The Silver Standard News
"Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊                                ◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊
I am not old, she said
I am rare
I am the standing ovation
at the end of the play
I am the retrospective
of my life
as art
I am the hours
connected like dots
into good sense
I am the fullness
of existing
you think I am waiting to die
but I am waiting to be found
I am a treasure
I am a map
these wrinkles are imprints
of my journey
ask me
Samantha Reynolds

Welcome to the Silver Standard News

As a central element of the outreach work of the Elder Abuse Reform Now (EARN) Project, it is our goal to bring you the latest news on developments in the fight to end financial elder abuse, as well as a wide range of other information to assist senior citizens and their loved ones. From detailing the progress of legislation aimed at ending the practice of financial elder abuse in each of the 50 states to telling the stories of those who have suffered from the effects of this practice, the Silver Standard News is dedicated to making sure that no senior citizen in this country is denied the right to control the assets and property that are rightfully theirs.

To achieve this goal, we will be working on several different fronts; whether it be unraveling legal terminology for our readers or giving them a way to connect with each other, we will work to improve the lives of America's senior citizens by giving them a voice that reflects their concerns and ensures that they are part of a larger community that has their interests at heart.

We will shine a cold light into the darkness of financial elder abuse and the involuntary guardianship that is the favorite tool of the financial abuser. Scrutinize every state, every city, and every court to make sure the citizens of each state understand precisely where their state, and each legislator, stands on financial elder abuse, and how well existing laws protect their elders and punish the abusers.

We will remind every politician that senior citizens control the largest block of money and the largest block of votes. We will apply our motto, taken from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying." For we will be watching and reporting on the actions of those powerful Americans who, while enjoying the salaries and perks of office provided by the American tax payers, have failed the greatest generation and are now failing their baby boomer children.

In addition, we will give our readers. a look at the human faces behind every aspect of this struggle--not just victims but politicians, legislators, home care administrators, professional guardians, businesses. We will tell the personal stories of the people who have lost their money, homes and dignity due to unscrupulous individuals who are often allowed to act under the cloak of legality. But we will also tell the stories of those who have fought back, who have refused to take the existing state of affairs lying down, and who are winning their battles. We will tell you about those officeholders who are, and have been, their champions. Our aim is to empower our readers, to make them aware that they do not have to simply accept the way things are. Though they may be past the age of lying down on courthouse steps or participating in noisy demonstrations, we will encourage them to put their voice, their votes and their money to good use on the elder abuse front. Collectively, especially when joined by those who love them and younger people who don't want this evil to invade their "Golden Years"—they can create a mighty roar.

Though our principle focus is to inform and make elder abuse a sin of the past, we also hope we will amuse and entertain. Tell us what you want, what your concerns are, how you feel we can do a better job to make the Silver Standard News a vital source for all seniors and their adult children. We look forward to hearing from you.



Kevin Badu will be keeping us current on all legal changes throughout the country as well as at the Federal level. He will also help us understand how well our local politicians are doing in keeping the senior citizens of their state safe from financial elder abuse and involuntary guardianship. Kevin earned his Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and is currently working on an MBA in Finance at the University of Connecticut UConn School of Business. He has worked for law firms and legal organizations in Michigan and New York and has taught as a College professor in China. Presently, Kevin is preparing for the New York State Bar Admission examinations.
Joan Hunt is a former journalist, columnist and community news editor, who retired three years ago from the Hartford Courant. She lives in Wethersfield, CT, where she freelances and enjoys a large and active family.
Romona Paden is a Kansas City area-based freelancer. Through her coverage of news and information, Ms. Paden strives to bring accurate an comprehensive information to relevant audiences.
Elizabeth Sinclair will be peeking into all corners of the earth to help our readers who would like to spend their leisure time in an invigorating and comfortable style. Liz is a writer, traveler, social media manager and digital nomad who makes her home on 2 continents and an island chain. She writes about travel, health and social issues. Her ultimate dream is to have a tiny house in the country.
Mary West is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a broad spectrum of publications. A lifelong avid reader, she takes keen delight in the written word.
Bill Wine was film critic for WTXF-TV in Philadelphia for 12 years and, since 2001, has served as the film critic for CBS’s KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia. He has taught undergraduate film courses at La Salle University as a tenured Associate Professor of Communication. Bill is the winner of three Emmy awards.


The Silver Standard with Romona Paden, contributor

This year’s Whistleblower Summit had many interesting and illumination discussion panels.

For us at the Silver Standard and The EARN Project, the panel conducted by Marti Oakley was of most interest.

Many people are drawn to the Summit just to meet Marti. They have listened to her shows on her TS Radio Network, and they appreciate her for being a leading voice for reform and her achievement in bringing this issue to the Summit. She was her usual dynamic self, shining a light into the dark corners of this growing global threat.

Her discussion concerning the massive expansion of individuals licensed as guardians and the very profitable businesses that have sprung up offering management services for senior citizens and the disabled was truly enlightening. Senior citizens and the disabled have become big business, not only with individuals who look to the profession of guardian as a golden path to consistent easy money but also companies selling worldwide franchises. As with everything in life, there is good and bad in their midst, but the opportunity for exploitation has clearly been too irresistible for many. With no existing laws as a deterrent, even good people can be enticed into doing bad things. 

We were especially happy to see Marti address the need for public involvement. She emphasized that, with the existing lack of genuine support from most of those in government, there is an urgent need for public outcry. She shares our adamant insistence that change is going to happen only when American citizens use their voices—and their votes—to insist that their elected officials and lawmakers become strong advocates for their elderly and disabled citizenry. Advocacy groups must write the bills themselves and then get the public behind them to insist on political and judicial support. The public needs to get behind elder protection in the same way they supported Mothers Against Drunk Driving. As with MADD, this public support won’t completely end the abuse—but it certainly will reduce it.

The journalist Gretchen Hammond spoke most eloquently.

Hammond, after investigating guardianship for a June 2018 article, “Guardians From Hell” for The Tablet Magazine was so disturbed by what she discovered that she embarked on a full investigation of the Oakland County, Michigan probate court.

She and a small team examined 2,278 separate guardianship cases filed in that court against people ranging in age from 19–96 by agencies such as Adult Protective Services, the Senior Care Network, social workers, and attorneys. The reasons given in the petitions ranged from “bipolar,” to “diabetes,” to “lacks civilization,” “undefined mental illness,” and “fell down in the parking lot of Costco.”

The research revealed that in 98.9 % of these cases, guardianship was awarded to a either a public administrator or an elder, estate, or probate attorney who, it appeared, had “sufficiently impressed” Michigan’s Attorney General.

According to their research, the team discovered that: 

  • The majority of hearings lasted less than four minutes in which, irrespective of familial protestation, the victim and everything they owned became the property of the state.
  • In 68.9 out of 100 of cases, neither the victim nor their family was given any prior warning; instead the hearing was conducted without their knowledge.
  • In 97 out of 100 cases, victims were forced out of their homes by the public administrator within a month.

Sadly, says Hammond, “Their destiny was solely dependent upon their income and attitude.”

  • The majority of victims were housed in psych or lockdown wards. Those with only a small Social Security income were shuffled about from one unlicensed group home to another where they were neglected, deprived of food, and all too often subjected to torture and beatings.
  • In 100 percent of cases, irrespective of the victim’s income or savings at the time of the hearing, they were left completely indigent and reliant on social services within no more than three years.

Hammond and her team proved that while in Michigan it is written in state statute that adult guardianship is supposed to be a temporary measure, Michigan citizens are at the mercy of a heartless and greedy legal system where judges regularly ignore state law and no one cares.

One victim named Annette wrote to a judge from the unlicensed group home in which she had been imprisoned for over a year, saying “I don’t want to be punished and have my dignity and humanity taken away from me. I am young and would like a job and to be a viable asset in society.”

She was ignored and left imprisoned in that terrible Michigan Gulag—which to any American of conscience is a most unacceptable, unforgivable, un-American situation. Her letter is on file at the Oakland County Probate Court.

At the Silver Standard we find it incomprehensible—these are human beings we are talking about, our American brothers and sisters—and this is not just happening in Michigan.

Hammond has made great personal sacrifices in order to pursue injustice, and we all need to heed her warnings or the next Annette will be you or your loved one.

Lights, Camera, Whistle

For Marcel Reid, the whistleblower gauntlet was a springboard for the development of an Annual Whistleblower Summit, and in 2019 she added a film festival.

Recognizing that cinema ranks high among the most effective means of laying out the intricacies of a scenario and conveying a memorable message, the festival added a very successful element to the event. July’s hot and humid weather, within the swampy confines of the nation’s capital, only served to emphasize these powerful stories of heartbreaking civil and human rights violations in our “land of the free.”

Most of the films were in a documentary format and, according to the festival’s website, “seek to shine a light on courage and perseverance in the face of injustice, and to encourage individuals to stand together to achieve human rights for all…” The event is described as “an intersection between media, politics, culture and entertainment…”

Whistle Where We Stand

Like Marcel, Sharon de Lobo, publisher of The Silver Standard and head of its parent organization the Elder Abuse Reform Now Project (EARN), had never considered getting into either the activist or filmmaking fields. Then life took one of its unexpected turns—a turn that brought the documentary The Unforgivable Truth: How We Have Turned America’s Greatest Generation into America’s Abused Generation to this year’s Whistleblower Summit.

Starting in 2006, de Lobo came face to face with a soul-crushing experience faced every year by millions of Americans—financial elder abuse. Fighting all the way, she watched as $32 million, along with a multimillion-dollar property that her mother had ordered be put into a foundation as a refuge to feed and support severely at-risk children, simply disappeared. This heinous act—not of just financial elder abuse but of affluent “pillars of the community” denying food to children who frequently go to bed hungry—was perpetrated by the very people she had employed to protect her intentions along with the enthusiastic participation of an organization that cloaks itself in the banner of Christ. Next she learned the cold hard facts of how the courts—and their cadre of buddies, contributors, and professionals—ignore existing laws and act against the best interests of elders and their families, while politicians and lawmakers, influenced by powerful lobbyists, give sincere sounding lip service to the matter but, for the most part, do nothing.

In a discussion about why elder abuse and involuntary guardianship has not raised the kind of public outcry that one would expect, de Lobo’s answer was: “Americans have big hearts; we react with compassion to TV commercials showing sick children at St. Jude’s and The Shriners Hospitals, abused animals rescued by the ASPCA, or even foreign citizens painfully in need of our assistance. In contrast, we are never shown the thousands of American seniors who are spending their ‘golden years’ suffering in poverty due to cunning predators, or the bruised faces and the broken bones inflicted under the care of court-appointed guardians. It continues unseen, their cries for help unheard…The pain being inflicted on our senior citizens is pure evil, and a society that sees evil and does not eradicate it is itself evil. Americans are not an evil society. We just need to put the sights and sounds of elder abuse into their sightlines. If they see and hear it, if they are given what they need to fully understand the extent and gravity of it, they will care, and they will insist upon change. If we leave it in the shadows, it will destroy us all, because it will leave no family untouched.”



By Mary West

Silver Standard News seeks to spotlight any segment of the populace experiencing abuse. This month, the focus is on homeless veterans.

Veterans—men and women who have put their lives on the line to defend our country— represent a disproportionate percentage of the homeless population. More than 40,000 veterans are living on the streets, despite a 46 percent decline in recent years, reports Task & Purpose. In addition, more than 1.4 million veterans are at risk of homelessness, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

The majority of homeless veterans live in urban areas. Nearly half served in the Vietnam War, but some have served in wars ranging from WWII to the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Efforts of the Veterans Administration (VA) to help the homeless have emphasized collaborating with community service agencies to provide those in crisis with the help they need. The VA, together with its partnerships, has supplied more than 30,000 permanent beds and nearly 15,000 transitional beds across the nation. Consequently, significant inroads in reducing the number of homeless veterans have been made. Yet more needs to be done.

Veterans’ Unique Needs

Multiple factors underlie homeless veterans’ statistics. Problems that affect the entire homeless population include a shortage of housing, a lack of access to health care, and an unlivable income. Compounding these challenges, many veterans are mentally ill and suffer from substance abuse, and they often have a poor support network of family and friends. Moreover, since military occupations are sometimes nontransferable to civilian life, veterans face challenges in finding employment.

A sizable number of veterans also have lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those with PTSD are less likely to be willing to stay in a homeless shelter. The prospect of sleeping in an open room surrounded by strangers is too anxiety provoking to be a feasible option.

