Mark Harvey — Workshops this week for Medicare questions

Does it ever feel to you like the whole world is going to Heck in a hand basket (whatever a “hand basket” is – Or, for that matter, whatever “heck” is)?

I know; me, too.

As if Medicare’s “open enrollment” wasn’t enough to drive you back under the covers…We have just a touch over three weeks from today! – But as usual, you have a few more opportunities to be rescued from the heinous hinterlands of Medicare default, meaning that good folks will be available to help you sort your Part D/Advantage Plan problems and mysteries, for free and without making you feel like an idiot; specifically:

*This Tuesday, November 13th, at the Montesano library (125 Main Street S.) at 2:00 p.m.;

*November 20th, at the Aberdeen library (121 Market Street) at 2:00 p.m., and…

*Wednesday, November 28th, at the Hoquiam library (420 7th Street) at (You guessed it!) 2:00 p.m.

Nonetheless, it seems like all we hear about is what’s wrong, or who did what to who, or who is trying to do what to who, or greed, or lies or how the world is going to end soon or…You know. It’s all around us, all the time.

And we begin to wonder, “What happened??” Oh, sure, we knew “Andy of Mayberry” was a TV show, but…GEEZ! There used to be simple, decent people around who behaved simply and decently, if a bit…oddly. What happened? It’s…scary.

I’m not personally convinced that “it” is any worse than it ever was; it’s just that media make us privy to every bad, scary thing that happens in the world IMMEDIATELY! But if that’s all you hear all the time, you have to begin to wonder. It’s…scary.

And in the face of all that sadness and horror, we feel helpless – Powerless; there’s nothing we can do. There’s nothing I can do.

Yes, there is.

Where I end up, when I get lost in all that fear and all those discouraging words, is realizing that I can’t fix all of “that” – But I can do a little something to make my little corner of this very strange world a little better, and so can you. Listen:

This is the time of the year that TAX-AIDE is recruiting volunteers to help them help people who need help; yes, I know it’s “open enrollment” and I know the days are getting shorter and colder and I know that the holidays are coming and I don’t care. This is something that some of us can do to make our little corner of the world better, and it probably won’t be fun – Unless you think being showered with gratitude is “fun.”

You’d have to show-up in for “new volunteer orientation classes” in early December, and then you’d have to study your little hearts out using IRS-provided materials and tax preparation software to learn how to electronically file tax returns. Sound fun so far? It gets better.

Then, you’ll have to appear again on the first three Saturdays in January for “review classes,” and then you’ll have to pass an IRS test at the “advanced” level (because it doesn’t help people to help them if you don’t know what you’re doing) AND sign a IRS “Standards of Conduct” document that says you’ll act like a good and decent human being- Andy would’ve been proud.

THEN, you’ll get to work your tail off (metaphorically speaking) all through “tax season!” TAX-AIDE will ask you to work (oh, Yes Virginia – This IS “work!”) at least four hours per day, two days per week from February thought April 15th, but they’ll need you more than that; well, I’ve never lied to you before…

TAX-AIDE volunteers work in McCleary, Ocean Park, Aberdeen, Ocean Shores and in the County, so you’re geography won’t get you out of this.

You do not have to be 65 or retired to do this; yes, TAX-AIDE is sponsored by AARP, but you don’t have to be a member or join-up or whatnot - TAX-AIDE serves all comers who are low-to-medium income. Period.

In my never-ending quest to overstate the obvious, I’m forced to observe that not all of us are cut-out to prepare tax returns; OK, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something else you could do to help, right? I mean, they’ve got to have “coordinators” and publicity people and “facilitators” (think “crowd control,” or “hospitality”) and probably “grunts” and “techies” and who-knows what else! Are you willing to at least think about this?

OK, here’s what you do: Contact AARP at for an online application. No? OK, try this:

Contact Randy Walls at or call him at 360.940.7035, and get the low-down. .

These folks need to know who’s willing to help by December, so don’t think about this too long; besides, what’s to think about? You’re not going to be able to tear yourself away from the 119th rerun of “It’s a Wonderful Life” long enough to learn the IRS tax code? Oh, come now!

Helping TAX-AIDE probably won’t save the world from Handbasket Land, but it will help people who want and need that help, so our little corner of the world will be a little better than it was, because of what you did.

And for most of us, my friends, that’s as good as it’s going to get – Or needs to.

Thank you.

Mark Harvey is the director of Senior Information and Assistance for Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He can be reached at or 532-0520 in Aberdeen, (360) 942-2177 in Raymond or (360) 642-3634. FACEBOOK: Olympic Area Agency on Aging-Information & Assistance.