In the Spotlight

By Meagan Smith, Heller MPP Candidate, class of 2017


Marybeth Duffy

Waltham agencies are working together to make Waltham more age-friendly with our project “Waltham Connections for Healthy Aging,” sponsored by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. Healthy Waltham has created a blog series entitled “Spotlight” to highlight the twelve organizations involved in the Waltham Connections program. We hope this information is both fun and informative, allowing you to learn more about your community and get involved. Our first interview is with Marybeth Duffy, Director of the Council on Aging. The Waltham Council on Aging is a government agency working to improve the quality of life of local seniors aged 60 and older along with their families and caregivers.

Why did your agency want to join in this initiative with Healthy Waltham to promote an age-friendly community? Why is healthy aging important to your agency? How do you see Waltham continuing to grow as an age-friendly city in the years to come?

Promoting an age-friendly community is a huge priority for the CoA since we are the “go-to” for all things aging related here in Waltham. Brandeis University’s Professor Walter Leutz led a community-based participatory action research study in 2015 to better understand healthy aging in our community. During his study, Dr. Leutz conducted focus groups here at CoA for his research. We see more individuals aware and involved with promoting an age-friendly community since the start of this study and hope that as this work continues more people will pay attention.

What are your agency’s current events, particularly in regards to healthy aging efforts in Waltham?

The CoA has teamed with Healthy Waltham’s Chef Reva to offer a healthy eating series targeted for seniors. Chef Reva provides an educational cooking demonstration and fun for all because we know that food helps build community and is important to overall health. We have many other programs for seniors as well. We hope seniors will register with us and take advantage of all we have to offer. Our monthly newsletter is available here on the City website and also posted around town.

What is the most unique project or event your agency is taking on in the Waltham Connections program?

A subcommittee on information and communication has developed in hopes to better streamline information and access. At the heart of the CoA, information and referral services allow seniors to keep their independence and age in place in their home and community among loved ones.

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about your agency?

The CoA is not only a great resource for family members and caregivers of seniors here in Waltham but also provides services onsite.

To learn more, come into the CoA at 488 Main St. Monday through Friday from 8:30AM-4:30PM. Or call us at 781-899-7228. We hope to see you soon!


Great Grains Workshop

Looking for some new ways to get your whole grains in? Chef Reva’s winter workshop at the Council on Aging focused on whole grains. Participants sampled a variety of grains – some familiar, some new – learned how to prepare them, shared recipes, and connected over great food and company. Grab a bag of brown rice, wild rice, kasha, quinoa, farro, or another of the many whole and healthy options available at the supermarket and try something new!

Here are some recipes to get you started:

Grain Bowl

Our upcoming workshops at the Council on Aging will be held on:

  • Monday, March 27, 1:00-2:00 – “Not your average greens!” Learn about greens and how to prepare them.
  • Monday, May 15, 1:00 – 2:00 pm – topic TBD

To sign up, call 781-899-7228.


Zap it! Healthy Microwave Cooking

Your microwave is good for more than popcorn and leftovers! This January, Chef Reva created two delicious soups with residents of the Home Suites Inn transitional housing as part of her “Cooking without a Kitchen” cooking series. These workshops teach techniques for cooking healthy meals in the microwave. Her fresh Mushroom and Barley Soup and Pho (Beef Noodle Soup) are proof that you don’t need a fancy kitchen (or even a stove!) to create delicious and nutritious meals from scratch.

Try the workshop recipes below! For more quick meals and snacks, check out the microwave section of our recipe page.


