Celebration of Life

Make a WishMake-A-Wish® Southern Florida was searching for an event that would be fun and inclusive of the Southwest Florida communities that would showcase the impact of a wish for a wish child and his or her family.

A former chair of the President’s Council of Collier County for Make- A-Wish® Southern Florida, suggested a Celebration of Life cruise. This cruise would allow our community, wish children and their families a place to gather and share the power of a wish®.

The Naples Princess as a venue seemed perfect since it was large enough to accommodate our wish kids and their families as well as community supporters. Taking a boat ride is a luxury many of our wish families cannot afford particularly when medical expenses and appointments dominate their lives. We wanted a brief moment in time where families could be together, relaxing and enjoying the experience without concerns about costs or in fact even tomorrow. For most of our families being on the Naples Princess was the first time on a boat. More importantly, it was the first time in a long time that they were together laughing and carefree.

The support of local business and restaurant owners has been overwhelming and has contributed to the success of the Celebration of Life cruise. This past June was the 3rd Annual Celebration of Life Cruise. In its three-year history, mMake a wishore than 100 children and their families have participated and the event has raised more than $7,400, enough to grant a local child’s wish.

Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. The Southern Florida chapter grants a wish every 16 hours and has granted more than 9,000 wishes since its inception 29 years ago. With the average cost of a wish being $5,000, Make-A-Wish relies on fundraisers, corporate support and donations from the public to bring sunshine into the lives of families when they need it most.

A Personal Struggle

personal struggle  At around age 17, Michael Perryman was in serious trouble. Drugs and alcohol were in control of his life and maintained a dangerous stronghold for about 10 years. “Those were some of the darkest days of my life,” explained his mother, Mimi Scofield. “There were many sleepless nights and many hours of praying for his recovery,” she said. “I knew that I was in the fight of my life. I was not about to give up and I was not about to let my son give up.”

Today, with the support of his mother and many others, Perryman is celebrating eight years of sobriety and counting. “I want you to know that I’m here today because prevention works,” Perryman recently told an audience of Drug Free Collier supporters.

As a result of her son’s personal struggle and grateful triumph over addiction, Scofield serves on Drug Free Collier’s Board of Directors. She is a strong advocate for prevention and is committed to helping others through her involvement with the local organization. “I’m here to tell you that there is hope and victory over addiction,” she said.

Drug Free Collier Cares

Drug Free Collier is a coalition of concerned citizens working together to save and change lives by making our community a safer, healthier and drug-free place for our youth. “Children need to know that we care,” said Dr. Frank Nappo, President of Drug Free Collier’s Board of Directors.

The coalition is a partnership of local parents, teachers, law enforcement, businesses, religious leaders, health care providers and other community activists who all care about protecting our youth, explained Dr. Nappo.

As an organization that is growing and developing in this community, Drug Free Collier has a singular purpose, said the Rev. Kirt Anderson, Pastor at Naples Community Church and Drug Free Collier Board Member. “To affirm life, to affirm freedom, and to ensure that our young people make it through all of those silly false choices – most of which are rooted and grounded in their desire to belong,” he said. “If they only knew how loved they are.”

Honorable Lauren L. Brodie, Collier County Circuit Court Judge and founding member of Drug Free Collier explains how the organization was born out of genuine concern. “When we began discussing the idea of a community coalition in late 2004 and then actually forming Drug Free Collier in 2005,” Judge Brodie said: “Very few people wanted to admit that kids in Collier County used drugs. That’s why we had to have a speaker’s bureau. That’s why we had to talk to any group that would listen. We had to convince people that kids were using drugs,” she said

“Today, I venture to say that everyone knows someone whose life has been affected by a child using drugs or alcohol,” said Judge Brodie. “On one hand, I am thankful that we can now openly engage in this dialogue. But what saddens me more is why we can do this.”

Prevention Works

To help measure progress, Drug Free Collier has been tracking data from the annual Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYpersonal struggle 2SAS) since 2002. FYSAS is a collaborative effort between the Florida departments of Health, Education, Children and Families, Juvenile Justice and the Governor’s Office of Drug Control. It includes the responses of more than 1,200 students in local middle and high schools.

