Be Aware: COVID-19 Scams on the Rise

scam-2048851_1280Cybercriminals exploit every opportunity and fear to dupe potential victims into providing their personal and financial information. They also find ways to illegally access your computer by getting you to click on bogus links in emails that launch malware. Especially now, be extra vigilant when you receive an email. “Don’t click on links,” remains prudent advice. Even if the email looks to be from a trusted organization, you must be cautious to protect yourself. We’d like to remind you that PSECU will never call, text, or email you to ask for your account or personal information. If you receive such a communication, ignore it and call us at 800.237.7328.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns of two specific types of scams they’re seeing frequently. The first is categorized as an “undelivered goods” scam. It works like this: A scammer sets up an online store that promises cleaning products or medical supplies, for example. They take your credit card information, then never deliver the goods. The FTC recommends doing research prior to doing business with online companies. Check out their name, address, and email address. You can also search for that company plus the words “scam,” “complaint,” and “review” to obtain more details. Only after you’ve vetted the company thoroughly should you provide your credit card information.

The second category of scams involves fake charities that ramp up during times like these. Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and GuideStar rate charities on how they conduct their collection efforts. If you receive an email or phone call requesting a donation, carefully check the name of the organization because scammers will often use names that are very similar to legitimate charities. Using a credit card to make a donation provides some protection for you. Remember, never pay by gift card or wire transfer!

In cases where they’re selling goods they don’t intend to deliver or creating a bogus charity, the criminal is looking to steal money outright. If you feel that you may have become a victim of one of these two scams and you used your PSECU credit or debit card, please immediately call our Loss Prevention and Security department at 800.237.7328, extension 3111. Also take the time to lock your credit card to prevent more potential fraud. You can do this under Manage Cards in digital banking.

We always work hard to quickly recover funds lost in scams. But what if in addition to scamming you out of money, those criminals have “double-dipped” and made more money by selling your personal and financial information? Because ID theft is often a long play crime, you might not be aware of it for months or even years to come. For this reason, it’s important to monitor your credit health – review your credit reports for any accounts or loans you didn’t open and watch for any wild fluctuations in your credit score. Either could signal your identity has been stolen. For more on the topic, read our blog post Are You Monitoring Your Credit Health?

Times like these bring out the best—and worst—in people. When it comes to helping you protect you and your money, we’re bringing out our best to keep you safe as we face the challenges posed by COVID-19. For all PSECU COVID-19-related information, including status details about our physical locations, please visit the PSECU Newsroom page.

If you’re experiencing difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 situation, please contact us at 800.237.7328 to speak with one of our representatives about options that may be availableLearn more about how you can make healthy financial choices now and in the future.

The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. Some products not offered by PSECU. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs, or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal, or other professional if you have questions.

I See Your True Colors

The best thing about hard times is that you get to see everyone’s true colors. If I have said it once, I have said it one hundred times in the past eight weeks – I could write a book, “Their True Colors Are Showing.”

When showing your True Colors, this is evident of your real character or personality, especially during difficult times. This idiom, showing of their true colors, originates from the 1700s. When ships went into battle, they had to display their ‘colours’ or the flag of their country. The maritime law strictly enforces the rules and regulations for the flying of a flag. Many ships would show a flag from a different country in order to outwit their opponent at sea. Then, when they were in striking distance, they would change the flag to the real flag they were to be flying, and then…….. attack! This is “show their true colors” in attack mode.

How has the past eight weeks characterized you as an individual? What are your true colors?

Are you passionate about your job? Are you willing to work from home, with all the desire that you have and distractions, for the betterment of your community? Do you accept the changes in front of you, and challenge yourself to be better? Do you reach out and help those that need it? Do you thank the grocery worker for bagging ? Do you help the elderly in your neighborhood? Get the picture?………..I could go on and on. I could draw a picture of True Colors across our world, and those embracing it during this time of uncertainty. Can you?

So if you are feeling a little rough around the edges, feeling a little sad, this is a friendly reminder your true colors are beautiful. As difficult as this all is, shine for your community like you always do. Embrace the challenge, and do the next right thing!

It has been extremely difficult, but sit back and enjoy the song and lyrics of “True Colors”- I hope it enlightens your day, as it did mine.

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged, oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
The darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small Show me a smile then
Don’t be unhappy
Can’t remember when
I last saw you laughing
This world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
Just call me up
‘Cause I will always be there And I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
I see your true colors
Shining through (true colors)
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful (they’re beautiful)
Like a rainbow
Oh oh oh oh oh…

SEEING RE2D

by Carrie Chiusano, Presbyterian SeniorCare Network

RE2DPresbyterian SeniorCare Network is dedicated to work that furthers our understanding of aging, which enables us to create better programs and services. Research is an important part of our effort to meet the needs of the people we serve.

