Columbia River Chapter MOAA

Personal Affairs

COLUMBIA RIVER CHAPTER

MEMBER SERVICES COMMITTEE

ANNUAL REPORT FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2017

Submitted by: Terry Babin, Chairman Membership Services Committee on January 20, 2018

 Committee Overview:

 Committee Mission: Develop and support activities which encourage active participation and long-term membership in the Chapter.

  1. Committee Members:
  • Chairman—also serves as the Chapter’s Personal Affairs representative.
  • Service Representatives
  • Surviving Spouse Representative
  • Immediate Past President

Responsibility: Establish and maintain a program for welcoming new members and their spouses.

  1. New Member Orientations with a brunch hosted by the Executive Board were held during February and August.
  2. The Chapter’s New Member Sponsor Program was implemented during 2017 with mixed results:
  • Program Objectives:
    • Introduce a new member to other Chapter members.
    • Help the new member become familiar with the primary functions of the Chapter.
    • Encourage participation in Chapter activities and events.
    • Build a relationship with the new member and the Chapter which encourages long-term retention and involvement.
  • General procedures were approved during late spring of 2016 with Service Representatives and other members acting as sponsors
  • Program commenced September 2016
  • While every new member did have a sponsor, there were problems:
    • Serviced Representatives either were not available at times, or already were sponsoring two or more new members.
    • General procedures were not followed after initial contact.
  • Program will be evaluated and possible changes made during 2018.

Responsibility: Support a system to keep contact with members—designated as the “Keeping Connected” system.

  1. Updated Call Lists, and added a new caller to the subcommittee of volunteer phone callers.
  2. Phone calls to Chapter members made during April and October.
  3. Used e-mail follow-up when unable to make phone contact.
  4. Thirty-seven (37) Action Items were identified during the two phone call series, and action was taken and completed by Chapter officers.
  5. The attrition of callers and back-up callers has reached a critical level. Plans for having a spring 2018 call series are currently on hold pending recruitment of at least 2 more callers, and no further losses.

Responsibility: Provide personal affairs services.

  1. Provided casualty assistance for one (1) family of a deceased member including coordination of funeral and military honors
  2. Provided special assistance to resolve VA care issues for one (1) member.
  3. Assisted a Surviving Spouse to resolve a VA furnished headstone issue at a local U.S. Army-administered cemetery
  4. Sent sympathy and “get well” cards to ten (10) members and spouses.
  5. Provided personal affairs planning pamphlets, checklists, documentation assistance, and other support for eleven (11) members and their families.
  6. Made four (4) hospital visits to seriously ill members.
  7. Regularly published articles in Chapter’s newsletter about personal affair’s planning and also Membership Services Committee activities.

Responsibility:  Coordinate with Membership and Program Committees.

  1. Membership Committee Coordination: Continued coordination to ensure timely assignment of sponsors for new members.
  2. Program Committee Coordination: Participated regularly in planning Chapter programs.

Special Committee Activity:  Surviving Spouse Information Sheet.

 The Committee Chairman and the Surviving Spouse Representative co-authored an Information Sheet to help surviving spouses, and other family members, navigate the challenges arising from the loss of a member.  A copy of that paper is attached to this report.  The information includes:

  • A description of the role, and help available from, the Chapter’s Surviving Spouse Representative.
  • Time-sensitive actions the surviving spouse (or family) need to take.
  • Chapter resources available.
  • MOAA membership as a Surviving spouse.

 

COLUMBIA RIVER CHAPTER

INFORMATION for SURVIVING SPOUSES

Submitted by Terry Babin, Membership Services Committee chair & Terry Whisenant, Surviving  Spouse Liaison

Who Is a MOAA Surviving Spouse:

A “surviving spouse” is the widow or widower of a Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) member.  There is no distinction made between spouses who were married during the MOAA member’s active or reserve service, and those spouses who married the service member after release from active duty or retirement.  All surviving spouses are welcomed, and encouraged to participate in the Columbia River Chapter, MOAA, operations and activities.
The Chapter’s Surviving Spouse Representative:
The Chapter’s Surviving Spouse Representative is your key “go to” person.  The Representative will help connect you with other Chapter officers and supporting resources.  The Representative is also a voting member of the Chapter’s Executive Board in order to ensure that surviving spouses’ interests and concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
Some surviving spouses have not previously been active in the Chapter.  The Surviving Spouse Representative is your personal advisor and friend to help introduce you to other members, and make it easy to participate to the extent you are able.
Why the Following Information Is Important:
The loss of a loved one can create difficult challenges for the surviving spouse.
The process of settling personal affairs is complicated by the additional decisions and government-generated paperwork involved in the case of the death of a member, retired member, or veteran of the uniformed services.  Columbia River Chapter representatives can usually provide information and assistance to help in your transition to a new phase of your life.
What You Need to Do When a MOAA Member Spouse Dies:
Chapter assistance should be requested as soon as possible after the death of a MOAA member.  You, or a family or legal representative, should contact either the Chapter’s Chairman, Membership Services Committee (MSC), or the Chapter’s Surviving Spouse Representative.  The phone numbers are listed on the front page of the Chapter’s Newsletter, and also provided on the Chapter’s web site (www.moaacolumbiariver.org).
The funeral director usually makes the arrangements for any military honors and internment (including at government-operated cemeteries).  You may, however, contact the Chapter’s MSC Chairman if you have questions about your government-furnished options before making a decision.
The Chapter web site includes a checklist for survivors about time-sensitive actions which need to be done following the death of a member.  A Personal Affairs representative from the MSC can help you or your family representative complete the actions listed on the checklist—particularly those actions which require completion of government benefits’ forms and coordination with government agencies.
The National Headquarters of MOAA (1-(800)-234-6622) should also be notified by you or your legal representative as soon as possible after the death of a MOAA spouse.  The member’s membership number can be found on the address label of MOAA’s Military Officer magazine.  If you desire that the notice of passing be included in the next edition of the Military Officer, then the call must be made by the primary next-of-kin.
MOAA and You:
MOAA has long-recognized that survivors of active, reserve, retired, and veterans of the uniformed Services may be entitled to certain benefits and privileges earned by the service member’s service and sacrifices.  MOAA is dedicated to preserving and improving the legislation governing those benefits and privileges, and helping those eligible receive their full entitlement.  Our local Chapter can also be part of your social and support community.
Chapter Resources to Support Survivors:
The Chapter’s award-winning Newsletter, which is published about 6 times per year, is a compilation of a variety of news and information of interest to military members and spouses as well as the schedule and instructions for participating in upcoming Chapter functions.  You can receive the Newsletter either via e-mail or postal service by communicating your preference to the Chapter Secretary directly, or also through the Surviving Spouse Representative, or Chairman of the MSC.  You will find additional information about the Chapter on the Chapter’s web site.
Semi-annually you will receive a phone call from a Chapter representative as part of the Chapter’s “Keeping Connected” program.  This call is made to ensure that you are receiving the Newsletter, ask if there are any questions or issues that need Chapter officers’ assistance, say “hello—we are thinking of you,” and update your contact information.   When possible, you will have the same person calling you each time. The calls will not be made for the purpose of any solicitation.  Please notify the Chairman of the MSC if you have not received a call by each June and November, or you do not want to be called.
The Chapter activities offer you an opportunity to get out and socialize with others who might share some of your interests, and have common experiences.  Chapter meetings and events, except the Annual Meeting each January, are focused on programs and social engagement rather than the conduct of Chapter business.  Chapter business is conducted at the Executive Board meetings usually held the second Thursday of each month (except July and August).  Surviving spouses may attend the Board meetings, but do not have a vote in these proceedings.
Your MOAA Membership as a Surviving Spouse:
If your deceased spouse was a national MOAA “Life Member,” that life membership transfers to you at no cost as the surviving spouse upon notification of the death to the national headquarters of MOAA.
If the deceased member was not a “Life Member,” a representative of the national headquarters staff can briefly explain options for national MOAA membership as a surviving spouse.  Options include Life Membership, Premium Membership at a discounted annual cost, and no cost Basic Membership.   Our Chapter requests and encourages you to have a national membership—even if at the Basic and free membership level.
Within the Columbia River Chapter, surviving spouses have full membership rights including the right to vote, hold office, and participate in all activities and events.  There are no annual Chapter dues; however, you are encouraged when able to be involved in the scholarship and charitable activities of the Chapter’s tax-exempt Columbia River MOAA Fund.
Chapter Expectations of You as a MOAA Surviving Spouse:  We hope that you will:
  1. Maintain your national MOAA membership.
  2. Keep us informed about any changes to your mailing and e-mail addresses, and phone number(s).
  3. Participate in Chapter functions and charities to the extent you are able and comfortable.

Fort Vancouver Post Cemetery Update

by Terry Babin

Membership Committee Chairman

There has been some confusion and misinformation about eligibility for burial in the Post Cemetery adjacent to Fourth Plain near the Veterans Administration campus in Vancouver. This article provides an update on the cemetery, and the most recent general eligibility criteria for burial of other than active duty service members.
The Fort Vancouver Post Cemetery is one of several cemeteries under the jurisdiction of, and administered by, the Department of the Army. Neither the Veterans Administration (VA), nor the State of Washington set the eligibility requirements for internment.
Originally, administrative and operational control was exercised by the Vancouver Barracks. When the Barracks was deactivated, control was transferred to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. During 2016, there was another transfer of control to the 88th Regional Support Command (Public Works) at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The local representative for that command is Mr. Roethler, Facilities Operations Specialist.
There is space available at the cemetery—rumors to the contrary are incorrect. Retirees of both the active and reserve components are eligible. Reserve and Guard retirees not drawing retirement pay are eligible. Also, honorably discharged veterans with “wartime service” (as defined by the VA) are eligible.
Confirmation of eligibility) and arrangements for interment at the Post Cemetery are made by the funeral home. Bring a copy of the DD Form 214 with you to the funeral home.
There have been some phone number changes. So if the funeral home representative has difficulty making contact, Mr. Roethler’s e-mail is thomas.j.roethler.civ@mail.mil. Or, call me (Terry Babin) for assistance to make contact with the 88th Regional Support Command—my cell phone (360) 608-7789.

 

Membership Services: Committee:

Updates by Terry Babin

The Annual Report for Membership Services Committee is summarized below. A couple of additional comments:
 If you know of a member or spouse who is ill, please let me know so I can send a card from the Chapter.
 There has been some confusion regarding burial site availability and eligibility at the Fort Vancouver Post Cemetery. I have provided a separate article in this Newsletter which should help clarify current administration and internment criteria.
 Can you help act as a sponsor for a new member? Right now the Service Representatives are doing this, but additional sponsors are needed. There will be an article in the next Newsletter with more details about this program. It is very easy to do, and takes little time, but has a big payoff in properly welcoming a new member into the Chapter.
 Our semiannual phone calls have proven to be an excellent way to help our members keep our Chapter records current, and answer general questions.
 If you do not want to be called in the future, simply call me at (360) 608-7789 or e-mail me at tbear06@comcast.net to be placed on the Do Not Call List.
 Additional volunteers to help with the calls are needed—particularly we need two more “Alternate” callers. Call lists for a caller are kept at 11 or less members. Contact me for further details.

 

 SUMMARY OF THE
MEMBER SERVICES COMMITTEE
ANNUAL REPORT FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2016

Committee Overview:
1. Committee Mission: Develop and support activities which encourage active participation and long-term membership in the Chapter.
2. Committee Members:
 Chairman—also serves as the Chapter’s Personal Affairs representative.
 Service Representatives
 Auxiliary Representative
 Immediate Past President
Responsibility: Establish and maintain a program for welcoming new members and their spouses.
1. New Member Orientations with a brunch hosted by the Executive Board were held during February and September. The next Orientation will be held during February 2017.
2. The Chapter implemented its New Member Sponsor Program during the fall with Service Representatives, and other experienced members, acting as a sponsor for each new member:
3. Six (6) sponsors have been assigned during the past 4 months.

Responsibility: Support a system to keep contact with members—designated as the “Keeping Connected” system.
1. Phone calls, or follow-up e-mails, were made to Chapter members during April and May, and again during October.
2. Contact success rate was close to 70%.
3. Forty-two (42) Action Items were identified during the two phone call series, and action was taken and completed by Chapter officers.
Responsibility: Provide personal affairs services.
1. Provided casualty assistance for five (5) families of deceased members.
2. Sent sympathy and “get well” cards to ten (10) members, spouses, or surviving children.
3. Provided personal affairs planning pamphlets and local checklists for one member and also to two surviving adult children (not located in the area).
Responsibility: Coordinate with Membership and Program Committees.
1. Membership Committee Coordination: Continued coordination to ensure timely assignment of sponsors for new members.
2. Program Committee Coordination: Participated regularly in planning Chapter programs.
If you have any ideas, let me know (360) 608-7789.