The latest FYSAS report offers a compelling snapshot of drug use among adolescents in Collier County.

The good news: drug use among local teens has been declining overall since 2004.

The bad news: Collier County youth are often abusing substances at rates higher than their peers throughout the state.

“Drug Free Collier believes these trends should concern everyone in Collier County,” said Executive Director, Melanie Black. “Our coalition is here to review this data and develop concrete solutions,” she said. By coordinating efforts between multiple sectors of our community, we are determined to achieve positive outcomes for our youth and improve the results of this annual student assessment, said Black. “Who else would be looking into this?” she added.

A Closer look at the FYSAS

The FYSAS offers more than simple numbers about drug use prevalence in Collier County. It also examines local conditions that may influence whether or not our teens engage in risky behavior. Research shows that student achievement, delinquency, and drug use are all associated with specific risk and protective factors. These factors are considered to be more important than ethnicity, income or family structure when it comes to understanding adolescent behavior.

The highest risk factor identified for Collier County students was “transitions and mobility.” This means that students in our area are more likely to have changed homes or schools on one or more occasions. Even normal school transitions are associated with an increase in problem behaviors. According to research, transitions may contribute to increased rates of drug use, school dropouts and antisocial behavior. This is thought to occur because students no longer have the bonds they had in their old environment and do not develop new bonds to protect them from involvement in problem behaviors.

Other key findings include lower rates for protective factors in certain community domains. For example, when asked: “Are there people in my neighborhood who are proud of me when I do something well?” students in Collier County answered below the national and state normative samples. Research shows that when communities recognize pro-social behavior, students feel valued and are less likely to engage in negative behavior.Personal struggle 3

“When concerned adults such as teachers, friends, relatives, pastors, older siblings, and neighbors take an interest in youth, we build a community support system with strong protective factors, said Dr. Nappo.

As long as there are youth at risk of substance abuse, our children, grandchildren and our community are at risk.

You Can Help

You can be part of the solution by making a financial gift, volunteering or becoming a coalition member. Some initiatives include:

• Operation Medicine Cabinet® – a pharmaceutical take-back program for the safe disposal of unused prescriptions in the household. It’s a prescription for safe kids & a clean environment! • Responsible Alcohol Vendor Training – Free training offered to vendors to identify best practices for preventing the sale of alcohol to minors. I.D. Scanners are also available for use at community festivals where alcohol is sold. The scanners are a free resource from Drug Free Collier to reduce human error when checking IDs.

• Community Awareness Meetings – Each year, Drug Free Collier reaches thousands of local residents with informative presentations from national and local experts. Drug trends change and our knowledge about drugs should change too. We offer the most up-todate information about substance abuse to our community.

• C.O.R.E. Society – The C.O.R.E. Society is a social club with a purpose. The movement began in 2009 with a handful of students at Naples High School who pledged to remain drug and alcohol free. Today, we have 10 CORE Clubs throughout Collier County, with more than 400 students making positive choices and encouraging their peers to do the same. The C.O.R.E. acronym stands for: Character; Opposing Drugs; Responsible Choices & Expectations. These students are “Clean to the CORE and Under Control.”

The Immokalee Foundation’s Evolution Throughout the Years

For the past 22 years, The Immokalee Foundation (TIF) has been committed to improving the future of the children of Immokalee. Founded in 1991, The Immokalee Foundation was originally formed to raise awareness about the challenges the agricultural town of Immokalee faces and the ability to gain financial support from neighboring communities. With the leadership of Parker Collier, founder, and the generous help of several concerned citizens TIF began to commit financial assistance to initiatives in education, career development and health care.

In the late 1990s, TIF began to narrow its scope by focusing on what the organization believed to be a critical part in the economic development of Immokalee: Education. To better understand the particular needs in the education field, TIF commissioned a study in 2006 called “A Study of Immokalee’s Children and Analysis of Needs.” TIF’s goal was to uncover weaknesses that prevented the children of Immokalee from achieving academic excellence. The results were alarming.