Multifaceted Solutions for Veterans

Complex issues affecting homeless veterans call for multifaceted solutions. Aside from housing, veterans need nutritious meals, substance abuse care, mental health counseling, and general health care. Job training and placement are also important necessities.

Government programs have helped tremendously, but federal funds are limited, and services aren’t adequate to reach the many veterans who need them. Some experts say that the most effective programs for at-risk individuals are nonprofit, community-based groups where veterans help veterans. Beneficial programs involve transitional housing in a substance-free setting with fellow veterans who are bettering themselves. Furthermore, programs with services that are more comprehensive give veterans a better chance of procuring gainful employment and enjoying the life that most Americans take for granted.

Veterans have given us their best while on the battlefield.
We need to give them our best when they return home.

Veterans Community Project

The Veterans Community Project is a shining example of veterans helping veterans. This wonderful program refuses to let anyone who has served our country fall through the cracks. Founded by combat veterans in Kansas City, Missouri, it provides two critical services.

One service is the Veterans Outreach Center, which is a one-stop shop for veterans facing any problems. The staff assists with navigating the VA, provides financial counseling, offers employment help, and makes physical and mental health referrals. Veterans also receive a food pantry and hygiene kit. Everything is free of charge.

The other part of the Veterans Community Project is a village of tiny homes with onsite services. Its goal is to get veterans off the street and ultimately put them in permanent housing. The village, designed to meet the unique needs of veterans, gives them a stable network of support.


Los Angeles County has the largest population of homeless veterans in the country, says BlackPressUSA. A great example of a community program is the nonprofit U. S. VETS in Inglewood, California. Located in a Los Angeles suburb, the organization, which started in 1993 with five clients, has grown to serve more than 10,000 veterans. It provides free housing and a full gambit of services, including health- and employment-related programs. U.S. VETS even has outreach workers who go out on the streets and look for veterans to tell them about the program.

The Veterans Community Project and U.S. VETS are game changers for the homeless. Anyone wishing to help those who have selflessly fought for our freedoms may go to their websites and make a donation.

Silver Standard News will continue to follow this story. Whether elderly veterans are homeless or in a long-term care facility, they should be treated with all the dignity and care that is due to anyone who is infirm and in declining health. To fail to care for homeless veterans, regardless of their age, is abuse: it’s nothing less than criminal and the height of ingratitude.

Veterans have given us their best while on the battlefield. We need to give them our best when they return home.



Joan Hunt

I’m thinking of letting my hair go gray. Actually, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. But for the past 10 years or so I have had a cut and color every six to eight weeks to cover up the evidence. Although the coloring product is top of the line, it still damages my scalp, and I think it’s thinning my hair out.

I did not discuss this decision with my hairstylist because I know he would be against it. For one thing, it would take about $1,200 per year, including tip, out of his pocket. For another, he’s always telling me how young I look for my age, which I interpret as hairstylist-speak for, “Don’t let your hair give your age away.”

So, it’s been about three months since my last appointment. My hair color right now is best described as “calico.” You won’t find this on any label because the shade is a bit undesirable. But the process is strangely interesting, and I am not rushing to fix it.

This, I say, is the real me. If I had never colored my hair, it would all be this gray-with-tinges-of-silver shade that shows at my roots and temples and in the longer streak that runs along the left side of my face. As the “permanent” color wears off, there are bits and pieces of gray/silver stuff cropping up in other places as well. In combination with the colored strands that are kind of a burnished brown, my hair reminds me of a cat I had years ago named Cashmere. Here the similarity ends, however, as I’ve discovered that untreated hair is anything but smooth and manageable.

I remember when my mother grew her hair out. She was about 75 when she decided that nobody was buying her dark brown locks and it was too much trouble to “keep them up.” Mom had been smart though. She only used a box rinse on her hair, so when she stopped doing that, it just gradually faded out. Within months, she had beautiful silver-white hair that looked great on her.

I will not be that lucky. Nothing about my hair has ever gone that smoothly. When I was younger, it was unbearably curly. Now that I could use a little waviness to soften my face, it has gone straight. While I have fought tooth and nail to keep my hair from defining me, I am afraid it does.

So, what does that make me now? A mixed-up hodgepodge of vanity and good sense? Curious enough to see where this will lead me, but not sure that gray hair will be an asset to my wrinkles, sagging jawline, and unsupple skin? I’m somewhat amazed that I haven’t sent a 9-1-1 to Justin begging for his forgiveness and the next available appointment.

Instead, I’ve gone online to check out the hair models who are sporting gray, silver, and white hair. (It’s a thing now that women are returning to their roots, so to speak.) But here’s the catch. At first, I could only find fashion models and actresses who are so beautiful they would even look good in my calico color. Then I found pictures of regular people with gray hairstyles—but they didn’t show their faces. You see where I’m going with this?

Every article about growing your hair out gray includes the word patience. Patience is not my strong suit; in fact, I believe patience is my life lesson for this go-around. Other suggestions are growing the gray out a couple of inches and then getting a short hairstyle. Also not for me. Hair is my security blanket. It covers up things I don’t like about myself.

So, I did what I have always done when it comes to my hair. I set myself an almost unattainable goal. I printed out a picture of a beautiful silver hairstyle on an anonymous lady who is looking the other way. It sits on my bulletin board. In fact, I’m looking at it right now. She has healthy-looking thick hair cut shoulder length and styled in an immaculate bob. No hairstylist nor combination of hair products could ever make my hair look like this. But I’m on it. Stay tuned for the update.

This could use a closing paragraph that illustrates the main idea or take-away from the piece. The lines from previous paragraphs that jump out at me are “This, I say, is the real me,” “While I have fought tooth and nail to keep my hair from defining me, I am afraid it does,” and “Hair is my security blanket. It covers up things I don’t like about myself.” It seems like the process of growing out to gray has highlighted (no pun intended) these feelings and ideas. It’s requiring not only patience but courage as well to stop hiding behind your hair, show your real self, and to not allow your hair to define you. A strong finish to this piece would be a paragraph reflecting on those ideas.



The Silver Standard and Romona Paden, contributor

Marcel Reid, within a few years of entering the world of grassroots activism, shifted from pointing out institutional injustices against low- and middle-income communities to calling foul on the very “social justice”

organization where she had been devoting untold amounts of time and effort.

Discovering theft and fraud at the highest levels the Association of Community for Reform Now (ACORN) transformed Reid from community activist to whistleblower.

 “Whistleblowing is saying something no one wants to hear,” says Reid. “The kind of truth we’re talking about is the kind that can change the world.” 

Too many organizations, while presenting a public face of great benevolence, are in truth fostering abuse, corruption, and wrongdoing at the expense of the needy they claim to help. The whistleblower who speaks the truth that shatters that image can expect plenty of blowback. It takes a strong chord of heroism to weather that, and that was certainly evident at last month’s 2019 Whistleblower Summit in Washington, DC.

As Reid describes her experience in exposing institutional corruption, one is reminded that doing the right thing often means facing disdain and contempt from colleagues as well as some form of retaliation. It frequently can result in job loss, false accusations, and maligned reputations—even with existing whistleblower protection laws. “They’re traumatized,” Reid says of whistleblowers facing down corruption. 

Whistleblowing itself plays out on multiple levels. Oftentimes, whistleblowing comes down to calling for institutional accountability around illegal, unethical, or otherwise destructive and dishonest activity. It can be a powerful tool in building general societal awareness around norms and behaviors that need to be changed.

Whistleblowing dates back to the country’s very earliest days. In the months following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a group of 10 sailors petitioned the Continental Congress with a complaint about British prisoners of war being treated in a “most inhuman and barbarous manner.” In response, the Continental Congress suspended the commander from his post. 

Those seamen took on the risk of whistleblowing with open eyes. Though not often mentioned in present-day biographies, the commander, Commodore Esek Hopkins, was the brother of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and a former governor of Rhode Island.

As the soldiers must have expected, he retaliated. He filed a criminal libel suit against all the men and arrested and jailed the two service members who were present in the state of Rhode Island. 

Again, the whistleblowers spoke up, appealing to the country’s new Congress, in a petition stating that they had been “arrested for doing what they then believed and still believe was nothing but their duty.” 

Not long after, on July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress unanimously passed the first whistleblower law.

