In an industry devoted to helping older Americans convert their home equity into funds for use in retirement, many companies are also increasing involvement in helping other populations through non-profit work—which often means branching out beyond the senior demographic.
Austin, Texas-based Reverse Mortgage USA, for example, has recently founded a program to help young, single mothers receive a college education and achieve personal fitness. Company founder John Mitchell interviews candidates meeting the program specifications and the foundation covers all costs of education and living expenses so the single mom can enroll in school full time.
Offering help to a population outside of the senior demographic was a consideration.
“This foundation is an extension of helping people,” Mitchell says, noting the research that went into selecting a way to give back after several years in working with the 62-plus population.
So far, the new program has shown success, with hopes to establish a corporate sponsorship in the near future that would allow it to help even more women across the board.
“We recently had our first mom complete the program and she became a nurse. It worked out just like we had anticipated,” Mitchell says. “She was making $22,000 a year before the program, then was able to get an entry-level nurse job after the program making $63,000 a year two years later.”
Other efforts include Generation Mortgage’s work with many different non-profit service organizations including some local and spanning seniors as well as those such as Junior Achievement.
Likewise, American Advisors Group, through its AAGives Back program, has selected a Uganda-based group, The Kwagala Project, to help victims of human trafficking in Africa.
The non-profit serves as AAG’s “anchor charity,” but it also serves the Alzheimer’s Association and a local food bank through contributions and events.
Whether local or distant, senior-specific or not, lenders are increasing efforts to help across the board.
Security One has spearheaded several service efforts through its non-profit division, Community One.
Currently, the organization is working to raise money for a children’s home in Mulawi, Africa. It has also recently hosted Special Olympics events and has organized several service days scheduled around National Reverse Mortgage Lenders conferences enabling the industry to collaborate in the effort.
Again, the demographic extends well beyond the senior population or even U.S. borders as in the case of Community One.
“It’s hard where we’re located because there are not many senior-specific charities, but we found others,” says Rhiannon Behnke, executive director of Community One and Senior Vice President, New Business Development for Security One.
The organization has also recently received a donation from a reverse mortgage servicing company that will allow for crates of supplies to go to the children’s group in Mulawi.
“It’s crucial to do this as an industry together,” Benke says. “It’s part of the reason we started Community One. It’s not just for us, but also so people can help out on their own.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker