Stories of Hope During the COVID-19 Pandemic

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”- Victor E. Frankl 

These days it may seem difficult to keep your spirits up and not feel overwhelmed navigating these times of the Coronavirus pandemic.

There’s fear, stress, loneliness and unease but we are going through this together and if you look a little closer, past the negative news, you’ll see signs of hope and moments of kindness and care around the globe.  

These stories of everyday heroes, nurses and doctors working tirelessly on the frontlines and small, selfless acts of kindness by many have added hope and happiness to my days.

Soccer moms are hand-sewing masks. Hotels like the Four Seasons have opened their doors to medical professionals and groups of teens are delivering meals to seniors staying safe at home.

Below are some of the stories that have inspired me and I hope they will do the same for you. 

Small Businesses in Vermont Charter Private Plane to Deliver Coronavirus Tests to Those in Need 

After a flight from Logan airport to Minnesota carrying COVID-19 test samples for the Mayo Clinic Laboratories was cancelled, Vermont-based company Green Mountain Messenger worked with local businesses and the State of Vermont to send the hundreds of COVID-19 test specimens to the Clinic for processing. 

Walters and Martti Matheson, co-owners of JV Air, agreed to fly their private plane from Burlington to Minnesota not just for that one trip, but then again each day for the next 10 days, carrying a total of 4,000 test kits to the lab. 

Nursing Home Staff Throwing Parties to Help Residents Cope With Their Loneliness 

The staff at Brightview Senior Living in New Jersey have gone above and beyond to help make their residents feel safe and happy.

In addition to hosting FaceTime calls and going door-to-door giving out ice cream, the staff has organized special even

New Yorkers Cheering at 7pm Every Night to Show Their Support for Medical Professionals 

What began in the streets of Italy has made its way to America — cheers, singing and applause every night to thank health heroes. New York City residents have taken to their balconies, windows and doorsteps (at a safe distance) to energetically make noise (even banging on pots and pans) as a sign of gratitude for those in the hospitals risking their lives to save others. 

A Group of Teens Created a Website to Deliver Groceries to Seniors

Senior citizens are at the highest risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. With extra time on their hands from social distancing, California native Daniel Goldberg, a junior student-athlete at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara (along with a couple of friends), wanted to help the elderly.

He created Zoomers to Boomers, a website where seniors in the Santa Barbara area can sign up to have their groceries delivered the next day by a high school student. This act inspired many citizens throughout the country to check on their elderly neighbors.

Four Seasons Offers Free Stays for Local Medical Workers on the Frontline 

Hotels and resorts across the country have temporarily closed to help stop the spread of COVID-19. With the hotel now empty, the Four Seasons on 57th Street in Manhattan is offering free shelter to medical professionals on the frontlines.

Chairman of the hotel’s corporate owner Ty Warner said, “Many of those working in New York City have to travel long distances to and from their homes after putting in 18-hour days. They need a place close to work where they can rest and regenerate.”

These are just a few of the remarkable stories out there. I’m optimistic that over time, these types of stories will start to out-number the negative ones.

Remember, we are in this together. Let’s be kind to each other and support one another as best we can. Even the smallest acts can have immense impacts.


KIPLINGER’S On Reverse Mortgages: An ‘Outside-the-Box’ Solution for Financial Stress

Today is the future I created yesterday.”- Louise Hay 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an enormous amount of economic volatility, making generating retirement income much more challenging, and turning to outside-of-the-box financial tools might be the most effective solution.

In a recent column at Kiplinger, financial professional Charles Rawl highlighted federally insured home equity conversion mortgages (HECM) as an income-generating solution that should be considered by older Americans.

According to Rawl, “This is no time to be stuck in ‘conventional wisdom’ paradigms.”

He writes “Tools that may have developed a bad reputation in the past, such as reverse mortgages, may deserve a second look. While their history of misuse is well documented, the industry has repositioned itself so that today’s reverse mortgages might be considered an important and sophisticated financial tool for some.”

He adds “The intelligent use of a reverse mortgage, particularly a federally insured home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) line of credit, could extend an individual’s or couple’s retirement resources in a way that more traditional strategies cannot.” 

Below are a few of the ways highlighted by Rawl that an HECM can be more effective in generating retirement resources. 