 

Personal Affairs Reminders

by Terry Babin

(See also November 2015 CRC Newsletter in Newsletters Tab for this article)

Personal Affairs is one of several areas of membership support offered by the Columbia River Chapter’s Membership Services Committee. Personal Affairs’ primary activities include the following:

  • Providing information to assist members and their families in end of life
  • Assisting survivors of deceased members with government-related notifications and
  • Sending cards to ill members and next of kin of deceased

Please remember to notify a Personal Affairs representative of Columbia River Chapter, MOAA, in cases of serious illness or death of a member and surviving spouses.

MOAA’s Personal Affairs Action Guide: A Personal Inventory for Peace of Mind is a terrific document for capturing most all the information your survivor(s) or personal representative will need. You can order this publications and others direct from the MOAA National Headquarters.

Included in this Newsletter are the updated survivors’ checklists for members and surviving spouses. See pages 7 and 8.

The following is our annual reminder about the basics of what you need to do help your survivors have the information needed to properly settle your affairs:

  1. Immediately notifying the Defense Finance and Accounting Center, or your Uniformed Service’s equivalent, when the death of the retiree, or a dependent receiving a Survivor Benefit Plan annuity, occurs.
    1. Have all separation documents (e.g., DD Form
  • for the service member covering all periods of active duty. This is a particular important for those having prior enlisted service, or broken
  1. Have all marriage, divorce, and death certificates for both member and spouse—or at least know all the full names, dates and
  1. Keep current your designation for beneficiary(ies) for any pay due and unpaid at time of
  2. Have current contact information available for all next of kin.
  3. Keep your important documents in one place—easy to locate. Make sure your spouse, and a third party should you and your spouse die at the same time, know the location of:
    • Safe deposit box (and, where is the key—and who can access?)
    • User names and passwords for internet-based accounts
    • Investments and details
    • Real property information
    • S. Savings Bonds (and have you kept the death beneficiary information current?)
    • Tax filings and current year records
    • Titles
    • Insurance policies
    • Who needs to be notified or consulted upon your death?
    • Personal representative     or     designated Primary Next of Kin if widowed
    • Attorney
    • Accountant/tax preparer
    • Trustees
    • Broker(s)

Have you also written out your instructions for the disposition of items not specifically addressed in your Will. This can include sports and hobby items, collections, special personal effects, and military memorabilia—including documents, awards, and citations. Have you provided any personal history or comments to go with those items, which have special meaning to you, historical value, or might be of interest (or value) to the recipient?

In most cases, the surviving spouse or a personal representative may have a general idea of your desires regarding funeral arrangements and burial instructions, but better yet to write them down. If you want a government furnished memorial marker or headstone, is there anything in particular you want on that headstone?

Any questions? Call our Chapter’s Personal Affairs Chairman, Terry, at (360) 608-7789; or e- mail at tbear06@comcast.net.

Terry Babin–Personal Affairs Chairman

Complete Personal Affairs

Next-of-Kin checklist

can be found in

March 2015 Chapter Newsletter on pages 9-15.

(please click on Newsletter tab)

———————–

See other Personal Affairs articles below

Challenging the High Cost of Dying

From www.MOAA.org  By Vera Wilson

Woody Allen once said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” None of us wants to think about it, but traditional funerals cost at least $6,000, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

I learned this hard fact when my mother passed away. I knew she had thoughtfully prepared a will and given me directions for her burial, but our family had not saved up.

This figure doesn’t even include cemetery costs and “extras” such as flowers or limousines, which easily can add hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Although costs can vary widely across the country, funeral professionals say it’s not unusual to spend much more for the entire funeral.

Thankfully, there are a variety of ways to manage funeral costs and still meet your family’s emotional and financial needs.