As Reid plowed through the trials of her modern whistleblowing experience exposing ACORN’s entrenched corruption, she found an ally in Pacifica Radio, a progressive/liberal non-profit organization of five independently operated, non-commercial, listener-supported radio stations. She was ultimately elected to serve as a director on their national board, leading it to become the first national media outlet to incorporate whistleblowing into its platform. Many say that credit for the passage of the 2012 Whistleblower Enhancement Act rests with Pacifica’s steadfast commitment to whistleblower coverage. 

Currently, Reid serves as the first national media whistleblower liaison for Pacifica Foundation, a sole position within the media industry. By supporting whistleblower efforts globally, Reid continues her efforts to shed light on corruption worldwide. 



Elizabeth Sinclair

At 65, Julia Holloway retired from a career teaching medieval studies at the university level to take orders as a Catholic nun. Then came the phone call. The then-president of the Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church was searching for a custodian to restore the English Cemetery in Florence. Would she be interested in the position, which came with a house?

Until its closure in 1877, the English Cemetery was where foreigners were buried if they had the misfortune to die in Florence. (Florentines called all foreigners “English” regardless of their nationalities.)

The call came as a surprise, said Sister Julia, but also at the perfect time. “I was looking for a home for myself and my library. So I asked for the contract to include my right to have a library in the Gatehouse, and [when the President agreed] I took the position.”

When Sister Julia first came to see the English Cemetery in 2001, the site was overgrown with weeds, many of the gravestones had tumbled down, and a section of the high iron fence had fallen over. The cemetery had been closed to the public for many years, although it was used covertly for the odd Black Mass or suicide.

Now, to look at the cemetery after 18 years of hard work and restoration, she said, you would not recognize it as the same place.

The graves are well tended with fresh flowers—particularly irises, the national flower of Florence—blooming among the tombs. The graves are not laid out neatly in rows but clustered and grouped in a “romantically landscaped manner” together with cypress, pine trees, and shrubs, all on an oval-shaped hill that lies in the center of a traffic circle. The entire site is open once again to the public and is featured on Florentine tourist maps.

Now, at 82, Julia Holloway is living her best life. As a hermit, she is allowed to live apart from her order; however, she must still follow strict rules. Every morning she rises at 4 am, makes herself a tiny espresso and sits in front of her computer to work on her latest book. She cannot have any human interaction until after she has attended Mass at a nearby church at 7 am. She maintains a vow of poverty, she eats small, plain meals, and she dresses simply in a sky-blue shift and white wimple (“the Virgin Mary’s colors”) with a woolen wrap and sensible, inexpensive shoes.

“You can always tell nuns if you look at our feet,” she said, chuckling. Sister Julia does a lot of walking and cycling: to church, to the market, to visit Roma (more on that later), and all over her beloved Cimitario Inglese.

Sister Julia is a medievalist and published author, best known for her scholarly work on Dante, Julian of Norwich, and other medieval women mystics. In her former life, she taught at Princeton University and the University of Colorado. When I visited her she was working on an Italian translation of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s epic poem, “Aurora Leigh.” The poet is buried in the English Cemetery, along with authors, playwrights, musicians, and abolitionists who were once part of the Golden Ring, the celebrated Victorian expat community in Florence.

When Sister Julia first arrived at the cemetery, she thought she might have bitten off more than she could chew. The custodian’s house on the grounds alone took months to properly clean. She knew she needed help.

“Roma (or gypsies) were begging nearby when I first saw them, one of them with a nine-day-old baby. They had been evicted from an abandoned warehouse during a storm. The husband phoned me for help. They stayed with me for two weeks. In return, they repaired a collapsed dry wall and cleaned the entire house.” This, said Sister Julia, was the beginning of her collaboration and work with the Roma community in Florence.

The Roma frequently travel to Italy from their home country of Romania looking for work. Unfortunately, the women usually end up begging on the streets while the men take whatever unskilled jobs they can get. Begging is not illegal in Italy; in fact, several religious orders make their living this way, which is why it can’t be banned, explained Sister Julia.

“It is the Roma,” said Sister Julia, “who restored the garden and the tombs.” Daniel, one of her protégés, apprenticed with one of the last master stone workers in Florence and now works full time restoring the gravestones and tombs in the cemetery with contemporary technology. “He’s not allowed to use cement or modern tools,” said Sister Julia.

