Written by Rob Awalt, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

When I was asked to write  the "Last Word,” my first thought was that it sounds so… final. For those of you that were able to join us at Cheers in Boston at the most recent NRMLA conference, you might think “last call” is more fitting than “last word.” Either way, I don’t think any of us would argue that 2011 was another year of change and challenge for our industry. We can be thankful that we survived and that some even thrived. Unfortunately, it was also a year when many had their “last word” in the reverse mortgage market.

In January, people tend to reflect on the previous year and evaluate the year to come. This January, I propose that we sit back and take a moment to reflect on how we have grown and what we have overcome as an industry. After all, we are survivors. Whether you have worked in the industry for one year or 20, nobody can question your resolve. You have a reason to stand tall and to celebrate!

I can tell you that each time I hear a story of a senior that has closed a successful reverse mortgage loan to save their home or to pay their bills or debt so that they can live without worry, I become thankful again for what we do each and every day. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in all of the changes and challenges and lose sight of what really matters. What really matters is the 85-year-old woman with 23 grandkids in Texas, who will now have heat and power because of her reverse mortgage loan.

If you still love the reverse mortgage industry, stand up and be counted! We have reason to be proud and excited that we are still in an industry that can do so much to provide solutions for our elders.

In 2002, when I first stepped into the reverse mortgage world, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What became very apparent early on was the fortitude and determination of the people involved. It has served us well; if I look back and reflect on the changes over that time period it becomes a bit overwhelming. We are a resilient group of individuals who have made up our minds that this is where we want to be!

There will always be change in our industry and in life. If we continue to focus on the solutions and not obsess about the obstacles, we can rest assured that we possess the tools to handle the task at hand. So take this moment to pat yourself on the back for a job well done and look forward with confidence. A mentor once told me, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right!”

I will lift my glass to many more years in this industry despite the decisions that are made by others, which we cannot control; to staying in the game, even though sometimes it requires a helmet and full pads; and last but not least, to all of the happy seniors and their families that have experienced a better way of life … because you cared! Cheers to a great 2012.