Don’t avoid the issue 

Planning a funeral in advance has many benefits, not the least of which is financial. Grief-stricken loved ones often falsely believe the amount spent on a funeral is a reflection of their feelings for the deceased, so they might overspend. Knowing you want to be cremated and have your ashes placed in your favorite tackle box likely will save your family the cost of a casket or an elaborate urn. Do not include your plans in your will (which usually is read after the funeral), but do put them in writing and leave them with someone you trust.

As callous as it might sound, preplanning also lets you shop around. A friend of mine says his terminally ill mother asked him to find a good price on cremation services, claiming she “never paid full price for anything in her life and wasn’t going to start now!” By calling or visiting several area funeral providers, my friend found prices deviating by as much as $1,000.

BYOC 

You can save hundreds on caskets and urns by purchasing them through online retailers, specialty stores at your local mall, and even Wal-Mart and Costco. Online retailers offer next-day delivery, usually at no charge, and can ship directly to a funeral home. Funeral providers are required by law to let you bring your own casket and are not allowed to charge a handling fee.

Be mindful that many cemeteries have their own requirements, such as an outer container for a casket that keeps the grave from caving in. No casket or container will preserve a body forever, so opt for a less expensive liner rather than a metal vault.

You can’t take it with you 

Prepaying for funeral expenses is a thoughtful gesture for those left behind, and it guarantees your wishes, such as location of burial. It also can save money by allowing you to lock in today’s prices. Read all contract details carefully. What happens to the money if the funeral provider goes out of business? What if you move? Can you back out without penalty? What happens if the casket you picked out is discontinued? Who gets the interest income?

State regulations also come into play. For your protection, most states, but not all, require some percentage of prepaid funds be placed in a state-regulated trust. Others mandate the provider purchase a life insurance policy so the money is there when it’s needed.

Another option is purchasing funeral insurance, payable to a beneficiary immediately upon death.

The final salute

Generally, active and retired members of the armed forces, including the reserve components, are entitled to significant burial benefits:

  • a gravesite at a VA national or      state cemetery,
  • opening and closing of the      grave,
  • perpetual care,
  • a government headstone or      marker, and
  • a burial flag and presidential      memorial certificate.

These benefits also apply to cremation. Burial benefits are extended to spouse and dependents (and in some rare instances, parents), even if they predecease the veteran. Burial plots cannot be reserved in advance. Although VA cemeteries are not available in every area of the country, Michael Nacincik, National Cemetery Administration spokesperson, says progress is being made to secure spaces in rural areas, such as Fargo, N.D. Veterans also might be entitled to a VA burial allowance. Check out www.cem.va.gov for more information and eligibility requirements.

If a veteran is interred in a private cemetery, only the headstone or marker, flag, and certificate are bestowed; there are no spousal or dependent benefits.

A guiding hand

Funeral providers often are trusted, valued members of the community and provide much-needed guidance and comfort during a difficult time. But some take advantage of clients who are vulnerable and feel pressure to make decisions quickly. The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule of 1984 aims to protect consumers from unscrupulous behavior. The rule requires that funeral providers disclose:

  1. 1. A general price list in writing before showing you any items. This list spells out the cost of all goods offered, from the plain wooden casket (never on display) to the premier bronze option. In the case of cremation, low-cost alternative containers also must be listed and all service fees must be enumerated.
  2. 2. You have the right to choose the goods and services you want, with some exceptions as required by law, which must be explained by the provider. Although package discounts can be offered, all products also must be offered à la carte.
  3. 3. The provider cannot refuse or charge a fee to handle a casket you provide.
  4. 4. Embalming, with some exceptions, is not required by law.

So how do you find a reputable funeral provider? Make sure your provider is licensed by the state’s funeral regulatory board, and check to see whether he or she belongs to a professional organization. Jessica Koth, a spokesperson for the National Funeral Directors Association, says ,“Our members abide by a professional code of conduct that goes above and beyond what is legally required.”

Alternatives 

Koth believes the biggest mistake consumers make is not asking questions, for fear of appearing stingy. Less expensive options outside the traditional full-service funeral, such as direct burial or cremation, are widely available, and caskets even can be rented for a viewing or service.