Initially, Julia helped the Roma to use their traditional wood carving and decorative skills to make cradles by hand—a program she called “From Graves to Cradles.” She also set up a literacy program for them, where they learn to read and write Italian. She hopes this will help them to find work in the city where they face discrimination and harsh treatment from the authorities and police. Daniel, one of her great successes, has been contracted to restore other tombs around city, and Sister Julia hopes that, with his skills and experience, he may even be able to help restore Notre Dame in Paris. Custodians of other cemeteries in Italy have begun to approach Sister Julia, asking for her help and advice in restoring their own sites.

The cemetery has also allowed Sister Julia to pursue another passion. “I dreamed of a free library, open to all,” said Sister Julia, “to which illiterate poor could come as well as international scholars.” Here in the cemetery, her dream came true, with both Roma and university scholars traveling to Florence to use the library. “People become members by giving a book or by helping with the cemetery,” said Sister Julia.

Sister Julia said that becoming the custodian of the English Cemetery was “unexpected and wonderful.” She said, “I have loved coming to know the Roma and working to undo prejudices. I have loved the restoration and research of the cemetery. I have loved communicating with scholars worldwide. Best of all,” she said, “I’ve been able to focus on writing books.” She feels that although she may not have many years left, she still has books inside her she wants to write, including a modern-day version of Browning’s classic “Aurora Leigh” featuring a Roma heroine, inspired by her work with the cemetery and the Roma.




By Bill Wine

As the song says, "M" is for the many things she gave me.

And that now includes Otherhood, a heartfelt comedy-drama about motherhood that doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but is unapologetically and appropriately sentimental and poignant.

The premise: three suburban moms—empty nesters, longtime friends, and mothers who feel like neglected others in Poughkeepsie—meet for their annual boozy Mother's Day brunch.

During the course of their all-day pity party, they decide to head for New York City unannounced, hoping to confront their grown sons.

In the process, all of their lives—all six of them, that is—will change in some way on this glossy collective journey of rediscovery and re-connection.

Maternal intruders Carol (Angela Bassett), Gillian (Patricia Arquette), and Helen (Felicity Huffman) show up out of the blue at their respective sons’ doorsteps and set those changes in motion.

Writer-director Cindy Chupack, a "Sex in the City" alumnus making her feature-film debut working for executive producers Bassett, Arquette, and Huffman, co-wrote the screenplay with Mark Andrus based on the William Sutcliffe novel, Whatever Makes You Happy.

The director comes to the table with a highly skilled cast and impressive Oscar credentials, which includes 2014 Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Arquette for Boyhood, 1993 Best Actress Oscar nominee Bassett for What's Love Got To Do With It, and 2005 Best Actress Oscar nominee Huffman for Transamerica.

Speaking of Huffman and mothering, she brings her recent notoriety along with her, thanks to her involvement in the getting-your-kid-into college scandal. That alone delayed the release of the film, but whether in the long run the admissions imbroglio was good or bad for the commercial fate of Otherhood is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, we're confronted with the odd occurrence of a Mother's Day movie surfacing in August: Will wonders never cease?

Bassett's character, Carol, feels so disregarded by her son that every Mother's Day she sends herself a bouquet of flowers with the note, "You’re the best mother ever."

The film is anchored by three fine actresses who seem inspired to explore not only the mothering phenomenon but female friendship as well.

While the “meddling mothers” thrust may sounds overbearing and off-putting on the surface, the three central performances are assured, making us care about the main characters enough to forgive the script its trespasses.

We find ourselves marveling at how well these pros handle the frequent cringeworthy behaviors that they are scripted to display. We find ourselves letting the clichés and stereotypes whiz by while we acknowledge the kernels of truth that are part of the package.

And we find ourselves reaching for the Kleenex.

Then, as the half-dozen backstories reveal themselves in Act Two, secrets are shared, resentments are articulated, confessions are offered, and inequities are expressed. We fear that an expositional traffic jam will gum up the works. But that never happens. And by the time Act Three transpires, we're fond enough of the protagonists that the specifics of their predicaments and the film's shortcomings cease to matter much.

When Otherhood ends, you may not run right out and call your mom or your son.

But, then again, you just might.

Either way, you'll appreciate the pleasant couple hours you've just spent with agreeable company.

