The job of a reverse mortgage professional requires great compassion. Every day, these people help seniors concerned about their financial security, listening to their worries and guiding them toward potential solutions. It’s no surprise that the sensitivity and empathy required to do this job extends beyond the workplace. With the support of their lenders and in the spirit of giving back, many reverse professionals are actively contributing to a variety of charitable causes. Here are some of the charitable ventures supported by leading lenders in the space.
Security One Lending Community One By Rhiannon Behnke
Community One is an organization created by Security One Lending (S1L) that is dedicated to supporting charitable causes in several of our local communities. When I joined the company, I met with Torrey and Tyler Larsen, S1L’s CEO and CFO, and we decided to create an entity within the firm that would be devoted to serving the various nonprofit organizations that the three of us supported, effectively organizing our efforts under one umbrella with the hope of encouraging our partners and staff to get involved.
What do you and your co-workers do to support Community One? Currently, we are hosting an in-office food drive for The Angel’s Depot, and many of us also volunteer at the charity’s warehouse to help pack meal boxes. We also hold various fundraisers for The Good Samaritans Children’s Home, which supports deprived children in Malawi. Finally, S1L employees volunteer in the area near the annual NRMLA conference, typically for a community improvement venture, and we ask other members of the industry to join us. Last year we worked on homes through Habitat for Humanity in San Antonio. This year, in New Orleans, we will be participating in another Habitat for Humanity event on November 2.
What does your involvement in the organization mean to you? It touches my heart to see our employees get involved and work together as a team to help serve local communities and charities. It’s also great to see all the individuals who are willing to come together to help during the annual NRMLA event; it just brings a tear to my eye because you can’t do it alone and without all our friends in this business, we would never be able to achieve these amazing goals in helping others. Even if you cannot afford a financial contribution, just giving time and seeing the gratefulness in return from the people you are helping is an amazing feeling.
Kwagala Project is dedicated to rescuing, restoring and empowering women and children who have been victimized by trafficking and gender-based violence, and who are living in abject poverty. In addition to providing counseling and trauma therapy, Kwagala Project helps survivors cross the bridge into self-sufficiency through education and practical aftercare programs such as skills training, entrepreneurship and job placement. Each area of study is designed to equip graduates with the tools and informed choices needed to build their newly empowered futures.
How did AAG first get involved with Kwagala Project? In August 2011, the AAGives Back committee met with AAG CEO Reza Jahangiri to hear about his recent trip to Gulu, Uganda, and this amazing organization he came across that helps struggling young women and children in that area. During his trip, Reza visited a rehabilitation residence in Gulu that is sponsored by another American firm. Inspired, the committee called a companywide meeting to talk about how the AAG family can get involved.
What do you and your co-workers do to support the charity? We raise money through different fundraisers to help support the house where the girls live. We’ve done many different fundraisers in the office, including bake sales, salad bars, raffles and jewelry sales. Soon we’ll have an automatic withdrawal program set up for employees who’d like to donate per paycheck. We also Skype as often as possible to catch up with the girls in Uganda, fostering a connection between them and AAG staff. Last year, AAG sent me to visit the girls in Gulu and Kampala as a representative for the company. All of the money AAG raises is pooled to provide microloans for these women, giving them the ability to start their own business and invest in their futures.
Why do you think this is an important cause for your company to support? It provides the opportunity for team building through company activities and fundraisers. The employees also get to witness firsthand where our fundraising is going and how it is being utilized to change lives. AAG’s mission is not only to be an industry leader but also a leader in the community, and I believe we are accomplishing this through the example of giving back.
The Angel’s Depot works directly with seniors in San Diego County who are living in poverty and are at risk for malnutrition. They provide a free midmonth meal box to eligible seniors containing a full week of meals. These boxes help fill the gap when finances are the tightest.
How and when did your company first get involved? One Reverse Mortgage first became involved with The Angel’s Depot in 2012. We’ve always been involved in charity work, but when we were introduced to The Angel’s Depot we knew we had found a charity that matched our company’s mission to help seniors in our community. After hearing about the charity through a friend in the reverse mortgage industry, we immediately reached out to offer our assistance.
What do you and your co-workers do to support the charity? We help set up for its annual gala event; one of our team members and her spouse even worked as the photographers for the evening. We pack meal boxes at the charity’s warehouse for delivery and we are currently hosting a food drive at our office. Our food drives have been incredibly successful because of the competitive nature of the team here in San Diego. We end up overwhelming our space with food and have had to have The Angel’s Depot send its truck to pick up everything!
What does your involvement in the organization mean to you? There are approximately 50,000 seniors living in poverty in San Diego County. While a reverse mortgage can help ease financial stress for some of them, there are many more seniors whom we cannot help. This organization reaches out to seniors whom our company may not be able to assist and eases some of their stress. As surprising as it sounds, the No. 1 reason seniors are forced to move from their homes into assisted living facilities is malnutrition. The simple yet effective concept of providing food directly to the seniors who need it most picks up where reverse mortgage companies leave off.
Do you think the charitable work impacts workplace morale? I have no doubt about the positive effect this charitable work has on the morale of our team. Every team member has committed to help in one way or another, sparking individual competitions, friendly taunts and constant requests for more ways to help. One Reverse Mortgage offers eight hours of paid volunteer time to each of its team members, but so many of our members do much more. The feel-good energy it creates in the workplace is infectious.
Senior Connections is an Atlanta-based charity whose mission is to provide essential home- and community-based care that maximizes independence for the elderly.
How and when did your company first get involved in Senior Connections? In 2009 our VP of human resources researched various charities that GMC could support and came across Senior Connections. We felt it was a great fit for our company’s vision and mission. Since then, our chief operating officer, Mark Sohl, has been an active member on the Senior Connections board of directors.
What do you and your co-workers do to support the charity? We participate in many different events. Several times a year we send teams of volunteers to help prepare and deliver hot, nutritious meals to homebound seniors. These volunteers also assist in making homes handicap-accessible. We help with the annual senior prom event and also sponsor an annual golf tournament. We also participate in an event called the Meals on Wheels Mayor’s March, where we deliver meals with 16 local mayors to constituents in their districts.
What does your involvement in the organization mean to you? The mission of Senior Connections aligns with the philosophy of our organization. Generation Mortgage Company’s mission is to provide senior clients with the opportunity to maintain independence in their own home while aging with grace and dignity. Spending time with local seniors while delivering meals helps all of us keep a clear focus on the importance and value of the products and services we provide our customers.
Do you think the charitable work impacts workplace morale? Yes, very much. Everyone truly enjoys the opportunity to be of service to the senior community and to be able to make a difference by directly jumping in and providing a helping hand. We enjoy the time spent together doing activities that help create stronger relationships. It gives us a healthy sense of mission that helps heighten morale in the workplace.