The study revealed approximately 65% of the students who entered kindergarten dropImmokalee foundationped out before high school graduation and 60% of all elementary school students (75% within the 6th, 8th, and 10th grades) scored at the lowest levels on the FCAT. Moreover, only 30% of high school graduates pursued post-secondary plans. It was also revealed that afterschool programs, early reading intervention, and career and college training programs were needed. As a result, TIF’s role began to change. What began as a grant-awarding organization has now expanded into an operational not-for-profit organization focused on educational programs.

TIF’s partnership with the statewide program, Take Stock in Children (TSIC), solidified that transition. This program provides mentorship and scholarship opportunities to motivated students. TIF learned through managing TSIC that other potential educational programs were needed for Immokalee.

By 2009, the foundation had expanded program offerings which emphasized education and life skills leading to economic independence. Today, TIF’s programs include TSIC, Immokalee Readers, Career Development and College Success. These programs increased direct services from 300 to over 700 students.

Programs

TSIC is a scholarship mentorship, that hopes to increase high school graduation rates by holding students to a pledge to stay out of trouble, keep their grades up and meeting with a mentor on a regular basis.

TIF’s Immokalee Readers provides an early reading intervention program. This program is targeted to improve the reading skills of the bottom 17% performers on the state achievement assessment test (FCAT) of children from kindergarten through third grade. This program, with a curriculum led by certified teachers is supplemented with hired high-school age tutors provides specific reading lessons and is implemented in three Immokalee elementary schools.

TIF’s Career Development program exposes students to a variety of career panels, seminars, and industry targeted tours. It assists students with developing individual career plans in order to make life choices with scholarship support. In 2010, through a unique partnership between TIF and the Fites Family Charitable Trust, Kelly Tractor, and Caterpillar Foundation, a new training program for Heavy Equipment Mechanics began at iTECH in Immokalee. This partnership funds this program and it leads to graduates gaining high-wage earning employment.

Additionally, all TIF’s students on a post-secondary path are tracked with mentoring support to ensure graduation through the College Success program.

Program Results

TIF’s impact has been remimmokaleefoundationarkable. Today:

• 100% of the students who participate in TIF graduate from high school.

• 97% of the students who graduate high school go on to a college or vocational post-secondary path.

• Approximately 75% of the students that go on to college or postsecondary education graduate.

• 100% of the students enrolled in Immokalee Readers program have measureable gains, with majority reaching grade level.

The above results have been achieved through hard work and dedication but also through crucial partnerships. Among those are the Collier County School District, principals, teachers, and parents.

Don Gunther, TIF’s chairmen, stated, “TIF has a focused, data driven outcome oriented approach in its programs. Each initiative continues to build on the success from previous years and continues to advance the strategic path for the children of Immokalee.”

TIF’s success could not have come without its crucial supporters. Approximately 97% of all donations are from individual donors and corporate sponsorships. Every person, family, and organization that supports TIF plays an essential role not only on the foundation’s prosperity, but in the academic success of the children of Immokalee. An emeritus board member, George Franks stated at TIF’s facility grand opening, “This touches you in a deeper place. I became aware that I am part of a bigger plan.”

For more information contact The Immokalee Foundation at 239.430.9122, or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

 

Real Men Do Eat Quiche

Admit it.

As soon as an event is called a “luncheon,” most women assume it is only for them, and most men run for their golf clubs, feign severe illness, or apologize profusely for a pressing appointment they suddenly remembered. They know how these events go: the numbing, interminable silent auctions, raffles, and speeches – not to mention an abundance of fashion talk.

Not so with Youth Haven’s annual signature event. Youth Haven’s featured speakers and stories have all been about extraordinary men achieving amazing things against herculean odds.

Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy spoke at Youth Haven’s inaugural event. This successful Memphis family adopted 17-year old, Michael Oher, whose drug addicted mother gave him up in childhood. He is now an offensive lineman with the Baltimore Ravens, and subject of the Academy Award winning filreal menm, “The Blind Side.”

Apolo Anton Ohno is an eight-time Olympic short-track skater medalist. His parents divorced when he was an infant, and Apolo never knew his mother. Mentors and friends helped Apolo find his emotional footing in childhood, and he went on to become the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete of all time.