Sometimes that's quite enough.





On the EARN website under “State Info,” There is a drop-down list where you can find all the legal information about Financial Elder Abuse and involuntary Guardianship for your state.

As we researched each state, a question arose—though the public chooses those who will represent their interests and safety and, through one manner of taxation or another, pay the salaries of those representatives as well as Attorney Generals, Judges, and District Attorneys, why is there so little concern shown for the senior citizens in so many states? It is particularly perplexing given the fact that those very senior citizens are, more often than not, paying the largest share of the taxes and casting the largest share of the votes.

Over the next year, we will compare all 50 states, each month we will carry forward the state that was the best in the previous month’s comparisons, to see...



Financial Exploitation of Elders Comparison of State laws protecting Elders against Financial Exploitation 
Alabama  New Hamphire New Jersey New Mexico
Does the State define an elder? Yes. Person 60 years or older Yes. A person 60 yrs of age or older No. Vulnerable Adults. No
State laws protect elders against financial exploitation? Yes   Yes No. Vulnerable Adults. No
Are there penalties for financial exploitation of elders?  Yes. Divided into Classes of Felony    Yes Yes No
Is there a duty to report financial exploitation of elders No   No Yes Yes
Is there a penalty for failure to report? No    No Yes Yes
Does the State law define financial exploitation? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Does the State's Elder law define the following:
a) Deception Yes No No No
b) Undue Influence Yes No No No
c) Intimidation Yes No No No
How does the State define
a) Financial Exploitation Financial Exploitation means the use of deception, intimidation, undue influence, force, or threat of force to obtain or exert unauthorized control over an elderly person's property with the intent to deprive the elderly person of his or her property or the breach of a fiduciary duty to an elderly person by the person's guardian, conservator, or agent under a power of attorney which results in an unauthorized appropriation, sale, or transfer of the elderly person's property Financial Exploitation means:
means the illegal use of an incapacitated adult's person or property for another person's profit or advantage, or the breach of a fiduciary relationship through the use of a person or a person's property for any purpose not in the proper and lawful execution of a trust, including, but not limited to, situations where a person obtains money, property, or services from an incapacitated adult through the use of undue influence, harassment, duress, deception, or fraud.
Financial Exploitation means the act or process of using a person or his resources for another person's profit or advantage without legal entitlement to do so Financial exploitation " means an unjust or improper use of a person's money or property for another person's profit or advantage, pecuniary or otherwise
b) Deception Deception occurs when a person knowingly: a) Creates or confirms a false impression b) Fails to correct a false impression the defendant created or confirmed; c) Fails to correct a false impression when the defendant is under a duty to do so; d) Prevents another from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of the property involved; e). Sells or otherwise transfers or encumbers property, fails to disclose a lien, adverse claim, or other legal impediment to the enjoyment of the property. None None
c) Intimidation Intimidation is a threat of physical or emotional harm to an elderly person, or the communication to an elderly person that he or she will be deprived of food and nutrition, shelter, property, prescribed medication, or medical care or treatment None None
d) Undue Influence Undue Influence means domination, coercion, manipulation, or any other act exercised by another person to the extent that an elderly person is prevented from exercising free judgment and choice. None None



Letters to the Editor

As we have just begun, we have not yet received any letters. I certainly hope that you will write to us: tell us about your experience with Financial Elder Abuse or Involuntary Guardianship. We will also be looking for people to interview for our monthly video and lovely photographs for our cover.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving demonstrated how much change can be accomplished when we all speak as one and insist on change. Now, it is time for Americans to again speak as one—create a roar so loud we cannot be ignored--no longer tolerating the abuse of our senior citizens.

Join The EARN Project. The membership is free. It will provide you with notifications when your Senate or House have a Bill, concerning Financial Elder Abuse and Involuntary Guardianship, coming up. It will provide a contact to all pertinent officials, through the EARN Project for you to make sure your concerns are heard and addressed. It also gives you access to information on all the laws in your state and an emergency contact list for your state which, at this time, are open to all on our website but, will soon be for members only.

Earn has picked up the baton, won't you please join the chorus —without you there is no roar and no change.

Looking forward to seeing what you send us

Sharon de Lobo


please send your letters through the EARN Contact Form or directly to