Since you are not legally required to use a funeral provider, one lower-cost alternative is to join the nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance, known as the Consumer Reports of funerals. It provides funeral planning kits, explains legal requirements, surveys local funeral providers, and sometimes negotiates discounted prices for its members.

Other lower-cost options include green burials, home burials, and body donation. Green burials appeal to the environmentally conscious consumer and encourage biodegradable caskets, interring unembalmed bodies, eliminating vaults and liners, and burial in natural, native landscapes with no man-made markers or headstones. A home burial, which was the norm until the 20th century, is defined as a family or community-centered response to death. The goal is to achieve maximum involvement of family and friends in every aspect of the funeral, including the care and preparation of the body, transportation to the place of burial, and digging the grave. Services usually are held at home, outdoors, or at a church. “Death midwives” can help families plan home burials.

Still other options abound. For altruistic purposes, my father chose to have his body donated to science, which saved us the cost of cremation. At our request, the ashes were returned to us — but not until a year after his death.

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Planning Ahead: Do Others Know What You Know?

by Terry Babin

 

There have been many requests for a summary of the key points made during the presentation at October’s 2013 Chapter luncheon and meeting. The following covers the main topic areas presented.

First, Gene and Dorothy Penfield did a terrific job in years past by providing information essential for our Chapter members to plan ahead, and make sure their records and affairs were in order. There remain, however, some areas in personal planning which have, or could have, caused delays in completing applications for death benefits.

The four most frequently encountered problems during the past three years are:

1. Not immediately notifying the Defense Finance and Accounting Center when the death of the retiree, or a dependent receiving a Survivor Benefit Plan annuity, occurs.

2. Not having all separation documents (e.g., DD Form 214) covering all periods of active duty. This is a particular problem for those having prior enlisted service, or broken time.

3. Not having all marriage, divorce, and death certificates for both member and spouse—or at least know all the full names, dates and places.

4. Not keeping current your designation for beneficiary(ies) for any pay due and unpaid at time of death. Most members keep their important documents in one place—easy to locate following their death. Make sure your spouse, and a third party should you and your spouse die at the same time, know the location of your:

~ Safe deposit box (and, where is the key—and who can access?)

~ Investments and details

~ Real property information

~ U.S. Savings Bonds (and have you kept the death beneficiary information current?)

~ Tax filings and current year records

~ Titles

~ Insurance policies

Who needs to be notified or consulted upon your death?

~ Personal representative or designated Primary Next of Kin if widowed

~ Attorney

~ Accountant/tax preparer

~ Trustees

~ Broker(s)

And don’t forget to notify a Personal Affairs representative of Columbia River Chapter

In most cases, the surviving spouse or a personal representative may have a general idea of your desires regarding funeral arrangements and burial instructions, but better yet to write them down. If you want a government furnished memorial marker or headstone, is there anything in particular you want on that headstone?

Have you written out your instructions for the disposition of items not specifically addressed in your Will. This can include sports and hobby items, collections, special personal effects, and military memorabilia— including documents, awards, and citations. Have you provided any personal history or comments to go with those items which have special meaning to you, historical value, or might be of interest (or value) to the recipient?

MOAA publishes several brochures and booklets which can be very helpful in personal planning. The “Packet for Assisting Your Survivors” prepared by the Chapter includes recommendations on several key publications you should consider ordering from MOAA. The Packet also contains information on how to order these publications. Also attached to the Packet is the “Recommended Steps When a Retired Service Member Dies.” This list of very important first steps following the death of a member, or spouse or widow/widower, should be quickly accessible to your survivors. You can make your own copy of the Packet for Assisting Your Survivors and Recommended Steps When a Retired Service Member Dies by printing the pages provided in this newsletter. Then, be sure to order MOAA’s publications: Survivor’s Checklist: First Steps for Moving On and Personal Affairs Action Guide: A Personal Inventory for Peace of Mind (Replaces the Personal Affairs Workbook).

A final note: Personal Affairs Action Guide: A Personal Inventory for Peace of Mind is a terrific document for capturing most all the information your survivor(s) will need including almost everything covered by the presentation to the Chapter on October 17th.

Any questions? Call our Chapter’s Personal Affairs Chairman, Terry Babin, at (360) 608-7789.

 Terry Babin

Personal Affairs

(360) 608-7789

tbear06@comcast.net