Erik Weihenmayer is an internationally recognized blind mountain climber. His life of courage and triumph moved us all to tears and a thunderous standing ovation last year. He is the only blind person who has reached the summit of Mount Everest, as well as the tallest peak on each continent. His mentors inspired him to a life of possibilities, not limitations.

Youth Haven’s 2014 event promises to continue the tradition. Featured speaker, Antwone Fisher, is a New York Times Best selling author, poet, inspirational speaker, and subject of the Denzel Washington film, aptly entitled, “Antwone Fisher.” He started life in a series of abusive foster care homes. Today Antwone inspires young people around the world to believe that a life of joy and purpose, no matter their pain, is within their grasp.

These remarkable individuals have one thing in common: they achieved world class excellence in the face of stunning obstacles. But they will tell you their strength came from unexpected friends – perfect strangers and dedicated professionals who stepped up and stood beside them. Their stories remind us of what really matters: compassion, kindness, and love for one another — the ingredients given to all Youth Haven’s treasured children who climb a steep slope every day just to get by. Youth Haven provides shelter, guidance, therapeutic support, and love to severely abused and neglected children. The talented team of Youth Haven professionals works to give every “forgotten” child in our community a fighting chance at life.

Don’t miss the January 22, 2014 Youth Haven “Rebuilding Children’s Lives” luncheon. You’ll be in and out in 1 ½ hours and wish it had lasted longer.

For information, sponsorship opportunities and tickets, contact Aileen Carroll, Youth Haven, 239.687.5155. Aileen.Carroll@youthhaven.net.

 

Florida Community Bank

FCBFlorida Community Bank, N.A. (“FCB” or the “Company”), a banking subsidiary of Bond Street Holdings, Inc. (“Bond Street”), announced a strategic merger transaction with Great Florida Bank (“Great Florida”) that will, upon closing, result in creating Florida’s fourth largest independent banking institution. For Great Florida, the transaction will provide value for all stockholders relative to the present value of their investment and create a competitive community banking organization that is well positioned to meet the needs of its customers and communities for the long term.

The Company has entered into a merger agreement with Great Florida, which contemplates the merger of Great Florida into the Company. Upon completion of the merger, Great Florida’s stockholders will receive $3.24 per share in cash for each common share owned. The $3.24 per share merger consideration to be realized by Great Florida stockholders represents a substantial premium to the Great Florida’s average stock price over the preceding several years.The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the fourth quarter of 2013, subject to customary conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and the approval of Great Florida stockholders.

“The transaction with Great Florida Bank is truly a ‘game changer’ for our Company as we have been eager to expand our presence in Miami, Florida’s largest metro market. We are a Florida based, Florida focused company and the merger with Great Florida Bank adds significant scale to our brand and will result in meaningful synergies that will benefit customers and communities of both institutions,” added Kent Ellert, President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida Community Bank. “We are thrilled by the prospects of growing our banking platform with the addition of the Great Florida Bank team and the opportunities we foresee as we move together to build Florida’s leading independent commercial bank. Consistent with our previously completed eight successful acquisitions, this merger will significantly enhance our Florida footprint and will provide a foundation for us to augment our commercial lending team to further generate organic growth. We look forward to adding the employees of Great Florida Bank to our team and together creating an even stronger bank for our customers, employees and the communities we serve.”FCB logo

M. Mehdi Ghomeshi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Florida Bank, said, “This merger is a win for our stockholders, customers and banking franchise. This business combination significantly enhances our combined abilities to be one of the financially strongest and most competitive community banking organizations in Florida. We are confident that this merger is a highly attractive strategic alignment for all of our constituents.”

Great Florida stated that its Board of Directors, with the assistance of the Board’s independent financial advisor, Hovde Group LLC, unanimously approved the merger.

When the transaction is completed, Florida Community Bank will become the fourth largest bank headquartered in Florida, with approximately $4.4 billion in assets and 67 locations along both Florida coasts and in southeast Florida.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP acted as Florida Community Bank’s legal counsel in connection with the merger.