Our Dementia Care Center of Excellence wanted to embark upon research that examined the benefits of technology usage in rehabilitation therapy for residents living with moderate to severe dementia. 

The study, Rehabilitation Effectiveness and Efficiency in Dementia Care (RE2D), compared whether It’s Never 2 Late® (iN2L) touch-screen technology would help increase engagement and participation in therapy for residents who are living with cognitive difficulties.

Presbyterian SeniorCare Network has partnered with iN2L for close to 15 years and knows first-hand how the systems help the team, help residents, engage in their own person – centered interests.

We asked Steven Zarit, PhD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Penn State University and Research Advisor to Presbyterian SeniorCare Network’s Dementia Care Center of Excellence, to lead us on our research journey.

Our study used the iN2L systems to see if engaging stimuli, such as cognitive games, physical games, music and videos … just to name a few … would make rehabilitative therapy more interesting for residents and increase their participation enough to make a positive difference.  The study called for two research assistants and our team of rehabilitation therapists to observe and rate the amount of engagement of each participant, based on a standardized scoring system called the Pittsburgh Rehabilitation Participation Scale. Residents were rated on the scale at the start of therapy and again after roughly 20 therapy sessions.

The researchers followed about 100 individuals in two communities, 45 miles from each other. All received occupational and physical therapy for 10 to 14 days, typically after a hospital stay. The control group consisted of 50 residents at the Southmont Rehabilitation Community on our Washington campus. Those residents received the regular rehabilitation regime of therapy without the use of the iN2L technology. The test group of 50 residents at The Willows on the Oakmont campus received rehabilitation therapy incorporating the iN2L technology with therapists using the touchscreen system to incorporate activity personalized to the residents’ interests.

When a resident “colored” an onscreen picture, for example, the therapist might raise the artwork higher to encourage higher arm positioning. Before you knew it, they were painting with their arm above their original goal height without even realizing it. In another case, a resident who loved airplanes moved from frustration to full participation when working with a flight simulation game.

The technology adds to therapists’ clinical toolbox, helping them gain the attention of persons living with dementia and engage them more effectively.

The results suggest that technology-inspired engagement drove better outcomes. Investigators found that participants who used the technology had significantly higher goal attainment than their peers who did not.

Presbyterian SeniorCare Network is currently expanding the technology into its rehabilitation program across the Network.

Full findings were published in the journal Aging and Mental Health:  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13607863.2020.1711864

 

Hello from the other side

The thought of being furloughed had never even seriously crossed my mind. As I had been observing over the weeks since COVID-19 started changing our everyday life, parks and recreation team members were essential workers. Our parks remained busy, as some trails and paths were people’s only outlet for being outside in a safe, social distancing manner. However, my world was rocked when I received official notice that our entire department was being furloughed.

Even my employer was not immune to the havoc and uncertainty that COVID-19 was having on our world. As I thought about what being furloughed meant, I decided to take this opportunity to make the best of it. Maybe try something new, such as cooking (my wife will tell you I’ve been saying this for about ten years), and just make the best of this unplanned situation. Being furloughed has also given me the opportunity to reflect. Reflect on the things I’m grateful for. Reflect on the fact that my family has managed to stay healthy during this pandemic – and to reflect on my career in parks and recreation.

I never envisioned a career in parks and recreation, to be honest. I went to Temple University and majored in Sport and Recreation Management and I envisioned myself working in sports media relations for either a collegiate athletic department or a professional sports team. Then I completed a few internships in the sports media relations field and quickly realized that wasn’t the path for me. Literally, no knocks on those professionals, but they are tied to their teams. I was glad that I realized this before I graduated. The problem was, what was I to do now? I can remember the Assistant Dean of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at the time, Jeffrey Montague, asking if I’d ever considered working in parks and recreation. I’m not going to lie, I pretty much dismissed his question. However, it did plant the idea of parks and recreation in my head. I’m forever grateful for Montague, as we referred to him, for having this short conversation with me, which has led to 11 years working in parks and recreation.

I’ve been able to reflect on my path in parks and recreation. It hasn’t always been the easiest. There have been times when I’ve wanted to give up. There have been times when I thought I didn’t have what it takes. There have even been times when I thought I’d be better suited for something else. But, I’ve always come back to how much I love parks and recreation and how gratifying of a career choice it’s been for me. I’ll patiently wait to return back to work from my furlough. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this detour that life has thrown at me by spending time with my family that I otherwise wouldn’t have had, continue to expand my horizons, and maybe sit in on a virtual roundtable offered by PRPS. Until next time….

Active Living through WalkWorks

Walking—we do it every day. When we want to get somewhere, we walk. Sure, we may incorporate other modes of transportation into our lives, such as driving a car, riding a bike or using public transit, but we start and end every trip by walking.

COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented events that have caused many of us to stay at home full time. We are working, watching our kids, teaching, or trying to figure out what the next meal will be or where it will come from. During this time, we cannot forget about the importance of walking. We may walk to exercise, give our spouse/partner time alone or a break, or with our family to connect in a different setting. Walking is one of the simplest and easiest forms of physical activity – it’s free and requires no special equipment or athletic skill.

Yet, in 2018, nearly one quarter of Pennsylvania adults indicated participating in no physical activity in the past month, while two thirds of adults were overweight or obese. Walking is an important part of our lives and can improve our overall health. Health benefits of walking include helping to control weight, reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and enhancing mental well-being.

Why don’t we walk more?

In many locations across Pennsylvania, lack of access to areas where residents can safely walk or bicycle is cited as one of the top reasons for poor physical health. Communities and their streets were rarely designed to enable simultaneous, safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders. However, streets designed for all modes of transportation, called Complete Streets, make it easier to cross the street, get to school, walk to shops, or bicycle to work and, therefore, are associated with increased physical activity. Complete Streets not only promotes good health and creates health equity, but it can also stimulate the local economy, improve road safety, reduce the amount of air pollution and improve mobility for children and older individuals.

WalkWorks – What is it?

To encourage walking and help more Pennsylvanians meet the national physical activity guidelines which call for adults to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health developed WalkWorks. WalkWorks seeks to encourage communities to support physical activity by promoting active transportation through the implementation of community-based walking routes and the development of plans or policies related to active transportation. Here are two upcoming opportunities to partner with WalkWorks:

WalkWorks affiliate program

Local community-based organizations interested in improving the health status of their communities can apply to become a WalkWorks affiliate. Joining the 97 walking routes in 23 counties across Pennsylvania, selected community-based partners:

• Identify a walking route and points of interests;

• Engage community stakeholders;

• Collaborate with community organizations; and

• Organize a kick-off celebration.

While a specific date to release the affiliate application has not yet been determined, it is expected to be released in September. To see if the application has been released, please visit the WalkWorks website.

WalkWorks funding for active transportation plans or policies

Municipalities and similar types of local government organizations interested in enhancing active transportation through plans or policies can apply for WalkWorks funding to develop plans or policies that begin to prioritize active transportation. This funding opportunity, which opens April 28, creates or enhances pedestrian and bicycle connections to common community destinations that allow people to recreate, shop, explore or socialize safely and conveniently. To view the application or apply, please visit the WalkWorks website after April 28.

Whether you are a community resident looking for opportunities to increase your physical activity or a local government official looking to improve the walkability and connectivity of your community, WalkWorks has resources, guides and funding opportunities that can help improve the overall health of your community.

Pawalkworks, WalkWorks, CompleteStreets, ActiveLiving

On Staying Connected to our Humanity

It has been said many times during these past months, but it cannot be stated enough: we are living through strange and trying times. Everything has changed, and many are certain that nothing will ever be the same again. As parks and recreation professionals, each of us in our different spheres have probably been questioning how we will respond as an industry and how our respective organizations will endure. If you work on the programming side of the profession, like me, you may have pondered how best to respond to ever changing political messages and restrictions to various activities, while still following a mandate to engage with our communities and provide quality outdoor experiences.  Many of us have risen to the occasion and begun to adapt our programs and approach.

The rush to adapt materials to digital platforms and connect with park users through alternate means has been necessary, but also fraught with many moments of productive struggle. Parks are about getting folks outside to experience the elements and to commune with one another while enjoying sports, concerts, hikes and many other types of activities. Encouraging people to learn and commune while being confined to their homes, has seemed disingenuous at times. Virtual nature hikes simply are not the same as being on a trail to physically observe the patterns that nature has to offer, and to be able to touch the various textures and take in all the different smells. But the times dictate that we must prevail, because we want to be there for our various communities, and we want to prove our value as Parks and Rec Professionals. Funders want to know that their dollars are being spent effectively, and we want to be able to demonstrate that.

