Advocate, Advocate, Advocate

Advocate SILC IL Education Day March 2017

ILCNSCA was at the statehouse Wednesday, March 22, 2017 with the other ten MA independent living centers and many advocates. Our North Shore and Cape Ann elected officials were all very welcoming, educated about Independent Living, and supportive to do the best they can to keep us living independently and include us in the difficult decisions that may have to be made if Congress makes major cuts. All are encouraged to let Congress know your position on changes to the Affordable Care Act that affects you, your family, your friends. MA will face an enormous deficit if the currently proposed changes to Medicaid, coverage, medications, pre-existing conditions, and administrative cost limits go through. Advocate!

Go to #SaveMedicaid please if you are concerned and have your voice heard.

MA Legislature Stalls on passage of S1984, Anti-Bullying of Seniors and Those Living With Disabilities Commission

We have a good chance for passage of S1984 in the current session. Action is unlikely by the end of the formal session this month, although it would be great. Our bill can become law during the informal session, which ends I believe early next January.

Success will depend on getting additional and continuing support in the form of letters and calls. Reach out to your elected state representative and/or directly to Brian Dempsey.

Please write to Brian S. Dempsey, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. asking him to release S1984 from committee favorably

His contact information follows:

Phone: 617-722-2990 Fax: 617-722-2215Email:

Have a great weekend and thank you for what you do.

Jerry Halberstadt
Coordinator, Stop Bullying Coalition

ILCNSCA Stands Strong with Orlando

The tragic event in Orlando which has been determined as a hate crime by a lone shooter is shocking and painful for all of us at ILCNSCA. We send our support and stand with those who have suffered loss from this event, and send our strength to the survivors and the families and community affected. To those who live on the North Shore and Cape Ann, our service area of 25 municipalities, ILCNSCA has been a leader in serving those who are LGBTQIA and living with disabilities of all types and ages, and offers to you our support and encourage you to attend our monthly peer support group, held the third Thursday of each month, at 1:30 to  3:00 PM at our office. The meeting we are having on June 16, 2016 will provide an opportunity for us to share our responses to the Orlando tragedy, discuss how we are moving forward in our lives in the face of this homophobia, how we can cope with homophobia and ableism, as well as prepare for the 5th Annual North Shore Pride celebration on June 25. Orlando, we stand with you, and are here to provide you what we have to offer to you…alliance, solidarity, and strength.

A Message from SHINE: What are Medigap Plans?

Medigap plans are health insurance plans that provide extra protection beyond Medicare by filling in some of the “gaps” in Medicare coverage.  In Massachusetts, these plans allow continuous open enrollment.  You must have Medicare A and B to enroll, and cannot be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.   Anyone who is eligible may enroll or change plans or coverage levels at any time, with changes effective the first of the following month.  Note that Medigap policies do not cover prescription drugs, which are covered separately under Medicare Part D.

A  Medigap policy will generally pay only when Medicare approves payment.  You are free to choose any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare and you do not need referrals to see a specialist.

For assistance with choosing a Medigap plan or any Medicare issue, contact the SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone…on Medicare) Program.  Trained SHINE counselors offer free, in-person, confidential counseling on all aspects of Medicare and related insurance programs.  To make an appointment, call your local senior center or the Regional SHINE office at Mystic Valley Elder Services in Malden at 781-388-4845. You’ll be asked to leave a message and a daytime phone number and a SHINE counselor will return your call.


Rest In Peace Ben Strohecker


Ben Strohecker lived a full and active life.  Successful as a businessman, he also stood out as a vibrant, giving citizen involved with many civic and philanthropic undertakings.  Additionally, he had talent as an artist and author.  During the last several years of his life, I had the privilege and honor of getting to know Ben well.  He invited me to help plan the implementation of his vision of gathering a number of North Shore “elders” following the model established by Nelson Mandela which brought together “The Elders” to work together for peace and human rights and to pursue a better future for all.  Unfortunately, Ben’s effort was interrupted by a stroke which left Ben significantly impaired requiring facility-based care for the remainder of his life.  In recognition of the impact that Ben made on so many people and for the manner in which he lived the fullness of his life, North Shore Elder Services presented Ben with a “Positive Aging Role Model – We Give Thanks” Award in 2014.

While Ben has now left us in body, the vibrancy and generosity of his spirit will continue on to inspire so many of us.  I am very grateful to acknowledge that Martha Strohecker and the Strohecker Family have suggested North Shore Elder Services as a recipient of memorial donations.

Following is the obituary that was recently published in the Boston Globe.

May he rest in peace.

Ben Strohecker, 88, Harbor Sweets founder and AIDS activist

By Bryan Marquard Boston Globe Staff  May 17, 2016

Mr. Strohecker welcomed a diverse workforce to his company, Harbor Sweets of Salem.

If Ben Strohecker had only invented Sweet Sloops he would always be remembered by anyone who tasted candies produced by his business, Harbor Sweets of Salem.

His signature delicacy — a triangle of almond buttercrunch toffee, coated in white chocolate, and then dipped in dark chocolate and crushed pecans — came about by accident. While trying out candy recipes in his Marblehead home in the 1970s, he ran short of dark chocolate and slipped a buttercrunch triangle into melted white chocolate instead.

“My son said, ‘Looks like a sailboat, Dad.’ And my wife said, ‘A sweet sloop,’ ” Mr. Strohecker told The New York Times in 1988.