Service Part 1 of 6

Service3At this writing I would like to begin a six part series highlighting the key components of hiring a good, reliable contractor and having a fulfilling, positive experience. It is my desire that you will benefit from these writings in such a way that you will ultimately choose contractors for your project that will not only exceed your expectations but you will be able to recommend them to your friends and family in the future! Whoever you hire should make you look good!

Service is the first area we will address. Service is a word that is often overused and under demonstrated. First thing out of the gate is request current references. And then call them! Ask past customers about their experience; about any weaknesses with the contractor and what they liked. Were expectations met? Were “issues” addressed immediately and to everyone’s satisfaction? Was the service good overall?

Ask for trade references. Contractors work with other contractors on a daily basis and good ones have long term, established relationships. They can provide insight as well. At Kitchens by Clay we always provide a multi-page referral list that consists of both customers and trade partners.Service

Another sure way to get a good idea of what your service will be like is to simply be observant during the sales process. I’m saying that what you see is what you are going to get. Did they call back when they said they would? Was the pricing and design received in a timely manner? Meeting deadlines before the contract is signed is a good indication of what will come after. Who is controlling the entire project? If you are finding out just now that the salesman bows out and the contractor takes over but he delegates his responsibility to a supervisor (who typically has never even met you); then he comes down with chicken pox and has to stay home…well you get the idea. Too many chefs in the kitchen can ruin the soufflé.

Remember doing your homework before contract will be the most effective way to insure you receive the best service possible.

Enjoy your remodel, Clay CoxService2

Summer Vacation Science

SummerVacation It’s our family vacation and we’re at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It’s a magical place that introduces children and adults to the wonders of science and technology. We now find ourselves in the cafeteria. After navigating through multiple lines with a multitude of food choices, we’ve settled at a table and prepare to refuel before seeing the giants in locomotion, air, and concept cars. After that, perhaps off to the science laboratories to learn about converting light into energy or a movie about the effects of pH balance on our Earth’s coral reefs, shown on a five-story movie screen.

Science is an amazing and vast subject. I studied one microscopic corner as a biology major and then a sprinkle more with my master in oral biology. As I looked at our trays and the collection of lunch and snack foods we’d selected, I couldn’t resist taking a quick scan of the room at the trays belonging to the other two dozen families seated around us.

“I see only one family that I’d bet doesn’t have cavities,” I said quietly to my husband. I was being a bit nosy, but I imagined my scientific experiment being rather easy. My hypothesis was based on the items on the trays around us–and if only I could’ve asked those families to volunteer to be part of my experiment, I was rather confident of what my findings would be.

What was so obvious? If you’ve been to my office, you already know. What was missing from the trays of the only family I was nearly certain had cavity-free kids – and probably parents, too? What was on the trays of the others? The family I hypothesized had no cavities documented on their dental charts back wherever their home may be, was drinking only water with their lunch. With sandwiches and fruit, their meal looked very put together and pleasing. I was so tempted as a pediatric dentist to compliment them on their choices. The other children throughout the cafeteria didn’t seem to be making such bad choices– they were seated with trays of fairly good food. Items ranged from hot dogs and turkey subs to pizza. Aside from a few chocolate puddings topped with gummy worms, the overview was not bad. However, the upset in the balance of cavity free or not, I believe was the array of sugared beverages marched about in all colors of the rainbow. Gatorade galore, juice boxes and even an occasional soda. Red Gatorade by far seemed the most popular and it made me cringe. As for the grown-ups, I couldn’t overlook all the sweetened teas and frothy Starbucks. Tasty to be sure, but equally tasty to the cavity causing bacteria that silently inhabit people’s mouths.

The bacteria that cause cavities thrive in an acidic environment. The acidity leaches the minerals out of teeth, disrupting the calcium-based molecules. Much as the coral reefs suffer and weaken in an acidic pH, teeth become weak. The weakness and porosity that develops allows the bacteria that cling to the surfaces of teeth left sticky from plaque and incomplete brushing and flossing, to find more permanent lodgings. They move into those small pores and continue to digest any carbohydrates that float their way. They then release even more acid, further deteriorating the teeth and burrowing deeper into them. Images of the hands on coal mining exhibit flashed through my mind. As the bacteria, like little miners with acidic ooze instead of dynamite and pick axes, bore deeper into the tooth’s core, a toothache and infection become more of an eventuality.

