Guess what? It's winter ... sort of. And with winter comes some special challenges, liking staying warm. Coastal Community Action Program has some emergency-need funds that are available through United Way, and can give you all the details on that. Give them a call at (800) 828-4883.

And just because it's winter doesn't mean everything's stopped. Speaking to the vets: Did you see this item in the Observer? VFW Post 3271 in Long Beach has opened a Veterans Service Office. It's located in the Pacific County building, upstairs, and is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can contact them at 642-1228 for assistance with a variety of issues: Claim forms, lost records, medical/economic assistance, benefits explanation, and more.

This might be a good time to also remind our vets that there is medical assistance closer than Portland, Seattle, or Vancouver. Camp Rilea Veterans Clinic just outside Astoria is also a resource for your needs. They can be contacted at (503) 861-9513.

And are you aware of the Multiple Sclerosis Self-Help Group in our area? As with all of us, if we're not affected, we feel like it's not our issue; but if we are, it's great to know there's help. (And, of course, "our" issues are really more important than other issues.) The group meets the first Thursday of each month at the Peninsula Assembly of God in Ocean Park. For more info, give Cheryl West a call at 642-5842, Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Another recent discovery is Eye Care America. Part of their service is to provide free exams for eligible seniors, and follow-up treatment for one year of any disease diagnosed during the exam. Participating opthamologists are in Longview and Aberdeen. To get more information and/or to apply, call toll free at (800) 222-3937, and they have operators available 24/7. There some exclusions, so be sure you call. You can also visit their Web site at (http://www.eyecareamerica.org) and do some looking around. I've been there and it's easy to navigate.

On another note, we recently received a couple calls asking about "facilities" in our area and have had some other folks come by who are considering a change of residence. (Sounds better than "facility," and besides, isn't home where you hang your hat?) Pacific County has three assisted living places, two in south county and one in north county; and as you may recall, these provide apartments with varying levels of assistance. There are also two convalescent centers for long-term care requiring skilled nursing, and several Adult Family Homes. AFHs provide care for relatively small groups of folks (six or so) in a home setting.

For specific phone numbers, give us a call and we can mail you out a list of what's available.

Senior Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 642-3634

(888) 571-6558

Raymond: 942-2177

(888) 571-6557

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