That nautically named treat was but one part of his voyage, however. Inspired by his faith, driven by compassion, and grounded in his own human frailties, he became a leading fund-raiser for AIDS causes and a persistent voice for awareness. And he did so nearly 30 years ago when many people like him — straight, white, middle-aged businessmen — only spoke about AIDS while making homophobic jokes.

Mr. Strohecker, who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for AIDS organizations and other nonprofits, died April 19 in the Hathorne Hill rehabilitation and care center in Danvers. He was 88 and had a stroke about two years ago.

“He was an extraordinary individual. He was a brilliant marketer. I think he was way ahead of his time in so many areas, marketing being one of them,” said Phyllis LeBlanc, president and CEO of Harbor Sweets, who began working for Mr. Strohecker as a part-time candy-dipper when she was in her late teens.

“He was firm in his principles of keeping everything unique and interesting and challenging,” she said, and that extended to the shape of the candy. He chose triangles because he thought rectangles were too ordinary.

“If there was anything Ben did not want to do it was what everyone else did,” LeBlanc added, laughing.

It’s not much of a stretch to say that when he launched his company in the 1970s, Mr. Strohecker imposed a triangle approach of sorts on the business world’s boxed-in conformity.

“He was way ahead of his time in terms of how he treated his employees,” LeBlanc said. “We had flexible work hours.”

His personnel policies predated legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, too.

“We have hired people who have been disabled without really knowing how they were going to be productive,” Mr. Strohecker told the Times in 1988. “And there’s always been some miracle that’s happened so they’ve found ways to contribute. We count on that.”

Harbor Sweets hired mothers, the elderly, and those who didn’t speak English. They stood next to workers from the yacht club set who needed a few extra dollars and four-hour shifts that fit with the rest of their schedules.

“Our only rule is this: If you’re not having fun, you’re fired,” Mr. Strohecker told The Penn Stater, the magazine of his college alma mater, in 1997.

Born in Reading, Pa., Benneville Strohecker was the son of Herman Strohecker, an entomologist with the state agriculture department, and the former Virginia Whitman, an artist.

“When I think of my dad, I think of a renaissance man,” said Mr. Strohecker’s daughter, Sara Clarkson of Westfield, N.J. “He came from an artistic mom, so he had that gene that seemed to show itself in everything he did. He was extremely creative and always allowed himself to tap into that creativity.”

Mr. Strohecker joined the Army at the end of World War II and served in Germany and France, repatriating prisoners of war. Returning home, he graduated from Penn State University in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences.

Working initially for Bachman snack foods in Reading, Mr. Strohecker suggested selling pretzels in tin containers with a Pennsylvania Dutch theme “long before it became popular,” he told the Globe in 1977. It was a hit. He became national sales manager before going to Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals in Chicago.

“With some reluctance,” he told the Globe, “I became the first Strohecker in three generations to leave Reading.”

From Johnson & Johnson he went to Keebler, where he became the cookie company’s director of marketing development and long-range planning. Then he moved to Marblehead and directed marketing for Schrafft’s candy in Charlestown.

“I learned at those companies that the stockholders always come first and the customers always come second,” he told The Penn Stater. “I couldn’t work with that philosophy.”

In the 1970s, he started Harbor Sweets, setting up shop in a Salem warehouse. He informally polled candy business colleagues and found that nearly everyone’s favorite treat was almond butterscotch dipped in chocolate, so he borrowed parts of various recipes to come up with Sweet Sloops.

“I started out to make the best piece of candy in the world,” he told the Globe in 1983.

He donated his first candy attempts to a fair at his Episcopal church.

“It was bread cast upon the water. I was surprised people actually paid for it,” he told the Globe in 1980, adding that “there’s no question what happened at Harbor Sweets could not have happened without God’s help. I could have been the greatest marketing genius ever and not done this. God has given us a lot of help to make it happen.”

He gave back by donating a percentage of his profits to charity. When the AIDS crisis emerged, he took a year sabbatical from work to raise money and awareness — beginning with his own.

“I grew up as a farm boy,” he told The Penn Stater. “I never knew anyone who was gay. I was raised homophobic and racist and sexist.”

“The single word that comes to mind right away when I think of Ben is ‘mensch.’ Here’s a person who has a great entrepreneurial spirit and he’s not only used that in his private life with his own business, but also as an AIDS activist,” Larry Kessler, founding director of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, told the Globe in 2003. “He would go to Rotary clubs and to Washington, and talk to everyone from small businesspeople who owned hamburger stores to Levi Strauss and everything in between and say, ‘You can do more, you need to do more, not only for your employees but for the community and the world.’ ”

Mr. Strohecker, whose first marriage ended in divorce, married Martha Dunn 30 years ago. In addition to his wife, of Peabody, and his daughter, Sara, he leaves two sons, Benneville Jr. of Arizona, and Samuel of Cranberry Township, Pa.; his sister, Tanie Strohecker White of Hudson, Ohio; and five grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. July 1 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Beverly Farms.

As Mr. Strohecker stepped back from running Harbor Sweets, ceding leadership to LeBlanc, he began painting, exhibiting his work, and creating children’s books such as “The Day the Ocean Changed to Chocolate.” He also founded a group of retirees to pool their talents to help communities. That effort brought a positive aging role model award from North Shore Elder Services in 2014.

“I don’t have much more time left to change the world,” he had told The Penn Stater in 1997 as he began easing out of his company’s operations. “I have to hurry.”


Paul J. Lanzikos
Executive Director
North Shore Elder Services
300 Rosewood Drive
Suite 200
Danvers, MA 01923-1389
978/624-2244 (TTY)

North Shore Elder Services