of knowing that they know and knowing that they don’t.[50]


You can participate in Northside AARP’s monthly meeting this coming Tuesday, February 2 12:30 pm on Zoom to transform your world by listening to a possibly different view of American History than you were taught. We do this believing as Freire did, that hearing another view can help make us better people. One of our own neighbors, Don Bell will share his understanding of American History. Don is a retired higher education administrator and community activist.

Happy Thanksgiving 2020

Northside AARP Community Group wishes you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving. The year 2020 has and continues to challenge us as no other year has since our founding. We also want to thank you for your involvement in our efforts. Together we continue to make a difference by serving one another.

We are grateful for our presenters who can be found on Learn and Get Involved in this year of COVID-19. We started the year looking at how media influences our perceptions of candidates, took a look at Ballot Ready and Zoomed with Dick Simpson, David Orr, Willie Ree Shaw and Betty O’Shaughnessy. We also watched an interview with Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer on the topic of older voters, all of this hoping to help each other be responsible voters in this year’s national election.

Finally we would like to share with you the above video See how a Simple act of kindness Creates an Endless Ripple from Viddsee a platform for storytellers who: “…hope to empower storytellers with Viddsee’s platform by curating, marketing, and creating content that we know our audiences will engage with anywhere on their desktop and mobile devices.” We think it expresses well, our belief of the importance of serving one another through simple often unnoticed acts of kindness.

Dr. Bill’s November 2020 Report

Retired Doctor William Komaiko reports at Northside AARP Community Group’s monthly meeting keeping members entertained and informed. His November report includes a brief summary of seven current medical studies from around the world possibly explaining such phenomena as our current political divide, the building blocks of the origin of life, new ways of diagnosing diseases and changes in our understanding of how our bodies work. These reports are not meant to give medical advice, but only briefly present snippets of work being done on our behalf by the scientific community. Click on the above video and feel free to “Comment” below.

Salute to Our Veterans

Happy Veterans Day to our members and family members who served in the United States Armed forces on their special day this November 11, 2020. The above short but heartfelt video lists the names of our heroes. We invite you to join in the salute with a simple comment using a 👍 and/or, if you’re so inclined some words. 

Recognizing that we have probably omitted members or family member(s) who have served. we apologize and request that you add yours or your family members name(s) in the comments so we all might recognized them this year as well as in the years to come.

We also encourage you to visit The Old Farmer’s Almanac to get a full history of Veteran’s Day as well as ten specific ways you can show your appreciation with simple acts like displaying a U. S. Flag or calling a vet to wish them Happy Veterans Day.