While all this pressure weighs on our shoulders, I have had to remind myself to pause and reflect. I have even had to remind myself that the benefits of being outdoors are not just for park users, but they are also for me! These times can be stressful, and we need to be easy on ourselves. The following tips were recently published in the career column of the Nature Research Journal. I have adapted them:

Manage your expectations
These are new and different times. There will be times when you cannot concentrate. It is ok to take a walk and come back. Be easy on yourself and know that you need time to adjust to these new patterns.

Routine is your friend
Working from home can have us blurring the lines between work time and family time. Do your best to set specific times when you will be working, and try to stick to them.

Be compassionate with yourself and with others
We are all connected by the same struggles. We will all feel moments when we are overwhelmed. We have to give grace to others and to ourselves. Remember that we are all doing our best.

Maintain connections
All humans need connections for our mental as well as our physical health. Staff teams have instigated virtual coffee groups, online book clubs and co-working spaces where we can work in the (virtual) presence of others. We may be in social isolation, but we don’t need to feel alone. Stay connected to friends and make an effort to reach out to those who might be isolated.

Manage uncertainty by staying in the present
Focus on each moment right now. What are the tasks at hand for the day or even for the hour? Find ways to meditate and focus on breathing in and out for a few minutes an hour.

Most of all, I think that we need to support one another professionally as well as personally. Find ways to share our struggles and our triumphs. Reach out to one another to share about our work, but let’s also share our humanness with one another.

Camila Rivera-Tinsley, Director of Education,
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Progression, Emergence, Park & Rec Involvement throughout 50 years of Earth Day

EARTH DAY 50! is Wednesday, April 22 

by Lauren Ansell 

Let’s keep working toward a green world!

Earth Day was originally instituted to encourage people to aid outdoor sustainability and take accountability for the effect that humans have on the World. Earth Day 2020 will celebrate its 50th anniversary in a new fashion; by fighting a global pandemic that has forced people to remain inside and ignore traveling and outdoor adventuring. 

The Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society (PRPS) has noticed people’s unlimited need for outdoor recreation and escape from their homes that now serve as their home, school, job and daycare facility. It is more important than ever that people have outdoor recreation to manage their pandemic stressors. 

PRPS canceled its 2020 PRPS-PAEE Conference & Expo and postponed the 2020 Therapeutic Recreation Institute in hopes to prevent coronavirus from spreading. These conferences provide educational sessions to recreation and park professionals to help them develop their community into a more environmentally conscious with modern methods and tools. 

It’s crucial to include educational sessions that encourage environmental care. The profit from the conferences also improves the environment as it pays for the speakers at the conference and for the administrators at PRPS who work tirelessly year-round to better our World. Both of these groups are strengthening our community’s effort in improving the Earth by spreading new ways and technologies to prevent hazardous waste and toxic build-up. Programs often teach about recycling, sustainable tools and methods for park maintenance and latest research that explains how emotional and physical health is positively altered when people spend time outside. 

Caring for our world can help our planet and your health. 

It is more important than ever to stick together as mankind and fight for our health and environmental wellbeing during this pandemic. Grocery stores, restaurants and parks have limited working hours or are closed now, but that doesn’t mean people can limit their mental or physical health needs. 

This is the first time that most of the World will celebrate Earth Day while fighting a viral outbreak. Although this is the 50th anniversary of the one day to specifically celebrate community recreation and environmentally-centered programming. In the past 50 years, we have seen emergence in environmental activism and vital importance surfacing toward greenhouse gas emissions through political campaigns and research facilities. 

PRPS has always focused on bringing people and nature together as close as possible. One of the many ways in the past 50 years is the Good For You, Good For All campaign. This campaign strives to connect citizens with outdoor recreation activities to increase their appreciation and active use of parks, forests and public spaces while imparting a message of environmental stewardship and healthy living. 

Get Outdoors PA, established in 2004, has offered thousands of recreation programs in Pennsylvania’s greenspaces in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. Programs that prioritize the environment throughout Pennsylvania benefit the community with local jobs and recreation activities that improve physical and mental health and lastly provide a preserved shelter for animals. 

As people refrain from leaving their houses they are also reducing the nitrogen dioxide air pollution levels. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is emitted by burning fossil fuels typically through engines. We aren’t able to know for sure whether this will help air quality in the long run due to the lack of time and research able to be performed. 

The past 50 years have shown how much environmental progress we can achieve with events and programs, but we must continue to support these efforts by attending, creating and talking about new inventive ways to help our Earth.