Beef Noodle Soup (Pho)

serves 6


1 small onion or shallot, chopped
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin
1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cups of low-sodium beef broth
3 cups of water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
8 ounces rice noodles
12 ounces lean beef sirloin, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, optional
4 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup cilantro leaves
½ cup basil leaves or Thai basil leaves
1 cup bean sprouts
2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced, optional
2 limes, cut into wedges


  1. Combine onion or shallot, fennel, ginger, beef broth, water and cinnamon in a large microwave-safe bowl or container. Cook on high power for 10 minutes. Remove ginger slices and discard.
  1. Meanwhile, heat 4 cups of water in a microwave safe bowl until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add rice noodles to hot water and cook in high 2 minutes, or until tender. Drain noodles and transfer to a large bowl.
  1. Add sliced beef to hot broth and cook on high 2-5 minutes, until beef is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle.

4. Add Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil to soup. Add cooked noodles, scallions, herbs, bean sprouts and jalapenos, if using. Serve with lime wedges.


Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom and Barley Soup

adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook

serves 6


½ cup uncooked pearl barley
1¼ cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5½ cups water, chicken stock or vegetable stock


  1. Place the barley and 1¼ cups of water in a large microwave-safe container with lid. Cover and microwave on medium power for 20 minutes. Stir and repeat for another 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. If the barley is not yet tender, add another half a cup of water and cook another 5 minutes on medium power.
  1. Meanwhile, combine olive oil and chopped onion in another microwave safe container. Cook, covered 2-5 minutes, until onions begin to soften. Add garlic, mushrooms and salt and cook another 5 minutes, covered on high power.
  1. Add soy sauce and apple cider vinegar and cook another 5 – 10 minutes until mushrooms and onion are very tender.
  1. Combine cooked barley, mushroom mixture, and 5 cups of water in a large microwave safe container or bowl. Add fresh black pepper and mix well.
  1. Cook another 10 minutes on high power until soup is hot.



Waltham Connections

We are pleased to announce our partnership with the Tufts Health Plan Foundation in launching our newest project: Waltham Connections for Healthier Aging! The Waltham Connections program was born from Brandeis University Professor Walter Leutz’s 2015 study using community-based participatory action research to understand and improve healthy aging in Waltham. Along with recruiting and training senior volunteer co-researchers, conducting agency interviews and focus groups, writing reports, Leutz also helped create a senior/agency Steering Group which ultimately created this initiative. The theme of “connections” is at the heart of our work in trying to connect seniors to one another and create a more age-friendly city.

Waltham Connections focuses on community and civic engagement to build on the knowledge
and dreams of local seniors and agencies. Following the World Health Organization’s Healthy Aging model, the Steering Group will lead several working groups focusing on issues ranging from social participation, communication & information, inclusion, and in-home services. The healthy aging movement looks at how seniors can live both physically and socially active lives, and also maintain a healthy diet, and get regular access to health care and support services.

With this initiative, we strive to promote and include lower income, homebound, minority and immigrant seniors in healthy aging. To reach these communities, we are working with agency and senior representatives from these populations to participate in our Work Groups to aid in designing age-friendly programs and policies to benefit all Waltham seniors. We strive to reduce the disparities arising from language, class, and disability.

Agencies we are working with include: Waltham Council on Aging and Housing Authority, Neighbors Who Care, the YMCA, JF&CS, the League of Women Voters, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis University, Mt. Auburn and Newton-Wellesley Hospitals, Springwell, the City of Waltham, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Rotary. With this partnership, we hope to improve access to supports and services, health and wellness, social participation, better coordination of in-home services, and provide a forum for seniors to have a greater voice in determining needed changes that affect their livelihood.

We are excited to share more healthy aging events as they develop over the course of this project and beyond. We look forward to this endeavor and hope you will join us in making Waltham an example for age-friendly cities. To get involved with this project, please email

Support Our Community!

We’re working together to support the health of Waltham’s neediest residents. Click below to see our video of Healthy Waltham programs in 2016! We could not do this work without your support. But, there is still so much to do. Keep community health a priority for Waltham in 2017 with a year end gift to Healthy Waltham. A small gift goes a long way. Checks can be sent to Healthy Waltham at 510 Moody St., Waltham, MA, 02453, or click on the button at the top of the page to donate securely through PayPal. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, all donations are tax-deductible. Thank you!