The Museum of Science and Industry claims to inspire the inner scientist and engineer in us all, and I believe the claim to be true. We watched static electricity developing into lightning, saSummervacation2t in flight simulators, created plastic polymers, and almost dissected owl pellets. We walked out thinking more about the whys and hows of things, like rain and digestion, thankful for scientific advances and excited for the future. Although it is only one tiny corner of the scientific universe, I am reinspired to teach patients how a little knowledge about the hows and whys can help them grow up cavity free.

Youth Haven Spruce Up

youth haven 2 A new flowerbed here, wooden picnic tables there, a fresh coat of paint. It was all in a hard day’s work spent sprucing up the campus of Youth Haven, Collier County’s only homeless shelter for traumatized youth.

Twenty volunteers from various walks of life such as bankers, attorneys, accountants and wounded war veterans recently tackled several projects to beautify the children’s and teen’s activity areas on the Youth Haven campus. The projects ran the gamut from refurbishing a decrepit basketball court to planting colorful beds of flowers, installing garden-area pavers, assembling five brand new picnic tables and doing interior painting.

“These are areas where children congregate for recreation or group therapy, or private areas where they can go to de-escalate with a mentor or peer,” said Jinx Liggett, executive director of Youth Haven.

The most immediate beneficiaries of the hard work are the 19 children currently residing on campus, and the children who are receiving care and support at Youth Haven’s Children and Family Counseling Center. The organization provides services to more than 2,400 children and family members annually.

According to Liggett, experiencing acts of kindness is foreign to most of these children and becomes a powerful teaching tool. “I had a child walk the grounds with me because he couldn’t believe it – that these volunteers would ‘come to help us.’ We are so appreciative of the positives for the children and the wonderful improvements to the campus.”

Naples Children & Eduyouth havencation Foundation – founders of Naples Winter Wine Festival – and Goldman Sachs’ Community TeamWorks in Miami partnered to design the Youth Haven project. This is the fourth year Goldman Sachs CTW in Miami has completed a special project for underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County. This year, in addition to its own employees, the Goldman Sachs CTW in Miami recruited volunteers from Quarles & Brady and Wounded Warriors for the day of labor.

“We are all so grateful for this united, inspiring effort at Youth Haven,” said Anne Welsh McNulty, NCEF trustee and chair of the 2014 Naples Winter Wine Festival. “Each year has meant a significant transformation for a children’s charity.”

Todd Foege, a consultant to NCEF, helped organize the day of labor. “They were an inspiring group of volunteers,” Foege said. “One young man from Wounded Warriors is a double amputee, and he worked tirelessly. He never quit and never complained. He stumbled from fatigue a few times, but kept asking what else he could to do to help. And that’s just one example of the tremendous sweat equity everyone put into the project.”

Community TeamWorks is Goldman Sachs’ global volunteer initiative that allows its peYouth Haven 3ople to take a day out of the office and spend it volunteering with local nonprofit organizations. In 2012, more than 25,000 Goldman Sachs people from 48 offices around the world partnered with more than 950 non-profit organizations on a diverse array of community service projects.

Youth Haven, a 501(c)(3), is Collier County’s only residential emergency shelter for boys and girls ages 6-16 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Youth Haven also provides an array of home and community-based parenting education, child and substance abuse prevention programs, and onsite and community based emotional and psychological counseling. For more information, visit www.youthhaven.net.

Naples Children & Education Foundation is dedicated to making a profound and sustaining improvement in the lives of underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County, Through the Naples Winter Wine Festival, NCEF has raised more than $110 million since 2001, making it the most successful charity wine auction in the world.

When Parents Need Parenting

parents My children are beginning to suspect that I haven’t told them the full story of our circumstances,” confided Jeannie, a lovely seventyish piano teacher. “Les and I were always in charge of our home, finances and lives, but now we see sideways glances exchanged between them when we are together.”

