“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
To Our Valued Clients,
My Heritage team and I have spent much time in the past several weeks talking with you. It’s our responsibility and our privilege to be here for our clients, especially in difficult times like these. We want to hear your concerns, to interpret markets and legislation for you, to support and pivot and plan together with you. I am reminded every day that this is what I love best about this business – the personal one-on-one connection to you, and the ability to use our skills to make a financial difference for our clients and their families.
The events unfolding make me think about making a difference in more fundamental ways. Many of us are fortunate enough to find comfort and safety in our own homes right now, surrounded by loved ones, reliable wi-fi, and stockpiles of food and paper products. Even with so many blessings, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless.
As I talk with you and my team, I have been reminded of the power we have to support others. I have heard stories of individuals, nonprofits and neighborhood groups hard at work on the front lines, making sure our community’s most vulnerable residents are faring well. Doing, as Arthur Ashe encouraged, what they can where they are.
Here are some examples that have touched and motivated me this week,
- Our teammate met a sole proprietor whose business was shuttered by the pandemic and learned that he currently spends his days as a volunteer site leader for the food distribution effort of HandsOn Greater Richmond and Richmond Public Schools. He can be found nearly every day at an elementary school, training new volunteers and welcoming families with warmth and good cheer.
- Our client shared the creation of what she calls “twofers” — helping health-care workers/first responders/essential workers and the restaurant industry at the same time. She donates money to United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) to have food delivered to the staff at one of their residential facilities. Coffee and pastries one day, lunch another, dinner for the night team to thank them for their work. The staff is asked to choose their menu from local restaurants that deliver. And, she reports that her neighborhood association is working with local restaurants to deliver food to the nurses involved in COVID care at VCU.
- We heard from a leader on the Tenant Council in the Creighton Court community who shared her worry about access to food and books for children when the schools closed. She was relieved when a food access stop was created in the Creighton community and is out in the neighborhood each day working on distribution. “I can’t just sit inside when children have nothing,” she told us. “These kids are all my kids.”
- We have a neighbor who, along with her husband, is now working from home and caring for a four-month old, still managed to create a neighborhood Mutual Aid group — contact lists of volunteers, block captains, and a place where neighbors can easily request help and support from one another.
- Our friends at Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) launched a pilot eviction prevention program in partnership with the City of Richmond this past fall, with no idea how crucial and timely their efforts would prove as working Richmonders lose their income and face the possibility of eviction. (Although there is a judicial declaration to suspend evictions at this time, there is still a great deal of education to ensure people stay in compliance and will not lose their housing later in the year.) The staff at HOME is working tirelessly to inform tenants about their rights and responsibilities and steps in with financial assistance when criteria is met. The program they put into place will prevent a housing crisis for over 400 families this year. HOME is also ramping up its foreclosure prevention program just as it did during the 2008/2009 economic downturn.
- Another client reports, “I serve on several boards of non-profit organizations whose primary revenue sources have been closed by the quarantine. I’m working with our executive committees to discuss the decisions to furlough staff or when and how much to dip into operating reserves to keep staff in place and paid. We’re in this for the long haul and it’s important to offer support now and to be prepared to help when we can re-open.” She also mentioned a contribution to Richmond Restaurant Workers Relief Fund organized by Brittanny Anderson, chef/owner of Brenner Pass, Metzger Bar and Butchery and Chairlift.
And finally, another client shared,
- “I’ve called the American Red Cross to give blood. There’s a critical shortage and I’m healthy. It’s the very least I can do.”
In the spirit of these examples Heritage Wealth Advisors is making a contribution to Community Foundation’s Central Virginia COVID-19 response fund.
It’s a wonderful time to give — the need is acute, and the CARES Act has created special tax incentives for charitable contributions in 2020:
- An above the line deduction for up to $300 for charitable contributions made by individuals, even if the taxpayer does not itemize.
- Individuals can claim an unlimited itemized deduction for a cash charitable contribution, which is normally limited to 50 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).
- The contribution of food inventory, for which deduction is usually capped at 15% of AGI is increased to 25% of AGI for the 2020 tax year.
For additional suggestions on ways to contribute to charities that are helping locally in RVA, please visit https://www.heritagewealth.net/news/ways-to-give/. Please keep sharing news of the generous and heartening things that you are doing and that are springing up everywhere in Richmond.
Thank you for sharing your inspiring stories and thank you for your business.