Using An HECM As A Tool To Help Preserve Net Worth  

“Sequence of return risks” – this was already a legitimate concern before the coronavirus pandemic and recent market volatility. Now, it is even more important.

Rawls says, “When the market experiences a downturn early in your retirement, when you’re no longer contributing to your retirement accounts and you’ve begun to take withdrawals, it can be tough to recover from a major loss,” He continues. “An HECM line of credit can be used as a buffer to help protect against adverse portfolio returns, because retirees can carefully coordinate distributions from their portfolio and their HECM line of credit based on their needs and current market conditions.”

Using An HECM To Pay For Unexpected Expenses 

“The use of a tax-free HECM line of credit for unexpected (or even planned) purchases or shortfalls in cash flow can be extremely beneficial in retirement — and not just because it can provide much-needed funds. An HECM also can protect against the raiding of other retirement resources when those costs come up.”


Another bonus he mentions, “An HECM line of credit has a clear-cut advantage over the use of a traditional credit line in that it has a guaranteed growth option (the growth applies to unused funds) and a “non-recourse” feature.”

“Unlike traditional home equity loans or lines of credit, an HECM line of credit can never be prematurely closed and collected.”


Coronavirus Fraud: How To Protect Yourself

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

We are living in an uneasy time and we are all concerned about the future, and unfortunately now we have yet another thing to be worried about: scammers.

Scammers quickly went to work to take advantage of the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act” and already have schemes to defraud taxpayers.

One specific scheme identity thieves have come up with is leveraging confusion over the stimulus checks to convince people to share personally-identifying information. It’s shameful but the Better Business Bureau is already reporting that government imposters are calling about COVID-19 relief.

Below are the basics of how some of these types of scams work and the facts about the stimulus checks from a recent article in Forbes so you can protect yourself and any of your vulnerable loved ones.


Someone will call and suggest that you might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant and that it’s necessary to first verify your identity and process your request.

Variations on the scheme may involve contacts through text messages, social media posts, and messages. 


The scammer may suggest you can get more money from the government or get your stimulus check faster – if you share personal details and pay a minimal “processing fee.”


Stimulus checks are FREE money from the government. You DO NOT need to spend money to receive your check. There are NO short-cuts, NO fees and NO additional money.


There are some reports out there about fake checks. If you receive a “stimulus check” in the mail now, it’s a fraud. It will take the Treasury a few weeks to mail those out.

If you receive a “stimulus check” for an odd amount (and specifically one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).

The IRS WILL NOT call and ask you to verify your payment details.

Please DO NOT share your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information even if someone is claiming that it’s required to get your stimulus check. IT’S A SCAM.

First, if you receive a call, do not engage. Simply hang up. If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. Don’t click on any links in those emails.

If you’ve come across a scam, you can report it to

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is also receiving reports of potential scams and is warning that “Small businesses are also getting scam calls about virus-related funding or loans and online listing verification.” 

If you think you’ve been a victim of a Coronavirus scam, you should contact law enforcement immediately.  


Covid-19: Staying Hopeful During These Challenging Times

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”- Martin Luther King Jr.

These are tough and heartbreaking times for everyone with the escalation of the Coronarivus globally. I’m sure many of you feel as I do and are struggling and feel overwhelmed emotionally.

Fortunately people from all around the globe have shared messages, videos, poems and photos of hope and inspiration that have helped lift my spirits amid the tragic Coronavirus outbreak.

Matthew McConaughey shared a personal video message of hope. I encourage you to click below, watch the video and be inspired to embrace our common values of fairness, kindness, accountability, resilience, respect and courage to help overcome this common enemy.


The words below are a combination of sentiments I’d like to share with you from author Cameron Belim, a poem by Laura Kelly Fanucci and messages from friends that have given me comfort.


May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing gains in the stock market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country let us choose love and kindness towards our neighbors.


When this is over, may we never again take for granted:

A handshake with a stranger

Full shelves at the store

Conversations with neighbors

A crowded theatre

Friday night out

The taste of Communion

A Routine Checkup

The school rush each morning

Coffee with a friend

The stadium roaring

Each deep breath

A boring Tuesday

Life itself

When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way — better for each other because of what we’ve gone through.

– Laura Kelly Fanucci

We can Reset, Remember and all Pull Together, One Nation under God. Indivisible. AMEN! 