Jeannie’s children were right to suspect they did not know the full story. She had fallen twice in the past two months, and Les had become disoriented and then lost while walking home from the clubhouse the week before. The children had been concerned for some time, but after a recent gathering they were starting to become “anxious” about their parents. Franny, the eldest, was shocked to see how frail their mother had become. She was surprised that her father had a vacant look about him and seemed to be disengaged from conversations. She set up a family internet conference to discuss the issues.

The siblings were in general disagreement on how things should be handled. Zoe, Franny’s sister, ventured that the parents needed to be in an assisted living facility, but John, for financial reasons, felt they should move in with one of them. His wife did not seem too enthused about that. Chas, the youngest, who had just moved into an apartment in a different state, felt they should stay in their home.

The family was slipping into crisis, and no one was talking to the parents about it. Jeannie refused to acknowledge anything had changed, and given the siblings other responsibilities no one had sufficient time to stay with them to work through the sensitive issues. Each sibling also had their own lives with which to contend and they had never faced a crisis jointly. Jeannie understood this and stonewalled when the children were in town, knowing they would eventually leave.

Sound familiar? These are issues that have impacted families through time, and will impact virtually all current families in one form or another as they age. The best option is for the parents themselves, while they are capable, to develop a set of preferred options for continued living.

But often, the situation will have deteriorated to the point that the decision must be made by the family instead. Here, one option is to turn to a professional Care Manager who has training and experience working with people who are either in denial about their situation or fear that talking about it will lead to a move that they do not desire. They also have experience with families who disagree on the best course oparents2f action.

A professional Care Manager can monitor the situation, soothe hurt feelings and address the anger that comes from the loss of independence. They will consult family members and help to establish mutual goals and an overall plan for the future. They can help find resources to resolve issues from socialization to appropriate modification of housing to financial analysis and advice.

But regardless of with whom the family wants to consult, it is important to realize that each of the deciders will have their own agenda and perspective, not all of it clear even to themselves. Franny is the implicit leader of the family, but might not have the resources to care for Les and Jeannie. Zoe might, but also might not want to be bothered herself. John may develop a marital problem of his own if he opts in, and Chas may be acting with an unrealized desire to keep his old home environment intact.

We have seen it all. With the perspective of a professional Care Manager, we would like to share some of the issues with families facing ageing. Next month we will continue this family’s story.

You May Be A Victim of Identity Theft

identity theft Recently the Federal Trade Commission reported that government documents/benefits is the most common form of reported identity theft. As a tax practitioner, identity theft continues to be an ever increasing problem for my clients.

First of all the question is asked: What is identity theft? Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number (SSN) or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. These crimes are serious! If you become a victim of identity theft you can spend months or possibly years (and your hard earned money) repairing the mess these thieves have made of your good name, your credit record, your tax information, and your refund.

Usually an identity thief uses a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file (E-File) a tax return and claim a refund early in the filing season. You may be unaware that this has happened until you file your tax return later in the filing season and you will get a notice that two returns have been filed using the same SSN. Thus innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are delayed.

If you or your tax professional receives a notice from the IRS that your tax records may have been compromised, respond immediately to the name and/ or number printed on the notice or letter. You will have to fill out IRS Identity Theft Affidavit Form 14039. In addition the IRS will issue a six- digit identity protection (IP) PIN number that must be used when filing your tax return. IP PIN’s are valid for only one year. A new number is issued every year for three years after the identity theft incident.

Here are some tips to help you protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft:

• Don’t carry your Social identitytheft2Security card or any documents with your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on it.

• Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required and you know who is asking for the information.

• Protect your financial information.

• Check your credit report every 12 months. • Secure personal information in your home.

• Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, antispam/ virus software, update security patches and change passwords for internet accounts.

• Remember the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication such as text messages or social media.

• If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, you may consider contacting the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit. In my practice I have seen where identity theft cases are extremely complex to resolve, frequently touching on multiple issues and multiple tax years. It seems that we must remain vigilant to guard our personal information.