VR Delivering Benefits for Seniors

“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” – John Barrymore

When you think of early technology adopters, most likely millennials and the younger generation comes to mind. However with Virtual Reality (VR), seniors appear to be among those taking advantage of this cutting-edge technology to better their lives.

VR is now being used around the globe to help seniors feel less lonely and provide them with emotional, cognitive and social benefits.

A recent Forbes article featured examples of the ways this immersive technology is positively impacting the lives of seniors. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites below.

VR Can Counteract Feelings of Loneliness 

Tokyo researcher, Kenta Toshima, is using VR to help nursing home residents visit places from their pasts and tick off spots around the globe from their bucket lists. He is accomplishing this by capturing made-to-order VR experiences with an 8K 360 camera.

“By supplementing their physical handicap with technology, the VR travel experiences can help improve the elderly’s motivation for rehabilitation and improve their quality of life. The VR experience makes them feel like they are out of the nursing home and can help ease their anxiety and loneliness.” Kenta Toshima

Be sure to check out the videos of the elderly patients experiencing new places in virtual reality on Toshima’s social media.

VR Can Be Used for Travel and Time Travel

Two retirement communities in Tucson are the launch pads for a program designed to see how virtual reality technology can help senior citizens with cognition, dementia, loneliness and other issues.

Facebook’s standalone VR device, Oculus Quest, has enabled the residents to ride on a roller coaster, visit the Egyptian Pyramids and even go back to places from their past for a little trip down memory lane.

VR Can Help Tackle Social Isolation

Studies have found that isolation and loneliness are more detrimental to one’s health than obesity or smoking, especially for those over 50.

Knowing this, AARP Innovation Labs built Alcove, a VR app focused on family and social connection.

The aim of Alcove is to bridge the physical distance between family members and empower people to experience new places and things that they typically would not be able to either due to the cost, time required or mobility constraints.

The immersive ecosystem that AARP has built lets users enter and navigate on their own, or explore in multiplayer with their family and friends.

It was developed in collaboration with Rendever, a startup with a virtual reality platform that provides cognitive stimulation and socialization to seniors.


3 Reasons to get a Reverse Mortgage

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”- Nido Qubein

3 Reasons to Get a Reverse Mortgage

In a recent article, The Motley Fool contributor Maurie Backman talks about reverse mortgages and highlights 3 reasons for considering this strategic financial tool.

As she notes in the article, seniors today face a number of financial challenges when it comes to retirement.

However, there is one important asset that older Americans can tap into to help – their home equity.

Reverse mortgages enable you to stay in your home and leverage the equity you’ve built up. And unlike traditional loans where you make monthly payments, with a reverse mortgage you only repay the principal and interest once you sell or move permanently from the home.

3 Reasons Why it Could Pay to Get a Reverse Mortgage
from Maurie Backman

If you need money and don’t have the best credit score, a reverse mortgage can be an ideal solution, since it doesn’t take that number into consideration. Instead, eligibility is based on having equity in your home, and if that equity is there, you’re likely to get approved.

You can use a reverse mortgage to pay for basics like heat, food, electricity, and a host of other expenses that have nothing to do with your home. You can even use that money to travel, if that’s something you’d like to do!

Unlike a home equity loan, with a reverse mortgage you don’t need to repay until you move out of your home, sell your home, or pass away. Then your heirs can sell your home to satisfy that obligation.

Requirements for a Reverse Mortgage

  • Be at least 62 years old
  • Have sufficient equity in your home
  • Live in the home as your primary residence
  • Have a home that meets HUD standards
  • Not be delinquent on federal debt
  • Participate in a HUD-approved counseling session
  • Be able to keep up with taxes, insurance, HOA payments and home maintenance


Neuroscience and Aging with Vitality and Happiness

“A smart person knows how to talk. A wise person knows when to be silent.” – Roy T. Bennett


When you think of old age, what comes to mind? Slowing down? Being forgetful? Not feeling quite as sharp?

Jill Suttie of Greater Good Magazine recently sat down with neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, to talk about what neuroscience can teach us about aging well with more vitality and happiness.

Levitin is a neuroscientist, psychologist, professor emeritus at McGill University in Montreal, and faculty fellow at UC Berkeley. In his book, Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives, he gives insights into how early childhood experiences, personalities, social relationships, and lifestyles all directly contribute to a brain’s development, thus taking the task the misconception that cognitive decline is inevitable in older age.

He argues against ageism and for the need to change the conversation about aging and the importance of placing more value on older adults for their experience and what they can contribute to society.

Levitin also shows us what we all can do to become sharper, happier, and wiser as we age.

CLICK HERE see an edited version of their discussion and get tips for aging well from Daniel Levitin.

Create a Better Retirement with a Reverse Mortgage

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt


Worried about retirement and concerned that you’re not ready?

You are certainly not alone. Most people do not feel financially prepared for this next phase of life and find planning overwhelming.

Looking at retirement planning holistically is incredibly important and taking into consideration all of your assets.

One significant asset is your home.

A reverse mortgage is a strategic tool that will put your home equity to work for you and help you better meet your retirement goals.

Below is a comprehensive overview on reverse mortgages that highlights the following:

  • What is a reverse mortgage
  • What you can do with a reverse mortgage
  • Are you eligible for a reverse mortgage
  • The key consumer protections and safeguards in place for reverse mortgages
  • Details on the HomeSafe suite of reverse mortgage solutions
  • Advantages of reverse mortgages vs. a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)
  • Hypothetical examples of retirement scenarios
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • The loan process
  • What the respected media has to say about reverse mortgages


The Wall Street Journal/Real Estate 

“Homeowners sitting on significant equity due to rising home values or because they’ve paid off their mortgage could be a good fit. They can, of course, unlock that equity by selling their properties or getting home-equity loans or lines of credit. But for older Americans who want to stay in their home or supplement their income without assuming additional debt, a better option might be the jumbo reverse mortgage.”

– Robyn A. Friedman, Contributor, “Senior Homeowners Give Reverse Jumbo Mortgages New Life.”


Forbes Highlights The Jumbo Reverse Mortgage

“You must master a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.
– Marriane Williamson


Many Americans find themselves in unique financial situations that require seeking out alternative forms of financing to more traditional, forward mortgage loans.

Fortunately, there are numerous financial products available beyond the traditional solutions that can help individuals in these situations more efficiently and strategically.

In a new piece on Forbes, Melissa Cohn, EVP at Family First Funding LLC Private Client Group, talks about the jumbo reverse mortgage as one of these alternative solutions.

“Homeowners can now obtain a reverse mortgage in New York and other states up to $4 million,” Cohn writes as a member of Forbes’ real estate council. “Until recently, we were limited to loan limits of approximately $700,000. The increase in reverse loan limits is a huge benefit to senior homeowners who live in high-value homes.”

According to Cohn, proprietary reverse mortgage options provide a new way for those seniors who live in homes with values beyond the lending limit currently applied to more traditional Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loans, to tap into their home’s equity.

“With increased loan limits, senior homeowners can potentially access hundreds of thousands of dollars more than previously allowed,” she says.

“Now, borrowers have the ability to tap into their home’s equity and put it to work any way they want, giving them more control over their assets, investments and cash flow. Proceeds are tax-free and no monthly mortgage payments are required.”

Cohn also highlights the many ways the loan’s proceeds can be used.

“Funds can be used for any purpose, such as buying a second home or condo, paying for medical or in-home care expenses, paying for home improvements or limiting the need to take excessive distributions from their investment portfolio. No mortgage insurance is required.”

Improve Your Retirement with a Jumbo Reverse Mortgage 

If you’re a senior who owns a home with a notable amount of equity, a proprietary jumbo reverse mortgage may be a viable option to help you tap into that equity, diversify your investment strategy and improve your retirement.

Sending a Heart Full of Thanks This Holiday Season


It is with a heart full of thanks that we end this fabulous year!

It means so much to me to be entrusted by you, to assist in removing financial burdens and replacing them with peace of mind.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I share below the wise words of Albert Einstein.

May they also inspire you to look out into the world and acknowledge the values that we share with one another, rather than the differences between us.

Loving our fellow man, and helping where you can, is why we are here on Earth.

Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. 

From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of other men – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.

Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein


May the beauty of the holidays warm your spirit, energize your soul and may the New Year be full of endless possibilities.

Cynthia Kee